You’ve heard of low carb diets, no carb diets – but what is the slow carb diet?
The Slow Carb Diet
The “Slow Carb Diet” is a name for a set of rules that Tim Ferriss outlines in his book The Four Hour Body. The principle goal of The Four Hour Body is to encourage people to improve their lives through responsible self-experimentation. He shares the results of his experimentation when pursuing various goals (weight loss, building muscle, increasing productivity, better sex, etc.).
In his section on “Subtracting Fat”, he describes the slow carb diet as a method for better weight loss through simplicity. He outlines a five simple rules as the foundation for the diet:
- Avoid “white” carbohydrates
- Eat the same few meals over and over again
- Don’t drink calories
- Don’t eat fruit
- Take one day off per week
And that’s it! He describes the diet as “intended to be effective, not fun.” Of course, fans, critics, and the general public presented questions, interpretations, and more which have gone on to make these simple rules more confusing.
Ferriss does expand upon the rules a subsequent chapter, and he goes on to clarify some common questions about the slow carb diet in this post. But all these are expansions upon the five basic rules, which have remained unchanged.
What Can I Eat On The Slow Carb Diet?
So what do these five rules mean, and what are their implications for your diet? Again, it’s pretty simple:
- Don’t eat any carbohydrate that is or could be white. This includes sugar, flour, grains, bread, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, etc. Note that this does not include cauliflower.
- Create your meals from low- or lower-fat proteins, legumes (beans and lentils), and vegetables. Nuts are OK too.
- Don’t drink milk, soy milk, soft drinks, or fruit juice. He also suggests limiting soft drinks.
- All fruit are off the table, except tomatoes and avocados.
- Spices are fine and strongly encouraged for variety and flavor.
- One glass of red wine per day is OK. No other alcohol is allowed.
In his clarifications, he goes on to say:
- Do not eat yams
- Do not eat sweet potatoes
- Do not eat quinoa
- Do not eat dairy
His basic rule: “If you have to ask, don’t eat it.”
Basically, eat lots of proteins from meats (preferably non-red-meat sources), eat lots of legumes, and eat lots of vegetables. Skip everything else.
Why Is The Slow Carb Diet The Way It Is?
If you want the full details on all of his choices, you’ve got to read the book. He did a lot of experimentation, blood tests, body fat tests, and more, interpreted the results, and came up with what he got. He doesn’t go into every detail, but does explain the why’s of a lot of his choices (why no dairy, why legumes, etc.).
There are some things that people commonly freak out about, so I will do my best to answer them:
- “Why legumes? Don’t they have a lot of carbs?” On a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, it is difficult to maintain enough calories to stay healthy. He selects legumes because they supply a high number of calories, a high number of vitamins and minerals, and have a low glycemic load. According to Ferriss, the upsides outweigh the downsides.
- “Why no dairy?” His explanation that milk and dairy can provoke a high insulinemic response, which slows fat loss.
- “Why a cheat day?” Basically, by having a day off when you can eat whatever you want, it allows people to satisfy cravings and stay on the diet longer. Plus, it keeps your body from acclimating to the low carb diet and slowing down weight loss.
If you have more questions about the slow carb diet, I strongly suggest you read the The Four Hour Body and Tim’s posts about it, read our slow carb diet tips, check out the 4 Hour Body Reddit group, and read the other great sites online (edit: this is a great simple overview that incorporates a LOT: Everything You Need To Know About The Slow Carb Diet. There are plenty of answers out there. And as always, feel free to ask us!
Doesn’t This Website Contradict Rule #2?
In my experience, following the basic precepts of the slow carb diet works great for weight loss. The big challenge I faced was the monotony of the meals. I love eating and I love to cook. I can’t just do the same meal over and over again. So that’s why we created this site: we wanted to see if we could eat meals that tasted fantastic but still lose weight. What’s fantastic is that it worked!
I’ve found no problem eating soy sauce, no problem eating hard cheeses (like parmesan), no problem eating butter. I can deal with the fact that it’s more complicated to shop and cook this way. The weight loss may be slightly slower than someone going hardcore slow carb, but I’ve found that the pleasure I get from cooking and eating foods that taste great allows me to stick to the diet longer.
After all, this is all about self-experimentation: for me, this works. I encourage you to experiment and see if it works for you too. And if it does, share your successes, tips, and recipes with the rest of us!