The slow carb diet is so simple that it doesn’t require a whole book to rationalize and explain how to lose weight. (It is not a low carb diet, either.) Here is all you need to know to get started.
Importance of a Slow Carb Diet
Protein hormones such as insulin, leptin, adiponectin, IGF-1, and ghrelin respond to what you eat, especially to carbs. Keeping all of these in balance regulates your metabolism – i.e., your ability to burn fat. If you eat ‘fast’ carbs that spike your blood sugar, the hormone response is too strong and lasts too long. The overall result is metabolic imbalance (e.g., overstorage of fat).
Slow carbs, on the other hand, come from foods that do not cause a huge or long-lasting spike in blood sugar, especially when balanced with the right amount of protein and fat at each meal. The net result is that the hormone response is measured and balance, giving your body a chance to get rid of excess stored fat.
Depending on your starting point, current metabolic status (e.g., degree of resistance to insulin or leptin), age, and fitness level, the right 30-day eating plan can, indeed, lead to a drop of 20 pounds. It often does.
And it can work wonders even the absence of exercise.
Credit the 4-Hour Body
This plan is well-known by followers of Timothy Ferriss in his best-selling book, ‘The 4-Hour Body’. Among many recommendations in this book about fitness and diet, all of which are accompanied by case histories (aka, testimonials), Tim advocates an initial 30-day eating plan that is easy to follow and that consistently gets the best results.
One of the most important and appealing aspects of this plan is that it does not limit calories, and therefore does not lead to hunger at any time. This is not one of those idiotic ‘eat anything you want’ diets that promise the sun, the moon, and the stars in exchange for no effort. It does take specific, directed effort. The plan is just not very hard.
Rules of the Slow Carb Diet
I am going to repeat the 5 Rules According to Tim here for two reasons: 1) They are simple and sensible; and, 2) I have had good experience with them myself.
Without further ado, they are:
Rule #1: Avoid ‘white’ carbohydrates
As one of my naturopathic colleagues is fond of saying, “If it is white, don’t bite.” This rule doesn’t really take much explanation, except that it is to avoid fast carbs. These include such foods as:
- All breads (even whole grain)
- Rice (including brown)
- Fried food with breading
- Anything else that is starchy
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again
Keep it simple. Slow and steady (or, simple and easy) wins the race. Choose a protein source, a legume source, and a vegetable for each meal. Mix and match if you want to avoid complete boredom, although this isn’t necessary.
The best and easiest sources for protein, legumes, and vegetables are:
- Proteins: eggs (2-5 in a meal), chicken breast or thigh, beef, fish, pork
- Legumes: lentils, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, soybeans
- Vegetables: spinach, any mix of cole crops (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower), sauerkraut, kimchee, asparagus, peas (limited amt.), green beans
If you are wondering about what else you can include on the list, then take a look at my earlier article, Top Slow Carb Diet Foods.
Rule #3: Avoid drinking calories
It is especially crucial to avoid milk, normal soft drinks (either with sugar, HFCS, or artificial sweeteners), fruit juices. Fruit juices cause a fast carb hit that is unbelievable! They are nearly toxic.
Tim says that you can have up to 16 ounces of aspartame-sweetened soft drinks per day, although I would strongly advise that you NEVER consume aspartame, even in small amounts. It is a metabolic poison.
The best beverages would be water, tea, or coffee. You may or may not get away with a couple of glasses of red wine. Just watch carefully whether and how much influence wine can have on your progress. What fun – experimenting with wine!
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit
This may make more sense that most people realize. Fruit contains sucrose, which consists of a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose. The riper it becomes, the more fructose (‘fruit sugar’) it contains. Fructose will stop your weight loss dead in its track because it only metabolizes in the liver. That is where carbs are converted to fats, mostly triglycerides that circulate in your bloodstream and end up as storage fat.
Just keep this equation in mind: fructose = fat.
You can add fruits back into your diet, carefully, after the 30-day diet that I am describing here. Once you get great results on the 30-day phase, though, you will be able to almost instantly tell what fruits do to interrupt your progress.
