Slow Carb Diet: How to Avoid Going Bat-**** Crazy

Space-filling model of the lipoic acid molecule

I received an email recently, asking “what kinds of things are you eating so that you don’t go bat-**** crazy?”

First, some background.

On January 2, 2011, I started Tim Ferriss’s Slow Carb Diet and, as of 2/18/2011, I have lost 30 pounds. The first 11 or so were water weight, but I’ve still been losing 4-5 pounds per week.  This diet has a few—but only a few—rules.

  1. Eat nothing white.  That means no sugar(including fructose), no flour, no potatoes, no rice(even brown), and no milk(or any dairy).  Beer is white.
  2. Breakfast is high-protein.
  3. Cheat day once a week.  On cheat day, there are no rules after breakfast.
  4. Meals should consist of 40% protein, 30% vegetables and 30% legumes(beans or lentils).
  5. If you get hungry between meals, you didn’t eat enough at the last meal.

That’s it.  The rules are simple and don’t require that I refer back to the book for anything.

Here is a typical day for me on this diet:

For breakfast most mornings, I have 3 eggs and 2-3 sausage links.  I bought brown-and-serve sausages so this takes 10 minutes to cook in the morning.

On the way to work, I have a diet soda if we have any in the house.  If not, I skip it.  I like pop, but I’ve broken my caffeine addiction completely.

For lunch, I will either have leftovers from the night before or some stir-fry with beans and whatever protein is convenient.  I’ve been keeping pre-cooked brats(wurst, not kid) or polish sausages as a convenience food.

Several times a week, I make some stir-fry.  I use a basic, flexible recipe.

  1. Chop whatever vegetables are on hand.  We usually have onions, broccoli, a variety of peppers, and mushrooms.  If I have celery, asparagus, or almost any other vegetable.  Lettuce works poorly in a stir-fry.
  2. Put some oil in a hot pan.  I prefer sesame oil, but I’m not picky.  I’ll use whatever oil we have on hand.
  3. Cook the vegetables, stirring constantly.  Cook them in the order of how long they take to cook.  Onions are usually first.  Celery tends to be last..  While they are cooking, I sometimes sprinkle ginger powder over the top.
  4. If you are getting sick of eating beans, toss them into the stir-fry, cooked.  They mash and disintegrate, giving you the benefit and some flavor, without the mouth-feel.
  5. When the vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction, put them in a bowl.   They will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

I tend to cook the meat separately, as that lets me vary the meal more.  I’ll make some chicken or steak ready to toss in the stir-fry before I re-heat it.

I vary the seasonings, vegetables, and oil to get different flavors  I rarely make the same stir-fry twice.  The real trick to keeping the food satisfying is to experiment with seasonings.  They make a huge difference between bland and yummy. Seasonings can make or break a meal all by themselves.

If I don’t have any stir-fry or leftovers, I’ll bring some salad and a polish sausage. Most salad dressing is sugar-based, so I either go light on the dressing, or use balsamic vinegar.   I try to avoid doing this more than once every couple of weeks.  It’s boring and doesn’t taste that great.  It’s okay, but that’s all.

I try to always have cooked beans or lentils in the refrigerator.  They provide a significant part of my calorie intake.   Beans are kind of a necessity.  Vegetables taste better, but  are a low-calorie, bulky food.  You can’t stay full all day on nothing but lettuce.  Beans get old. I’ll usually toss a few spoonfuls of salsa to change the taste.  When I cook lentils, sometimes, I’ll cook it in beef broth with fried onions and garlic to make a tasty change.

For dinner, I have whatever vegetables we are cooking for the kids, a scoop of beans, and a protein that usually isn’t cooked for the family.

The protein source varies based on whatever was on sale when we went grocery shopping.  It can be steak, chicken, or anything else.  This week, we bought 16 chicken drumsticks.  We spread them out on a cookie sheet and seasoned them 3 different ways, just for variety.  Some got garlic salt, some got Italian seasoning, and some got a Greek rub.  After an hour in a 350 degree oven, we had a delicious meal.

If I feel a need for a snack, or a craving for sweets, I just take a spoonful of peanut butter.  It helps.

Exercise

I’m not doing any major form of exercise.  I wanted to test the diet on its own merits, first.  What I am doing is some timed exercises shortly before and 90 minutes after I eat, when I remember.   The exercises are resistance-based and 60-90 seconds in duration.  The purpose is to crank up my metabolism before the food gets introduced into my body, and then keep it up and running for a while afterward.

I use a mid-level elastic rehab strap, doubled-over twice.  I do 75 chest extensions about 5 minutes before I eat.   Most days, I forget to do them again 90 minutes later.  There are any number of other exercises that would work, including air squats or push-ups.

