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Slow-carb Diet 101 - Get Started Right on Tim Ferriss' Life-changing Program

Updated on May 22, 2012

The slow-carb-diet is promoted by Tim Ferriss as a way to “lose 20lb in 30 days without exercise”.  That’s one heck of a claim, but he does have some great case studies to back it up. 

In my own experience of putting this regime to the test I have lost around 7lb, which is nowhere near Tim’s dramatic soundbite, but for me represents great weight loss in a diet where I can honestly say I have never felt hungry.  Restricted, yes!  There are simple rules for what you can and cannot eat, all designed to stabilize your blood sugar by avoiding quickly digested carbohydrates.  Also, Ferriss advises that for women, more dramatic weight loss is often seen around 3-4 weeks in, so, bring it on!

In a nutshell, the simple rules for slow-carb-dieting are as follows:

Avoid ALL white carbs, or carbs that can be white - that means all bread, rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and any fried food with breading. The one exception appears to be cauliflower, which despite being white is a good slow-carb vegetable, and can be mashed up like potato quite deliciously.

Eat the same few meals over and over – this is Tim Ferriss’ take on things, as a bachelor who is not a keen cook! Obviously, it makes it easy to keep on track, to plan ahead, and not to get derailed as you have nothing in. For me, I really need the variety that experimenting with different recipes, preparation techniques, and flavoring approaches brings, otherwise I would get really fed up. The main thing is that you get food from each of the following groups in every meal:

  • Protein – such as lean meat, eggs or fish (no dairy, except cottage cheese in small amounts – lactose hinders weight loss)
  • Legumes – lentils, black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, kidney beans…
  • Vegetables – he specially recommends spinach, but anything green is good including raw salad leaves

Don't drink calories, which includes milk, soy milk, juice, soda, etc. Ferriss permits himself a can of soda per day, as well as up to two glasses of red wine. For me I prefer to keep wine for weekends for more general health reasons, despite the much-touted health benefits of resveratrol. But the general message is, don’t overlook calories and sugars just because they are liquids and are so easily glugged down without really thinking about it.

Don't eat fruit. This is all about fructose, the natural sugar in sweet fruits (tomatoes and avocados are exempt from this btw and can be eaten on the plan). This is to do with a triglyceride digestive pathway that actually leads directly to fat storage.

I found this the most difficult and surprising thing about the plan initially, as I love my fruit and it’s usually a staple part of most healthy eating programs. But the reason that fruit harvests are such a staple is the efficiency of that fructose metabolism. And as Ferriss points out, fruits are not an essential daily part of our diet – otherwise our ancient Northern European ancestors would never have survived through a winter. Veggies yes, fruit no. No sweet stuff

Final rule:

Have a ‘cheat day’ once a week where you go nuts and eat loads, of anything you like.. now you can have your fruit and your bread and your cheese and your cake. You have go ahead and really spike your calorific intake, so as to increase fat loss by ensuring your metabolic rate doesn’t slow down due to your body kicking in to starvation mode.

This is the reason so many dieters yo-yo back up to a higher weight than before! You know when you first start a diet and you get the really good weight loss in the first few days, then it all slows down again? Cheat day is a way of triggering that first response, every week. AND you get to eat all that stuff you’ve been craving all week!

There are lots of ways to lose weight and get back in shape, they all require different commitments and efforts from you to make them work. For me, slow-carbing is working, because I’ve always found hunger an impossible problem when dieting. The slow release carbs stop blood sugar cycling and stop the hunger, it’s that simple. And the diet itself really IS simple… you can read more about it here:


Slow-carb and the PAGG supplement stack

Vegetarian slow-carb recipes

But these are the basis rules to get you started. Good luck, and let me know how you get on!


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    • profile image

      Todd 3 years ago

      @StarCreate We had the same issues with the variety! I don't find it as difficult (I'm a simple man :) But my wife definitely gets bored quickly with eating the same meals too frequently.

      Here's a list of 15 slow carb recipes that can help you with that variety, hopefully this helps!

      Let me know if you have other creative recipes to help out slow carbers!

    • StarCreate profile image

      StarCreate 7 years ago from Spain

      Good luck Denise, I wish you every success... I am sure you would be wise to get some professional input, about the cheat day thing, but generally I am sure eating slow release carbs can only be good for your blood sugar. Wish you every success, and do let me know how you get on!

    • DeniseNTexas profile image

      DeniseNTexas 7 years ago

      Star, thanks for your input! I've been reading about slow carb for a few days now. I'm seriously considering modifying that cheat day thing and giving it a try. :)

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 7 years ago from Houston TX

      Great hub. Thanks

    • StarCreate profile image

      StarCreate 7 years ago from Spain

      @Denise, Ferriss really encourages tweaking and self-experimentation... I don't know enough about diabetes to comment knowledgeably, but it sounds like you would be able to spike your blood sugar far more easily, in a sense - so whilst you couldn't pig out as encouraged (which I rarely want to do anyway I just have a few treats), you'd get more benefit from a metabolic point of view with a small amount of extra sugar. I think slow carb and diabetes is an area where a lot more research is needed, this is all quite new and the literature is still being created!

    • DeniseNTexas profile image

      DeniseNTexas 7 years ago

      I have to admit I *like* the idea of a slow carb way of eating but as a Type 2 Diabetic, taking one day off a week would be disastrous for my blood sugar! If I ate everything I wanted to, I'd be injecting insulin all day and that wouldn't be a good thing. ;) So, I'll have to pass on that though I can see having a cheat day once a month, perhaps.

    • StarCreate profile image

      StarCreate 7 years ago from Spain

      @Joyce F, thank you and good luck. At least you get quick results from this approach so it's well worth getting back on track, do keep in touch and swap some recipes if that helps!

      @ JulieCarlson, the new book is very different in content but if you like Ferriss' simple pragmatism, sincerity and humor, and if you've ever wanted anything in your health/body to work better, you'll find inspiration within it I promise!

    • JulieCarlson profile image

      JulieCarlson 7 years ago from Chicagoland

      Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week was great. I would expect the same for this book.

    • Joyce F profile image

      Joyce F 7 years ago from USA

      Great Hub! Love Tim Ferriss! I'm suppose to be a slow carb diet follower . . . though I've been derailed for a while now. Thanks for the hub and a push to get back on track. Voted up and useful.


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