Although losing weight by changing the way you eat isn’t a new idea, most diets suggest cutting back calories. The slow-carb diet — popularized by self-help author Tim Ferriss in his 2010 best-selling book “The 4-Hour Body” — is a different approach to weight loss. Although some foods are restricted, counting calories is not part of the plan. Instead, avoiding foods that turn to fat while increasing your intake of food with a lower glycemic index will help you lose weight.
The glycemic index is a system that ranks food, mostly carbohydrates, based on how they affect blood-glucose levels. When you eat food with a high glycemic index, your blood sugar increases, which also increases your insulin. Shortly after, your blood sugar drops, which makes you feel hungry again, even though you just ate.
This is typically what happens after a sugary snack. It may give you a quick pick-me-up, but you crash soon after and find yourself seeking out more of the same food that might not be good for you.
Foods You Can — and Can’t — Eat on the 4-Hour Body Diet
What are foods with a low glycemic index? Generally speaking, they are lean meats and vegetables, which are high in good carbohydrates. These foods are generally harder to digest, which means the body is working harder and longer to break it down, rather than simply storing it somewhere as fat.
A slow-carb diet doesn’t allow many starches (such as bread and potatoes) or sweets (doughnuts are a definite “no”). You can enjoy the food that is allowed, however, in abundance. The theory is that eating enough of the good stuff will fill you up quicker and leave you satisfied longer, so you’ll be less tempted to overeat.
Although there are several variations on the diet, the following is a general list of foods that are often used when following 4-Hour Body recipes and working toward a slow-carb lifestyle:
- Chicken breast
- Beans, particularly pinto, red, and black
- Leafy vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage
For drinks, unsweetened tea and black coffee are approved. Ferriss also suggests that red wine, no more than a glass or two a day, is fine.
Just as there are plenty of food options on the 4-Hour Body diet, there’s also a lot of food that you need to avoid. Unfortunately, many of these are staples of the American diet, so it can take some getting used to. On the other hand, many people who follow this diet begin to see results fast enough that they are encouraged to stick with the changes.
Foods to avoid when you’re following a slow-carb diet meal plan include:
- White food, such as bread, rice and pasta
- All milk products, including cheese (with the exception of cottage cheese)
- Soy products
- Most fruit, except lemons and limes
One of the most attractive aspects of the 4-Hour Body diet is that it should only be followed for six days a week. On the seventh day (which can fall on any day you choose), you can go back to eating whatever you like.
This seems to go against the conventional wisdom of most diets, but the reasoning is two-fold. Psychologically, it’s easier to stick to a strict diet plan knowing that you’ll get a break from it soon. Physically, it prevents your body from getting in a rut with the same food every day.
Taking a day off from the diet is actually good for you! It’s still a good idea, though, to have a slow-carb breakfast with at least 30 grams of protein.
Slow-Carb Diet Tips
Finding more information is easy. There are entire books and online communities dedicated to following the slow-carb diet. A few of the more popular tips that will help you lose weight include:
- Getting a boost of protein early in the morning — Eating at least 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking can help increase your weight loss.
- Avoid liquid calories — While staying hydrated is important in any diet, don’t fill up on drinks that contain sugar or sweetener, such as soda, fancy coffees and sports drinks. Opt instead for plain water, unsweetened tea or an occasional diet soda. In fact, the diet plan recommends a full eight glasses of water a day, but you can add lemon juice to some of the glasses for a change.
- Stay away from fruit — With the exception of tomato and avocado (both in moderation), fruit should be avoided unless it’s your cheat day. According to the 4-Hour Body plan, the sugars in fruit lead to increased fat storage.
- Eat smaller, but more frequent meals, usually four a day — This keeps your body in an ongoing state of digestion and doesn’t allow for the sudden crash you can experience when your stomach is empty, and you’re hungry again.
While no weight loss plan or diet tool can produce the same results for everyone, a large study of participants in the 4-Hour diet showed impressive results. In fact, of the 3,500 people who were tracked while following a slow-carb diet, 84 percent lost an average of 8.6 pounds within four weeks.
Easy-To-Make Slow-Carb Meals
After reading about the benefits and results of the slow-carb diet, how can you not want to try it. We’ve scoured the Internet and came up with 10 of our favorite slow-carb-related recipes. Many of these can be modified to include your favorite veggies or seasonings, so you’ll never have to settle for a bland meal.
Any-Which-Way Omelet Muffins
Since getting your day started off on the right foot meal-wise is one of the most important parts of the slow-carb diet, these delicious omelet muffins are a great way to incorporate high protein with high flavor! Maybe the best thing about these muffins is that you can make them on a Sunday night and refrigerate them for several days —you can whip up a batch and have a great, simple breakfast through Wednesday. Since you can easily modify the recipe to include your favorite meats and veggies, it’s a versatile breakfast that you won’t tire quickly of. This recipe is from Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb Cookbook Volume 1.
Here’s the awesome thing about this recipe, besides how delicious it is — these meatballs freeze and keep without losing any of their original flavor. You can enjoy these babies for dinner, put the rest away and heat a few up anytime you need a snack or to add a little something to another meal. They also make great snacks if you’re having friends over. Just pop a toothpick in each one and set them out on a nice platter, like this White Magma Fused Glass Stripe Platter. This recipe, which includes sausage and ground beef for a double hit of protein, is available in Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb Cookbook Volume 1.
