The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Diet Examination - The Slow Carb Diet

Holy shit...

There are some diets that just make me go "Duh Fuck??"

The kinds of diets that have very very specific rules that include a "Do Eat" and "Do NOT eat" list tend to be very popular because people be stupid and don't like to have options OR they like to feel super empowered knowing they are eating all of the "right" foods. People like rules, they LOVE being makes the cheating feel oh so much better...and worse...We're a confusing bunch, us humans...

But in all seriousness, there are many diets that are successful because they give very specific guidelines that "insure" success. Deprivation is key in their minds, sometimes by eliminating one food group, sometimes many, or sometimes solid food altogether, but in the end, in order to follow these guidelines, you must go without.

Overall, I think the most successful diets are the ones where you don't feel like you're on a diet at all, that you're capable of eating the foods you love here and there and don't lay awake at night thinking of those delicious chocolate molten cakes that you don't get to have.

*weeps into pillow*

So, since I'm a man of means and time, I will discuss one of these diets that gets my jimmys all-uh-rustled.

The first Do and Don't diet that I will talk about is:

The Slow Carb Diet

What is the Slow Carb Diet?

The Slow-Carb Diet 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. The main foods are eggs, fish, grass-fed beef, lentils, beans, vegetables (like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, radish), mushrooms, fermented foods and drinks (natto, kimchi, sauerkraut), unsweetened tea or coffee and water. Calorie-dense nuts and legumes such as pecans, chickpeas, hummus, and peanuts are allowed under careful portion control. Plain coffee is allowed, but all milk products are to be avoided except cottage cheese.

I first saw the slow carb diet pop up about a few years ago when the inventor (who I will talk about soon) was starting to be very popular with his other titles, and people became obsessed with posting their results on social media. It almost always read "I lost (blank) amount of lbs with the slow carb diet." All of those people have either remained the same weight since or gained. No judgement, just stating an observation. To each their own. However, it gave me a point of skepticism to start off from and I feel it necessary to express such skepticism up front.

Who is the Slow Carb Diet?

The slow carb diet was first introduced in a blog by Timothy Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef.

"Timothy Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People”, Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know,” and is the 7th “most powerful” personality on Newsweek’s Digital 100 Power Index for 2012. He is an angel investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, and 20+ more) and author of the following books:

His books have been Sold into 35+ languages, are #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller, #1 New York Times bestseller, #1 Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller; winner of a Gourmand “Best in the World” Award at the 18th Annual Paris Cookbook Awards."

Basically, Ferriss is a motivational speaker and a writer who makes a living presenting different concepts and ideas about the Human Body and our social constraints...usually involving the number 4.

Guidelines of the diet

I give you the Rules...

1.) Don't Eat White Carbohydrates

2.) Eat the same few meals over and over again

3.) Don't Drink Your Calories

4.) Don't Eat Fruit

5.) Take One Day Off Per Week

Ferriss generally recommends your meals to consist of the following...

  • Water, unsweetened tea / coffee with no more than two tablespoons of cream is acceptable.
  • Proteins – as much as you like – egg whites with 1-2 whole eggs for flavor (or whole organic eggs), chicken breast or thigh, beef (preferably grass fed), fish, pork. Eat at least 20 grams of protein per meal.
  • Legumes – as much as you like – lentils, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, soy beans
  • Vegetables – as much as you like -  spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, other cruciferous vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchee, asparagus, peas, green beans. There’s no need to limit yourself to these vegetables, although the more variety you attempt the more likely you are to quit as this makes the diet more complicated.
  • Tomatoes and avocadoes are allowed. Eggplant is also mentioned as ok. There’s no discussion of other fruits used as vegetables, e.g. bell peppers and olives, but presumably they’re acceptable as well.
  • Up to 2 glasses of red wine a day are allowed.
  • Butter is fine. Cottage cheese is also acceptable. (Yes, this appears to contradict the “no dairy” rule below).
  • Oils aren’t discussed in detail, although “good fats” are mentioned. Olive oil, grapeseed oil and macadamia oil, as well as nuts as a source of fat, are preferred.
  • Canned foods are fine.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Use cinnamon to reduce the glycemic index of a meal by up to 29%.
  • Timing: Make sure you have your first meal within an hour of waking (preferably within ½ hour), and have meals approximately 4 hours apart.
Other stuff:

  • It’s argued that white carbs make you get fatter.
  • Chlorine dioxide, one of the chemicals used to bleach flour, combines with residual protein in most of these foods to form alloxan. Researchers use alloxan in lab rats to induce diabetes.
  • Humans from temperate climates would only eat fruit seasonally, so fruit consumption should be rationed.
  • Dramatically spiking caloric intake one day a week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction.
  • Removing even a little dairy can dramatically accelerate fat-loss, as dairy products have a high insuliemic response on the insulinemic index (II or InIn) scale. Also, lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy are more common than people think. And store-bought milk and dairy offerings contain hormone and antibiotic residues, which are now being shown to negatively impact human health.
  • Most artificial and natural sugar substitutes provoke increased insulin release. They may also have a negative effect on gut bacteria.



