Have you heard of The Slow Carb Diet? This is an eating approach outlined by Tim Ferriss in the book The 4-Hour Body. I’m a big fan of the book, but not the biggest fan of the diet plan. I went on the diet last month for 30 days and I’d like to give you the low down on whether you should consider giving it a shot.
[The Slow Carb Diet seems to work best for people with more than 10 pounds of weight to lose. I'm not sure it works as well for someone who wants to get really lean.]
You’ve Probably Heard of The 4-Hour Body
A few months ago Tim Ferriss released a blockbuster book called, The 4-Hour Body. My guess is that 90% of the people reading this, have at least heard of this book. It has quickly become a best seller and really is a well thought out book. I don’t agree with every point that Tim makes, but that isn’t the point of this book. His book challenges conventional wisdom…so it was a must buy for me. In this book he outlines a diet that he follows along with a massive group of loyal readers of his blog.
The Rules of The Slow Carb Diet
- Avoid White Carbohydrates: No rice, potatoes, flour, fried foods, breading, etc. The only exception is within 1.5 hours of training.
- Avoid Fruit, Sugar, Dairy and Alcohol: No cheese, fruit, sugar of any type, beer, etc. Tim has found that the diet still works if you drink 1-2 glasses of red wine each night. He also allows a limited amount of artificial sweeteners (1 Diet Coke, some sugar free jello for desert).
- Eat a Protein Rich Meal Within 30 Minutes of Waking Up: Meal frequency isn’t important. Tim likes to eat 4 times per day. He does stress the importance of having a protein rich meal as soon as you wake up.
- Eat as Much of These Foods as You Like: Eggs, Chicken, Grass Fed Beef, Pork, Lentils, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Spinach, Asparagus, Peas, Mixed Vegetables.
- Eat Whatever You Like One Day Per Week:Whatever sounds good…go for it on your “cheat day”. Everything is allowed on this day, but once the day is over you are back to your diet.
I Decided to Give This Diet a Shot With My Girlfriend
I booked a beach vacation for mid-April and figured that it would be fun to see if The Slow Carb Diet would help me drop about 6-8 pounds. My girlfriend was aiming to lose about 1/2 that amount. Neither of us ever really “needs” to lose weight, but it is fun to get a little extra lean for summer and vacations, etc. We devoted the final week of February and the first 3 weeks of March to this diet.
My Starting Weight 195 Pounds – Ending Weight 191 Pounds
I lost 4 pounds in a month. This is actually really good for someone in my position. My girlfriend lost 3 pounds in a month (which is good as well). So why the “Mixed Review” in the title of this post? Well…since it is a drastic diet with some pretty hardcore rules I was expecting for us to lose about 50% more than what we did. If I would have lost 6-7 pounds and my girlfriend 4-5…then it would have been worth the sacrifice.
Felt Great During the Day With Stomach Problems at Night
This is a great diet for even energy levels. Working out felt like it took a bit more effort, but strength levels remained the same. Typically things went well throughout the day, but my stomach never really adapted to eating a diet so high in protein, beans, and veggies. Bottom line…my digestive system hated this diet! I tried organic stuff, Beano, etc. I felt like I had a 30 day stomach ache.
A Diet Designed by a Wine Drinker!
Tim Ferriss is a big wine drinker, so this diet allows 2 glasses of red wine per night. This felt like he was setting up a little “cheat” that made this an easier diet for him to handle. Honestly…if I was designing the diet, it would allow for one light beer per evening. I’ve dropped down to 5% body fat while consistently drinking 1-2 Corona Light’s per night with dinner. I followed Tim’s diet to the “T” and didn’t drink beer…but felt like this was an unnecessary rule. I didn’t like the wine rule at all! Beer is good for the soul.
I Prefer Low-Calorie Diets Over Nutrient-Focused Diets
I like to eat what I want while creating a weekly calorie deficit. There are a lot of diets that focus on foods you can and can’t eat. This works for a lot of people who do better with strict guidelines. No doubt, The Slow Carb Diet works. In fact, I could see it working well for the majority of people who follow it. It just wasn’t a great fit for me or my girlfriend. We both felt it was too big of a price to pay to drop weight. I like beer, dairy, and gummy candy too much to make this a long-term deal.
How I Will Spend the Next 3 Weeks Leading Up to My Trip
Monday-Friday: I will have a meal replacement shake for breakfast and lunch…then eat what I want for dinner (within reason). Two days per week, I will do some intermittent fasting until dinner. I won’t have a true “cheat day” but I’ll leave it a lot more flexible on the weekend. If I see a movie I’ll have a bag of gummy bears and a large Diet Coke. If I’m meeting up with friends we will order some hot wings and nachos…and a large beer or two. I will lose another 3 pounds or so, but it will be an easier approach for the way I like to eat.
Is the Slow Carb Diet Right for You?
If you have a lot of weight to lose, then yes it is. Some people experience amazing results. If you are trying to get really lean, and have only 5-10 pounds to lose, then I actually believe strong weekly calorie deficits are the way to go. Here is a link to Tim’s blog which outlines this diet in greater detail: The Slow Carb Diet.