Fat Loss with the Slow Carb Diet
I looked in the mirror and thought “What happened to me?”. I hadn't ever really struggled with body fat growing up. I was always the scrawny kid. Once I got into high school I was very active playing sports, so I was in very good shape. It wasn’t until college that this trend started to reverse. It wasn’t much at first, and it was a very gradual increase in body fat. But once I started working full time, it became an issue. Now I was looking at myself and realizing how much it was getting out of hand. I needed to make a change.
I have been a fan of Tim Ferris’ work since a friend in college showed me the book the Four Hour Workweek. So I got his sequel book entitled the Four Hour Body and started reading. In there Tim explains a diet called the Slow Carb Diet, so I decided to give it a try. Much to my surprise it worked! I had lost roughly 8 lbs in 7 weeks and reduced my body fat percentage by roughly 3-5%. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but my before and after pictures speak volumes. Below is the detail of my 8 week journey and how I got to where I am now.
Capturing data and tracking progress is important for motivation, so the first step is to see where you are at. There are a couple of different methods to determine your body composition. Tim mentions 3 of his top picks: DEXA, Bodpod, and, Ultrasound (BodyMetrix). Each has their own positives and negatives which Tim Ferris goes into more detail in the book. He also suggests taking measurements of key body areas to track the overall inches lost.
I will start off by saying Tim Ferris was right. He mentioned that I would regret not getting my starting measurements and I am feeling that regret. I have photos, weights, and tape measurements that adequately capture how far I have come, but I didn’t utilize any of his suggested body fat measurement tools initially. I think I didn’t take the initially measurements because I honestly didn’t think I would be able to stick to the diet. But now I’m kicking myself for not getting it done and seeing the actual numbers.
Some other ways that Tim mentions to keep yourself motivated are to take a “before” picture and display it where you will see it, track your progress, or even place bets to keep yourself accountable.
The diet is actually quite simple. Eat meat and vegetables, while avoiding fruits and carbs (breads, rice, tortillas, cereal, potatoes, etc). Thats it. Some more tips are not to drink your calories. Stick to water, coffee, unsweetened tea, and a no more than a glass of red wine a day. The simplicity of the diet is both good and bad. Good because there is little room for questioning whether you can eat a certain food or not, but bad because your food options are a limited. Below is a list of acceptable foods and I will go into further detail on all that I ate.
Slow Carb Diet Foods
For me breakfasts consisted of either eggs or beans. i would add a little flavor by adding spices or salsa to the eggs and garlic salt to the beans. This was important in keeping my tastebuds happy. It also helped to continually mix my meals up. If I eat something too consistently, I tend to start to get burnt out on that food, so keeping the meals rotating helped to combat that issue.
For lunch and dinner I usually had a salad and meat. It was easy enough to find variety in these meals. Tim also mentions only using oil with the salads, but I had success while still using ranch, raspberry vinaigrette, and Italian dressings.
I was very concerned about my ability to actually stick to a diet, but there was one trick that kept me going. Cheat day. Once a week there is a day where you eat whatever you want, and as much of it as you want. Tim actually said he ate himself almost sick just so he didn’t want the food for another 6 days. I would make a list of the foods that I was tempted to eat throughout the week and go nuts on cheat day. I actually hoarded all of my cheat day food on a shelf in my pantry. I felt like a squirrel stashing my nuts for winter. Another added benefit of cheat day is that spiking your caloric intake also helps to make sure your metabolism doesn’t down shift.
So now that you know how I did it, here are more of the actual numbers.
The tape measurements mainly put some numbers to the results seen in the photos. It is obvious to see that most of my body fat was carried on my stomach rather than the glutes. Tim also suggests measuring around each thigh and arms, but my numbers didn't change at all. The fat that I needed to lose was in the midsection.
Next are some graphs of my weight throughout the diet. I measured myself once at 5:00 pm and again at 10:00 pm most nights. The disconnects in the graph are the days that I missed weighting myself.
It is really interesting that you can spot my cheat days on the graph, represented as spikes. I determined my overall fat loss as the differences in the peaks or differences in the valleys from week to week.
The result of my 7 weeks on the Slow Carb Diet resulted in roughly 8 lbs of fat loss. I don’t know the exact body fat decrease, but I would approximate it to be roughly 3-5%. I know these numbers aren’t extremely impressive, but the improvement is obvious none the less. It also shows that someone with little self control when it comes to food and not much weight to lose, can still get great results. Thank you Tim!