Been doing slow carb for months? Are you really still on it?

Are you on the slow carb diet? Really? Following the slow carb principles? Do you have expectations of fat loss, like the book describes? Are you expecting great results? Have you been following the book’s advice for a few months now? What are the chances that over that time, you’re habits have developed and changed, and in fact you might now be on something very close to slow carb?.. That if you re-read the chapters you might find a few common habits you have now that are actually fighting against your desires and goals? Don’t be surprised if you get a little shock.. I know I did.

It was a pretty regular day, and I was cooking up lunch, with it’s meat, red cabbage and red kidney beans, thinking to myself, “Wow, this slow carb stuff doesn’t seem to get old fast.. it’s been months and months now that I’ve been following it and I’m still not bored”.

I reminisced about the first few weeks – adjusting to the weird food back then was quite an adventure, and grocery shopping was likewise, a little strange at first (I’ll never forget seeing a conveyor belt loaded with cans of beans, veges and eggs!).

It was a nice memory, but one that started gripping my stomach, just a little. Back then, things were very simple – beans from the can, eggs, chicken or fish, maybe some red meat occasionally, and my favorite vegetable from the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, and their friends) or spinach. A dash of salt and we were done for lunch or dinner.

So I started thinking, and looked at what I was making in front of me.. red kidney beans – check, meat for protein – check, red cabbage – looks good, cayennne pepper – excellent, dash of Moroccan seasoning – bending the rules (has some filler rice starch), splash of gluten free soy sauce – that was meant to only be in once a month, a half a carrot in my hand.. hmmm. That doesn’t look great at all.

There I was, cooking my ‘slow carb’ lunch, and realizing that actually I was just cooking ‘lunch’. It so happened that it involved beans.. other than that, there wasn’t really a lot that made it slow carb. As the book points out, slow carb is very much about what you don’t have – or as I prefer to put it – the rules are about what you need to have – and you need nothing else. Beans, lean protein, green vegetables.

And yet here I was, staring at an accidental cheat meal – though it was a minor infraction. But how many of these was I preparing, without thinking about it? Things had crept in, but I was still thinking ‘slow carb’ in my mind, and in my expectations.

And expectations are a danger zone. Because if you don’t take time to update them, you run the risk of drawing false conclusions. Like if I had gone on like this for months, and actually allowed more things to creep in, gained weight, and then thought slow carb had stopped working for me.

Back in the pan, and my now not so great lunch was staring back at me, glistening in oil. I realized that I had abandoned the habit of draining the meat when I tried a low-carb stint a few months ago, but had continued buying regular mince (not lean or extra lean) and hadn’t been draining it – resulting in a much higher fat protein source than is ideal. I also thought through my shopping and recent cooking – and became aware that red meat had become a real staple, and chicken and fish had all but disappeared.

The spices too posed a challenge – if I had blasted my taste buds with such intense flavors, was it any wonder I was chasing more and more flavor, and was getting indiscriminate with my choices. The rice starch filler was just the start of a slippery slope – sugar in cajun spice mix, too much salt in other mixes, and the spices had snowballed into condiments. Soy sauce was a major mistake, but it’s addictive flavor meant it was creeping into more and more dishes.

In a game of quantity – that is, preparing no less than 25 slow carb meals every week – I needed to re-stack the odds in my favor. If 15 or so were now minor deviations from slow carb, that would kill my overall progress. Worse yet is the habits and expectations that I had in place.

So, I ask you, are you on the slow carb diet?

Or have you found a comfortable way of eating, that was based, once, on slow carb?

Do you still have slow-carb-level expectations? Or have you adjusted them to suit your habits?

My worst deviation has been peanut butter – first it was almond butter in the evening, and then, as I wanted to gain muscle, I used it to add calories every day. Having done more recent research and learned more about how muscle building works, its less likely that this added amount of fat is doing much more me. But it is addictive, and has slid from almond butter to natural peanut butter, to regular store-bought peanut butter with additives, due to location changes.

It is truly a slippery slope.

So take a moment to think about what slow carb was like when you first started, and what this week has been like for you. If there’s a big difference, you’d better think about whether you’ve made an equally big change to your expectations. Having re-sorted my ideas, I see that my results are in line with what I could have expected, considering my habits. And that means my habits are changing – today.

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10 Responses to Been doing slow carb for months? Are you really still on it?

