GETTING UN-FAT: the Return of the Slow Carb Diet

Excess exercise tends to be counterbalanced by excess hunger, exemplified by the phrase 'working up an appetite.' A few people with extraordinary willpower can resist such hunger day after day, but for the vast majority, weight loss through exercise is a flawed option. - Andrew Weil

Hitting the gym. Pounding the pavement. Sweat, sweat, sweat.

It's the approach a lot of people mistakenly take in trying to lose weight, BUT burnout and lackluster results are more often all that result from this "spinning the wheels" approach.

Said a little more bluntly - those people are working their ass off for nuthin'.

You don't need to be like them.

There's a better way.

...

Diet. It's the single most effective way to shed fat.

And of all the diets out there, there's only one that's stood the test of time in terms of results AND adherence - the slow carb diet.

It's a means of reaching your optimal body weight (lean v. excess body mass) with just a handful of commitments. The results (which we'll get to later) are astounding, and the rules are simple:

  1. Avoid "white" carbs.

  2. Eat the same few meals over and over again.

  3. Don't drink calories.

  4. Don't eat fruit.

  5. Take one day off each week.

If you're currently eating the standard, starchy American diet, some of these rules may come as a shock. But if this is what it takes to feel good and look good (and it does), then go ahead and stick the fork in the socket.

...

Over the past few years I've experimented with just about every diet out there.

It all started in the winter of 2012 when I picked up a copy of The 4 Hour Body, and was left confused and curious. This diet focused on a particular source of carbohydrate paired with plenty of protein, and claimed that dieting didn't need to be complex to be effective.

I decided to give it a shot.

By the time summer rolled around, I had a six pack for the first time in a number of years. What's more, I felt great. Focus, mood, and energy levels were consistently on high. Life was good.

I stuck with this diet for the next couple of years before deciding I had to take the natural "next step" and go Paleo. I shed a little more fat and felt a little "healthier" (at first), but it didn't stick. The arguments behind it, that our ancestors ate this way before the dawn of agriculture, interested me deeply, but eventually the lure wore off and I looked for the next shiny object in the room.

The next object wasn't a diet, per se, it was merely a means of not eating. I started intermittent fasting around this time. I would skip breakfast and opt for coffee or tea while holding out for lunch and a bigger dinner. I'd read that intermittent fasting helped with fat loss, strength gains, autophagy, etc. and wanted to give it a try.

[Side Note: The problem here, and through many of the diets I've experimented with through the past few years, was that I wasn't tracking anything. If I were to make any claims or try to back any of the claims popularizing the practice, I didn't have solid ground to stand upon. I didn't have data or proof.]

A few months later, I wanted to see if I could reach sub-10% bodyfat. I wanted to go keto. I saw the effects it had had on a couple of friends and wanted to replicate, so I subbed fat for carbs and ... while the fat loss effects were impressive, the effects on mood and general energy levels were not.

I was a moody bitch for the extent of time that I was keto, and while I don't know exactly why it didn't work out for me, I have a hunch that it has to do with lack of research, no contingencies in place, and no means of tracking. Just a general lack of planning and foresight on my part.

During a trip out west, where I kicked myself out of ketosis (if I ever was even in ketosis) and found life way more enjoyable, I started considering the "other side" of the coin. A trainer from work and a friend of mine knew that I'd been experimenting with the effects of different diets and they kept buzzing in my ear about the benefits of veganism.

At first, I was argumentative, looking for ways to pick apart "The China Study" and all the different claims that were being made. But this approach had no effect on their plant-based brains :)

That trip out West offered the perfect segway to a new form of eating. I committed to three weeks of veganism and ended up going for more than eight. I felt a vibrant energy upon making the switch and shortly thereafter turned my attention to running distance.

My vegan friend and I went on to complete a marathon with just 7 weeks of training, but as the date of the marathon neared, I knew this diet wasn't going to last. I was starting to feel scattered (mentally) and weak (physically). While the energy was certainly there, clarity and strength were not, and I decided this was not the optimal diet for me.

For the next couple months I traveled, relocated, and didn't focus on diet much at all.

Upon settling in in Montana, I grew interested again. I'd listened to conversations with the likes of Wim Hof, General Stanley McChrystal, and others who opted for one meal a day. It sounded so strange to my "Westernized" mind that I had to try it. I ordered a copy of the Warrior Diet and set out to explore this one meal a day option over the course of the next three weeks.

