The 2 Simple Fat Loss tools you need

If you are on the slow carb diet, and making it work for you, there’s two things you need to know about, to ensure you’re getting the most from each and every slow carb meal.

They aren’t crazy air squats before and after eating, and I promise, there’s no ice (baths, water, packs) involved.

They can be found in most household kitchens across North America, and though humble, they offer quite a powerful opportunity to make those slow carb meals go that little bit further. They are also very useful on cheat day.

They’re both flavorful, and at home in food as well as drinks, so there’s no excuse not to include one, or the other, or both, at each meal.

Have you guessed yet?

Perhaps you’ve heard about them before, but maybe you haven’t included them in your regular slow carb routine. Or, maybe this will be new for you, and I hope I do justice to the potential on offer.

Without further ado, I present our two humble, yet powerful, additions for every slow carb (and cheat day) meal:

Cinnamon, and Lemon Juice.

OK, so maybe you’d guessed already, but I have some fun facts for you:

Lemon juice has a great variety of benefits to the body, one of them is in lowering blood sugar response. As mentioned in the book, Tim Ferriss found that when he included lemon juice in water before a meal, his blood sugar response was 10% lower than usual.

Lemon juice also helps with kidney stones, has loads of vitamin C and is being investigated for potential benefits to cholesterol control and fighting cancer.

Cinnamon, or more specifically ‘Saigon Cinnamon’ (have a look in the organic spices rack at your grocery store) is very powerful stuff, and has been found to lower blood sugar response by as much as 29%. This equates to a big reduction in the body.

So, why do I keep mentioning blood sugar response?

Simple. Blood sugar levels are one of the key indicators for fat storage. So everything we can do to ‘blunt’ or ‘flatline’ our blood sugar throughout the day helps avoid fat storage. Remember all those diets that preached 6-8 small meals per day? Blood sugar control is one of the reasons they worked. Likewise, it is one of the key reasons to avoid ‘white’ carbs on the slow carb diet. The slow carb foods tend to avoid spiking blood sugar levels by offering meals with a low glycemic load. Carbohydrates however, have a tendency, in general, to elevate blood sugar levels, and white carbohydrates do this even more, as they are digested faster and hence enter the bloodstream over a shorter period of time.

Think about how you could include lemon juice or cinnamon in your meals, and you will be getting benefits as you eat. Likewise, if you make a habit of having some cinnamon or lemon juice before you start eating, in a drink, then you’ll be primed and ready to go when your food starts digesting.

Let me know your favorite recipes that include either, by commenting below!

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. 5 Simple Tips for Cheat Day I'm coming into week 4 of slow carb eating, and I have to admit the cheat-day lead-up each week is quite an exciting time for me. Not only for the food, but also...
  2. Slow carb warning – stalled fat loss We work with many people each week who have challenges with stalled fat loss, and many of them have a common problem with the slow carb diet that is the cause of their...
  3. New Slow Carb Recipe: White Bean Fish Cakes Hello all! I thought you might be as excited as me to hear of a new recipe for the Slow Carbers out there! I've put together Slow Carb - White Bean Fish Cakes,...

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49 Responses to The 2 Simple Fat Loss tools you need

  • Nacho says:

    Spinach with lemon juice is great!

  • Jesse Weaver says:

    My favorite wife made some really good chicken chili last night, and pulled the “secret ingredient” routine with cinnamon. You could just barely smell something different, but we couldn’t taste it at all. Built-in cinna-boost FTW! ;)

  • Gloppy says:

    Hey Luke,

    Tim Ferriss recommends lemon juice during cheat days, to help “blunt” the glycemic spikes.
    What about you? Do you recommend it on a regular or everyday basis ? Or just during “binge” meals?

    Also, how much do you consume? (Me, I usually pour the juice of one average-sized lemon in a 85 centiliters bottle).


    • Luke says:

      Hey thanks for your comment.

