The new Slow Carb rules – what to do – not what to avoid

The slow carb diet is fairly straightforward with it’s rules, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with the 5 principles that are mentioned in the book. With all the tips and advice that has been passed around in the last few months, it’s time for a new set of guidelines, with rules focussed on getting the best results, and achieving success in the most efficient way.

Are you spending all day thinking about the sandwich that you won’t eat? Or perhaps thinking about not drinking milk or soda? Here’s a healthy new way to make things easier.

Here are the established 5 principles behind the slow carb diet that it’s time to forget:

Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates. Don’t eat bread, pasta, rice (brown or white), grains, potatoes, breaded fried food or dairy on your slow-carb days.

Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again. Meals should include protein, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables; eat as much as you like, 3-4x/day.

Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Avoid milk (including soy), sweetened soda (no more than 16oz of diet), and fruit juice. One or two glasses of red wine are permitted.

Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. Tomatoes and avocados are okay (the latter in moderation).

Rule #5: Take one day off per week. Go nuts and eat lots of calories to keep your metabolic rate (thyroid function, conversion of T4 to T3, leptin) up. Do at least five days of rules 1-4 before following rule 5.

These are a great starting point, but we all know that once you start on slow carb, there are many more questions that come along, and pieces of advice that everyone should know about.

So let’s take a look at the new Slow Carb rules:

  1. Eat 4 meals per day: each with beans/lentils, lean meat protein or eggs (25 grams protein minimum) and green vegetables
  2. Drink 8 glasses water per day, 4 with lemon juice
  3. Exercise 2-3 times per week, raising your heart rate doing something that leaves you feeling different afterwards in your body (energy/focus/sweat/fatigue) – Most likely this is 10-30mins each time for most people and most activities.
  4. Drink tea, coffee, water, all without sweeteners (natural or artificial), some with cinnamon
  5. Eat meal 1 within 30 minutes of waking up
  6. Have an overload day once a week that starts at lunchtime and goes until bed and includes fatty and starchy foods, plus some alcohol
  7. Take supplements to enhance fat loss and support your body: Green Tea Extract*, Alpha Lipoic Acid*, Aged Garlic*, Policosanol*, B Complex, Vitamin C, Calcium/Magnesium, ChromeMate* and take 1 day off the starred items each week 3 days after overload day, 1 week off per 2 months
  8. Get adequate sleep - between 7 and 9 hours every night

So how are these different? They give you solid guidelines on what to do, not what you can’t do. Focus on what you will do, and not what you won’t and you will find things a lot easier. This principle applies to anything in life. Think about being safe, not avoiding danger, think about being happy, not avoiding unhappiness.

The key to these rules is in what’s not mentioned. Unless it falls under these rules, then it’s out. For example, ‘Can I eat fruit?’ is simply answered by checking the list and seeing that you need to eat 4 meals per day, with beans, protein and vegetables. ‘Can I snack’ is answered by the same point.

‘What about protein drinks?’ is answered by point number 4. And a pair of questions; ‘Do I have to exercise?’ and ‘Is 5 days at the gym too much?’ are both answered by point number 3.

Of course, there will always be extra tips to making the most of your lifestyle, but following these new slow carb diet rules will get you on the right track, and help you stay there.

Do you have a good ‘to follow’ rule about slow carb? Share it with us all!

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. 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...
  2. Being gluten free on the 4 Hour Body slow carb diet Well, I figured since I haven’t mentioned it before, and it’s been coming up in some recent Tweets, I’d write a quick post for celiacs, or those who are living on a gluten...
  3. Amazing Slow Carb Health Benefits We all know that slow carb has a very clear benefit to anyone's health: fat loss. But what other benefits are there to be gained, that might not be so obvious? Some recent...

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112 Responses to The new Slow Carb rules – what to do – not what to avoid

  • This is great! I think the biggest reason most people fail at diets (myself included) is that we focus on what we can’t do. When you do that, you’re still focusing on the problem. If we spend more time thinking about what we *can* do, then we’re focusing on the solution. It’s amazing what a flip in perspective gets you!


    • Luke says:

      Thanks for your comment Jason.

      You’re right – so many diets are about what ‘you can’t’ – so I wanted to reframe the slow carb lifestyle as a list of what you can do. I think its important to focus on things in the positive. That’s what you’re then attracted to finding a way of doing.

      All the best,

  • Cori says:

    In your rules, what do you consider exercise? Can you describe how long each work out should be?



    • Luke says:

      Hi Cori,

      Great question! And you’ve highlighted an area that I was light on the detail. Thankyou, and I have now updated the post – Exercise 2-3 times per week, raising your heart rate doing something that leaves you feeling different afterwards in your body (energy/focus/sweat/fatigue) – Most likely this is 10-30mins each time for most people and most activities.

      All the best!

  • Trevor says:

    Excellent post Luke. There are *a lot* of questions that would have been answered (or never been asked) if these would have been the slow carb principles laid out from the beginning. I’d add high EPA/DHA fish oil to the list of supplements but I think you’ve nailed 80/20.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Trevor,

      Thanks for your comment, you’ve got to my intentions exactly – a question pre-emptively answered by giving everyone complete information, should help everyone get on track faster and be able to feel more comfortable with the clearer and straightforward principles. I’d love to know more about EPA/DHA fish oil – do you have a link or two you could share?


  • Dodie Jacobi says:

    Love the can v. can’t presentation – I had to create my own version of this to get a grip around the concepts; it’s all working well 10 days in and 4 lbs down. Haven’t started the muscle building yet (that is in addition to what I already do for fitness and fun.) Thanks for your posts!!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Dodie,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Congrats on creating your own version! What a great way of making it real for you, and finding the way to make it work the best in your lifestyle. Great results so far too!!

