The Golden Rule of Slow Carb Fat Loss: The Right Amount of Exercise

“Find 30 minutes a day”, “raising our heart rate is healthy”, “try to get 45 minutes in the fat burning zone”, “make it a daily habit”. Sound familiar? It should, as generally speaking, it is agreed that exercise is good, healthy and helps people lose fat they don’t want. The majority of us have all heard the messages over the years, and it seems to make logical sense. So how could this logic be stopping us from losing fat?

It’s the other side of the coin that gets missed – too much exercise (just like too little) is unhealthy, and can lead to joint and muscle damage, can injure ligaments and tendons, and can stop fat loss.

What’s that? Stop fat loss??

Let’s rewind for a second here.

We were talking about exercise, and how healthy it is.

Then we were talking about exercising every day.

Then we got to exercising too much (but how much is too much?), and we said it can cause injuries, which makes sense.. and that it can stop fat loss.

OK, there’s where we got stuck.

So, how does this make sense? Almost all diet programs in the world recommend exercise, so why would I be writing about exercise stopping fat loss?

The simple answer? Stress.

Though there’s more to it, in science, the simple answer is that a stressed body is not a happy body, and an unhappy body feels like it is fighting for it’s life. Literally, doing all it can to prepare itself for the next ‘battle’ it might face, or the next physical stress that may be demanded of it. Does this sound like a scenario where your body will choose to let go of it’s fat stores? You got it, it’s pretty unlikely.

But what about those elite athletes, who are so toned and lean? There’s a lot more to their regime than exercise. And you better believe that they are training on a strict program that ensures they don’t overtrain. Overtraining is just as harmful as not training for an athlete. It can lead to poor performance, and injuries.

Now back to everyone else, in reality. What does this mean for the average slow carber who is looking drop some pounds this week, and next?

Quite simply, keep your exercise moderate, and be selective about how often it is. We have heard from readers whose weight loss stalled when they got back into their P90X program, and other people on the slow carb diet have found that their 6 day a week gym schedule wasn’t giving their body a chance to recover, let alone drop any fat.

Like the book says, less is more. Think about the MED – the Minimum Effective Dose. Apply that to your exercise and see the results. Most people are doing something active for 20-30 minutes, 2 or 3 times per week. That’s enough when you’re on the slow carb diet.

Of course, everyone is different, and everyone has different goals. I found good fat loss while eating slow carb meals and barely moving out of my chair. It stunned me, but I had to believe it. What’s your experience been like? Have you found you’re losing fat without exercise? Or have you found that an exercise program was holding you back? Leave a comment below to share your experience.

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71 Responses to The Golden Rule of Slow Carb Fat Loss: The Right Amount of Exercise

  • erin says:

    i am not as strict on the slow carb diet, i still add a little cheese to my eggs (for shame, i know)…and only recently cut fruit out completely (i think i am on day 6 of this) and found that i have gained about 3 pounds!! a bit frustrating when you are expecting to lose, but like i said, not as strict, so i am probably hindering myself a bit…i work out 6 days a week, mostly because i really enjoy it (weird, i know)..i am also training for a powerlifting meet in august, so my trainer put me on a “leaning out” program, 3 days lifting, and i do cardio the other 3 days…too much? perhaps, and yes, i tend to over analyze my predicament as well…i understand the MED effect, but worry that since i am not as strict on the slow carbs, i need to counter balance….any thoughts??

    • Justin says:

      Hey Erin,

      If are training for power lifting then your goals are different than most 4HBers. You would probably fall into the elite athlete category that Luke is talking about.

      I also try to over compensate when I eat bad by working out more, but I don’t think this is always the best strategy, and am still trying to figure out what is.

      Good luck with your meet.

      • Luke says:

        Hey guys,

        Erin, most likely it is your training schedule that has to do with your weight gain. Heavy gym training/heavy exercising (like your 3 days of lifting and 3 cardio days) puts your body in quite a different state. Of course, many people have had success at losing weight in this scenario, but the details and strategies I think are quite a bit different.
        The strict slow carb diet really is designed more for people who have more sedentary lifestyles, and want to lose fat that has been acquired, most likely through eating more food than is needed along the way. For people who are already very active, it can be a different story.
        I would assume that your lifts are the priority right now, in terms of strength? It’s difficult to maintain competing priorities (lifts/fat loss) as the best solution for each one probably means a big compromise for the other. If you can pick your target for now, and go 100%, you’ll have good goals, be able to stick on your routine and feel satisfied with your progress too.

        All the best,

  • erin says:

    forgot to mention…am also a vegetarian, if that makes a difference…

  • Justin says:

    I enjoy training and working out so I do over train a bit, but it is fun and makes me happy. My workouts are very short though 15 minutes tops. I also lift very light mostly bodyweight stuff, so my time for recovery is pretty small.

