slow carb diet

Slow Carb Diet: Lose Weight Despite Carbohydrates

Author: Anne Jonson

Diet & Nutrition Expert

Slow carb: The diet with carbohydrates promises more freedom when eating than low carb – with sensational success. According to slow carb pioneer Tim Ferris, 10 kg in 30 days should be in it! Here you will find out what weight loss with slow carb can really do and how you can optimally implement the slow carb diet.

Slow carb is based on the assumption that you accumulate less fat or break down more fat if you only consume certain foods: In addition to low-carb foods rich in fat and protein, the focus is on foods that have a lot of fiber but only small to moderate amounts Contains energy-supplying carbohydrates.

This diet, the weight loss through special carbohydrates, differs from other weight loss diets such as the low carb diet, the Paleo diet or the Atkins diet. They want to avoid carbohydrates for the most part, while the slow carb method consciously relies on their (moderate) use.

Slow carb according to Tim Ferris

The American author Tim Ferris proclaims slow carb in his book “The 4-Hour Body”. In it he explains, among other things, how he was able to lose 10 kg of body fat in 30 days just by changing his diet and without sporting activities (a claim that should be met with a lot of skepticism).

The Tim Ferris Slow Carb Diet can be summarized with 5 rules:

1) Avoid carbohydrates as much as possible
Bread, rice, pasta, everything made from grain, including whole grains, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes or corn should be avoided. Legumes, however, are allowed.

2) Put together a few meals and repeat them alternately
The special carbohydrate diet is based on a simple method: you put together 3 to 4 similar meals consisting of fish, lean meat, vegetables and legumes. You put these meals alternately on the menu. With each of these meals you can really eat your fill.

3) Choose calorie-free drinks
There is often a lot of sugar in beverages. These hidden sources of calories are avoided when losing weight with slow carb. Water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee are the thirst quenchers of choice. A glass of red wine in the evening is a permitted exception.

4) Avoid fruits and certain dairy products
Fruit contains a lot of fiber, but also fructose and should therefore be avoided. Milk sugar is also problematic: sweet dairy products are not popular. Cream cheese and other cheeses, on the other hand, do not harm the diet if they are consumed in small quantities. In these products, the lactose is largely broken down by acidification.

5) Include one cheat day per week
The special thing about the slow carb diet is that a so-called cheat day or cheat day is allowed once a week. On this day you can eat what and how much you want. This cheat day means, among other things, that you do not develop cravings for certain foods over time, but that you can stick to the diet requirements for the remaining days of the week. In addition, it should keep the fat burning going.

How does slow carb weight loss work?

The slow carb diet is somewhat slower than strict low carb diets, as it does not lead to excessive water loss at the beginning of the diet. It tends to be more suitable for a permanent change in diet because it includes more food. But how does slow carb work in detail?

Carbohydrates utilization in the body

Carbohydrates have different chemical structures: there are short-chain and long-chain carbohydrates, i.e. carbohydrates with few and with many sugar molecules. But no matter how complex they are, all carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose (grape sugar) and then passed into the blood. The blood sugar level shows how much glucose is in the blood.

If the blood sugar level is too high, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin. This ensures that the glucose reaches the muscle cells, is converted into the storage form glycogen or is converted into fat cells.

Unless sweeteners have been used, sweet foods and drinks contain many short-chain carbohydrates. The body can quickly break this down into glucose and transfer it quickly into the blood, so that the blood sugar level rises rapidly. One therefore also speaks of “fast carbohydrates”.

If you do something sweet without moving too much, more energy gets into the blood than is needed and there is a high probability that some of the glucose will be converted into fat.

The amount of carb matters

The same danger exists when a food contains a concentrated load of carbohydrates. For example baguette: 100 g provide around 50 g of carbohydrates (and 36 g of water). This compares to only 7 g protein, 3 g fiber and 1 g fat. Most of the carbohydrates here come from starch, so they are long-chain, but because hardly any other substances are digestive, glucose quickly gets into the blood.

A high level of insulin not only increases the chances that fat will be built up, it also ensures that the blood sugar level is lowered quickly. This steep drop in blood sugar levels after a high-sugar meal, paradoxically, signals the body that it needs food. You get (hot) hungry. If you give in to the impulse to eat, you consume even more calories that you don’t need at all.

You can see why carbohydrate consumption can be problematic. Just as a high level of insulin stimulates the formation of fat, a low level of insulin also creates a hormonal environment in which fat can be broken down. Insulin is therefore a key to diet success!

Carbohydrates in the slow carb diet

The Slow Carb Diet according to Tim Ferris takes advantage of these relationships and excludes carbohydrates that lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar or insulin levels. Fruits containing fructose, sweets and starchy cereal products such as bread, pasta or rice are therefore taboo.

Legumes, on the other hand, are permitted and expressly promoted, because they have a lot of fiber and a lot of protein so that the carbohydrates are digested slowly so that the blood sugar level does not rise sharply. In addition, cooked legumes contain a lot of water, which keeps the absolute amount of carbohydrates in the finished dish low.

Carbohydrates from almost all types of vegetables are also allowed, because here the absolute amount of carb is also low and fiber slows down the pre-digestion process. In addition, the hardly digestible fiber binds water, which ensures a good satiety.

Which foods are part of the slow carb diet?