      Keep up the great work,

  • Sue says:

    I like the positive spin. I do think that these principles ARE in the book, just not laid out as neatly as you have them here. I am not sure that the 4-meals per day are necessary, some have great success with just three.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Sue, fair point.
      I find that 3 meals a day just leaves my blood sugar dropping before the next meal comes around – 6 hours is a big gap! Especially if you’re moving around during the day, or don’t do well with very large meals. Either way, 4 meals is the cure for anyone who finds themselves needing to snack every day.
      I think the messages are in there, I really think that as the principles everyone goes to, starting off with 3 of the 5 directions phrased in the negative, plus a lot of details that you and I now know are pretty important, not in that list, that it was time we shared all this collective knowledge with everyone out there so they could have great successes and achieve the results they want in the easiest way possible.

      All the best,

  • Cat says:

    Bravo! If only I’d had your version before trying to coach my little sister through the diet via email!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Cat,

      Thanks for your comment! I imagine that could have been tough – how did you do working with your little sister? Did she get going with slow carb? I’d love to hear about your experiences.


  • Susan Pratt says:

    ‘What about protein drinks?’ is answered by point number 4. And a pair of questions; ‘Do I have to exercise?’ and ‘Is 5 days at the gym too much?’ are both answered by point number 6.

    Luke do you mean point number 3?

    I generally only manage to get 3 meals a day…do you think eating 4 has that much difference?


    • Luke says:

      Hey Susan,

      Thankyou and great catch! I have updated the post now for everyone’s benefit.

      The main problem I have with 3 meals a day is the time between them. If you are sleeping 6-8 hours a day, and therefore have between 16-18 hours of wakeful time, you’re talking about having 6 hours between each meal. That sounds like longer than I can exist on one meal, and then needing to eat so much with each meal (as slow carb tends to be a little less calorie dense than carb and starch foods) would mean your stomach would need to accommodate a lot of food. I find that big meals really slow me down. As an example, 7am-11am-3pm-7pm – 4 hours between meals, vs 7am-1pm-7pm – 6 hours between meals. Going that long would probably lead to be snacking, and being hungry overnight. Both of which probably wouldn’t help me stay on track.
      Blood sugar changes are also more likely over that spread of time, unless you digest food very slowly.

      If 3 meals works for you though, and you’re pleased with your progress, that’s great!

      All the best,

  • Sven says:

    As everything it is all a matter of perception and for some this spin helps. Honestly I believe diets do not work because of what they represent and what people associate with them.

    Let’s start with the word: Diet – pronounced (DIE- it). Doesn’t sound good to me. Then what people associate with it: pain, suffering, restrictions, abstain from certain things, as Luke said, etc. etc. And as Jason said you want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem as whatever you focus upon expands. That is why you should always focus on I AM HEALTHY instead of I DO NOT WANT TO GET SICK.

    One thing I have realized is that LESS is more. This also applies to the exercise. I have never worked out as few as I do being on this program and have gotten so good results.

    But overall I believe it is the mindset and when you really want to do it you will. It is not about losing weight, it shouldn’t be, it is about changing to a healthy lifestyle. Being more aware of what and how much we eat. Being on the SCD you start realizing how much junk we eat and how much junk is in our food. Basically all those things that you should avoid in the SCD are the ones that we as humans are not intended to eat anyways and they are the reason for obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc. etc.

    If you have the will power and you really want something you get it, you do it. Let me just define WANTING. It is not like I want this, oh and it would be cool to do that. This is not the desire that fuels wanting. My definition is this: If I put your head under water for 4 min and you want to breath…. that is wanting, that is desire. With that attitude you do not care what the rules are. You JUST DO IT !!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Sven,

      Thanks for your comment, I think you’re spot on. It’s true that someone really wants something, who desires is and values it, will find a way. I think the SCD is an excellent, healthy way of achieving results people want to see.. but what you’re saying I think that really the exterior changes on one’s body are merely side effects of a much larger change, one that will affect a person through their whole live and across their entire day, much more than being able to sport a nice bikini or swim trunks this summer. Much in the way that the phrase ‘beauty comes from within’ reminds us that our perception of how attractive people are has a lot to do with their personality, so does a great looking body reflect a very health person on the inside, and that is the fundamental reason we’re so attracted to it. These days there are a lot of short cuts, and a lot of promises made about modifying that exterior without needing to pay attention to working on those interior challenges, but over time, the trends show that without working on the stuff inside, the outside crumbles away. Like resurfacing a bridge without renewing it’s foundations.


      • Sven says:

        I totally agree, you are the change and if you do not change your mind your body will not change. At least not long term.

  • Ana says:

    thanks for taking a positive approach to the diet. What i would love to see is a comprehensive list of vegetables that you must stay away from. I know this goes against focusing on what you should do, however, there seems to be some confusion surround what vegetables are good on this plan and which aren’t. eg. are fresh beets okay. how about squash, etc.

    Also you say to eat green vegetables. Is one to assume that all other colors are out?

    thanks again for your dedication to keeping us informed. Really appreciate it,.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Ana,

      I think inevitably most people wind up a little bored and frustrated with the diet at times, which leads us to looking for alternatives to make things interesting. Otherwise, we’d just continue with collard greens, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, bok choy, etc.
      Mentioning green vegetables does indeed mean that I believe ideally they are the ones to eat. Of course, in the real world, we all will most likely deviate from such a specific prescription, and that’s when further research comes into play, because it is a modification to the principles, and hence good judgement is required as its then in the hands of the slow carber themselves.