    I will probably start doing 1 heavy day a week once I have time to get to a gym. I don’t even know what my 1RM for bench is right now :(

  • erin says:

    thanks for the response you guys, i appreciate it! i think i am going to have to re-vamp a little to be honest, i was thinking the 4hb was geared more for sedentary lifestyle people, but the lure of losing body fat was so appealing!! anyway, the leaning out for the next few weeks and then building strength after that are definitely the main priority, so i will keep up with mostly slow carb foods, but perhaps add some other things in here and there….

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve been doing the slow carb diet for over a month now and have seen a very small amount of fat loss (reduced BMI by 0.4 – measured with the Omron Fat Loss Monitor) and no weight loss – if anything I’ve gained weight! Maybe I’m just not doing it right.

    The biggest difference I’ve noticed with this diet is improved performance in my cycling which I assume is caused by increased muscle capacity (would also explain the weight gain thing). I don’t exercise much, maybe 20min of cycling 3 times a week and 1hr of pilates a week.

    It’s frustrating. I mean, I like that the diet is helping me with cycling, but what I really wanted to target is the cellulite :\ Has anyone else found this?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for writing. If you’d like to post a typical day’s meals and exercise, I’d love to have a look at it and let you know if I see anything that could be adjusted.

      Have you taken any measurements at all? The digital fat loss monitors tend to have a large margin for error, and likewise scales don’t tell the full story with weight either, however with measurements you can get an idea of how you body is changing (ie some people see gains in some areas and losses in others – suggesting an increase in muscle, and decrease in fat).

      As muscle weighs a lot more than fat, you could have put on quite a bit of muscle, and lost quite a bit of fat. With your cycling performance improved, I expect this is due to an increase in muscle, among other things.

      What sort of fat loss goals do you have (lbs/%)?


      • Ana says:

        Hi Luke,

        I’ve been on 4hb for a month and after the first week I lost 3 lbs, however, the past 3 weeks i’ve gained the 3 lbs back and my measurements have not changed. I feel lighter and my clothes fit better but just not seeing the results I thought I’d see. I used to exercise 5 days a week, running and weights and i’ll have to say i basically stopped exercising with this diet just to see if i could still lose weight. However, does not seem to be working like i thought. I will get back into the exercise as i really miss it and feel it’s important to overall health of body and mind.

        I don’t cheat at all during the six days. Perhaps i’m eating to many beans. I have a about a cup and a half at lunch and dinner with protein. Protein is either chicken breast, salmon and once a week a steak. I eat veggies at every meal as well. Breakfasts are usually 2 or 3 organic eggs with 2 slices of turkey bacon. maybe i’m overdoing it on my cheat day. Perhaps the first 2 weeks i went overboard as I was new to the plan and excited to eat what i wanted and was eating all day. I’ve heard that maybe women over 40 (i’m 43) can’t eat in excess on cheat days?? I’m am using aspartame in my coffee as I just can’t drink it without any sugar.

        Just wondering what i’m doing wrong? Maybe once i start exercising I will start to lose again.

        I probably have about 20 lbs to lose overall so don’t know if this means it will be a slow progress vs. someone who has more to lose.

        Really hoping to get some advice as I’m feeling like i want to quit.

        thanks for your time.

        • Luke says:

          Hi Ana,

          Thanks for leaving your comment.

          There are a few examples of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, where weight loss does take quite a lot longer to get going. People still see success, but the changes don’t seem to be as rapid. One thing’s for sure; this way of living is healthier than a carb-based diet, so even if you’re not seeing a lot of weight coming off, perhaps you’re feeling more healthy in general?

          Also, remember that weight is a last resort in terms of measuring changes happening in your body. Measuring is a great option, at home, and of course the best is the body scans that are mentioned in the book.

          The abrupt stop on exercise could also have had an impact; going from 5 days to nothing would be quite a change for your body.

          Your diet looks excellent, though I strongly recommend including some beans or lentils with breakfast, and having a little less beans at lunch. Ideally, 4 meals each with beans, protein and veges is the best.

          If you’re concerned about cheat day, check out out Cheat Day Cheat Sheet at and see how closely your cheat day resembles an ‘ideal’ cheat day.

          You didn’t mention water intake, but that’s also a critical component to losing fat, so if you’re drinking 8 glasses a day, you can cross that off the list of potential causes, if not, then try to find a way to get 8 glasses a day.

          I hope there’s some things here you feel could help you tweak things, and that it’s worth continuing.

          All the best,

  • Alright, I’m reading. I’m believing. And this weekend, I’m making a commitment to you, me, and the www to go running for the first time in almost a year.

    You hear that laces? I’m coming for you….

  • Hi Luke

    I’ve just found this site, yesterday in fact, it’s a great resource for all 4HBers I’ll be sure to recommend it to others I know who are embarking on the 4HB plan.

    I’ve been doing the 4HB subtracting fat plan for 50 days now and I have to say that I’ve made a few msitakes but have overcome them now. I discovered that i was doing the PAGG stack incorrectly after reading one of your comments/posts. I didn’t realise it was AGG x 4 and P before bed.