      Personally, I drink lemon juice every day in water for a few reasons – 1/ I really like the flavor, and drink more water because of that, 2/ it is acidic but has the effect of lowering acidity in the body, 3/ it aides digestion when used in hot water, 4/ it helps blunt the sugar spikes.
      I use a few dashes in a large cup of water, so probably around 10ml for a 250ml glass.

      All the best,

  • Brent says:

    Tim also mentions grapefruit juice before kickin off cheat day.

    • Luke says:

      Great tip Brent – on Cheat Days, there are a few extra tricks we can use to limit the damage.

      For anyone who is looking for cheat day tips – One is grapefruit juice, for it’s fructose, taken a couple hours after a slow carb breakfast, and a couple hours before cheat day lunch. Another is coffee for its diuretic effect and mild laxative effect. Keeping things moving, and blunting any blood sugar spikes are the name of the game on cheat day. Couple that with some GLUT4 exercises like air squats and wall presses, around when you’re eating, and you’ve got an expert cheat day that’ll have you eating your favorites but not gaining too much from it.


  • Sean says:

    Great post, one quick question. What brand of lemon juice do you typically use? Do you typically use fresh lemons? It seems like using actually lemons could get quite messy/inconvenient (esp. at work).


    • Sven says:

      I only use freshly squeezed lemon juice and use it in all of my water through out the day. Another reason that I think is very important and not really mentioned is body and blood acidity.

      Due to the high protein intake you body becomes very acid which a lot of lemon juice in water can counter act. A blood alkalinity of 7.2-7.4 is what is recommended. It keeps you healthy, you can NEVER get sick and you age far less.

      Make It A Great Day.

      • Luke says:

        Hi Sven, great advice and thanks for sharing it.
        The science behind blood acidity is probably another topic to cover on another day, due to it’s complexity, but you’re spot on – lemon juice as a regular routine has many health benefits, so there’s no reason not to use it!

        All the best,

    • Luke says:

      Hey Sean, thanks for your comment.

      You’re right about fresh lemons getting inconvenient. I know some people do their own batch of freshly squeezed juice at the start of the week, and use that, and some people are using a bottled version of freshly squeezed (no additives). We oscillate between the two.

      All the best!

      • Sven says:

        Lemon Juice looses it potency through oxidization pretty quickly and lemon juice in a bottle is usually pasteurized (heated) which pretty much kills all the good stuff. So squeezing a large amount ahead of time might not be such a good idea.

        I have a little brown glass bottle and I squeeze every morning 1-2 lemons, siphon the pulp off and pour it into my little bottle and take it to work. Then I can add it to my water whenever I like or need it.

        So far it woks well and is not too inconvenient.

        Make It A Great Day

        • Luke says:

          Hi Sven, Thanks for the tip!
          We can all learn something, and I wasn’t aware of lemon juice and oxidization.

          Your tip is a good one, and for those who are keen to make lemon juice a regular thing, a great option!


  • mark says:

    hey guys..

    i useally put a dash of cinnamon in my morning eggs.. tastes great… for a bit of protein fun try frying youre eggs in a teaspoon of slowly melted peanut butter… yummi

    anyway… the cinnamon thing.. while researching the whole 4 hour body thing ,cinnamon came op as a alternative to sugar in coffee ( which is now a regular habbit, nice)
    but reading up on cinnamon, i found out that to much cinnamon would spike youre hunger!!!! not good when youre trying to kick mr weight gain in the nuts… and that cinnaomon has been used to induce hunger i people with appetite loss for hundreds of years… whats youre take on this luke??

    on to the lemons.. do limes do the same thing or grapefruit juice mentioned earlier??

    and does it have to be pure lemon juice, will juice from koncentrate do the trick as well?

    all the best


    ps: thanks for a great site

    • Luke says:

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s a great tip on the eggs! I’ll try it with almond butter tomorrow (I keep off peanut butter).