      All the best, and thanks for your comments. I really appreciate you reading our articles.


  • E.A. Nanes says:

    good one Luke! i love how the rules make it easier for me to shift my point of view. while i acknowledge that when Tim was writing, he was doing so to get the most impact out of the most number of readers, there are quite a few of us who will not respond well to “i can’t”… which in my mind, spawns a bit of ‘orneriness’ that will make it easy for someone to say…

    “well screw this, i sure as hell CAN… and i WILL.”

    so, thanks for this. :)

  • Stephen says:

    Luke, I love this post, what a fun debate! Honestly This is like the Yin and the Yang, In fact maybe they should publish your rules next to Tim’s in the updated version of the 4 Hour Body. I have a 1 year old and a very active 3 year old and one of the keys to good parenting is to always tell kids what to do and not what not to do. For example, your child is running by the pool, most people say “Luke don’t run” but we all know as good parents we should say “Luke walk”! It eliminates the confusion and get’s right to the point. So in this sense you are absolutely right, and are ready to be a parent!

    But, after reading your post I was thinking that in the realm of diet this may not be the case. At a recent medical conference I attended a group of UCLA pediatricians designed a 5 rule wallet sized card and gave it to parents to use while shopping (this was pre-4-Hour Body mind you). This proved to be an extremely successful tactic in curbing childhood obesity among the participants. In fact families who shopped with the card (they also attended classes on nutrition) showed a 30% reduction in total weight at the end of the study.
    On the cards: 5 ingredients to AVOID on food labels:
    • Sugar
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Enriched Flour/White Flour
    • Hydrogenated Oils (ex: partially hydrogenated soybean oil)
    • Saturated fat & Trans fat

    The researches in the study wen’t about this Tim Ferris style, their main goal was “Keep it Simple”

    So you bring up a great point! And one that has me thinking. If I were to design a card with no more than 5 rules (honestly 3 would be the perfect number) what would I do? Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food” may have said it best:

    “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

    But, then again is life ever really this simple? Especially when it comes to weight loss? Thanks for the thought provoking post, loved it, and no pun intended; provided wonderful FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks so much for your comment.
      I take your point, and really appreciate your citing the UCLA pediatricians’ card. An interesting idea – and perhaps the reason it worked so well is because there was absolutely no human processing required – literally it was a low-level processing game of mix and match/spot the difference/find the same things.. which to me takes a lot of the human factors of motivation, reasoning and cognition out of the equation. Do you think that’s a possible explanation?
      The slow carb rules require human interpretation, so I feel that perhaps that’s why encouraging goals, rather than avoidance goals, are better.

      Great quote! And good question. I’m not sure if life ever is simple, which is why marketers harp on whenever there’s a number they can use – like 100 calories for example, implying it has some sort of ‘goodness’ about it. It makes it more appealing for people to feel lulled into a more simple world where you just add this, subtract that and you’re done. Of course, the human body is far too complex to react to such simplification.

      All the best,

  • Reverend Ken says:

    After reading your new list (which I think is wonderful, by the way) I compared it with my experience. I have been doing the SCD with pretty fair success – a 4th month stall being the only real negative – since Jan 1 with very good results, having lost 40 pounds and and a couple of pants sizes.

    I do not follow a single one of these new rules exactly as written.

    1. I eat 3 meals a day (usually).
    2. I drink more than 8 glasses of water, typically plain.
    3. I don’t exercise.
    4. I do drink coffee every day, without sweeteners, but also without cinnamon – ever. I like my coffee black, and tasting exactly like good coffee. Or bad coffee, if nothing good is available. (I do, however LOVE cinammon, and use it where I can, and, because I am aware of its positive health qualities, take it as a supplement daily).
    5. I sometimes, but not invariably, eat my breakfast within 1/2 hour of waking, but usually not, usually, I get it in at the 1 hour mark. On overload day (I call it Free Day), I tend to sleep in and have a lazy day, and have it within an hour only by accident.
    6. I do have an overload (Free) day, but sometimes it starts with breakfast, not lunch, and only occasionally includes alcohol.
    7. I take most of the supplements listed, but not ChromeMate, and I have no idea what you are referring to when you say ’3 days after overload day’ – I take my PAGG stack 6 days a week, 1 week off every 2 months.
    8. Finally, I can’t remember the last time I got 7 hours sleep, let alone 8 or 9.

    Now the old rules were kind of a joke – they really didn’t completely describe the diet – the addenda in the next 2 chapters of the book actually added lots of items and suggestions that expanded them. Additions and corrections were also made on Ferriss’ blog , and those chapters and blog notes are where most of the items on the new list come from.

    It is a great list, and a great plan. I have no doubt that my results would have been better – would BE better – if I followed the new list the way I followed the old one, It is not a plan I can follow, but it is really, really good.

    I need something simpler, though, for it to work for me. If that means not maximizing my weight loss over time, so be it. We do what we can.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for writing. I really appreciate you sharing with us your formula for success.
      I think you’re right in your approach – take a look at the ideal list, wherever it comes from, and then not be too concerned over following it 100%. Guidelines are merely guidelines and most likely everyone will have their own version. My objection was that some items that, as you identified, were updated on the blog, on in the book chapters, or in Facebook groups, didn’t appear anywhere for people to find conveniently when they were starting.

      Congrats to you on your success, and on finding your own way to do it!

      All the best,

  • Brandon says:

    I have always been curious about Flax bread. I make a Flax bread that is only flax meal, almond meal, baking powder (very small amount), olive oil, eggs, salt and water. That seems like it would be permitted during the week to me. What do all of you think?