    I’ve been doing AGG x 3 and PAG with my meal before bed, which tends to come after training on the evening. I leave out the late Green tea as I can’t source caffeine free in the UK. I’m vegan too so have to search hard for the supps.

    I am going to put up a resource page on my tumblr blog – Four Hours to Fifty – for vegan sources of the supps, I did have tosearch for them. But I ramble, I use the PAGG as the 4HB book suggests it for veggies and vegans as the diet is more difficult to get right.

    I was eating quinoa, which is suggested on Occams but not for the subtracting fat, which probably slowed things intially. However, I am pleased with the results having achieved a weight loss of 12lbs at day 47 and lots of total cms reduced. Without measuring body fat, other than by sight using the pictures in the book, I know this has dropped and muscle mass has increased.

    So to the point of the post, eventually, the exercise is soemthing that I have tried to keep to twice a week, or three times. That’s in addition to the 3 times a week martial arts training. I am doing the 100 press ups and 50 pull ups challenge protocol, but at twice a week rather than 3 times. This I mix with KB swings twice a week, usually. And in that little routine I throw in a Tabata on my bike.

    This ends up being a pretty high intensity workout of 20 mins or so, hopefully this is not too much. I don’t think so and I do know that i am gaining some muscle, I can feel it.

    To sum up, from my experience I failed to lose weight as much as Id”ve liked initially as I was making a couple of mistakes, when I got into the slow carb thing properly results occurred. I KNOW that I need to rely on exercise and drugs (as TF calls supps) in addition to the diet due to being vegan. However, I now can manage to eat sufficient protein easily enough, it’s all good, really enjoying it.

    I’m moving into the Occams phase shortly, so have downloaded your cheatsheet Luke, it’s saved me a job, I’m well chuffed. I am now investigating ways to get more protein than ever into my diet and checking out everything else I need.

    I will probably take your advice about the creatine, I had success with this in the past too, and the L-Glutamine maybe something I try also.

    Great blog, keep up the good work

    • Luke says:

      Hey thanks for your comment! Thanks for reading, and we appreciate your kind words.

      Congratulations on your results so far, it sounds really positive, and your commitment is obviously paying dividends for you. I understand the diet can be quite difficult for vegans and vegetarians, so an extra special kudos to you for finding a way and making it work.

      It really sounds like you have a great routine setup, and I really appreciate you sharing it with us and our readers. It’s a great standard people can look to. I think it would have be possible to lost the fat you did without as many workouts, however, as you say, they are helping you build muscle too, which is a great process, and one that most likely you’re feeling a lot of benefits from which is great.

      I have found the Occam’s Protocol workouts to be very satisfying, and the results to be good. I did have a challenge with eating enough, but found a good balance. By the final week of my training cycle I was putting back around 3200-3500 calories per day, between slow carb meals, two adding in brown rice, and 2 protein shakes per day. It was very challenging to eat so much food, and I ended up pulling back to straight slow carb for a week, to give my stomach a rest! That week, of course I lost some lbs – between 2 and 3, so I’ve levelled out at a net 10lb gain from when I started the workouts. My slow carb week coincided with a week’s training break, so I’m back into it now, and just ramping up my food intake again. Looking forward to another development cycle, and I am aiming for another 10lb gain in the next 6-7 weeks. This would put me at my highest weight, ever, which is very exciting, so I really wish you all the best with this training. I found Glutamine to be of great benefit; I used it for 6 weeks and didn’t for the last 2, and noticed a definite difference in recovery time. I was using approx 25g after workouts only.

      Thanks for writing, please let us know how you go with the Occam’s workouts and increased protein consumption, as I’m sure there are other vegan and vegetarian people out there who might think it’s beyond their possibilities.

      All the best,

  • Beth says:

    I am loving the feeling of the 4HB diet and it is really easy (it helps to be able to cook but it definitely isn’t a must) but I’m having trouble with my half-marathon training. I am keeping my aerobic workouts to under 45 minutes except for one big run a week. But how do you get that run to work with your cheat day. Part of me thinks, oh run hard the day after, like a carbo load, but that might undo all the good work of the reset day.

    So any advice? I love my running routine and life and I am not a speed demon (I do a 2:15 half, so I’m not breaking any records) and my spin class and my yoga. But where do the cheat day and the big exercise day go?

    Thanks! The site is great by the way and you guys are awesome!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Beth and thanks for leaving your comment.

      Stoked that you’ve found our site useful. I hear you on how to fit in all those activities that we like doing. The key to remember is to know your goals. It sounds like you number one goal right now is your half marathon training. With this in mind, I believe all else should work around what you can do to best achieve success for that goal. Also, knowing the priority of your goals is important too. If your half marathon is one, and fat loss is number 2, you well may need to give up yoga and spin class. However, if being active and enjoying activities is number 2, making fat loss number 3, then keep them. The ideal amount of exercise on the slow carb diet, for maximum fat loss, is 2-3 times per week, for around 20-30 minutes. That’s all. Any more and the body is in a training phase too often to want to let go of fat so readily.

