June 13, 2019

The Slow Carb Diet

I first learned about the Slow Carb diet from Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Body. I tried it exactly as directed and lost weight, then for various reasons drew back from carefully following the diet and put weight back on. I know the diet works and I am working my way back to the point of following it carefully again.

I like the approach of the Slow Carb diet because it doesn't make any broad statements like "all carbohydrates are bad". Carbohydrates are like the other macro-nutrients (fat and protein) and come in varieties that are better or worse for us. This intelligent handling of carbohydrates sets the Slow Carb diet above all other contenders for me.

The whole purpose of the "Slow Carb" diet is to reduce the speed of the arrival of sugar (in the form of blood Glucose) into the bloodstream, hence its name, because you only eat carbohydrates that are converted to blood Glucose slowly. This reduces the incidence of spikes of blood sugar values and keeps the body's levels more even and consistent. Spikes in blood Glucose cause the body to produce Insulin and that then stores excess Glucose as fat. Promoting a flatter blood sugar level over time causes the body to start releasing those fat stores as it doesn't see any food panic situations causing spikes.

Because the fundamental principle of the Slow Carb diet is that you do everything possible to keep your blood sugar stable, it brings other benefits. It is simple, effective and does not require counting calories. These are very important for longevity of staying on the diet. The more complicated the diet the lower the chance of it working and the dieter staying on it.

Getting started on the Slow Carb diet can be done by jumping in or easing in. If you're brave, then throw out all processed carbs from your house and get started. The rest of us most likely will take the gentle approach. To gently start on the Slow Carb diet, begin by eating a Slow Carb breakfast and then eat the rest of your meals normally. This helps with the using up of existing groceries in the house, especially given how expensive it is to throw out uneaten food and restock your cupboards. As you feel ready add in eating your lunch as a Slow Carb meal, then your evening meal and finally make any snacks Slow Carb.

Enough preliminary conversation. We've covered the why, so now we move onto the what and what not.

Eat This!

You may eat any amount of the following foods in these food groups.

Proteins : Beef, Pork, lamb, Fish, Chicken, Turkey, Venison, Whole eggs. (Almost any meat is good, feel free to eat rabbit, squirrel, rattlesnake or anything else that most people would agree counts as meat.)

Legumes : Lentils, beans. (Remember if cooking red kidney beans from dried, after soaking them overnight, to boil them for at least ten minutes before going to the long simmering stage to ensure that you get all of the toxins out.)

Vegetables : All green vegetables, Cauliflower, pickles and other fermented vegetables such as Sauerkraut or Kimchee. (Avoid root vegetables, especially potatoes.)

Don't Eat This!

Eat no grains or the flour made from them, specifically meaning no bread, no pastries, no crackers, no chips, no breaded foods (unless you remove the breading), no rice (not even brown rice) and no fruit.

Drink nothing with added or natural sugar. No soft drinks, no energy drinks, no fancy coffees from fancy coffee shops that use syrups for flavoring and no fruit juice.

We've all been told for years that fruit is part of a balanced diet, but it isn't and I promise you that you will not die of scurvy if you don't eat fruit or drink fruit juice as long as the rest of your diet is high quality, which it should be if you are carefully following the guidelines for what you should be eating.

I love drinking milk, but most dairy products will spike your Insulin, so don't drink milk during the first six days of the week, save your dairy intake for the diet day off. (Of course, as a British guy, I drink hot tea with milk, but that quantity of milk does not seem to be a problem, so enjoy a cuppa any time you like.)

Take A Day Off From Your Diet Every Week!

I like to call this the Diet Day Off. Once a week, if you have followed the Slow Carb diet carefully and fully, you must eat lots of high carb foods. Everything you diligently refused to eat for the first six days of the week, you may now eat for an entire day with no guilt. Don't go stupid, but eat however many carbs your body can handle. (For example, if you have diabetes, then be very careful, but still eat more carbs than the other six days.) The reason for this is that it is very important not to trigger your body's natural famine response. The human body if it doesn't see a spike in blood Glucose now and then will assume that there is a food shortage and slow down the metabolism. We want the metabolism running as fast as possible, to burn fat, so we need to assure it that everything's fine by eating doughnuts one day a week. It's a rough way to diet, but you'll struggle through.

If you are worried about developing scurvy after the admonition not to eat fruit, the diet day off is a great time to enjoy as much fruit as you feel you need for the week. Likewise, concerns over rickets can also be obviated through drinking plenty of (vitamin D fortified) milk on the diet day off.


From personal experience a few good snack options are Cottage cheese, Pork rinds, leftovers of any other Slow Carb meals, up to 4 ounces of cheese in a day and high fat-content nuts such as Macadamia nuts. Interestingly, because of the larger amounts of protein and fat consumed in the Slow Carb diet, relatively few snacks are required once the diet is properly under way.

Hints And Tips

Remember that most high carb foods are calorie dense, so when starting to eat more vegetables, plan on larger servings of them to keep the body supplied with energy.

Avoid cooking oils made from vegetables or seeds. Stick to Olive oil as much as possible.

Salads are always a good thing, but do not use prepared dressings on them as many of them contain sugar. Buy some Balsamic vinegar and Olice Oil and learn to enjoy a mixture of them on your salads.

Alternative Versions Of The Slow Carb Diet

The Tim Ferriss version of the Slow Carb diet is one of the more strict versions. Now, it does have excellent results when followed exactly, but some people are fine exchanging slower weight-loss for more eating flexibility. As with everything in life, there is a trade off to these things. Some people like to add in rice as a permitted grain, while others like to eat more cheese or perhaps green apples as they have a very low Glycemic Index for fruit. When experimenting, try these things and monitor yourself carefully so that you can make your own determination about whether it works for you.

Tags: Health Living Well Personal