    • Reverend Ken says:

      As I see it, the problem is the flax – it is a grain, and, despite it being a healthy one, it falls outside the plan.

      • Brandon says:

        Damn. I though I had found a delicious loophole.

      • Luke says:

        Well spotted Ken. Flax indeed is not part of the slow carb regime, unless it’s cheat day.

      • Katrijn says:

        I really like your list and website! thank you.
        I find this site “can I have…?” very informative.
        It says Flax sedds ok in any amount. Do you consider Flax seed a grain??
        I think Tim mentioned in the book to sprinkle them on your dishes? Or is that whishful thinking..?

        • Luke says:

          Hey, I’m not sure about flax seeds- they are very low in carbohydrate, and high in fibre, so in that regard that are unlikely to affect the slow carb diet, however do you best to stick with the whole meals based around beans, a protein portion and green vegetables for best results!
          All the best,

  • Big John says:

    The original rules are guidelines to get started. I have the most success following them.

    Except I don’t do a cheat day (this works for me and I have data to back it up)

    • Luke says:

      You’re a lone ranger John – I haven’t heard about too many people not doing cheat day!

      All the best,

  • Steve Paulo says:

    Hey Luke! I like positivity in general, who doesnt, but I think your reframing misses the brilliant simplicity of not just the SCD, but the other elements of, and the whole concept behind, The Four Hour Body.

    By describing the diet with elminationist, rather than inclusionary, language, Ferriss makes the diet sound less restrictive. In fact, it actually makes it less restrictive. Your admonition against protein shakes is one in particular that I can’t agree with. I am down 25 pounds in 11 weeks on SCD, and have had a 30-50g protein shake every sIngle morning during that time.

    Do your rules describe a more effective diet than what I’ve done? Would I be down 30 or 40 lbs in the same timeframe had I followed these rules? Probably, yeah. If I’d stuck to the rules.

    But I wouldn’t have. Rules of this strictness are off-putting. Scary, even. Ferriss’ attitude may have been restrictive rather than permissive, but it’s also more open. Just avoid these things, and go for it.

    Still, I applaud your reframing, but to he honest, if Ferriss had described it this way in the 4HB, I probably never would have started.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Your progress is outstanding, and I really see your point about your approach, it leading to success, and simplicity being the key to your success. I think a lot of people would love to know exactly what protein shake it is that you are taking, as many people have tried shakes in the morning and have stalled.

      My new rules are about defining an ideal state, as more and more questions come up about how people can fine tune what they are doing, I think it’s important to lay out a foundation that people can benchmark against. Am I suggesting that everyone should do it exactly this way? Not really. I don’t expect many people (myself included) have the attention to follow everything here to a T. That said, I always like to know if I’m at 50% of optimum, or 75% of optimum. With the previous rules, and additions in the book, blog, Facebook group and forums, it seemed like there was some key knowledge that had developed and not been documented in one place, with the same questions coming up regularly across various online locations.

      My hope is that people can use these rules to gauge how their interpretation, or their version of slow carb compares to what people are talking about and recommending. I hear you about Tim’s approach – I think it’s true his approach was to get people motivated to get going on it to begin with in the book, however his follow ups have been numerous, and mostly about what other things people need to eliminate, or do in addition, hence my desire to simplify and clarify.


      • Steve says:

        I know I’m replying to an old thread, but the shake I’m using is Nature’s Best IsoPure Zero Carb Whey Protein. I get it at GNC, and I prefer the “cookies and cream” flavor :)

  • Tracy W. says:

    I’ve been reading 4HB for the past week and am fascinated by the simplicity of the program. I am anxious to start the weight-loss portion of the plan but I had a question about post-workout supplements. While I had intended on doing the “slow carb” diet to the letter, I am also interested in muscle gain as well so I’m hoping that by implementing the slow carb diet along with Occam’s Protocol I can still lose some (a lot) of body fat while defining and building muscle. Currently when I finish a work out of high intensity I take a high-carb mix which consists of waxy maize, glutamine, creatine and BCAA’s. Abou 30 minutes later I take a protein shake. Will that be a problem with this program or should I just stick with all of the supplements minus the carb drink?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Tracy, thanks for leaving your comment.

      It is a simple program so get started with, and the nice thing is the fine tuning can go in different directions, according to goals.

      The slow carb diet, as a base, will promote some muscle development, as it has quite a high protein component, and most likely is higher than an average western diet. It is possible to both lose fat and gain muscle.. and if you’re are following Occam’s Protocol and eating close to the calorie requirements, you should get muscle growth and some fat loss. Be aware though, that it won’t be as much fat loss as slow carb alone can achieve, as your body is being put under stress and strain during the workouts, and growing more from that.
      I think your post workout regime sounds good, but I would move the protein shake, so you’re taking it just before and during the workout, so that you hit your protein window. The book also recommends the creatine before a workout, and also morning and night. Start off following this, and see how your results are after 4-6 weeks, then decide if you want to change directions.

      All the best!

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  • Angus says:

    On rule two you said, “Drink 8 glasses water per day, 4 with lemon juice”. I was curious about the lemon juice. What effect does it have with weight loss and how much should I put in each glass of water? Thank you so much for taking the time to do all of this. Your website is GREAT!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Angus, thanks for your question and I’m very happy you like our site!
      Lemon juice can lower the glycemic impact of a meal by up to 30%. This means you’re less likely to enter into a ‘fat storage’ mode after eating, which is obviously good news for people aiming to lose fat.
      All the best!

