I promised a series, and here it is–a few posts looking back on my month-long experiment with the Slow-Carb Diet as detailed in Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-hour Body. To recap, the diet has a few different rules, specifically to avoid sugar, grains, dairy, and fruit in favor of more animal protein, nuts, beans, and legumes. Once per week, you can splurge on the banned foods. This binge is meant to boost fat loss and to stave off ketosis.
In the spirit of the season, I began the Slow-Carb diet right after New Year’s. It wasn’t really a resolution, and I tried the diet less for weight reduction and more for energy regulation. My initial observations we positive in this regard. Ferriss sugggests eating at least 20 grams of protein per meal to provide consistent energy and to reduce hunger pangs between meals. My new meals were combinations of eggs, lean meats, almonds and almond milk, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, celery, avocados, hummus, peanuts, and lentils. I also ate LOTS of canned beans and salsa. I used Trader Joe’s Green Drink and fish oil capsules for supplements.
Here are my initial findings:
My days at school are often a battle against a constant urge to eat–partially due to stress, I’m sure. However, during the first few days, I noticed a change. I didn’t feel overly hungry or faint at all, and I could go longer without eating.
If you routinely eat a lot of carbohydrates you won’t realize how much of a “rush” they can produce. Even if you avoid refined carbs, whole grains have a similar, if muted effect. I especially noticed this at breakfast. Replacing my Kashi or oatmeal with eggs, black beans, and veggies totally changed my mornings. Cravings for sugar and caffeine, essential ingredients used to maintain the “high” experienced from carbs, were more or less eliminated. I’m known for my sweet tooth, but I really didn’t feel the need to indulge this week.
I didn’t even really binge that much on my first cheat day. I started on Saturday night with sushi, noodles, and a glass of beer. I had a big bowl of whole-grain cereal on Sunday morning and some surplus holiday candy. I was back to the diet by Sunday afternoon.
I did immediately notice one ill effect of the diet. If you couldn’t tell from the foods listed above, gas and bloating can be a major issue! It’s been pretty cold lately and sleeping on couch is no fun . . .
I also felt like the diet had an adverse effect on my training this week. I had taken some time off during the holidays and due to some family health issues. Admittedly, I wasn’t in peak condition. Barring these variables, I noticed less energy available to my body while training–especially during anaerobic portions of my workouts. I just didn’t feel like I had any “kick” and missed that feeling. I later tried eating some fruit one hour prior to training with some good results.
Factoring in my lack of conditioning and the drastic changes to my diet, my jiu-jitsu test that week was especially trying! I started my first cheat day right after the workout.
WEEK ONE CONCLUSIONS
Weighing the pros and cons, I think I got off to a good start. Any changes in your way of eating will produce significant results and require time to adjust.
I did drop about eight post-holiday pounds this first week. Much of this could be from the elimination of huge meals and constant snacking rather than from the slow-carb changeover. I will include more on weight loss to follow.
Lastly, please keep in mind that this experiment was completely unscientific. I didn’t keep any data aside from checking my weight a few times each week. This first week was my strictest in terms of adhering to the diet; I followed it to the letter. Later I adapted a little bit to provide myself with quick energy before workouts and to promote recovery.
There’s more to come. Please let us know if you have questions and if you’ve tried any diet experiments lately!