      I think your idea about running after cheat day is worth considering. The calorie spike will have its impact on your body, so running the next day isn’t a bad thing at all, and as you suggest, may be a lot like carb loading. Have a think about what your other priorities are, and in what order, and that will help you make choices about your other activities.

      All the best,

  • I have a question over-training as I think I may be guilty of it. In my Fourth and Fifth month I started upping the ante on my training. I now work out or run somewhere between 5 – 6 times a week. I do a boot camp 3 times a week. I train upper body once a week, and I do an additional Cross fit workout once a week, and lastly, I’ve been running once a week.

    Now, here’s my problem. I committed to doing a 5K Obstacle Race in November, and I need to get myself moving again so I can run the distances. How do I train effectively for a very challenging… er… challenge, while honoring the MED principle in the book?

    My research shows I should be running 3x a week, and with a Boot Camp 3x a week, I was thinking of just running before the BC and using the other four days to recover. Do you think this will help?

    I’m changing out body fat for muscle right now. I’ve lost about 3% BF in the last three weeks, and put on roughly the same amount of muscle. So, my net is about 2lbs lost. I was averaging 1 – 3 pounds a week previously.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Mick,

      Sounds like things are getting pretty intense in your training schedule!

      If you 5k race is your focus right now, I’d be looking at only doing activities that support that development further, and leaving the rest out in favor of rest and recovery. The thing you want to avoid is an injury during training, which is all too common with overtraining in prep for a race or event.

      I find running to be quite strenuous on my body, and harder to recover from than high intensity, shorter workouts. You boot camp classes should be providing you with the fitness and stamina you will need for the 5k race, so I would dial back your runs to perhaps 1x week.

      Any training, be it running, or boot camp, etc.. most likely is being done to stimulate new muscle growth. Secondly, you want to develop stamina in preparation for your race, however stronger muscles don’t need to work as hard over the same distance, which is why I favor shorter bursts of training, along with weights, to develop.

      You might want to read the chapters relating to running, and training in the book and see if they give you some more insight too – some people train for marathons without ever running anything close to that distance.

      All the best for your race in November!

  • Pingback: What is MED? Plus MED references for exercise, food and more

  • Theresa says:

    I had great results the first month, then all of a sudden I started gaining weight and feeling all bloaty…gross.

    Soooo, this is what went wrong (I’m talking a 5 lb. fluctuation, which seems like nothing, but I am a small 50 year old gal and am trying to gain muscle mostly, not really loose weight…and 5 pounds looks awful on my teensy frame)

    I started putting honey in my coffee in the AM…no big deal, right…WRONG.
    I started eating less and skipping meals…I just didn’t feel hungry…BAD–eat anyway! (I remember the early days feeling like I was force feeding myself and gained tons of muscle and started looking great)

    Sooo, now I have gotten used to Stevia (2nd day…just can’t do straight coffee, and I looooooove coffee…so stevia it is, but it takes some getting used to the amount to put in…that stuff is crazy strong and tasted horrible if you overdo it…ewe) I use unsweetened coconut milk for a yummy latte. (Do not tell me how cinnamon sweetens coffee…it doesn’t…I still sprinkle it on top.)
    I also am eating no matter what and lots and lots of food every 3-4 hours.

    Within 2 days, already tell a difference…oh, and another side effect of the adjustments, I am happier…I started getting depressed for no reason….dunno, honey and not enough calories to blame I guess.

    I think coconut milk is ok…so back on track! My goal is that by my 50th birthday (ok, I will be 50 on halloween) I will see my abs and have awsome cut arms! Wish me luck! Getting there….

    • Theresa says:

      oops, this was supposed to be about exercise, I forgot and talked about diet….yes, I exercise. I used to exercise alot to the point of obsession, so cutting back has been difficult psychologically, but now I work out a max of 4 days a week, and keep it under an hour. (aerobics, running, weights) I do not count yoga or walking as exercise. I have noticed no difference in my body at all with less exercise, so why wouldn’t I do something more fun with my time? right.

    • Luke says:

      All the best Theresa! Good luck hitting your goal :)

  • Scott says:

    Well luke, you’ve really let the cat out of the bag now. To get the 4 hr body you have to exercise 4 hrs per week. That’s Ok, I just wish Tim had included it in the chapter about fat loss without exercise. The diet is very easy to follow. My market has all kinds of canned and jarred cooked beans, as well as frozen veggies. All I need is a protein portion, microwave, and wham, a meal in three minutes. I’m 64 and been going at it for about 3 wks now. I’ve lost a pound or two, and a few percent body fat. People at work comment on how much better I look, and the coup de grace, last night I was able to take off my wedding ring for the first time in about five years, so a few millimeters off the digital circumference.
    I’m holding out for the weight loss which I’m sure will follow, won’t it?
    By the way, I’m swinging the 53 lb kettle bell 10 sets of 10 3 days a week.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Scott,