  • Tricia says:

    Hi there. I’ve just stumbled onto this site via twitter I think, since I had followed Tim. . .anyway. I am a vegetarian and not generally considered overweight, at 5’8″ I am 118 pounds. However, I have the dreaded belly fat and fear I am what Tim described as skinny fat as my BF% was 24%.

    I’ve been doing SCD for about a month and I’m really dying of boredom. I only eat eggs and cottage cheese as my proteins and alternate between black beans, refried beans, baked beans (?), and lentils for the bean portion. I’m not really feeling any different but haven’t been back to the bod pod for another measurement.

    I’m doing the kettlebell routine as suggested, but started at only 25 pounds (where he had suggested 40 – good heaven, I couldn’t even lift 25 for more than a few).

    Anyway, was sort of bopping around on this site and wondering about it – are you affiliated with him in any way and where are you getting your information from? I’d appreciate having a place to ask questions and develop some community, since 4HB blog is all over the place and impossible to get details and/or questions asked. Thanks.

    PS – really liked the approach on this post, but could still use more info re:vegetarianism.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Tricia,

      Thanks for leaving your comment. Just to clear it up – as it says up the top of our site, we’re not affiliated in any way with Tim Ferriss. We are big believers in the slow carb diet, and also other principles in the book, and have keenly followed and participated in a lot of the online discussions, and sharing of experiences since the end of 2010. We have also coached couples along the way, and have learned more from their experiences.
      From the sound of it, you did a BodPod and got a result of 118lbs, with 24% bodyfat? It’s tough being vegetarian on the slow carb diet, so I really respect you for getting into it. Both eggs and cottage cheese may have some drawbacks, as a primary protein source, (eggs can affect some women and cottage cheese is generally considered a backup protein source on slow carb). If I were you, I would avoid baked beans, as they generally have a lot of sugar added to them. White beans, red kidney beans, black beans are the three that we’ve used the most. As for other protein sources, consider soy, although the book recommends against it. Also, look to vegetables that have higher protein content like spinach and broccoli. You could also consider plant-based protein powders.

      If you are following some of the workout routines, like the kettlebells, and perhaps some of the abs workouts, plus the floor exercises in the book, you will most likely build up muscle. If you’re worried about your bodyfat percentage vs your weight, the best approach is to build more muscle and lose fat. I would aim to build muscle by using the slow carb diet, as it is high in protein and likely to help. You may even want to consider some resistance (weights) training once you’ve got a good strong base to work from by doing the kettlebells, etc. for a few months.

      All the best,

      • Sam says:

        Hi Luke, great website!
        I was wondering, being a vegetarian, a lot of the rules mention chicken and other kind of meat. Would you advice that I A) Find a substitute for the meat with vegetarian options such as the products by Quorn or B) Not find a substitute at all and live of beans, eggs and vegetables?

        I’m on day 2 right now, and for dinner I had mixed vegetables + spinach and 1 escalope.
        But thinking about it, I probably shouldn’t have had the escalope..
        The rules say no bread and no breaded fried food. The escalope consists of bread crumbs but it’s not fried. I’m just kinda confused whether he means no bread (as in a load of bread) or no bread what so ever. If you could clarify, I would be very grateful.

        I’m also in a position where I find my self eating quite a lot of eggs. How much would you say is too much?


        • Luke says:

          Hi Sam,

          Thanks! I’m not too familiar with the Quorn products, but depending on how they’re made, there’s a strong chance there are fillers, etc, that might not be slow carb friendly.
          I would suggest considering a modified slow carb diet, and include some almonds for protein, and perhaps some other plant protein drinks, like rice protein, or hemp protein. Make sure they don’t have fillers or sweeteners, and try your best to stick to the 4 meal regime, getting protein, beans and veges with each meal.
          Definitely the slow carb diet excludes bread entirely – whether it’s a piece of bread, or used in cooking. Bread is high in starch, and converts quickly to sugar when digested. That means the body uses it for fuel, quickly, and blood sugar spikes. Slow carb is about keeping blood sugar level throughout the day.
          Lots of eggs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, however they can cause problems for some people. Consider using egg whites, rather than whole eggs sometimes, and try to maintain some variety in protein sources if you can.

          All the best,

  • Jon says:

    I really like seeing this site. I’ve just started on the SCD and am trying to work out a good exercise regime based on “one appearance goal and one performance goal” as is in the book – with that the goal is dropping fat and increasing strength. I’m starting out at 6’0″ 250lb and a whopping 27% bodyfat. I took “before” pictures. Man they really work. Anyway, 4 questions:

    1) I think I can follow this to the letter – just a clarification – when he writes eat the same meal every day, does he mean *literally* the same exact meal? Same bean choice, same meat choice, same veggie choice? Or can I mix match the items on the list each day?

    2) Not sure if it’s better to eat before or after exercise now – right now it’s Breakfast – lunch – lunch 2 – workout – dinner…sometimes wine though it varies between red and white, and sometimes with the meal but usually a little before bed. That sound about right?

    3) Supplements. I have a big thing about not taking them, I really think we should be able to find what we need in what nature provides…but then of course our foods from supermarkets will lose much value in the food factory. How diminished can I expect the results to be if I don’t take them? Or at least, what is the “MED” of supplements I should really, really take?

    4) I want to be able to run a 5k (never been able to). I’m doing couch to 5 k, or at least I started before reading the book. I don’t want to overtrain, but want to stick with it. My tentative plan is to run M-W-F, do strength training focusing on posterior and total body exercises Tuesday and Thursday, 30 min or less each day…does this sound like too much or would you suggest any adjustments?


    • Luke says:

      Hey Jon,

      Congratulations on getting started, that’s really a great effort. Glad you took some before photos!! A great way to have motivation.