The first week went well, as the enthusiasm in trying a new diet carried me, but as weeks two and three rolled along I found myself completely un-motivated and un-happy toward the middle of the day and started considering "Hmm, maybe this isn't for me. At least not at this point in my life."

When the three weeks were up, I dropped the Warrior Diet, and opted for more of a "hang loose" approach to eating healthy (ie. awareness > anal-retentive-ness). That approach lasted until the end of 2016, when I'd relocated to Mississippi for work. I found myself eating fast food, drinking (a little too much) booze, and feeling shitty  / groggy way too often.

After a trip home between Christmas and New Year's I decided to go back to where it all started: the Slow Carb Diet.  

Only this time I was gonna do it right ...

...

In creating a meal plan, all I aimed to do was engender the principles of the slow carb diet. I avoided white carbs, ate the same few meals over and over again, didn't drink calories, didn't eat fruit, and took one day off each week.

The following is a typical day in the life:

Slow Carb Diet Meal A (5:30am): 4 eggs, 1 can black beans, 2 servings of broccoli, 1 tablespoon of hot sauce, 8 ounces of coffee

Slow Carb Diet Meal B (11:30am): 12 ounces of chicken, 1 can of black beans, 2 servings of kale, 1 teaspoon of flax seed, 1 single serve guacamole

Quest Bar (1:30pm)

Slow Carb Diet Meal C (5:30pm): 8 ounces of cod, 1 can of black beans, 2 servings of broccoli, 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut

And the pictures ...

This is a typical day in the life.

But what about that other day? What about "fat day"?

Spiking caloric intake once a week is one of the five principles of the slow carb diet and arguably the most fun. It provides an excuse to see how much crap you could shovel down your gullet in a 24 hour period, and what's better, is that it's not without merit.

Enter Tim (the author of The 4 Hour Body):

This [spiking caloric intake] causes a host of hormonal changes that improve fat-loss, from increasing cAMP and GMP to improving conversion of the T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3. Everyone binges eventually on a diet, and it's better to schedule it ahead of time to limit damage. The psychological benefits outweigh even the hormonal and metabolic benefits. I eat like this all the time and have for seven years. Few ways of eating are this sustainable and beneficial.

And there you have it, a "Why?" for fat day.

...

Heading into an experiment, it's important to clarify two things before starting:

  1. What do you think will happen and why? (hypothesis)

  2. What will you monitor and why? (variables)

I hypothesized that in re-adopting the slow carb diet I would lose fat. I would finish the diet experiment with a lower body fat percentage than when I started.

In order to test this hypothesis I tracked three variables - meals, weight, and bodyfat percentage.

I kept a food log where I tracked date, time, meal components, and macro-nutrients (per each meal). This log was updated shortly after each meal and reviewed at the end of each day. For nutritional info, I referred to food labels first and Google / fatsecret.com second.

Once you establish a baseline and calculate the macros, etc. for one meal, it's largely rinse and repeat. The adaptations are so minor you only need to (re)calculate meals on occasion.

In addition to the food log, I collected weight, bodyfat percentage (using an Omron fat loss monitor), (1) front and (1) side picture every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 in the morning (30 minutes after rising). It's important to be consistent in terms of when you're measuring so that the data that's collected is consistent.

As for results:

Nothing drastic, but meundies are pretty snazzy.

I started the diet experiment on 1.4.17 (picture on the left) at 197.5lbs and 13.5% body fat, and ended the experiment on 1.20.17 (picture on the right) at 192.5lbs and 12.3% body fat for a total loss of 5lbs and 1.2% bodyfat over the course of 15 days.

Admittedly, I would've liked to have lost a little more (closer to 1.5%) but I can't complain since a loss of 1.2% bodyfat in just 15 days is still a strong indicator. With a little more heft, the results would've been stunning. Some folks have lost upto 100+lbs with a simple switch to the slow carb diet. Now that's impressive!

The results back the claims. The slow carb diet is fat loss via simplicity.

...

When it comes to fat loss, many of us have our heads buried in the sand. Diet is the answer. It's where our focus has to be before our attention is turned to exercise.

And of all the diets out there, there's one that's stood the test of time in terms of results and adherence - the slow carb diet. The slow carb diet is fat loss via simplicity.

It's "the light", and now that you've seen "the light", no more bitching or painting yourself a victim.

Get out there and do something about it.

Your health, well-being, and confidence in yourself matter. More than that, they play a HUGE role in how you see the world.

It's time to take it upon yourself to improve your livelihood.

Wanna get un-fat?

Go slow.