  • Hector says:

    I’ve been doing Slow Carb since 8/3/11. My goal date was 11/9/11. My birthday. 15 lbs and 15 inches off of the body. I’ve committed to another three months. Almond Butter is the DEVIL. I think that more than a couple of Tbsp’s per day has stalled or slowed my loss. I’m exercising about the same, a little less, than when I started. The only addition has been two scoops of this amazing vitamin/mineral mix into 32 oz. of water that I sip on throughout the entire day. 7g of carbs but I figured that has minimal effect since it’s in small bits throughout the day. I will continue to take this supplement. After a re-read, I see that Tim doesn’t eat beans at every meal. I was eating a cup at almost all of my meals. Adjustment number one, I’m doing a cup at breakfast, .5 at lunch and no beans after that. With the lower quality beef, I do it on the grill or on a Foreman/panini press. I could reduce the amount of oil that I use for eggs and stir frying perhaps. Almond butter is the DEVIL. I started the ice pack on the back/neck for 30′ as of Sunday and will continue that for the duration that I am committing to. Did I mention that Almond butter is the DEVIL. I freaking love that stuff.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Hector,
      I know what you mean about almond butter!! I think I’m better off with it not in the house. The idea that you could just have 2 tbsp every now and then is difficult, because it tastes so great it becomes a staple after a week or two I find. This could definitely slow things down.
      The rest of your plan sounds good – but check the ingredients of the vitamin/mineral mix. If that’s sugar, it’d be better to find a different supplement, though I take your point about spreading it out over the day. Still, slow carb best case scenarios are based on drinking water and some other no calorie beverages, and eating 3 or 4 meals a day, with no snacking.
      The change to beans will be interesting for you – if you are starting with slow carb, and cutting to 1.5 cups of beans per day, you are effectively into a low carb diet zone -at around 45g of carbs from the beans, plus any carbs from green veges, you will most likely be at around 50-60g per day of net carbohydrates, which is around where a lot of people find their weight loss slows, but continues, when doing Atkins. Just make sure you’re getting enough calories in general, you don’t want your metabolism to stall.

      All the best!

  • Wendy says:

    in tim ferris’s new slow carb recipe books volume 1 and 2 it says you can have acorn squash,raisins, hazelnut milk, and 1/4 cup cheese in the recipes… is this true?! im confused because i thought all we can have is meat, beans and veggies?! Also are olives allowed?? THANKS!

    • Luke says:

      Great question Wendy, and unfortunately this isn’t the only inconsistency in some of the published material around the 4 Hour Body (including inside the book itself). This is cofusing – the slow carb principles in the book would clearly rule out raisins, hazelnut milk, cheese and would put acorn squash on the borderline. So, it’s up to you to test it out – see if it slows your weight loss. Olives should be ok in moderation – maybe 10-12 per day.

      All the best!

  • Mike says:

    Nice post, I came from the other way of approaching the diet.

    I started by not being compliant, but changing the biggest problems with my old diet, namely bread, breakfast cereals and not enough veggies.

    This worked quite well for a couple of months, loosing 1kg per week (in fact I lost 2 kgs/week for the first two weeks and slowed over the next 6).

    My weight loss has gradually slowed to about .5kg per week, and I have just recently looked at some of the advice in the book again. I have replaced carrots and cheese (cheese is ok on Atkins) with beans and cut out the half sachet of sugar in my espresso and I have already lost 1kg this week with 3 days to go before the next cheat day.

    I dont think (given that I was 32% or more body fat) that strict compliance is required from the start, a gradual change is more sustainable, and that way you are always revisiting the advice in the book.

    Its about experimentation, try some advice, measure the results, if you cant see changes in the results try something else.

    • Luke says:

      hey Mike,
      Great comments, thanks for sharing them. Interesting to hear your approach and I agree – for someone who has quite a bit to lose, (ie for men over 25% bodyfat and for women over 30%), then moderate compliance will still yield good results in a lot of cases (though not for everyone). I like your advice to experiment and try some things out, then measure the results and try again – this is the perfect way to create your own individual nutritional foundation for health into the future!
      Cheers and all the best,

  • Brenda Nurnberger says:

    I have been doing the diet for a week and usually run around a 100 blood sugar, this morning it was 138 and tonight 159, I have not been diagnosed with diabetes, but check it from time to time. Is that normal for a blood sugar to spike on this diet?

    I’m really enjoying your postings and learning a lot from it. My daughter and son-in-law live in England and follow this diet, they love it.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Brenda,

      You might want to consult the book – there’s a chapter devoted to blood sugar there, with much more detail. I’d be interested to hear what you ate around 1-2 hours before your measurement of 159? A lot can affect blood sugar, but it will be interesting to find out what foods/drinks you had consumed.


  • Raffael says:

    Wow. i thought this just happens to me :)
    I was doing the Slow Carb Thing for 3 months and then went on a one week vacation which I announced “Cheat Week”. I fooled myself that I could just go back to it when I got home. And I did. And after another 3 months I hadn’t lost any more weight. After some thought what I was doing wrong I also realized that after a while all those “small Changes” added up to some food that wasn’t really anything Like the 4HB diet. I guess, you’ll have to do a complete reset every4 weeks or so and check if everything is still as it should be.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Raffael, thanks for your comment!
      You’re right that small changes over time can really add up.. and even though you might know the principles well, your day to day routine might not be that similar to the principles that create the effective fat loss that people experience.
      That’s a great idea to have a week every month or two where you really pay attention to the meals you’re creating and what and when you’re eating, as well as other habits like sleep and exercise. It’s easy when we’re busy to slowly drift off into other habits and foods, but still think we’re doing things the same.

      All the best,

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