      So to your questions: 1/ He doesn’t mean literally – think more like having around 5 or so regular options, and just rotating in whatever you feel like. I find the best beans to be black beans, red kidney beans, and sometimes I have white beans for variation. Best meats I think are fish, chicken, some red meat too, sometimes low fat ham. Veges I go with spinach, broccoli, carrots, kale, celery, red cabbage. Breakfast is always the same – red split lentils, eggs and spinach.
      2/ This sounds really good ;) Red wine is a much better choice than white, as mentioned in the book.
      3/ Great question. It does depend a little on vege quality, and how you are at getting loads of veges in. Some people struggle. Make sure if training to take a Cal-Mag at night, and do eat some Potassium rich foods too. Vitamin B does wonders, and Vit C supports the immune system, however one could argue against taking them too. So it does depend – I totally respect individual approaches with vitamins and supplements. I believe they can be a catalyst, and therefore basically achieve the same results, but quicker, which is why I take them, because I look for changes as feedback of a particular method and its effectiveness.
      4/ Probably a bit too much to start with. If you’re weight training your running muscles, they need recovery time the next day, at least, if not 2 days of recovery time. I would suggest in this scenario to start with walking 2 times a week, and training 2 times a week. Then change walking to jogging.
      If you approach from an angle of ruthlessly losing fat, you’re going to find that 5k much more easily achievable, even with very little training. Conversely, if a lot of effort goes into training.. it might still be very difficult. I once read that the easiest way to improve your running ability is to reduce the load you’re carrying, so hopefully that helps you out in your approach.

      All the best!

  • Jonesy says:

    I realize this is an old post, but I’m hoping to get an explanation of why you recommend taking a day off the supplements on the 3rd day in particular. I do it on the 4th day for no particular reason.

    I also appreciate your comment on the impact to fat loss by pushing your body to invest more energy in recovery. I have only lost a pound this week and normally it would be 2-3. I was well on my way until I had a very intense 20 minute workout that has left me sore for days. I think I’ll take it easier with the exercise.I’ll know more on my weigh-in/measurement day this Saturday.


    • Luke says:

      Hey thanks for your comment!

      There isn’t a more specific reason for day 3 vs day 4. Either in fact is just fine.

      I’m really glad my comments gave you some help, and I wish you all the best for your continued success. It sounds like you’re judging your own personal experiments and results very well indeed!

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  • I am just getting started with Slow Carb diet and finding your blog is really a huge help for me. Thank you for sharing. Now, I know what are the do’s and dont’s. I would really follow the tips you gave. Thanks, Luke!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Helene,
      The website you have included mentions relying on whole grains as an energy source – that’s definitely not my recommendation, despite government health bodies around the world telling populations this is the right thing to do. The body runs better on less carbohydrates, and most government recommendations are based on diet standards established in war-time USA, by the Department of Agriculture who represent the grain growing economy of the United States – this isn’t a good recipe for good health, but good business.
      I’m really glad you found our blog to be a help!
      All the best,

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    • Adeline says:

      Thank you for the link, i think i get it. NO nuts or full fat cheese as long as i want to lose my fat, some in moderation after i lost the fat. Makes sense now.
      your blog is very informative, thanks !

  • Adeline says:

    Hello, i am new and it is not clear for me if 1) nuts and 2) full fat cheese are OK on slow carb day ?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Adeline,

      On the slow carb diet, Tim recommends staying away from cheese, and nuts. Both can add a lot of unneeded calories to a day’s food intake, which is likely to slow down fat loss.

      All the best,

      • Adeline says:

        Thank you so much. Sticking to a simple meal plan all week, and having a day off both brings so much relief ! i have started to lose weight the first day, wich is great ; but i also love this ” diet ” because it seem so simple and it fits my routine so fine ! And it’s filling !
        i don’t have much to lose (something like 8 pounds), and i am more interested not to be obsessed by food anymore than by loosing weight.
        i have made my first frittata for afternoon meal, we’ll see !

        • Luke says:

          You’re right! It’s a simple plan to stick to. And I know what you mean about feeling relaxed -no more wondering and worrying every day! :)
          I hope it goes really well for you!

  • Andy says:

    Hey Luke

    Great site, i am still exploring it, stubmled on it from google search.

    I have stared on SCD to reduce fat and get better eating habits. Have done it for a week now. No fat%/ weight change yet, but i am patient.
    I do feel much better however – no cravings at night as i used to have, a different feeling of hunger, when i have not eaten for 3 or 4 hours (used to be much stronger). So i think it is working well.

    I had a question though. 1 of the points you habe is “get a lot of sleep”. I was qurious why did you include that? I am not doing the uberman routine from the book or anything, but i have trained myself to sleep less, currently i sleep around 6 hours a night and take an 1.5 hour nap every othher day or so during the day.

    did you have any science to back that up or what was the reason to include that?


    • Luke says:

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks! Glad you found us.
      Sounds like a great start! Sleep is important – there’s quite a bit of medical research now that shows hours in bed have a lot of very positive effects on health markers. Between 7 and 9 hours is what’s recommended, and hours earlier in the evening tend to yield more results. If you’re trained to get less sleep, then you may be a little different to an ‘average’ person, but if possible experimenting with a 7.5 hour sleep at night might get your more fat loss. Worth trying if you can!