Chicken, Mushrooms, Beans and Spinach — Oh My!
If it looks fancy, uses a lot of slow-carb-appropriate food and is easy to make, sign us up! This reader-submitted recipe, shared by FindingMyFitness.com, starts with 1 pound of chicken tenderloin and combines it with whole portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, lentils and optional cottage cheese. Once you finish your masterpiece, it gets topped off with balsamic vinegar. We suspect that after trying it once, this dish will find its way into your regular meal rotation, plus you can vary the amount of spinach that’s included, which will change the texture of the dish. To bring out the best flavor in your chicken, use a roasting rack inside a large baking dish.
Pea Soup with Bacon (Yes, BACON!)
This is one of those recipes that takes time — at least an hour and a half — but the aroma as the soup simmers fills up your kitchen and makes the time well spent. It’s a perfect comfort food or a rainy-day-curl-up-with-a-good-book soup. This recipe makes use of everything, even the leftover bacon grease and ham, which some recipes use just for flavor, discarding the ham after it simmers. Not here! Chop up the ham and toss it back in!
Pro Tip: Double the recipe, and then store half of it in the refrigerator. This soup is even yummier after standing for a day or two, so you can have it for lunch on Monday, and then heat it up as a side dish for Tuesday’s dinner. By cooking it in a ceramic saucepan or pot that can go straight from the oven to the refrigerator, you’ll cut down on clean-up time.
Check out the full recipe at 4hourbodyrecipes.com.
Wake-Me-Up Breakfast Smoothie
This breakfast smoothie will fill you up and get you on the move. With 20 grams of protein powder and 10 grams of egg white protein powder, the protein itself is enough to keep you feeling full for hours. The folks at www.HealthNutNation.com, where we found this recipe, add a few shots of espresso for a caffeine boost (the espresso can be substituted with ice if caffeinated drinks aren’t your thing). Rounded out with some avocado, black beans and mint leaves, this delicious treat is also easy to make — put everything in a high-speed blender and mix until smooth. You can also change the taste of your smoothie by using a different protein powder. Try a different flavor every day, from chocolate and vanilla to strawberry and cake batter. Don’t forget to check the label to make sure you aren’t getting an unexpected serving of sugar or artificial sweetener.
Not Your Grandma’s Chicken and Grits
We know what you’re thinking — there’s no way grits can be part of the slow-carb diet, and you’re right. That’s why our friends at www.FindingMyFitness.com figured out a new version of this classic favorite. The secret? Steamed and pureed cauliflower. Paired with skillet-cooked chicken breasts and thighs, you’ll think you’re eating breakfast at an American diner (but without all of the additional grease, butter and grit toppings).
Do-It-Yourself Crockpot Dinner
A huge benefit of the 4-Hour diet is that once you get a good understanding of the food you can eat, it’s easy to mix and match them to pull together an easy meal. Case in point: beans. Versatile, healthy, relatively inexpensive and easy-to-purchase in bulk, so they last for months. To cook them in the crockpot, you just need one pound of your favorite beans, a few seasonings and several cups of water. Turn on the crockpot and about 10 hours later — voila!
To keep dinner prep time and cleanup to a minimum, try using your crockpot at least once a week. You can also experiment with different spices and try adding in other vegetables during the last few hours of cook time. These experiments will help you find your own signature dinner and keep your dinners from turning into repetitious meals. You can find more crock-pot tips and recipes at 4hourbodyrecipes.com.
Eggs and Ham I Am
Based on a traditional spread of breakfast delights, this recipe from www.FourHourBodyCouple.com includes eggs, spinach, lentils and ham. This variation also calls for tomato salsa. Some people debate the merit of tomato and don’t think it should be part of a slow-carb diet. If you fall into this category, simply leave off the tomato salsa. Even without the salsa, this is a breakfast to satisfy the hungriest of appetites.
Winner! Winner! Chicken (Chili) Dinner
Sometimes the best meals are worth waiting for, as is the case for this chili recipe from www.FourHourBody.com. Although the recipe states that this chili needs to simmer for more than two hours, you don’t need to hover around the stove — just set it up and relax while your meal cooks itself (you could also use the time to get in some exercises, if you’re following that part of the 4-Hour diet). Since this recipe is spiced with a bit of cayenne pepper, it can fill your belly and unblock your nose at the same time.
Wrap It Up
You have to avoid most sandwiches and wraps on a slow-carb diet, but wait! Why not take your favorite sandwich and use a large piece of leafy lettuce to hold it all together? Try this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Wraps from addapinch.com, which includes onion, garlic, mushrooms and buffalo sauce. To make sure, however, that you are following the slow-carb diet, you should probably skip the blue cheese crumbles and dressing unless you’re having this on a cheat day.
Whether you’ve decided to follow a slow-carb diet or are just making a few subtle changes to the way you eat, Xtrema bakeware and cookware will help you make amazing dishes — and save you time since they go from freezer to oven. Browse the products on our website and follow us on Pinterest for more delicious and healthy recipes.