Supplements

I am not your doctor.  In fact, I am not a doctor in any capacity.  Similarly, I am not a nutritionist, a dietitian, or even a board-certified snake-oil salesman.  I have no qualifications here, in any way, shape or form.  Follow this at your own risk.

I take 5 supplements.

Policosanal.  This is an herbal supplement that is supposed to help with cholesterol, which is a helpful thing to do when you are on a low-carb, high-protein diet.  More importantly, a side effect is weight loss.  Hurray for helpful side effects!

Alpha-lipoic Acid(ALA).  This is an antioxidant that helps your body produce vitamins C and E.  It is also supposed to inhibit triglyceride and fat storage.  To quote from the book, “ALA helps you store the carbohydrates you ea in your liver as opposed to in fat.”

Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract.  This inhibits your body’s ability to store carbs as fat and it accelerates fat cell death.  The second bit means it should help prevent the rebounding so many dieters experience.

Garlic Extract.  This assists with cholesterol management and the inhibition of fat regain.

B Complex.  I take a B complex vitamin with vitamin C.  The B vitamins help balance out some of the things the rest of the supplement regimen does to cellular metabolism while giving your overall metabolism a boost.

I take the whole mess in the morning and again before bed.  Shortly before lunch and dinner, I take the ALA, green tea extract and garlic extract.

Ice

As a pure body-hack, I ice my upper back every night.  I have an ice-pack sheet that I place on my upper back for 30-45 minutes each night before bed.  This lowers my core body temperature, forcing my body to work harder to maintain 98.6 degrees.  That burns calories.  An additional benefit: getting cold makes you tired, which helps with my chronic insomnia.

This combination of factors has resulted in my losing an average of .7 pounds per day, without meaningful exercise.  It’s a violation of a number traditional dieting principles, but it’s working.  Is everything I’m doing necessary?  Useful?  Possibly not.  Over the next few months, I’m going to be experimenting with dropping individual pieces of the plan, to see if my rate of loss drops for any of it.

For now, it’s working, and doing so at a rate I like.   Dieting usually sucks, because the results are so slow.  This is much more satisfying.

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  • 33 comments

    Comments

    1. Looks like you are making great progress. I think it is partly due to simple recipes that aren’t overwhelming nor take too much time. Keep up the great work. Your body will thank you for years to come.

    2. Congrats! I started Weight Watchers Online on January 4th and have lost 15 pounds so far – it feels great, doesn’t it?!

    3. I’ve been following a low-carb diet with great success for over a decade now. Best part was that I quit being hungry all the damned time. Lost over 100 lbs, cured my diabetes and arthritis, along with a number of other problems. In fact, the *only* problem I have encountered on my diet is the occasional lecture about how “unhealthy” it is from some well-meaning fool.

      I can see that the diet you describe is certainly better than SAD, but it’s nowhere near optimal. I don’t even consider legumes food any more. Oh, and the part about sugar, “even fructose” as if that was not as bad as other sugars. Gag. Fructose is pure metabolic poison, and a large percentage of the population would greatly improve their health by eliminating that alone from their diets. But I mostly agree with the “nothing white”. Mostly, because I like cauliflower. I would add “nothing from any kind of grain (or any meat other than fowl that has been grain-fed)”, and “no veggie oils” to improve the diet substantially.

      If you want a really good, nutritious, and satisfying diet and lifestyle, check out Mark’s Daily Apple, or the FatHead blog.

    4. Awesome results! How strict are you with the food on the diet? 100% 6 days a week?

      I’m pretty lax about it – cheating on non-cheat days, but still lost 14lbs in my first month. I haven’t had any beans or lentils in my diet, and almost never do cold-exposure.

      You can see my results here:
      http://www.smallbizbigdreams.com/product-review/personal-4-hour-body-slow-carb-diet-results/

      • I’m really close to 100% compliance. Occasionally, I’ll put ranch or french dressing on a salad. Once I had a piece of toast in the middle of the week, but that’s it.

        Not eating the beans doesn’t matter. They are there to help with caloric load and to avoid hunger issues. If you can skip them and still make it between meals, good for you.

    5. Congrats! I am waiting for my brother to finish his copy of the book and then I am going to check it out. I wasn’t a huge fan of the 4 hour work week but I heard this was much better.

    6. I just started the Slow-Carb diet on April 2… and so far so good, I think! I can’t tell if I’ve lost much weight yet, because I don’t think my scale is accurate (it gave me 20 lbs lower, and then it has been giving me the same weigh to the ounce- I’m skeptical). But I’ve been keeping my own blog (Sandya21.posterous.com) to track my food, I’ve taken my measurements, and… ordered a new scale. My goal is to lose ~20 lbs. I am pretty fit and have a lot of muscle, so I weigh more it looks like, but there’s plenty of fat that needs to go.