      You sound like you’re doing great with it! And the kettlebell swings are very impressive! The weight loss will come – it seems the older one is, the slower it comes along, but all those other benefits come quite enough – the energy, the simplicity of meals too. Your routine sounds very similar to mine – I couldn’t imagine an easier approach to eating healthily. If you haven’t yet, I’d measure and weight, and then do this once a month to check your progress. A lot of guys might see weight changes, but also see inches change a lot – due to the fact that many people gain muscle while they’re losing fat, the scale isn’t a true measure of just how much their body is changing beneath the skin.
      I think it is possible to do less exercise than 4 hours, but the intensity level needs to be so high on the scale (think a full 10/10) that it can be impractical for a lot of people to achieve this. Remember that exercise isn’t needed, more that it can be a catalyst, to speed things up. But as I say here, it’s not a ‘more is better’ scenario, more an ‘ideal dose and no more’ goal.

      All the best!

  • Hello Luke :)
    I am at the end of my second week and I am already down 9lbs!!!!!!!! I am beside myself with happiness. Of course I have 30 pounds more to loose but I think this diet is the perfect one for me. I am 60 years old and am so busy travelling that there is not really much time to excercisie (not that I like it much anyway)This week I have ridden my bike twice for about an hour. Other than that I walk around the mall!!LOL!

    The most difficult part of the diet to me is eating within the first hour of waking up I usually dont really eat before noon .On this diet I have an egg and coffee with a bit of cream and half a bag of splendor. Lunch has been lamb chops which I just read is not so good, Or chicken or beef with a huge salad and or cooked vegetables and either some beans or lentils- probably 1/4 -1/2 cup of either and that’s it.
    I was really lieary about the crazy day as i am like an alcoholic when it comes to sugar – Ican’t stop once i start. Nevertheless I deciedied to give it a try and do the diet exactly as stipulated. I don’t have the pagg stuff yet so i ate a grapefruit before lunch and did a minute of push ups against the wall before lunch and dinner, My main magnificent splurge was a chocolate napoleon filled with chocolate mousse, nuts and whipped cream with bourbon pears! mmm! mmm! 1mmmmmmmm!

    I also wanted to mention that I learned about this diet from my mother in law who is 82 has asthma and is on prednisone. She lost 8lbs in 2 weeks and if she can do that so can we all!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      Congrats on your progress!

      Thanks so much for your comment, it’s great to hear about how you’re doing, and also about your Mother in Law! How wonderful for both of you! For her, she may find a reduction in her asthma symptoms, as this diet tends to be anti-inflammatory and also tends to help other chronic conditions.
      If you’re getting good progress, then I’d say stick with how you’re doing it. It’s all about what works for you. As long as you’re not hungry and have plenty of energy, then you’ve probably go your portions, etc tuned pretty well.
      I know what you mean about sugar! I am similar, and really enjoy cheat days, but also really enjoy being off the sweet stuff during the week and having loads of energy without it.

      All the best to you both!

  • I cant believe it. but even over Passover which is all about the carbs I have been able to be strong and lost another 4 lbs this week. I went crazy on my crazy day and was holding my breath but it really seems to work!
    Also, to tell the truth I did sneak in a cup or 2 of instant coffee with a bit of splenda and a bit of whole milk as I was staying as a guest and they did not have exactly what I needed. I figured if one is allowed a diet soda or 2 each day,( I dont touch them) then a bag of splenda 2 or 3 times should not harm and it didnt. Back home agai
    n so I will be a good girl! The most amazing thing is that there are no cravings on this diet and also no hunger ever even at meal times!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Marilyn, good on you! And great results too. Keep up the great work, and thanks for sharing your experiences!
      All the best,

  • Barbara says:

    Ciao luke, sono felice di aver trovato questo sito, o per meglio dire che tu hai twittato me. In Italia non ci sono ancora blog o persone che stanno seguendo la scd, ed io ho fame di informazione. Ho cominciato giovedì 18/4 dopo le 48 ore dell’abbuffata (Cheap day). Monitorando il peso ogni gg. Sono passata da una bodybuilder diet alla scd a causa del famo stallo da perdita di peso, e se il 2^giorno sembrava avesse dato subito buoni frutti il 3^ mi ha dato risultati contrari, aumento di peso con interessi… Ho problemi di intolleranza da abbinamento di cibi diversi, dovrei mangiare il piu’ semplice possibile, combinando cibi cotti al vapore e testandoli di continuo… Ho cambiato la mia dieta per 2/3 dei pasti, pranzo e cena come la scd, ma ho problemi a colazione, non riesco a mangiare gli spinaci e le lenticchie o fagioli a colazione, nessun problema con i 39 g di proteine.
    Per quanto riguarda la med, potete dare qualche spiegazione in piu’ , anche sul libro di tf e’ poco chiaro
    Scusa la lungaggine e grazie

  • Ingweb says:

    Hi Luke,
    I’ve been doing the diet for 8 weeks. I started with 60.8 kilogramms and I’ve lost 3.3 kilogramms so far. I am very strict and therefore my weight loss was incredible in the first 4 weeks but since then my weight is stagnating. What can I do? I am desperate at the moment. I don’t know what to do because I follow the rules exactly…
    Thanks very much for your response and help which I do really appreciate.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Ingrid,

      Great to hear you’ve had good results so far. I’m not sure if you’re exercising currently or not? If not, then including a few short exercise sessions each week could really help you. Also consider if you’re under a large amount of stress, or if you’re worried about anything more than usual lately? Have your sleep patterns been different? There’s a lot that can affect fat loss, as well as exercise and nutrition. Over time it’s likely that weight loss will continue, so try to be relaxed and comfortable with following this lifestyle, as it will help you be healthier as well as lose fat.

      All the best,

  • Dudley says:

    Hey luke and Kat,

    Great blog.
    I am just starting the SCD and am having a few doubts in regards to workout.
    I am not a fan of gym, instead i’d rather the calisthenics/body weight type of exercise, plus i’d like to take the MED to the risk too. I was planning on doing some simple bodyweight exercises like push ups, bench triceps, squats, the abs(sit up and plank) twice a week. Do you guys think that it will be enough to enhance fat loss while toning some muscle and compromising fat loss? Also I didn’t want to take the PAGG, at least not yet, but I can still get some nice results without it right? Another thing is I haven’t found any info abou why beans are sooo important in every meal? I am ok to eat them but in every meal it’s just beyond nice, hehe… thanks a lot.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Dudley,

      Hope you’re doing well!
      I think the workouts you describe will be a great start, but there’s a couple of thing missing to create a balanced muscle development – some kind of row action, and some kind of pull up action. They’re the hardest to do with bodyweight. You might want to consider buying equipment like The Human Machine, or TRX, to use at home.

      I would also recommend getting a kettlebell, and doing some KB swings 2x week.

      Beans are the carbohydrate fuel to give you energy. So, without them, your energy will most likely fall to the floor pretty quickly. Beans are better than any other source of carbs, because they are very high in fiber, low in fat and have some protein. So all in all, they have excellent nutrition for fat loss. Some people try to skip beans at meals but the result is normally reduced energy, and sometimes reduced fat loss too.

      All the best

  • Brannan Murphy says:

    Hi Luke greetings from sunny Florida!
    Just a quick question I’ve been on the 4HB now for a little over a week and a half I’ve already lost 4.7 pounds and two total inches!! My question is my roommate and I workout three to four times a week it’s on a training schedule like the one that follows
    Day1-bench press, incline press, overhead press, lateral raises
    Day2-pull downs, seated row, tri extensions, tri push downs, and shrugs
    Day3-leg extensions, leg curls, squats, preacher curls, dumbbell curls
    It’s a 6 week routine that breaks down as follows
    Week 1 two sets with 8-11 reps
    Weeks2&3three sets with 4-7 reps
    Week 4 four sets of 8-11
    Week 5&6 five sets of 4-7
    We aim for going five times a week my question is do you think this is too much for me being on 4 HB I’ve had great results so far but it’s only been one week! Any advice you can give is helpful!!
    P.S. I stumbled across your blog and now I’m HOOKED!!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Brannan great to hear from you in Florida!

      It’s rainy up on the north west coast today, and we’re getting prepped for winter here!

      Sounds like you’ve got some awesome results so far. From the sound of it, you’re probably under 25 or thereabouts. It depends a little on your goals. Gaining muscle is normally pretty easy for guys under 25, and you’ll tolerate a heavier training volume (going so often) than other people will. BUT you’ll need to eat lots more to compensate for this. If fat loss is your number 1 goal, then slow carb combined with 2x weights workouts and 2x interval training sessions will see the fastest results, and should maintain most of your muscle mass. If gaining muscle is key, then it’s hard to do while losing fat. So in that case, your training would be fine, just eat accordingly (lots) and then later use slow carb to trim off the fat.

      Really pumped that you like the site! All the best,

  • Brannan Murphy says:

    Hey Luke!!
    so happy i came across your blog! I’ve been on the 4hb now for two weeks and have lost a total of 2.75 inches as well as 7.5 pounds!! my question is that my roommate and i do some decent lifting at the gym and i want to make sure that i’m not overtraining i do fairly well on the eating, hence the results, so i will list my workouts and i would appreciate any feedback that you can give me!! it’s broken into six weeks with three days alternating body areas which is worked over a five day period and once you reach the end of the six weeks you start all over again it is as follows
    day 1-Bench press, incline press, overhead press, lateral raises
    day 2-seated row, pulldowns, shrugs, pushdowns, triceps extensions
    day 3-leg curl, leg extention, squats, preacher curls, dumbbell curls
    week one is two sets 8-11 reps
    weeks two and three is three sets 4-7
    weeks four and five are four sets 8-11
    week six is six sets of 4-7
    so a typical week looks like this
    monday-day 1 tuesday-day 2 wednesday-day 3 thursday-day 1 friday-off saturday-day2
    then when the next week starts on monday it would be week 2 starting with day three
    after all that my question is am i doing too much? I enjoy the gym and enjoy going finally after months of agonizing over it lol my meals usually consist of the following
    breakfast-body by vi shake (made with ice water) two hard boiled egg whites
    lunch-a slowcarb concotion usually canned chicken breast maybe some salsa black beansandspinach
    dinner-slow carb shepherds pie, chicken fajitas or something of the sorts and a body by vi shake (again made with water)
    the body by vi shakes are a protein shake that contain 12g of protein and under 1 g of sugar
    any help thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • Luke says:

      Just to add to my last reply – definitely eat more if you want to gain muscle :)
      Breakfast needs cards – add in a 1/2 can of beans or lentils at least (maybe 1 can) and an extra 2 whole eggs.
      Lunch looks good just make sure the portions are high
      Dinner – looks great, but if you’re focused on gaining muscle, you need to add another meal between lunch and dinner.

      All the best!

  • Frederik says:

    Hi Luke.
    I have been on the SCD for 4 weeks, losing 4 kg/8 lbs, from 83,8 to 79,8 kg.
    As many before I have done solely the diet first to see the impact and perhaps a bit out of laziness honestly. But now I would like to add some training to improve the results. I get from the above comments that a 3-4 times per week cardio is great, but how about weight training and OP?

    I get that SCD and OP are in fact not meant to be done simultaneously and could be counter-productive, but I would think there is a middle ground between no strength training and OP. And I see that I am not the only one seeking advice on this as well. :)

    Could there be an down scaled version of OP, that would allow for toning the muscles, but not impeding on fat loss? Would simply following OP with only minor alterations to the SCD give these results, since muscle gains would simply not take place due to lack of carbs, or would you risk training complications`?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Frederik,

      Great result so far!

      Good question. You can definitely follow Occam’s protocol as a weights program, and eat slow carb meals, and see some fat loss, while maintaining muscle mass. The only recommendation I have is to add a bit more protein to your meals. Otherwise you might lose some muscle.

      The minor variation you can make to slow carb is change the cheat day into a cheat meal instead, and the rest of the week add in some extra beans to meals around workouts.

      All the best,

  • semara says:

    Hi luke

    Im 17 and I just started this diet two weeks ago to try and lose twenty pounds I know the book says it harder for women to lose fat but I havent been losing anything with in the first two weeks i excersise five times a week because im scared if I dont I will gain even more weight for breakfast I have eggs with beans for lunch I have beans veggies and turkey breast or slice ham mid lunch meal ill have the same slice ham with veggies and beans or turkey.and for dinner I usually have fish beef or chicken with beans and veggies.i drink eight glasses of water a day I dont understand what im doing wrong is it because im a little two young for the diet ?

    Thanks so much
    If you could give me any advice at all I will gladly appreciate it

    • Luke says:

      Hi Semara,

      Thanks for writing. It sounds like you are doing very well with the lifestyle habits, so for starters – congratulations on that! You are quite young to be aiming to lose weight quickly, so I would suggest continuing with these healthy habits and looking at your exercise side of life. You might want to exercise less, but with more intensity. So, that means something like some interval training, or some weights. You could do 2 weights sessions per week, and 1 or 2 interval sessions, and only spend around 2 hours, total, in a week doing purposeful exercise and get stronger as you go, which helps with burning fat. Building muscle when you’re young is very important and also gives you a great advantage with keeping your body lean, fit and healthy, compared to someone who doesn’t work out. Muscle helps you be healthy and also makes you look more toned and lean, so you don’t have to try to achieve incredibly low bodyfat percentages to look great. Keep up the good work, but adjust your exercise a little and I think you’ll be feeling great. You don’t mention cheat days – if you haven’t been doing them, it’d be a good idea to do 1 afternoon per week where you have some higher carbohydrate foods, as this helps fat loss in the mid to long term.

      All the best,

  • Dan says:

    I’ve been doing slow carb with great success over the past few months… and now I’ve got about another 15lbs of fat to lose.

    For my next 4 weeks of slow carb im also thinking about layering in some training.

    Curious about your thoughts on the following variation:

    2 Tabatas Per week
    Yoga 3 times per week
    1 Mild Strength Training
    1 Occam’s Protocal-esque Training right after my first cheat meal on Cheat Day

    Since I count yoga as “rejuvination” and not exercise, the only training really is 2 tabatas & 2 work outs; saving the intense workout for the begining of the cheat day.

    Any thoughts on saving an intense workout for early cheat day? I figure the binge eating is best for right after my only intense workout. Does this look like it fits with “mild exercise” as suggested on the low carb?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Dan,

      How’s it going so far?

      Your plan looks pretty good, I have only one small concern. Depending on the kind of yoga, it could actually be much more challenging than ‘rejuvenation’. So, if the yoga you’re doing truly is restorative, and not too challenging, then your plan looks really good.

