Slow Carb Diet - a 30-day trial


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The Slow Carb Diet, popularized by Tim Ferriss in his "4-Hour Body" book.

Presented at the Quantified Self Conference in San Francisco, October 11, 2013.

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  • Why I did it:Want to look like this, or this?I’m an entrepreneur and don’t have much time
  • Takes time but you learn something useful – self defense, instead of, say, pointless running
  • Passive device, doesn’t take much time, but didn’t work very well, either
  • P90X just takes a lot of time
  • FIVE YEARSIs how much time passed since I last lost fat significantlyBut that provided a good baseline without much fluctuation
  • SCD can be summarized as the elimination of starches and anything sweet (including fruit and all artificial sweeteners), and a strong preference for lean protein, legumes and vegetables.
  • Many diets are too complicated, and require careful calorie and portion control, which leads to non-compliance.SCD is simple.
  • Prohibited: all bread, rice (including brown), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried food with breading.
  • SCD is made to be practical, not fun. It can get boring to eat the same meals over and over, but I found it liberating – the fewer choices I had to make, the better.Canned foods are fine. Eat four times a day.
  • Get at least 20g of protein / meal, no matter what.*Eggs*Chicken breast or thigh*Beef (preferably grass-fed)*FishPork
  • *Lentils (also called "dal" or "daal")*Black beansPinto beansRed beansSoybeans
  • VEGETABLES*Spinach - incredible for body recomposition.*Mixed vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetables)*Sauerkraut, kimchee (full explanation of these later in "Damage Control")AsparagusPeasBroccoliGreen beans
  • Don’t drink milk, soft drinks, or fruit juice. Cottage cheese is the only allowed dairy.Limit diet soft drinks to 16oz/day.Butter is fine, as long as it has no other ingredients than salt.Avoid soy milk and soy isolate supplements.
  • Except tomatoes and avocados, and the latter only one cup/meal per day.Humans don’t need fruit, which contains sucrose. You only need the Vitamin C, which can be taken as a supplement.
  • MANDATORY - Dramatically spiking caloric intake in this way once per week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate doesn't downshift from extended caloric restriction.
  • Sleep and stress are the top factors cited by 4HB forum users as preventing body recompositionSee – sleep regulates leptin and ghrelin, which control calorie burn and fat depositing
  • I had followed the diet religiously
  • Drop occurred after a vacation, but then for ~3 weeks, weight stayed within 1lbThere appears to be some hope at the end, we’ll see about that
  • Body fat was within measurement error at all timesHowever, Tim advises against using electric impedance body fat scales
  • I never ate beans in my lifeI actually hate beans!Salsa, mustards, condiments – anything becomes edible!
  • Tim is big on not counting calories, but also advises to eat more than usual. How much more, exactly?
  • Sleep is the big factor not mentioned in the book, that forum participants indicate as the #1 reason for lack of progressPAGG stands for Policosanol, Alpha-lipoic acid, Green tea flavanols, Garlic extractPolicosanol - an extract of plant waxes, often sugar cane. Increases fat loss when combined with AGG.Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavengerEpigallocatechingallate (EGCG) is a catechin and flavanol found in green teas. Appears to increase programmed cell death (apoptosis) in mature fat cells. This means that these hard-to-kill bastards commit suicide. The ease with which people regain fat is due to a certain “fat memory” (the size of fat cells decreases, but not the number), which makes EGCG a fascinating candidate for preventing the horrible rebounding most dieters experience.Garlic extract (Allicin) – inhibits fat regain
  • Use the same body fat scale
  • Slow Carb Diet - a 30-day trial

    1. 1. Slow Carb Diet What did I do? Dan Dascalescu ddascalescu AT gmail
    2. 2. Why I did it
    3. 3. What I’ve tried & didn’t work
    4. 4. What I’ve tried & didn’t work But the problem was…
    5. 5. What worked But the problem was…
    6. 6. 2 hours / day 90 days
    7. 7. For the past 5 years… 18%-21% body fat
    8. 8. The Slow Carb Diet
    9. 9. * 5 basic rules “If in doubt, don’t eat it”
    10. 10. 1. Avoid “white” carbohydrates Prohibited:  All bread  Rice (including brown)  Cereal  Potatoes  Pasta  Tortillas  Fried food with breading
    11. 11. 2. Repeat the same meals
    12. 12. Proteins Breakfast: 30g protein 30 minutes from wakeup Allowed:  Eggs  Chicken breast or thigh; turkey  Beef (preferably grass-fed), pork  Fish  Other meats
    13. 13. Legumes Best pick: lentils  No gas, unlike some beans  Better taste
    14. 14. Vegetables Allowed:  Spinach  Mixed veggies  Sauerkraut, kimchee  Broccoli  Asparagus  Peas  Green beans
    15. 15. 3. Don’t drink calories Prohibited:  Milk  Soft drinks  Fruit juice  Soy milk
    16. 16. 4. Don’t eat fruit Allowed:  Tomatoes  Avocados – only one cup/day
    17. 17. 5. Cheat day!  It’s mandatory  Must spike caloric intake
    18. 18. 5’. Sleep 8h+/night  Not mentioned in the book  But critical 
    19. 19. What I learned  Four weeks in so far (2013-Oct-10)  No significant body composition changes  Let’s look at the data…
    20. 20. Initial weight drop, then ~plateau 154.0 153.0 152.0 151.0 150.0 149.0 148.0 147.0 13/Oct 8/Oct 3/Oct 28/Sep 23/Sep 18/Sep 13/Sep 8/Sep 3/Sep 146.0
    21. 21. Four weeks in – no result Body fat, measured with OMRON 516-B scale 24.0% 23.0% 22.0% 21.0% 20.0% 19.0% 18.0% 17.0% 13/Oct 8/Oct 3/Oct 28/Sep 23/Sep 18/Sep 13/Sep 8/Sep 3/Sep 16.0%
    22. 22. My foods spreadsheet  Trader Joe’s focus  Full spreadsheet at
    23. 23. Critique your diet , in “Subtracting fat” 
    24. 24. It’s boring but you can do it
    25. 25. Water  Drink more than 2 liters per day  Add a dash of 15-cal lemonade  But beware of aspartame
    26. 26. Logistics  Cost: lower  Prep time: low  Microwave OK  Canned foods OK
    27. 27. Concerns  High cholesterol  High sodium  How many calories?  Imprecision (e.g. max cottage cheese or peas amount)
    28. 28. Do different next time  Get quality sleep (~8h/night)  Use the “PAGG” supplement stack  Use DEXA or BodPod  not my OMRON body fat scale  Eat more calories
    29. 29. Stick with it  4-6 weeks until results for some people  No known explanation  This is a work in progress  Must fix sleep before further conclusions
    30. 30. More information Dan Dascalescu ddascalescu AT gmail