These foods are allowed at Slow Carb:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lenses
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Oils
  • Nuts (in exceptional cases)
  • Cores (in exceptional cases)

These Foods Are Not Allowed At Slow Carb:​

  • (Whole grain bread
  • (Whole grain) pasta
  • (Natural) rice
  • Fruit
  • Chickpeas
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Sweets
  • Sweetened drinks
  • Everything else with sugar

With slow carb foods through everyday life

Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Method contains a few special features that should help you to integrate it into your everyday life:

3 to 4 meals a day
If you eat more than 4 meals, you run the risk of thinking about food or sweet snacks too often. Therefore, it makes sense to get used to a maximum of 3 to 4 meals.

Create favorite meals
Think of 3 to 4 menus that suit your taste and repeat them over and over. In this way you achieve continuity and regularly feed your organism the same slow carb products, namely vegetables, proteins and different types of legumes.

Weekly “Cheat Day”
Once a week you can feel like you are in a land of milk and honey and eat everything your heart desires – including carbohydrates! The “cheat day” ensures that you do not develop cravings for the forbidden and become weak in the course of the diet. In addition, the weekly drumming carbs are supposed to stimulate fat burning in the following days.

Typical slow carb meals

Breakfast in particular is a hurdle for many people who want to lose weight. Many of us have always been used to sweets in the morning. Switching to a hearty morning meal only takes a few days – and the success in losing weight is motivating.

For example, you can conjure up eggs in a glass, which are served with beans, peppers and herbs. White beans with bacon and grilled tomatoes are also a delicious breakfast idea.

If you don’t want to go without sweets, there are delicious recipes, for example for poppy seed cake made from white beans, which is made with the addition of eggs, poppy seeds, stevia, coconut milk and protein powder.

Whether you cook curry strips with mushrooms and vegetable spaghetti or whether you prefer lentil noodles with braised chicken and lemon sauce, the combination of slow carb foods for dinner is diverse and imaginative.

Fast Food
Lentil noodles with pork fillet, coconut milk and seared chanterelles are a quick version of the quick dishes. Bean salad with carrots, onions and tuna also tastes delicious and is ready in no time.


Criticism on Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet

Even if Tim Ferris ‘own success with his diet (10 kg fat loss in 30 days) probably arises from the realm of myths, it is certainly possible to lose two or three kilos in a month with slow carb.

Regardless of this, the concept does raise some questions:

Why no fruits?

The Slow Carb Diet according to Tim Ferris only allows fruit on Cheat Day, as fruit contains a lot of fruit sugar and therefore has a negative effect on blood sugar levels. However, this statement is not correct.

The so-called glycemic index (GI / Glyx) is commonly used to determine the effects of a food on the blood sugar level. This compares the increase in blood sugar level after consuming a food with the increase triggered by the consumption of grape sugar (glucose). If you look at the Glyx in relation to fruit, you can see that a lot of varieties such as apples, pears, lemons or currants have the best values ​​(to the source of the values).

Even if you look at the glycemic load (GL), which also takes into account the carbohydrate density in the food and the experts ascribe the better informative value with regard to the blood sugar-increasing effect of a food, nothing changes in this picture. To justify the renouncement of fruit with the effect of the fructose on the blood sugar level does not work.

Why not whole grains foods?

Most cereal products contain carbohydrates and are suspected by Ferris of causing blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. But it’s not that simple. Whole grain cereal products have a significantly higher fiber content than their siblings from the pure starch grain, so they provide “slow” carbohydrates.

In addition, there is the fact that noodles and more are usually not consumed pure, but with sauce or with a piece of meat. Of course, this changes the nutritional composition of the dish massively. So just because there is a cereal product on the plate doesn’t mean the blood sugar level skyrockets.

Finally, one also has to consider the preparation. Dried legumes from the pack do not have the optimal glyx values like the cooked ones soaked in water. The same applies to oatmeal, for example: if they have been cooked, they contain fewer carbs per 100 g than in dry form. Porridge is therefore just as slow carb as a can of beans.

Where is the sustainability?

Precisely because Tim Ferris excludes all grain products and fruit, the diet is probably not practicable for most people in the long term despite Cheat Day – after all, we love pizza, pasta and bread and like to bite into an apple every now and then.

With all diets that aim at a temporary change in daily eating habits, there is unfortunately a high risk that the feared yo-yo effect will occur as soon as you return to the old diet. Slow carb is therefore relatively prone to this.

Slow carb diet offers opportunities

Tim Ferris’ approach is good: In addition to healthy fats and a lot of protein, eat slow carbohydrates in particular so that the blood sugar level is stable and you stay full for a long time and you don’t get cravings. Anyone who takes this principle to heart every day, i.e. permanently changes their diet accordingly, has laid a great foundation for all of their nutritional goals, be it weight loss, muscle building, performance in sports or simply living healthy.

The problem with Tim Ferris ‘Slow Carb Diet is that the relationships are simplified and more foods are banned from the menu than necessary. Fruit with good glyx values ​​and whole grain cereal products are definitely in the best interests of the world if they do not make up the majority of the diet. Boiled potatoes as a side dish to fish or meat are also unproblematic for the blood sugar level and provide high-quality protein and vitamins.

Slow carb offers you opportunities above all if you deal a little yourself with the composition of foods and their effects on the body. So you can put together a personal slow carb diet that gives you more freedom and that you can practice permanently – adapted to our recommendation and your lifestyle.

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