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What I learned from five months on the Slow Carb diet

Tim Ferriss promotes a diet called the “Slow Carb” where participants cut out sugars and carbohydrate heavy foods. Dairy products are also off the table. Instead the focus is on eating three types of foods: meats, greens, and beans. There are some exceptions to the rules like a glass of dry red wine which make the diet more tolerable.

Slow carb features a “cheat day” when any food is fair game for 24 hours. Tim goes crazy with this by eating pastries and pancakes for breakfast along with other goodies throughout the day. Just when your body gets used to living without carbs you throw a whole heap of carbs at it. This part of the diet compares to “carb-cycling” which can be used to improve diet results.

I've been on this diet for the last five months. During that time I've learned about what makes it work for me and how I handle exceptions to the rules. It's difficult for anyone to stick 100% to slow carb so I've found it necessary to build the diet around my personal life.

I think I'm an exceptional case study for fitness and diet. At the age of 24 I weigh 255 pounds. I'm 6’ and bench press 355 pounds. I have a good portion of muscle, definitely more than most people trying to loose weight. And I also have a bit of fat I'd like to lose. My goals and other work by Tim Ferriss drew me to the Slow Carb diet.

I had pretty good weight loss in January and went skiing for a week in Colorado. I was on the mountain everyday for 6 days and ate/drank whatever I wanted. I stuck to the diet more rigorously after January and have been working on consistently following its rules. I've been going to the gym while on this diet to maintain muscle and keep exercising through the winter.

Early in the diet I noticed that my weight took an initial drop and then plateaued. During the first few months I didn't loose or gain much weight but all of my lifts went up. I also started seeing more muscle in the mirror. Turns out this diet has been great for transferring fat into muscle.

In addition, I've seen some recent weight losses. I'd like to share what made this happen.

As a social 24 year old there are times when I'd rather not be on diet. One example happens once a week when I have beer with friends. Drinking doesn't work when I'm strictly on diet because it doesn't line up with my cheat day (Saturday). Cheating once during the week makes me feel like I've failed my diet. It discourages me from following through for the rest of the week.

This led me to introduce the four-meals-a-week rule where four of my meals during the week can be off diet. The general grouping should occur on one day, but this allows me to cop out when I want to without ruining the rest of the week. Also I've made the adjustment that these meals should have some restraint because going totally crazy with it just didn't work for me. It also makes sense because I'm adding a whole meal to the cheat day.

This freedom and peace of mind has been invaluable toward sticking to the diet. I've found that I'm much happier following it and I've even lost weight with this approach.

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