      I’m posting what I eat below (aside from the typical breakfast)– I am really enjoying my food (I love food, so I can’t stick with a diet that involves crappy food), and I’m varying these meals below over and over.

      My favorites are now chicken thighs and roast butternut squash. I cook bacon first, which I use later on to put in salads, etc, and then I cook the chicken thighs in the bacon fat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Sometimes I saute some garlic in the pan too. I’ve been either eating the chicken with dinner, or shredded in salads. Sauteed pork loin also cooks very quickly and evenly, if you’re running low on time (chicken thighs are a little more difficult).

      Some other great recipes- roast butternut squash with rosemary, olive oil and a bit of nutmeg, with walnuts. (use the broiler)

      Asparagus- get rid of the tough ends, dump them in boiling water for a minute, then in cold water (blanching, which keeps the bright green color). Saute with garlic, olive oil, and a bit of crushed red pepper.

      Turkey meatballs, sans bread crumbs. You can mix lean ground turkey and spices, and include some spicy italian sausage in there if you want (just take the sausage out of the casing and mix in). I made a huge batch and cooked them with marinara.

      Spinach salad with sliced bell peppers, walnuts, avocado, bacon bits and shredded chicken thighs- balsamic vinegar and olive oil as dressing. (really yummy)

      To get around the lentils issue, I’m eating refried black beans, mixed with salsa.

      In order to expedite the cooking / lunch assembly process, I prep my ingredients on Sunday. I slice up all the peppers, cook the spinach for my omelets, and have the meat I’m going to put in the salads ready as well.

      I’m only on Day 12, but the slip-ups have been minor.

    7. Just to add MY Tim Ferriss Breakfast. I saute chopped onions, add black beans and some thawed frozen Trader Joe’s spinach. When that’s all hot, I put it into a covered bowl to keep it hot and cook two eggs, over easy.
      I slice and chop the eggs and mix the yokes thoroughly, pour the onions/beans/spinach on top and mmmmmmmmmmm…….

      I put a little garlic salt on the spinach before it’s added.

      and hmmmmmm… this site can’t find my site… It’s here:
      Slow Carb HQ

    8. How does corn or corn chips fit into the low carb diet?

    9. IJWTS wow! Why can\’t I think of tihngs like that?

    10. I crave a sweet tart flavor pretty much at the same time every day. I’ve found that a small apple fills it and doesn’t hinder my results. Just a tip for anyone who might need it. Also, I think it is always positive to remind people that a glass of red wine a day is ALLOWED!!! Thank gravy!

    11. Jason, are you still doing this diet a year later?

      I tried it for about 2 weeks to start this year, but have quickly slipped back into some old routines.. It is the cereal in the morning that is so ingrained in my daily habits, I almost have to have it 2-3 times per week. I don’t always have time to make eggs and lentils :-)

      That said, I am on a “mostly slow carb diet” and have still lot 14 pounds so far this year.

      • I made it 5 months and 40 pounds last year. I went on a vacation and got treated to experimental desserts at a resort, since we were guests of the resort’s general manager. We had so much good food there, I couldn’t NOT cheat on my diet. I never really got back on it. I am on again this year, and down 15 pounds so far this month, but I’m not on the diet on the weekends and I’m not being a stickler on the dairy.

    12. When you dropped off the diet last year how much did you gain between the vacation and your latest iteration of the diet?

    13. Hi,

      I started the diet on Sunday and gained half a pound the first day lost 3 the next and have stayed steady ever since(last 3 days). I need to loose about 20 pounds….I weigh 168.8 and am 5’7″.I lost 90 pounds last year and want to keep going. I used the HcG diet but my hair fell out…this diet is easier…If I can get it to work…

      I have lentils, 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites with spinach for breakfast….either kidney or black beans (I make the beans and lentils home made with onions garlic ginger tomatoes and peppers) for lunch with chicken, beef or fish and the same for dinner with another bean and a little veg…peas or carrots….I have over 2 litres of water a day…and that’s it…no cheating….can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong….I don’t feel hungry…I only eat 3 meals a day..I do the kettlebell swing and myotic crunches twice a week….(I don’t have much muscle)

      I feel I should be loosing more….
      Any suggestions….I would appreciate it very much….also I am Canadian…can I get the supplements in Canada?

      • Looking at your menu – U might want to drop the peas and add more vegies like eggplant,pepper,mushroom, spinach ,just to name a few — your bean or lentil consumption for 1 day should be 1 to 1 1/2 cups total – You will see greater results. Way to go on your loss so far .

