The Slow Carb Diet Experiment

The 4-hour Body Slow-Carb Diet (kind-of) worked for me. 9 lbs in 30 days.

In the Times Bestseller The Four Hour Body, Tim Ferriss outlined the slow-carb diet: a 6-days on and 1-day off diet for easy fat loss without exercising and starving oneself. I tried it for 30 days only concerning myself with the before and after, noting any major changes along the way. Here’s what went down:

Movement

The plan doesn’t stipulate any exercise, nor does it require it. In fact, my activity level was perhaps the worst in was in recent memory since reading period my senior year of college where I handcuffed myself to a couch in the campus coffee shop until I was done writing. My schedule looked something like this:

Monday through Friday

  • 9am wakeup.
  • 10ish to 7ish—desk time (with 15 minute takeout walk around 2ish, and 5 minute soup pickup around 6, or when hungry.)
  • 7ish to 8ish—commute home and errands
  • 8ish to 2ish—couch time (still working) and dinner

Saturday through Sunday

  • Intermittent spurts of productivity
  • Short run or low-intensity bike ride (20-40 minutes)
  • Movies, Coding, and Sparticus. From the Couch.
  • Seamlessweb.
  • 7pm – ?am: Reckless Spending on Various Activities


Diet

Sunday through Monday
(No dietary supplements other than water were used in this.)

  • Breakfast (9:15am)
    3 Pete and Gerrys AA organic whole eggs, pan-scrambled coated in non-stick spray. 1/2 can of Whole Foods Organic Black Beans (microwave). Organic Green Salsa (Medium Spicy).
  • Lunch (2ish)
    Option 1: Chipotle Burrito Bowl with no rice, Barbacoa Beef or Chicken, black beans, with the following optional mixes: all salsas, sour cream, corn, lettuce, guacamole. Never cheese. Never rice. Never Tortilla.
    Option 2: Sashimi lunch special with soup or salad. No rice.
  • Snack (when/if hungry): Lentil Soup or Butternut Squash Soup from Zaro’s Bakery.
  • Dinner (9ish)
    Option 1: Salmon with steamed spinach (Whole Foods Frozen). Olive oil and salt.
    Option 2: Gristedes Tunafish salad with steamed spinach and/or mixed vegetables (Whole Foods Frozen).
    Mix-in: Sometimes 1/2 can of black beans or lentils.

Weekday Cheat Meals

  1. On weeks 2 and 3: Hill Country BBQ — no bread, but tons of BBQ sauce on lean brisket.
  2. On week 4: Skipped dinner, ate 6 or 7 chocolate chip cookies instead with 2 glasses of wine at Book Club

Saturday
Anything and everything.

Results

(measurements taken after morning ritual, including breakfast and morning poo)

  • Start: 188.0 lbs
  • End: 179.0 lbs
  • Today: 180.0, after a week and change on my normal diet

I noticed a reduction in fat around my body, particularly in my neck and waist, and I was back to my normal, healthy body composition. So, yay.

Narrative

The first week is certainly the hardest. In removing carbohydrates, the cravings for bread and rice intensified throughout the week. On my first saturday, I ate four bagels (2 whole wheat, 2 pumpernickel) by myself. Before lunch. The first bagel contained tuna salad. (Did I mention I love tunafish?)

I noticed, however, that I my sweet tooth had lost its edge. During my cheat day, I didn’t have much desire to shovel candy into my welcoming stomach. Other Slow Carbers have noted a change in palette and apparently there’s a scientific explanation for this.

Getting back on the horse on Sunday was easier than I thought it would be, with the second week being much easier than the first. I was still looking forward to my cheat day, but less so than the first week.

That Saturday, I ate two-thirds of a chicken tikka masala pizza from Slice… by myself. Later that night, I had 4 Crumbs Cupcakes in a row followed by a chocolate bar. And then dinner.

The next two weeks were a breeze; a joy, actually: I looked forward to my six days of decisionless dieting and less-so to my cheat day.

On day 31, I weighed myself: 179lbs.

All-in-all, the diet was easy and helped undo the month of Prednisone that added a quick 20lbs to my frame in December. (I would have started earlier, but I was out of the country until mid February and wanted to test this when I had a bit more control on my schedule.)

I don’t think, however, it’s sustainable. One of the reasons I stopped was that, in week five (days 28-31) the carb craving was twice what is was compared to the first week and I couldn’t keep myself from having bread. So, I slowly transitioned back to my old ways which have done well with keeping my physique at a constant.

What’s next?

New York City’s newest transient resident, Andrew Hyde (featured in The Four Hour Body), turned me on to Intermittent Fasting and the Paleolithic Diet. I’ll probably start one of these May 1. In the meantime, I’ve procured enough for a PAGG stack for a month.

Stay tuned.

1 comments
Sean Tierney
Sean Tierney

Mike, congrats. I got 50pgs into 4HB and then my buddy got me started on Paleo and i never went back. You should definitely check it out. I've been doing it for 3.5 mos now w/ good success (lost 15lbs in the first 3wks and am now down 24lbs w/ minimal gym activity and pretty much just running). And energy level is way up - it's all about killing processed foods (sugar, carbs & dairy if you can do it). This is my post at the 1mo mark: http://www.scrollinondubs.com/2011/02/08/paleo-results/

How are the sharksticks in NYC?