By the way, as a professional botanist, I am conflicted by the ‘no fruit’ advice. This is because, botanically speaking, fruits include such ‘veggies’ as tomatoes, avocadoes, squash, zucchini, green beans, egg plant, and cucumbers. Classifications by our own USDA confuse the issue for regulatory reasons. To be clear, we are talking about avoiding sweet fruits, not these so-called ‘veggies’.
Rule #5: Take one day off per week
I call this the ‘Blow Up Day’. Tim calls it the Dieters Gone Wild (DGW) day. It just means to pick one day per week (the same day) and eat whatever you want.
Drink beer. Eat chocolate and ice cream. Have whatever your heart desires on this day. There are no limits on what or how much or when you eat.
The importance, and seeming paradox, of a blow up day is that dramatically spiking your caloric intake once per week ensures that your metabolic rate will not decrease from the previous 6 days of potential caloric restriction. Your thyroid function keeps pace, and you keep losing fat. Yup, eating crap one day per week can help you lose fat.
In my view, this is equally important mentally. It provides me with incentive to avoid crap 6 days per week because I can look forward to having it on my blow up day. One of Tim’s friends even went so far as to write down what she was going to eat on her blow up day, every time she felt the urge to eat crap on a diet day. Just writing it down, and reading the list, staved off temptation. Pretty creative.
Take Action Now
Okay, that’s it for the first 30 day of the slow carb diet. No book to buy. No supplements to take. No fitness club membership. No exercise equipment. How much simpler could be?
What are you waiting for? Get it going today and enjoy your personal results within the next month. And have fun with it!
I’d love to know how it works for you, so come on back here and leave me a comment, will you?
Good times with the slow carb diet,
It seems like many people talk about the latest popular diet and weight loss plans. These fad diets usually restrict your food choices and might require special foods, pills, or supplements, too. In return, the promise of a quick and easy way to lose weight probably sounds good. But, a fad diet (or even a pill product) will always go out of style.
It amazes me that you aren’t supposed to eat fruit during this time as well as anything white. I get the white thing more though because of the sugar but I thought fruit even if it has sugar in it digested slow enough that it didn’t affect your body in a negative way. Thank you for opening my eyes to that tid bit of information.
Despite knowing how to eat healthy, I never really knew why. I never really knew about the actual chemistry behind a human body’s metabolism. This was very enlightening. I have found I can’t go wrong with eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, tuna fish sandwiches and eggs along with other whole foods, fruits and vegetables. You can’t really go wrong when you eat natural foods.
At first glance, I thought a slow carb diet’ was a typo for low carb diet. But now that I read the article, I know something new. The science behind this is pretty technical, but I think I will stick with eating 5 small meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks). That and working out. There is nothing better than burning calories & fat.
I am glad that this eating program is not some fad diet that is unhealthy for you. When I considered the rules of this eating plan, it made common sense. Avoiding white breads, pasta means you are not eating processed additives and sugars that enhance the taste of those types of foods. To me, whole wheat versions of the same foods taste even better and they are more satisfying.
This system sounds a lot like the old reliable body builder’s diet called, the high – low carb diet. I tried it many years ago and found that it does work when you workout along with it. And believe me, you really start to look forward to that high carb or splurging day. Just ask Mathew Foxx, the actor who prepared for that new movie, Cross Carter’.
So if you eat the right way then you can lose 20 pounds in a month is that right? I am very curious because I need to lose about 20 -30 pounds and I want to do it quickly (before Christmas) so if that is the true case here then I am going to have to give it a try. Do you have any advice that wasn’t in the article?
Does eating the same few meals over and over again just make you bored with food so you don’t want to eat anymore and you do just because you have to so you can live? And it absolutely amazes me that you can’t eat fruit when it is supposed to be very good for you. Thank you so much for the tips and guidelines to this article that was awesome.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that we as a society are entering a new age of awareness; We now know the importance of exercise and the link between obesity and many sicknesses. And now we have learned in the past decade that we can be fit and still be busy people without having to spend an hour working out.