      Cinnamon is a powerful substance, and as you’ve noted, it can be used to help people with appetite loss. My view on this is that in the amounts we’re discussing, and taking it just before or with food, the blood sugar benefits outweigh any potential effect of increasing appetite. It’s not likely that people will notice a substantial difference, and with the slow carb foods, the sensation of feeling full, and the amount of food we need to eat, is most likely to be more obvious than any appetite effects from the cinnamon. If you have a giant bean-brick sitting in your stomach, you’re not likely to want to eat more :)

      With the lemons, limes and grapefruits – lime juice has the same effect, as it too is quite acidic, however the grapefruit juice should be reserved for cheat days only, as there’s a substantial whack of fructose coming in, with the amounts suggested.
      Pure lemon juice is always best, but if you’re stuck I’d encourage you to do your own testing with concentrate – also you might be able to find a bottled, squeezed lemon juice, that’s a good compromise.

      All the best,

      • mark says:

        hey luke

        found some free range. fair trade lemon juice in my local supermarket so problem fixed..
        tried drinking some in warm water today and also befor 2 of my meals… can only say that it certanly got things “flowinng” :-)
        so bonus on that…

        as for cinnamon, personally i havent felt any increased hunger. and with all the food coming in, hunger shouldent really be an option.just fought i woulf throw it in the mix..

        and do try youre eggs with cinnamon, its like french toast.. well without the toast..ha ha.. think youll like it..
        why do you keep of the peanut butter???
        almond butter is like triple the prize in my country, so personal taste or because of fat containt?

        all the best

        • Luke says:

          Hey Mark,

          Sounds good! I find that warm water and lemon juice is quite the start to the day, and will get you moving towards the bathroom!

          Cinnamon on eggs sounds like a real treat! I’ll remember tomorrow morning by putting the cinnamon next to the stove!

          There’s a couple of things around peanut butter, but mainly I find the all natural peanut butter (which is the only one I’ll eat, to avoid added icing sugar, maltodextrin, etc), is about the same price as the almond butter, and the almond butter I find tastes better.

          All the best!

  • Erik says:

    What are your feelings on sugar free gum?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Erik thanks for your comment.

      I think it’s OK to have from time to time, however there are two things to keep an eye on – 1 – artificial sweeteners in any form have been linked to health problems, and can also slowly disable the body’s ability to recognise how hungry it is. 2 – constantly chewing produces saliva, and makes your stomach think there’s food coming – this can make you feel hungry, or lead to acid problems over time.

      All the best!

  • Erik says:


    I’m curious to know about a few things. First, how has your experience been with PAGG/AGG? Tim outlines on his blog site in 2007, using 200 mcg of Chromium Polynicotinate, 500 mg of slow release Niacin, our Pilicosanol, and 1to 2 glasses of red or white wine, for fat loss. Fat loss is my primary goal. Interestly, Tim eats an organic orange at bedtime to increase HDL.

    Finally, Tim experimented with HCG in his book to improve testosterone results, but he never commented on weight loss. While my questions are designed for Tim, your forum and passion for Four Hour Body rivals my own.

    What are your thoughts? I look forward to your response.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Erik,

      I think Tim’s PAGG combination in the book, as it came after his blog post, is more up to date. I know some people are taking ChromeMate and SloNiacin too (in this case ChromeMate with each meal and SloNiacin morning and night) to control blood sugar. Definitely worth trying if you feel blood sugar spikes are a factor in fat loss/gain for you.
      I’m not sure about the HCG – though I’m interested in that area, I don’t dive as deeply into that field as others such as food as medicine, and doing all we can to maintain a healthy system throughout.

      All the best,

  • Marcus says:

    2 things:
    Watch out for your teeth if you are drinking a lot of Lemon Water. Do not brush your teeth right after doing it is murder on the enamel. Your teeth can heal themselves but it takes time. (Dad was a dentist growing up and I can’t help but repeat his warnings.)

    In a non-scientific experiment with my coffee I used to put regular Cinnamon in my coffee and in about 45 minutes (Yes, it takes me forever to drink coffee) You would have a Cinnamon snot at the bottom of the cup. I believe the snot was the soluble fiber coming out of the Cinnamon. The switch to Saigon Cinnamon does not do that. I always wondered if that means something and which is better.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Marcus, thanks for your comment.

