Has anybody heard of the "Slow Carb Diet"? ( http://t.co/bjJU9iA ) - Any nutrition folk able to speculate as to how safe it is?



dietitian-nutritionist August 10, 2011
As a follow up to the "Slow-Carb Diet" query, here is a detailed review from the American Dietetic Association (to which I am also an active member). After reading this, you will certainly be able to make an informed decision as to whether this is the "diet" for you. For many other Consumer Diet and Lifestyle Book Reviews, check out this website: http://www.eatright.org/dietreviews/

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat–Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
By Timothy Ferriss
Crown Archetype (2010)

Reviewed by Heather R. Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat–Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman claims to show how to make a small tweak here and a tiny change there for big results achieved with maximum efficiency. From fat loss to muscle gain, from incredible sex to deeper sleep, from longer runs to a perfect baseball swing, Ferriss sets out on an obsessive quest to find a better body for both men and women. The diet plan, referred to as the Slow-Carb diet, claims to teach the reader how to lose 20 pounds in 30 days without exercise.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan
The Slow-Carb diet describes the possibility of losing 20 pounds of body fat in 30 days by optimizing any of three factors: exercise, diet or a drug/supplement regimen. The permitted foods include lean proteins, legumes and vegetables (mostly green vegetables). He presents five simple rules for reducing body fat:

Rule 1: Avoid any carbohydrate that is (or can be) white. On the list he includes bread, rice (including brown), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas and fried foods with breading. The exception to this is they may be consumed within 30 minutes of finishing a resistance-training workout such as the one described in another chapter of the book.

Rule 2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, limiting the variety in meals. Ferriss lists foods by categories (proteins, legumes and vegetables) and suggests dieters mix and match by constructing each meal with one pick from each of the three groups. Dieters can eat as much as they would like by picking three to four meals and repeating them.

Rule 3: Do not drink calories. Milk, soft drinks and fruit juice should be avoided. With the exception of red wine, alcohol should be avoided.

Rule 4: Avoid fruit. The only exceptions are tomatoes and avocadoes and he suggests limiting avocadoes to no more than one cup or one meal per day.

Rule 5: Take one day per week and eat whatever is desired. Ferriss refers to this as a “cheat day” and says there are no limits or boundaries during this day.

Nutritional Pros and Cons
The 4-Hour Body is presented in a very organized format allowing readers to jump to the section that interests them. The Slow-Carb diet encourages the consumption of lean proteins, legumes and green vegetables, all of which are encouraged as part of a healthy diet. It is easy to see how the simple plan may attract some readers who prefer simplicity and have a difficult time preparing meals or do not enjoy cooking. The diet plan may also appeal to red wine lovers as it allows for one to two glasses per day.

Ferriss describes the changes dieters will make as being "small changes" although for many that will not be the case. The lack of variety may leave many dieters bored. Ferriss also fails to discuss the idea that taste is the major reason why we choose the food we eat. The reality of long-term behavior change, which most often requires identifying individual strategies for success and learning to eat the foods we love within the scope of a healthy diet, is also overlooked.

While Ferriss does refer to scientific research, he is not a qualified health professional and much of what he discusses is contradictory. There is no concrete evidence to support his claims to exclude fruit, whole grains and dairy (other than cottage cheese, which he allows), and eliminating these foods from the diet can make it difficult to consume certain vital nutrients. The scientific research studies he cites are certainly credible but taken far out of context in his interpretation. Further, Ferriss used himself as his own subject for much of his claims, but the use of his own experiences does not translate to all individuals—males and females across a variety of age groups—as he suggests.

Bottom Line
Most who attempt The 4-Hour Body will likely lose weight as they would when following any lower-calorie program that includes physical activity. However, strict deprivation diets are not the answer to lifelong health and happiness. Long-term success includes learning how to eat the foods we love as part of a healthy diet.

While this book includes chapters on everything from how to reverse permanent injuries to how to have a 15-minute orgasm, this review focuses on the diet portion of the book.

fiveandspice August 4, 2011
From a scientific/nutritionist perspective, this diet appears fairly sound and safe - as far as nutrition science would be able to tell us so far, nutrition is still a work in progress! The instructions to avoid white carbohydrates and sugar is really a very good one. Sugar is especially problematic, health and weight wise. We can't say one way or the other yet whether it's the best to completely eliminate white carbohydrates from our diets, or whether we can get away with eating them now and again. It's likely to vary a lot by individual. Science is showing more and more that no one diet strategy can work for everybody because of genetics and epigenetics.
The instruction to avoid fruit I would only partially agree with. From my understanding of the science, fruits with high fiber (particularly berries) don't cause the strong liver response to the fructose that the fructose in table sugar does, for example. But, I would agree that sweet fruits like tropical fruits and such should be eaten in moderation.
The advice to pick just a few meals and always eat those makes sense from a weight loss perspective. People eat more if there is more variety. However, people also quit diets the most often because they get bored. Learning how to be mindful of your food choices and mindful while you eat can allow you to still have lots of variety in the meals you prepare while choosing quality ingredients to prepare them from.
The whole splurge and go completely overboard one day, that one I have no idea of the science behind it and whether it's really sound. I, myself, wouldn't recommend having an eat yourself sick day. But, I do think it's important to allow yourself to eat foods you really love but that are horrible for you, and doing so just once a week is a fairly balanced and intentional way of doing so.
Here is a synopsis of the "Slow Carb Diet":
I am a dietitian/nutritionist in Montreal, Quebec, and from a health perspective - and if you are considering following this diet, well....a diet that requires the restriction of any one food group is passé. A balanced diet where there is a distribution of nutrients and a variety of resistant starches throughout the day, (using recipes from food52, of course) is one way to achieve your health and happiness objective.

The "Slow Carb Diet":
1. Eat as much as you want of the following foods: proteins (lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and cottage cheese); vegetables (except white potatoes); legumes (peas, lentils, beans, and nuts); and healthy fats (fish oil, saturated fat, olive oil and flax seed). Try spreading out your meals, and eating 4-5 smaller meals a day.

Avoid eating any white carbohydrates: white bread, white rice, white cereals. Even many whole grain breads and cereals contain high fructose corn syrup, so limit your consumption of those.

Avoid eating fruit, unless you're doing so within two hours after a workout. Your body converts fruit to fat if you eat too much of it. Avoid drinking milk, which easily makes your body gain fat, and avoid eating any kind of junk food or sodas. Stick with water, coffee or tea, if you can.

Sample meals on this diet might include eggs (or egg whites) with black beans for breakfast, beef with black beans and mixed veggies, tuna salad with olive oil & nuts, turkey burgers, steak with peas, or grilled chicken and white beans mixed in a green salad. Stock up on canned black beans, white beans and frozen vegetables, so you will always have them on hand.

Proponents of this diet advise that when you're eating out, the easiest restaurants to find meals consistent with this diet are Mexican. Simply order meals with beef or chicken, and substitute additional black/red beans or vegetables for rice. Beware of fatty or creamy sauces when eating out.


Eat anything you like on your cheat day
An appealing option for the slow-carb diet has been recommended by Tim Ferriss, author of "The Four-Hour Workweek," who successfully lost 20 pounds on this diet. He suggests setting aside one day a week as your cheat day. You can eat everything you're missing - junk food, white carbs, sodas, even candy bars - on your cheat day. By doing this, believe it or not, you increase your fat loss by keeping your metabolic rate high.

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