      All the best,

  • James says:

    I have been following the four hour Body for three months now. I have lost only 10 pounds, but I have been losing inches. Also, by taking photos I can see a difference visually so I have decided to stick with the diet. My Question is, why is the weight loss so slow? I have read about people losing much more weight than I have in three months. I eat three times a day, 30g Protein in the am, lunch with beans/veggies/meat, dinner the same, usually with fresh greens vs. frozen vegetables at lunch. I don’t use sugar, just cinnamon, and I have one cheat day a week. There is very little alcohol intake. I have only started to exercise lately, as I was trying to see how much weight I could lose with diet alone. Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Luke says:

      Hey James,

      I’m glad to hear you’re sticking with it! If you’re losing inches, then that’s a great change! For some people, body re-composition is the result of slow carb, not just pure fat loss. What this means is gaining muscle, while losing fat. You may well be experiencing this – you might have lost 15 lbs of fat and gained 5 lbs of muscle quite easily. Muscle is much more dense, so you’re less likely to notice is visually, but it can be there, and affect your weigh-ins. This is common, especially for men. Your routine sounds solid. Keep at it, and watch the results in the photos, the inches and the weight. A little working out will go a long way too – so you’re on the right track.

      All the best,

  • James Koch says:

    Luke….thanks for the reply….One further question, do you think salt intake has anything to do with weight loss? I notice that I am consuming quite a bit with all the beans I am eating. I try and pick low salt beans but frequently can’t find them. Also, is it possible to gain muscle while not exercising? I just recently started exercising again. Thanks again for your quick reply. your site has been the most helpful one I have found. keep up the good work. james

    • Luke says:

      You’re welcome James,
      Salt can definitely affect weight loss on the scales. Most bodybuilders going into a competition will avoid it at all costs. It does have a result of the body retaining a little extra water, which may make it look like there’s more fat than there actually is. That said, actual fat loss is different to weight loss in general – weight lost could be muscle, water or fat. Some canned beans do have quite a bit of sodium in them. If you’re working out, some salt is a good thing, but if you’re concerned, as you say some canned beans don’t have added salt, but also consider switching out beans at a couple of meals with red split lentils – they boil in water in around 10 minutes, don’t need any soaking, etc, and have a very similar nutrition profile to beans.
      As an example of muscle gains, if someone’s general routines involve lifting, or quite a bit of movement, and the diet is primarily carbohydrate based, then they switch to a higher protein diet, like slow carb, often the body wants to put on some muscle in response to that daily activity, so in this scenario they will gain some muscle. This is just one example, and everyone’s bodies are different. But it is common, especially for men, to gain some muscle when they go on this diet.
      Really glad our site’s been a help for you – all the best!

  • Stuart says:

    I like what you are coming up with here. I’ve 2 comments to add. I completed 5 months of the Slow Carb diet and lost 28 pounds very steadily. I didn’t adhere to some of the more harsh rules forever. I drink OJ with breakfast and also manage a homemade Latte a day (50% water / 50%semiskimmed milk) . I give myself weeks off when convenient and if I got stuck wondering around a shop searching for food for lunch when out, I got something ‘healthy’ even if it was a sandwich.

    After reaching a target weight I’ve fluctuated within 5 pounds since then – even with a binge 2 weeks over xmas/new year. I’m now back fulltime on the slow carb diet and am steadily losing a pound a week under my own rules. My rule are much more relaxed than the book but I’m not going for exceptional results…..YET

    For anyone who is fixated on what can you eat, worried about meal preparation, bored with the food – I say eat what you want and use good judgement. If you continue to measure the right things (fat% and overall weight) at least once a week you could make steady and happy progress.

    The great thing about this diet is that if you have time off its really easy to get back on and very quick to get back to where you left off.

    So my answer to anyone worried about what types of veg you can eat is this – eat it and see if you still lose weight/fat overtime – its your body so you make the decision.



    • Luke says:

      Hey Stuart, I like your advice. It sounds like you’ve found a way to customize the diet to suit you. As you say, everyone can make their own judgments about what works for their body, according to their goals and their body’s response to different foods. All bodies are different; some people will tolerate different levels of carbohydrates, and some people can continue to lose fat while they customize slow carb to make it more convenient over time.
      I think as a base, slow carb is great – as you say you can get back to it easily, and then at other times if convenience and other factors make it necessary, you can have a week off if need be, and still hover around your goal weight/body composition.

      All the best with it!

  • Theresa says:

    Can i use chickpea flour or almond flour as a binder for my meatloaf and hamburger recipes?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Theresa,

      You could use some chickpea flour, if need be. Consider though that if you’re using a recipe that uses so much you’re just adding carbs, while lowering protein levels in the meat, it might be worth leaving it out, or opting for a different choice.

      All the best,

  • Rebecca says:

    Is Hummus in? And milk is absolutely out?…In A.m. after coffee I have 8 oz milk with a chocolate flavored whey protein powder walk the dog come back and have another…that’s 190 + 190 = 380 calories and PROTEIN Total: 18g(powder) + 9g(milk) for 27g’s then another round for 27 more g’s totalling 54g’s of protein…Don’t eat a real meal until noon or 1 p.m. I am 46.9 yr female 5ft 134.2 right now just starting this thing today…I better go get the book

    • Luke says:

      Hey Rebecca,

      Hummus is technically OK, but it’s hard to see what it replaces in a meal of low fat protein, beans and veges. It’s OK occasionally, but I’d recommend against making it a staple.
      Milk is certainly out – gram for gram, it has equal parts sugar and protein. This will produce an insulin response and leave you with a small sugar low afterwards. Slow carb is all about maintaining even blood sugar all day long, using slow digesting carbs, as opposed to sugar and fast digesting carbs.
      The book will clear it up!

