Compare Slow Carb to Other Diets
If you’re thinking about getting started with slow carb, or if you’ve been following it for a while and you’re wondering if there’s other options out there, then this is the guide for you! Let’s take a quick look at the common elements of diets, so we can compare between some different options out there.
Common Diet Elements
- Science/evidence for effectiveness
- Method of Fat Loss/theory
- Calorie limits
- Other nutrient limits
- Food selection/limits
- Special packaged foods/meal replacements
- Supplements/diet pills
- Long-term plan
- Support options
- Results – short term
- Results – long term
Looking at diets in these terms helps you compare many different options, at a glance, and make a decision as to what suits you the best.
- Science/evidence for effectiveness – Participant research conducted by Tim Ferriss, evidence from Tim Ferriss personally, success shared over the last 3 years from slow carb followers online
- Method of Fat Loss/Theory -
- Calorie limits – Eat as much as you need at 3 or 4 meals to not feel hungry or need to snack – no specific limit, and no counting.
- Other nutrient limits – No counting of fat, protein or carbohydrate – just sticking to a certain combination of foods at each meal (lean protein, vegetables, beans)
- Food selection/limits – Slow carb limits to beans/lentils, green and non starchy vegetables, plus any lean protein
- Special packaged foods/meal replacements – Eating whole meals, not specially bought or packaged food, no packaged convenience options
- Supplements/diet pills – Not required for success- no appetite suppressants or metabolism boosting supplements recommended
- Lastability – Cheat day offers a planned break, every week, from the slow carb meals
- Long-term plan – Able to use slow carb over a long period of time (not medically necessary to go off it), and incorporate a few ‘cheats’ every week once goal is reached
- Support options – Much support online through forums, and blogs
- Results – short term – Good, over 6-8 weeks for most people
- Results – long term - Excellent, over the longer term if followed slow carb will help maintain weight over years. Inflammation can reduce and result in benefits to pains in joints, and muscles. Blood pressure may reduce, blood cholesterol may improve.
- Science/evidence for effectiveness - Over 40 years of research, combined studies showing Atkins more effective than other diet options, science-based evidence that shows how the body burns fat for energy
- Method of fat loss/theory -
- Calorie limits - No calorie limits, eat until satisfied
- Other nutrient limits – Limit carbohydrates (by counting) to between 20 and 80 grams (different for different people), over time
- Food selection/limits – Induction (2 weeks) has restricted options, more options added over the next 2 months. Maintenance level offers wide selection including whole grains
- Special packaged foods/meal replacements – Not required, but convenience options available
- Supplements/diet pills – Not required
- Lastability – Limitation on carbohydrates means some old favorites are no longer an option. No ‘cheat day’ offered.
- Long-term plan - Offers a long term maintenance plan, for life-long sustainability
- Support options – Medical professionals trained in Atkins, Atkins forums, website, other blogs
- Results – short term – Excellent
- Results – long term – Excellent, with adherance to the Atkins principles. Cholesterol improves – good cholesterol goes up, bad cholesterol increases in size and is more buoyant (both positive results), blood pressure reduces, diabetes type 2 can ease due to lack of insulin released in the blood stream.
- Science/evidence for effectiveness - Based on influence of a group of people in the USA in the 60′s and 70′s. No science research shows a link between a low fat diet and lower bodyfat levels, or better cardiovascular health
- Method of fat loss/theory – Limiting fat in the diet leads to lower cholesterol levels, and this means better cardiovascular health. There isn’t any research that supports this theory
- Calorie limits – Not necessarily involved in this method of eating, though often combined with calorie restrictions
- Other nutrient limits - Specifically limiting fat to a very low level. Sometimes target 20g fat per day
- Food selection/limits - No specific foods required, but low-fat foods sought, and low-fat options selected (note many of these are higher in carbohydrate)
- Special packaged foods/meal replacements – Many food options now in the low fat category. Packaged foods re-formulated into low-fat variations
- Supplements/diet pills - Not specified, but ‘metabolism boosters’ may be used
- Lastability – Many countries’ governments advocate a low fat diet to live by, to reduce cardiovascular disease (not proven by science – diabetes and heart disease have increased in the USA since low fat was recommended)
- Long-term plan – Stick with low-fat foods
- Support options - Grocery store foods, media coverage in magazines and newspapers, doctors advising this method
- Results – short term – May be good in fat loss if combined with calorie restriction, though this can contribute to muscle loss.
- Results – long term – Diabetes and heart disease risk may increase due to increased carbohydrates leading to obesity. Many people regain lost weight over time, and may gain more weight than they previously carried.
Calorie Controlled (semi-starvation diet):
- Science/evidence for effectiveness – Simplification of calories (a unit of measurement devised a century ago) equation to suggest that the body needs to consume a specific amount of calories to maintain weight over time. Doing the math on this theory, however, shows that being just 10 calories out per day (a bite of an apple) would lead to 10 lbs of fat gained over a 10 year period.
- Method of fat loss/theory – Providing the body with less nutrition than it needs forces it to use stored energy (fat) to make up the difference, thus losing fat from the body
- Calorie limits – Very specific, and generally not accounting for changes in activity from day to day. Less reliance on hunger signals, and more focus placed on sticking to a specific number daily.
- Other nutrient limits – None specified – controlling calories leaves nutritional elements (protein, fat, carbohydrates) at the discretion of the dieter – many times combined with low fat.
- Food selection/limits – Any foods, though low-calorie options are sought out. Portion control also used to try to control calorie numbers.
- Special packaged foods/meal replacements – Many options exist in grocery stores, packaged into smaller calorie servings.
- Supplements/diet pills – Commonly metabolism enhancing pills may be used, though not specifically necessary for this method.
- Lastability – Dieters have difficulty sticking with a lower amount of food intake. Often combined with exercise, which leads to increased hunger. Lower calories also increase hunger, so dieters have a mental battle most days to avoid eating as much as they feel they need to.
- Long-term plan -
- Support options -
- Results – short term – Generally peak results come in 3-4 months. After this, continuing to lose can get more and more difficult, as the metabolism slows down with decreased calories. Muscle is lost with fat, which reduces the body’s need for food, so calories are reduced over time.
- Results – long term -Most dieters find it difficult to maintain calorie controlled diets for longer than 6 months. Even those who maintain for 12 months generally end up eating more again. Many dieters regain weight lost when they return to eating more.