      Great tip on lemon juice – it does leave your teeth more susceptible to enamel wear.

      I know what you mean about cinnamon – I have see the exact same thing happening. I prefer Saigon Cinnamon as it almost dissolves, vs regular cinnamon which seems totally hydro-phobic.

      All the best,

  • Andrea says:


    Ferriss mentions doing fresh cinnamon every day. Does anyone know how long the cinnamon can keep? We are grinding our own stalks but the spice shop sells ground cinnamon that is between a few days and 2 weeks old. Is too weeks too old for cinnamon? Or could we use that instead of going through the trouble to grind our own?

    Thank you!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Andrea, great questions, and I’m going to look to our community to see if anyone has a definitive answer on this. I haven’t seen a study that differentiated results by how fresh or otherwise the cinnamon was, so I’m not sure what impact that would have on it’s effect.


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  • Robyn says:

    Just wondering, does lemon juice not have the same fructose effect as other fruits? I love water with lemon, and I know that Tim mentions it in 4HB, but I have always been afraid to try it myself since I have been so trained to stay away from fruits unless it’s cheat day.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Robyn, thanks for your question.

      Lemon juice is taken in such small amounts that any sugar/fructose content is not of concern. Lemon juice can however reduce blood sugar peaks by 10%, which is significant (3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice before a meal). Cinnamon can also impact a meal in the same way, by up to 30%. This is a good thing for anyone looking to lose fat or gain muscle without putting on fat.

      All the best,

  • Cathy says:

    I am using cinnamon in my coffee each morning and keeping pretty strictly on the diet. I like the cinnamon; we are using saigon cinnamon. However, I wake up at night after about 4 hours of sleep. Finally i realized that my blood sugar has dropped so much that i can’t sleep. i finally put a jar of almond butter on the bed stand and eat a spoon of it. finally i get back to sleep. otherwise i stay awake for hours. any recommendations on this?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Cathy,
      Sounds like you might not be getting enough food during the day, and eventually you body is left without a reserve. Do you feel like you have plenty of energy during the day? Or do you feel a little tired? If tired, add some extra food at each meal, but if not, it sounds like a snack before bed is the best option. Almond butter is a good option, or a small meal of beans and a protein, such as tuna could be used. Experiment a little to see what works for you.
      All the best,

  • Mollie says:

    I enjoy your blog
    I’ve been on the diet for 4+ months and an happy with my weight loss. However I have been experiencing what I think is kidney pain.

    I have heard of people on the Atkins diet experience kidney stones/pain, and wonder if i will need to stop the diet.

    • Luke says:

      Hey, thanks for your comment. I think I replied to your email already, but for reference here – I recommend anyone who has any health concerns to always check in with their health care professional.
      Higher protein diets have got a bad reputation, however the science shows there’s no correlation between high protein diets and kidney problems, except for people who already have kidney disease. Then a high protein diet is not recommended.
      A related concern with beans is people with gout. For these people, beans are not recommended, and slow carb probably isn’t a great choice.

      Slow carb is quite different to Atkins. And the New Atkins, if followed properly, is a particularly healthy and health-promoting diet.

      All the best,

  • Mollie says:

    Thank you for your thorough and helpful response, Luke. And happy new year!

    I tend to snack on popcorn during the day, but will take your advice to eat meals instead. My husband and I can reduce our sodium too- thanks for that suggestion. And, though I don’t like to go to the doctor, I will take your advice there as well if the pain continues. I suspect she will tell me to go off the hi-protein diet and eliminate beans. 

    Doing more investigating, I have come to learn that eating the same foods regularly contributes to problems, one of which is developing an allergy to the routine foods. Yet this is the very thing recommended in the slow carb diet. Your view?

    Being vegetarian, my husband and I have a pea protein shake every morning, and cottage cheese or eggs for protein in the evening with canned black beans and vegetables. Do you recommend more variety? We like to avoid soy products. We heard having over 10 eggs/week is unhealthy, so we keep our egg meal (4-5 eggs) to once/week. Can you suggest other acceptable sources of protein?