      If you’re looking for an easier to follow version of this lifestyle, I have created a 6 video module course that covers the common questions that come up, as well as the knowledge and methods to make the diet work for you. You can check it out here:
      All the best,

  • Laurie S. says:

    Hi Luke, My husband has been on your diet for about 6 weeks, and I just started.
    But still confused about foods we can or can’t eat..
    Can we eat:
    ketchup/ steak sauce/bbq sauce
    peanut butter
    tomato sauce
    Also,,,will just a “drop” of milk in coffee hurt?
    When we are trying to figure out yes or no for a food…what should we consider besides your rules (no white food, no fruit)….is the main deciding factor the sugar content?
    There is so much conflicting info on line.
    Please help!
    Thank you,

    • Luke says:

      Hi Laurie, thanks for your questions. Slow carb can be confusing, which is actually part of the reason why I created my video course ‘Complete Bodyfat Control’. (You can check it out at

      With your list, every thing on their is best avoided. Some more than others, but none of them should be a staple, and most shouldn’t even be an occasional exception. Tomatoes are ok in moderation a few times a week.
      A drop of milk in coffee really should be switched for cream. Any amount over 0 has sugar in it. And that’s part of what you’re avoiding with slow carb. That said, if you use these new rules, literally anything that doesn’t fall under them is out. Keep things simple, and don’t expect a gourmet experience every time you prepare a meal. Slow carb was designed to get good results and be simple to follow. But that territory comes with it being a little same-y from time to time. Use herbs and spices and different meats to keep things interesting, and keep focused on your important reasons for making the positive lifestyle change, and a bland meal here and there doesn’t seem so bad.

      All the best,

  • RA says:

    Hello, just happened onto this page through a search.

    Personally, i find the original rules to be simpler because it is easy to check whether a given action is a good one.

    The new rules you propose to me sound like any of the many diets out there that say “eat more vegetables” and the ever popular “lean protein”. For example i wouldn’t think to not eat fruit from your rules. Your rules also seem to leave out dietary fat. If one eats just “lean protein”, beans and green vegetables as you recommend they’ll either be eating a very low calorie diet or they’ll be be eating a high carb diet because most of the cals are going to have to come from those beans. That’s both against the letter and the spirit of the slow carb diet, as far as i can tell.

    Personally i’ve had to go to something that’s quite low calorie and kind of ketogenic to see any significant fat loss so i eat meat and vegetables, protein shakes and a very small amount of beans on days other than cheat days so i’m sympathetic to some of the tweaks you propose, but i recognize that what i’m doing is not what it says in the book.

    • Luke says:

      Hey RA,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I think for some people, the list of Don’ts works well, and for other people a list of ‘Only Do’s’ works better. Our Only-Do list assumes anything not mentioned is out (ie fruit). Our recommendation about lean meat isn’t low fat protein – so in fact a lean meat still has quite a bit of dietary fat in it. Part of slow carb is that it reduces calories, in disguise if you like – because people feel full from the beans and veges, they don’t notice they’re eating less calories. But most people are.
      It sounds like for you, the modifications you’ve made have been successful, and I think slow carb is all about finding what works for you individually, as every body is different.

      All the best!

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  • Brian says:

    Hey thanks for the info! I just started the SCD this week and am having trouble scheduling my meals. I workout in the mornings before work. I have been waking up at 630, eating my breakfast and getting to the gym by 7. I’m not sure what to have after my workout. So far I have been having a whey protein isolate shake (zero carb but does contain sucralose. Thoughts on sucralose?) but I find myself starving before lunchtime comes around at 1130. Should I be eating a smaller breakfast In addition to my shake after working out? This would potentially put me at 5 “meals” as I eat a snack around 3 and then dinner around 630

    • Luke says:

      Hey Brian,

      I would actually suggest having a protein shake made and starting to have that before the gym, and continuing with it while you work out. Then have your first complete meal after your workout, if that’s at all practical. You’ll then find that 11.30 lunch is timed just about perfectly. You might still need to increase the amount of food in your first meal though.
      As far as sucralose goes, it’s an interesting substance, and there’s lots of perspectives on whether it’s negative to health or not. I always advocate for using an unflavored whey protein, and adding a dash of Saigon Cinnamon to it.

      All the best!

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  • Midgy says:

    Is it okay to just have soup – made up of meat, beans, veggies and tomatoes? Like chili, etc. I’ve always had a hard time eating a portion of meat with veggies on the side but have no problem having soups where everything is in there.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Midgy, this is fine, but make sure you’re getting enough. With soups, the trouble is you feel full but it’s mainly the liquid. So you might be underdoing your energy needs, and your protein needs too. Keep an eye on that and you’ll be OK.

  • Lucy says:

    Hi what does the lemon juice do? Also do you mean squeeze a lemon into water or buy lemon cordial?

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Lucy,
      The lemon juice blunts insulin response, and also helps people drink more water, when plain water may make the stomach feel a little uncomfortable. I mean to cut up a lemon, and squeeze the juice into the water, definitely not using lemon cordial.

      All the best,

  • Scott Johnson says:

    I’m really not sold on this diet. I Did Atkins in the past and lost 40 lbs in about 2 1/2 months, unfortunately gaining it all back. I’ve tried this slow carb diet, and it doesn’t seem to be nearly as effective. I follow basically all the listed rules to the letter, except i don’t want to take any supplements. Its only been three weeks, but I haven’t lost any weight, and i really don’t even want to look at another bean.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Scott,

      Sounds like Atkins might work better for you. The results with slow carb tend to come a little slower than Atkins, but some people prefer the regimen and simplicity of slow carb rather than needing to know the ingredients of many foods, as you do with Atkins.

      All the best,

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