The Slow Carb Diet – My Mixed Review After 30 Days on the Diet

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.

Slow Carb Diet

[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.

[Another tough thing for me, was only having beer once per week. Wirklich Schade! (Very Sad)]

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.

156 thoughts on “The Slow Carb Diet – My Mixed Review After 30 Days on the Diet”

  1. Stuck to this SCD religiously for 3 weeks and didn’t lose an ounce. However, I hardly have any fat to lose, but thought I’d give it a try.
    I agree, this will work but only if you have a lot to lose!

  2. Know it’s a bit late on this response to Atkin’s shakes but answer is…well no. They contain dairy which is perfectly fine on Atkins but not on SCD.

    Few years ago I went from 280 to 220 (I’m 6’3″) on the Atkins diet and did notice a slowdown in weight loss whenever I ate cheese. Yes it causes an insulin spike but also takes the longest to digest.

    When I started the SCD didn’t pay attention to ingredients and was frustrated I wasn’t losing weight as quickly as on Atkins. I was drinking the Atkins shakes and eating the bars as a snack like I did previously. Would use the GrillMate seasoning packets to marinate steaks/chicken. Also used pork sausage with my omelettes in the morning.

    The problem? Milk with the Atkins products and sugar with the rest. Changed up to ground turkey with 3 jumbo eggs in the AM + decaf chamomile tea , rotisserie chx with pinto and salsa and then just started marinating meats in olive oil and adding a seasoning rub (without sugar) with broccoli or spinach for dinner. Instant positive effect.

    I still use Splenda and have noticed no ill effects. Timclaims that it causes an insulin spike but no research out there has been able to conclusively prove that. At least none that I’ve been able to find.

    So with that small hiccup in the beginning I’m definitely down though I’m not stepping on the scale anymore. Just going by the mirror. Hope this helps.

  3. I have done this diet and have lost wieght with it. Being socialy active makes it harder to stick with one cheat day especially around the holidays.
    Yes Stevia is allowed. And the biggest thing I found by drastically cutting the sugars for a long time. When you go to cheat with a cupcake, suddenly it’s too sweet and it becomes disgusting. It took me the whole day to finish the cupcake, when before I could scarf it down and look for seconds.
    The diet works, and don’t forget the supplements mentioned in the book, some of them are hard to find. Few of my local helth foods stores carried them. But when I found a store that did, the extra boost that they provided was great

  4. I went on this diet and lost 20 lbs each month without working out at all. I went from 195 to 130 quick. I would’ve lost more if I had worked out. If you only lost 4 lbs then you did not stick to the diet at all. I lost all that weight even though I cheated some days and had a cupcake or other snack. I know many people who have gone on this same diet and I’ve never heard of anyone not losing 20+ lbs a month.

    You also have some things wrong and you misunderstand.
    You are allowed to eat cheese, meat, and veggies.
    No fruits or sugars.
    No pastas, potatoes, breads or rice.
    You are allowed to eat anything you want 1 day a week. Pick a day, mine is every Tuesday. On that 1 day each week you can eat anything you want and you are expected to binge eat. The reason for this is because it shocks your metabolism.

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  6. This was a very interesting post and comments. I’m starting it next week so I’m mentally preparing this week (and getting rid of all the white food in my house by eating it! lol). Unfortunately, I have a significant amount of fat to lose and I hope this works. I listened to Tim’s interview on the Nerdist podcast and considering one of the hosts has lost over 100lbs on it, along with some of the people here, I’m confident it’ll work. I really liked the part in Tim’s book about domino foods. If I know I can’t stop eating a certain food, I’ll avoid it altogether. I had never really thought about that before. I believed (falsely) that I could have just one or a few. That has already helped me and I haven’t officially started the plan yet.

    Anyway, thanks for the post and the comments have been interesting, too. Good luck everyone!!

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  8. @EJC

    You can do this. I’m 5′ 11″ and I started out at 321 lbs. I’ve been doing this for 11 months not I’m down to 235 lbs. You can do it!

    if it helps you out I have a blog of the meals that I make. Almost all of them are four the SCD. The rest are my binge day favorites. I have to go even further because I need to stay gluten/dairy free. My blog is Shoot me an email if want some pointers.

    @Chris NYC

    I agree with the hot sauce, lentils, eggs, and chicken are my staples. I’ve gotten the most luck out of those foods.

    Good luck to every one.

  9. I’ve experienced similar results as you, Rusty, which discouraged me from continuing beyond a few weeks on the diet. With that said, there seems to be a lot of people finding success with it, so I’m willing to give it another shot again. I’m 6’0″, 196 lbs, so I feel like I could easily lose 20 lbs. (although it’ll probably require a good deal of exercise too).