    Also, I have added lemon to my water which is supposed to be good to lower uric acid. I’ve also begun to add cinnamon to my cottage cheese and started a pre/probiotic. I’ve added a calcium mag supplement and potassium which I’ve read are helpful. Symptoms of pain have lessened.  I have added some oil and avocado to increase fat intake a bit – all of these things seems to help. 

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mollie,

      Just to note – popcorn is definitely way out of the realm of slow carb. As a starch, it converts to sugar very readily.

      I think it’ll be a good thing to check in with your doctor and get things checked out.

      As far as eating things regularly being a cause of developing an allergy – I think there’s much more detail that goes into allergies than this. This is one theory, and tends to be mentioned around wheat a lot. There’s the suggestion that overconsuming wheat leads to wheat intolerance, however there isn’t a lot of long term evidence for this yet, and it needs to be considered along with the fact that many people have a genetic predisposition to wheat sensitivity, that may trigger according to immune system health.

      So, with the slow carb foods, I think in general terms its very healthy to depend on the same 4-8 meals each week. There’s plenty of variety in the vegetable options, and the core foods of the diet are some of the healthiest, most nutritious and high in vitamins and minerals. Over time, as you reach your goal weight, I recommend including a little more variety, like some healthy nuts (almonds for example), and perhaps some berries (like blueberries).

      I think it’s a good idea to avoid soy products as a rule of thumb. Your protein sources sound good – you might also consider rice protein as well. Bear in mind that cottage cheese also has some sugar in it, so you need to consider that it’s not an ideal protein replacement. Whey protein is also an option.

      As far as egg consumption goes, there are many schools of thought about eggs, from 2 per week to one dozen, to any number. I have averaged 4 eggs per day for over a year now, but of course I am but one person. In general, there’s a lot of good nutrients in eggs, and there isn’t any evidence that cholesterol in the diet leads to high cholesterol. In fact, the largest contributor to higher cholesterol is being overweight. As weight decreases, cholesterol often follows. Of course, variety in general is good, but I don’t worry about eating 28 – 40 eggs /week.

      Your additions all sound excellent. Keep up the great work and all the best!

  • Mollie says:

    Thanks again for the great info.

    I am surprised to hear about popcorn as I consider corn to be a vegetable. Nonetheless I will take your advice.

    Also, I’m confused about using rice protein or whey protein – isn’t rice considered off limits as a “white” food? And whey off limits as dairy?

    We do have small amounts of nuts on occasion and find they don’t affect our weight at all.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Mollie,

      Thanks for your reply. Corn is a vegetable, but quite a starchy one being quite high in sugar.

      Being a vegetarian, you’ll be making some compromises, for sure. Examples of this are the whey protein and the rice protein. The whey protein works for some people, but not for others. The rice protein doesn’t include the carbohydrate from rice, so that’s not considered a white starch, because the starch component is removed. Likewise the same for Pea Protein.

      Some people find nuts work alright, while for others they can easily cause stalls in fat loss. That’s great if they work for you!

      All the best,

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mollie,
      Corn is a very starchy vegetable so it’s best avoided during he week, in any form.

      Rice protein is solely the protein of the grain – so the starch (carbohydrate) has been removed. Whey too is the protein from the milk, with the starch (galactose – milk sugar) removed. So in both cases, it is an isolate protein. In both cases, protein isolates aren’t ideal because they don’t replace whole meals. But they can be a good supplement if it’s difficult to get enough protein from whole food sources (especially for vegetarians).

      All the best,

  • Remember all those diets that preached 6-8 small meals per day? Blood sugar control is one of the reasons they worked.

    They didn’t in particular. They were designed to sell protein shakes and bars.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Christoph, I support your point of view, for sure. If you exclude those that recommended shakes and bars, there were plans going around that nutritionists recommended (and still continue to do so even today), that eating 6-8 small meals per day was required, to keep blood sugar level. It’s too bad that the connection between fiber, fat, protein and slow digestion isn’t more publicly known or understood. It might put some of those shake and bar companies out of business ;)

      All the best,

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