The slow carb diet shows how to lose weight effectively when certain foods are avoided. This is not a classic Atkins style low carb diet. It is a strategy for reducing the negative impact of carbs on weight loss, without restricting calories.
Worst Foods on the Slow Carb Diet
The concept of this diet is to reduce blood sugar spikes by eating foods that are not absorbed quickly through the digestive tract. Timothy Ferriss has popularized this diet in his book, ‘The 4-Hour Body’. It has attracted a lot of attention because it is such an easy diet to follow and because it provides very exciting weight loss results within the first 30 days.
Indeed, the most common results show a typical loss of 20 pounds in the first month if you follow these five rules for 30 days, according to Tim:
1) Avoid ‘white’ carbohydrates
2) Eat the same few meals over and over again
3) Don’t drink calories
4) Don’t eat fruit
5) Take one day off per week
(See my overview of how these rules work and what you can expect, in this earlier post: Easy Slow Carb Diet – How To Lose 20 Pounds In 30 Days.)
Notice that 3 out of the 5 rules entail what NOT to do.
Rule 1, Avoid ‘white’ foods, is the simplest one to understand. It almost goes without saying that breads, pastas, sugary foods, potatoes, and other ‘white’ foods provide a huge carbohydrate hit. In fact, these foods are the ones that are best known to the public for spiking blood sugar.
What some folks argue about is the inclusion or exclusion of whole grains. All grains are sources of fast carbs – i.e., those that spike blood sugar. All grains should therefore be avoided on the slow carb diet, especially during the initial 30-day incentive phase. I call it the ‘incentive phase’ because, when you do it right, your weight loss results are great incentive for continuing the diet.
Rule 3, Don’t drink calories, is perhaps a bit redundant. However, it is crucial to follow this rule. Sodas, sweetened beverages, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and many other kinds of beverages are loaded with sugars. It is a toss-up as to whether sodas are worse than fruit juices. They are both to be avoided. Anything with sugar or some other synonym for it (glucose, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave syrup) will stop your weight progress completely.
Rule 4, Don’t eat fruit, is a semi-temporary rule. It applies most rigorously to the first 30 days, what I call the ‘incentive phase’. Fruits are loaded with sugar. Sweeter fruits are loaded with even more fructose. Fructose is particularly disastrous for stopping or reversing weight loss.
Fruits can be added back into your diet after you get the slow carb diet going in the initial 30-day phase. However, you still must be careful with them. They simply provide too much sugar! Even the fiber and other nutrition that you can get from whole fruits is insufficient to counteract the fast carb hit that you get from them. You really have to be careful not to overdo your fruit intake on every day of the slow carb diet. Otherwise it wouldn’t be slow carb, would it?
Other Foods to Avoid
This sensible answer came from a comment by ‘4HourBod’ at 4HourPeople.com. It expands on Tim’s rules above, with additional foods that should be avoided on the slow carb diet.
- Milk products including cheese (except cottage cheese)
- Refined soy products (soy milk, tofu, tempeh, soy protein shake)
- Potatoes (sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, any starchy vegetable)
- Bread, rice, grains, oatmeal, tortillas, quinoa
- Creamy dressings and dressings with sugar
- Sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, fructose
- Deep-fried breaded food
- Corn, popcorn
The surprise in this list, for many people, is dairy. It turns out that dairy products cause a spike in insulin, which is a negative corollary to blood sugar spikes. Although dairy is not necessarily highly glycemic (except for milk and Lactaid milk, due to milk sugar [lactose] content), it is highly insulinemic.
Foods Allowed in Moderation
Certain foods provide a tolerable carb hit on blood sugar if you consume them in moderation. What ‘moderation’ means is different for different people. It depends on how much of each of the following you can consume without disrupting your weight management progress. It takes individual experimentation to determine what you can ‘get away with’.
- Avocado (1 cup/day max)
- Peanut butter/ almond, and other nut butter (1 TB/day)
- Nuts (5-10 per meal)
- Hummus, chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- Coffee (w/up to 2 TB cream)
- Unsweetened almond milk
Note that ‘4HourBod’ also included beverages containing aspartame (Nutrasweet) on this list. However, there is NEVER a good consumable that contains this sweetener. It is a metabolic poison that should always be avoided, regardless of whether you are dieting.
All the best with your slow carb diet,