  10. EJC best of luck

    I have a bit of unique situation, ive never really been overweight per se and have always been a pretty active guy. that said i was lucky enough to have a fully torn ACL so i went ahead and got that surgery about 5 weeks ago. Needless to say i was pretty immobile during that period, so i began reading whatever i could get my hands on and stumbled across 4HB and the SCD.. I am just about 2 weeks in and jumped on a scale for the first time this week – mind you my goal was not necessarily to lose weight but more to maintain and not gain a bunch since i had no way of doing cardio. my avg weight was about 179-183 (5’11”) and current weight after 2 weeks of SCD was 172.5.. almost 10 pounds lighter. side note – im thinking a good amt of that was muscle atrophy due to my surgery, the quad is a heavy muscle but i would say as of the weigh in i have about 75% of my quad strength back. being the son of a nutritionist here are a few suggestions i have with SCD:
    hot sauce all over everything – i love the green tabasco – delicious on eggs.
    get your lentils in – Tims tuna, red onion and lentils was a little strange but hot sauce and boom, not so bad (green tabasco)
    eggs i love to begin with and have always eaten but for the faint of heart, eggs can be super diverse. try poached on top of beans.. scrambled with broccoli and mushrooms.. omelettes with spinach, onions and tomatoes and dont get too nutty with the egg whites, the yolks have plenty of good stuff as well, so mix it up.
    Chicken and the foreman grill are clutch, making large salads that last me a few meals help and drink plenty of water and go with (generic store brand) cold green tea w ginseng and honey.

    All that said – I am a big fan of the SCD so if youre really trying to shed weight im confident this diet can really work for you. tomorrow will actually be my first cheat day – and i plan to enjoy a few bread items and fruits but its just in my nature to not get too excessive. No matter which way you turn the tables.. 4 big macs on binge day would just be a terrible idea. good luck!

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  12. @Kim Smith…

    No, you don’t have to drink red wine at all if you don’t want to. It was just a vice that Tim found he could still indulge without hindering his goals.

    Personally, I have tried the SCD diet before and failed. But, that was my own fault. If you aren’t careful that cheat day can derail you altogether.

    Recently, I restarted the SCD. I have been on it for only 4 days. However, I have already lost 8 lbs. But, I am super strict. When I commit to something I usually go all out. I haven’t had dairy, alcohol, bread, or any other “bad” carb of any fashion. It’s been all pork, grass fed beef, beans, vegetables, eggs, and bacon/sausage (in moderation). The only sauce I use is “hot sauce”. Now if I can get by the first few cheat days, I should be set. LOL

    If you like tacos… One of my favorite meals consists of the 1 lb of grass fed beef cooked with taco seasoning. Then, you dump a 14-16 ounce can of Pinto beans in with the seasoning. After it’s all cooked…. you just add some Taco Sauce (about 2 tbsp). It’s pretty delicious and I can eat it for any meal.

    I am hoping I can go from 6’1 (365) to 6’1 (185). Wish me luck… LOL

  13. For those who are not a fan of the slow carb diet, you need to remember the frame of mind Tim Feriss has. In his previous book, The 4-Hour Workweek, he finds a hack approach to income and early retirement. The same is for his diet. It’s a hack approach. It’s supposed to be effective and efficient.

    I’ve had to approach this diet more than once. The first time I did not have the correct frame of mind and I ended up quitting after 4 weeks. But when I re-approached it with a different frame of mind I got very different results. I’ve been on this diet for over 6 months and have lost 45 pounds. Will I do the SCD forever, probably not (I’ll most likely move into a paleo-like diet). However if you want to do this diet you need to understand that this is a hack way of doing it, a VERY effective one.

  14. If you aren’t losing weight then you are making some mistakes. Not drinking enough water to aid in the breakdown of stored bodyfat. Too much salt or artificial sweeteners. Also, not eating enough is also a problem, you need to maintain calorie levels to prevent going into “starvation mode” this diet is designed to be midly ketogenic so you burn stored fat, instead of carbs for energy. For people who don’t have 10+ lbs of excess body fat, then this diet is more about body recomposition. I have actually gained 5 lbs on the diet (i lift 2-3 days a week) but my love handles and gut have gotten alot smaller. Do a google search for “Wheat Belly”.

    Also check out the Bulletproof Diet, for you fruit lovers and bean haters… Although I feel it has more restrictions then SC, as it is more of a Paleo diet.

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