      All the best with it, let me know how it goes!

  • Alex says:

    Hi Luke,

    I’ve just recently discovered your blog – and boy what a gold mine it is! Just excellent!
    I need some advise on my training program:
    I’m 26 yrold female,
    I’ve started following slow-carbish diet over a year ago and have seen great results. As I became happy with my weight i went back eating fruit as i felt i needed more carbs for my running regimen. I run 5 x/ week + do 2/3 yoga sessions and a cross training sessions which is normally skiing in the winter and hiking/mountain biking in the summer. My weight variance has been about 2 lbs from the realyl heavy training months to lighter ones. (i’ve been doing long-distance races lately – marathons and 1/2 marathons). I feel like at this point to achieve further improvement i need to drop a few pounds to put me in a better time category. I’ve cut out fruit and some running: i only run 4x week for 45min-1 with 2 of my runs being interval training.
    I still ski and do yoga, with occasional bike rides and 1 day of full body weight training. Too much? not enough?
    Need some help and advise as I seen to have come to a plateau
    I’ve tried kettlebell swings, but my back injury does not allow me to do more than 10lbs. :-(

    many thanks,


    • Luke says:

      Hey Alex, thanks for writing.
      Sounds like you love your activity, and that you’ve got a good handle on training and nutrition! So I’d love to help you out a little more.

      As for the fruit – good job cutting it out. A lot of fruit sugar is fructose, which doesn’t actually help your training because that goes straight to the liver and converts to fat. For training, you want carbohydrates that become glucose and get delivered to the muscles. So the good news there is that slow carb, as a base, is a good option. That said, with your volume of training, slow carb may not provide adequate protein or carbs.
      So, my suggestion has a couple of angles:
      - Reduce training a little more. It’s great to cut it down a bit, but it sounds like your goal really is on running performance. If that is your main focal point, then that goal will come with an expense – less diverse activity or at least, less often.
      My suggestion: 1 or 2 yoga sessions of a restorative nature, run 3 times per week, 1 occasional bike/ski, 1 day weights – only 2 sets with a slow lifting speed. This could look like: Yoga | Run | Weights | Rest | Run | Yoga | Run. Ideally, that’s the absolute maximum you’d do. You could stand to lose a yoga session and leave it as a rest day.
      - Nutrition – use slow carb as a base, if it works for you. Add in more carbs to meals after intense exercise (after interval runs, weights session) in the form of sweet potato, natural yogurt, this kind of thing. Still Low to Medium GI, but just more.
      Also, you might like to try using slow carb in the week leading up to a race – and do barely any training. Then load up with extra carbs the day before the race. I’d test this before a real race – do a ‘dry run’ week and check you performance. Some people feel like superman, others feel sluggish.

      Sorry to hear about your back injury :( Hope that it’s something you can recover from. I’m sure you’re taking it easy for anything that affects it (certain Yoga poses for example).

      All the best! Let me know how you’re doing.

  • Brandon says:

    I never understand this when trainers say your body is holding on to fat. Like that is a r Eason for the scale not moving. If your body is not burning fat, what’s accounting for all the calories expended during the overtraining? If it is burning muscle somehow, and muscle weighs more than fat, why wouldn’t the scale be moving even faster? Nor arguing, just asking someone with more knowledge than me to explain these things. Thanks.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Brandon,

      Great question. There’s a little more at play here too – if you have a lot of stress hormone, for some people, more energy from food eaten gets stored in fat. This can lead to reductions in energy. So the body isn’t always performing the same way or using the same amount of energy. So that’s how the scales may not move – the body internally can make adjustments, and use less energy if need be. This is expressed in all sorts of different micro ways during the day, from avoiding taking the stairs through to little unnoticeable things. It could also delay or put off repairing efforts to save energy.

      All the best,

  • Emily says:

    Hi Luke!

    I am looking to get started on 4HB because my weight has not only stalled but gone the opposite direction. My biggest concern is that I do workout more than 2-3 times per week. My schedule is typically
    Mon – 1 hour MMA
    Tuesday – 1 hour yoga, 1 hour PiYo
    Wednesday – 1 hour MMA
    Thursday – 1 hour yoga
    Friday – rest
    Saturdays/Sundays – misc. Typically I do volunteer at an animal rescue so I do some chores that involve a lot of raking, bending, walking about so I don’t exercise extra. Is this “Too much”? Since I’ve been doing this regiment for quite some time would it be something that I should still cut back on once I do start 4HB? I am looking to lose fat, but I do very much enjoy these exercises.

    The yoga is “restorative”. While I can work up a sweat it doesn’t make me sore and usually leaves me relaxed.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Emily,

      Thanks for writing. You’ve got a nice schedule there and I think that it’s OK. Not sure what the PiYo is though? that’s the only question, and depending, it might be too much considering you’re doing MMA the next day again.

      I think getting going on Slow carb is a great idea and will fuel your activities well. You might also like to checkout the free slow carb course I put together at .

      All the best!

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