    14. Excellent work! I started the slow carb diet as outlined in Tim’s book on September 3, 2012, and as of this morning September 20, 2012, I was down 13 lbs. I’m at a weight i haven’t been at in three years. I think a lot of that initial loss is due to going from a three bottle of coke a day habit to zero bottles as of the start of it. But I look forward to the scale each morning, and have been very impressed with the 17 days I’ve been on it.

      I haven’t been keeping track of my diet. Because I’m super strict about it. I know every meal what I’m having, except for the cheat days. I’ve had 2 cheat days, the first one wasn’t bad. But the second involved McDonalds for breakfast and a coke, a 2 liter of Fanta over the course of a day, three crullers, and a lot of pizza for dinner. There was also a chocolate pudding pie in there as well. That next day, that scale went up, but three days later, all of that weight was off again, and I was losing more.

      My diet is very strict though. I have a plastic cup, a large from McDonalds. I start the day with it full of water, and drink it down. Breakfast, 4 eggs, 8 slices of bacon. 1 cup of edamame (Japanese soy Beans), and a small bowl spinach salad with little cubed ham I got at the Krogers and a wishbone Balsamic Vinagrete that is 1 calorie per spray at 10 sprays. I will occasionally add cucumber. With breakfast another full glass of water, and a cup of green tea for taste and caffine. I’ll do at least two more glasses of water like that before the next meal. I’ve found the water is extremely important as it keeps me full, and speeds the excess through me. If I need more energy, another cup of tea and some peanuts will usually work for me. Although I pee like a fiend now. That’s the tradeoff I guess.

      I don’t work out, and do a lot of sitting at a desk. So the lack of activity really keeps me from being hungry during the days. So I’m actually doing well with cutting out 2 of the four meals he suggests and replacing them with a handful of peanuts. For dinner, same salad, same beans, and occasional cucmber. But I’ve done three very thin pork chops with soy sauce, or 1/2 pound of lean steak with a little A-1 sauce, or a ham steak about the size of an I-phone 4. Another glass of water before and with, and another cup of tea. Usually something non-cafinated.

      I have a late night snack of cashews and more peanuts. I end up with about 15 cashews per day, and a cup of peanuts per day. And I follow it all down with three more glasses of water over the evening. I don’t think I’m losing water weight, since I drink a ton of it. But like I said, it helps in other ways.

      Besides losing the weight. I’ve never felt better. My blood sugar level, rested and fasting overnight comes in a 99, right in the good part of the normal range, where I used to be looking at being a candidate for diabetes. I’m finding I have a lot more energy, my skin is better (softer, no acne, better coloring), and the clothing is fitting looser. I can’t wait until I can get down to the next size, even if the weight isn’t where I want it at that time. But for 17 days, I’m really happy with the results, and my mom and sister are even going to start trying it. I can’t remember if there’s a point where it slows down working for men or not, or if there’s a point like the 6-8 weeks with women where it really starts working better. I hope it’s the later. But at the rate I’m going, it’s conceivable to be down 80 lbs by new years without doing a sit up. That would be amazing! I’m not expecting it, but that’s the kind of success rate I’m having at the moment. Even 50 lbs less would make me happy. At that point, I’ve set my goal to start back to the guy and incorporate more activity into the mix, and a couch to 5K running program.

    Trackbacks

    1. [...] Slow Carb Diet: How to Avoid Going Bat-**** Crazy – Instructor: Jason, Classroom: Live Real, Now [...]

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    3. [...] Safeway, and they PAID HIM for shopping!!! This kind of shopping would be great for someone on a slow carb diet.In total he purchased $597.96 worth of food and other stuff for $27.08 during the month of [...]

    4. [...] and much of it is handled in your free time with a counselor over the phone.  Diets such as the slow carb diet can be discussed with your counselor to ensure that it may be the right fir for your [...]

    5. [...] that he needed the money in order to feed his child (I guess it’s too late to put her on a slow carb diet ), and then left the establishment.Since it doesn’t seem as though Taylor had much of a [...]

    6. [...] single most-used search term to find this site is “slow carb diet“, which is great, because I really enjoyed writing that post.   I’ve been slacking on [...]

    7. [...] day where i can absolutely anything i wanna eat for a day this is a link to some of the info. Slow Carb Diet: How to Avoid Going Bat-**** Crazy | Live Real, Now anyone who wants the complete book can email me and i will forward it to them. it has worked well [...]

    8. [...] so I’m not a model for healthy eating (not like those on a slow carb diet), but these items aren’t too bad if you don’t count the carbs! During checkout, I [...]

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