For the most part, I've seen plenty of people say that they have lost weight using this diet. 

This guy reported losing fat 11lbs of fat....along with 6lbs of muscle. That kind of a ratio of loss ain't cool in my book, whether the diet or the lack of heavy compound movements is to blame has yet to be seen, but if your goal is to look aesthetically pleasing, you don't want to shed nearly the same amount of weight in fat as you do muscle. There is an issue in those results.

Where Ferriss advertises losing 20lbs in your first month, I generally see the average weight loss (from people brave enough to report their progress) ranging around 12-18lbs. And, all of these individuals started overweight enough that losing 20lbs should not be an issue.

"Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., and Director of Fellowship at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and a former member of the Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She’s at the top of the field. She noted, first, that there wasn’t much terribly new or different to Ferriss’ diet, that low-carb diets like this one have been around for some time, and she expects that “many people will lose weight if they follow it, though I don’t think that the diet is capable of all the claims in the book.”



Tim Ferriss has been accused of trying to scam people with the classic before and after bull shit.

My issue with Ferriss and this transformation is that it's not that impressive. I can't even tell if it's at all remotely real. A shave, a tan, a pump and revealing your legs is a pretty simple trick. Did he make some gains? God, I hope so, If I don't make any gains within a month, especially newbie gains, I'm quitting, plain and simple. However, did he defy the laws of human physiology by hacking the human body and figure out how to do what literally thousands of people have poured their entire lives into couldn't???

This blogger wrote:

"What made me quite angry were the fake before and after photos of Tim Ferriss. As you can see in the before photos Ferriss is far away from the camera while on the after photos he is shaved and closer to the cameras. This makes him look bigger although he is pretty much the same. Try this. Go closer to your mirror and do a most muscular pose then step 2-3 steps away and do the same.

my favorite parts is how he also lost 3 pounds of fat all while gaining his phenomenal 34 pounds of muscle. Again - IMPOSSIBLE. Nobody on this earth can gain 34 pounds of lean muscle tissue in 28 days WHILE losing any kind of fat. The body needs plenty of nutritional elements in order to grow while you have to reduce what you eat when the goal is fat loss. Both can happen at the same time only if you are taking some sport technology drugs a.k.a steroids or your are as fat as your grandmother to begin with."

Frankly, I'm not convinced he put on that much muscle in that short amount of time, not without the aid of steroids at least. But, most people that try this diet aren't trying to get jacked and tan, they want to lose belly fat...So, with that said, let's look at the diet and determine whether it sucks or not.



It Works

In the sense that it does actually cause weight loss, yes, this diet does work. Almost every testimonial that I read or saw had people losing weight. NOW, it wasn't grandiose amounts of weight, but it was weight (sometimes in the form muscle.) This diet is satiating enough with the high fiber foods that you're allowed to eat ad libitum along with a high protein recommendation (a good sum of which you consume within an hour of you waking up.)

Psychological Release

You are allowed one cheat day a week on this diet, which allows for you to psychologically remove yourself from the cage of restriction and go full potato on some crazy foods you probably didn't even want before you started your diet. However, this might be a good day for you to enjoy a night out with your friends, go on a date, or just feel like a normal human being for one day, rather then just sitting at home eating everything in the fridge until you feel like vomiting.


Fucked up sense of nutrition

Every, and I mean EVERY testimonial that I read about this diet (especially from people who saw some semblance of success) had a lot of anti-carb, anti-grain, anti-FRUIT (fuckin anti fruit???) sentiments scattered through-out their comments...which is very concerning to me. I don't care who you are, fruit is universally considered to be a very nutritional form (meaning rich in micro nutrients) of carbohydrate in the form of fructose. Eating fruit regularly will keep you healthy, and to avoid it for a month at a time is potentially detrimental, even if you are supplementing your diet with a multivitamin. And frankly, the whole thing is supports a very scewed perception of what food is or does for you.

Even statements such as "white carbs make you fatter..." is such a nutritional fallacy. One type of food alone cannot make you fatter than another, it's about a balance between all of your macro nutrients and your own personal physique goals. An excess in brown rice will make you just as fat as an excess in white rice, same with wheat and white bread.

Potential for the binge addiction lifestyle.

Because of the inclusion of a cheat day combined with a diet based on restriction, you could potentially develop an eating disorder, which is, obviously, not a great situation. This included with a post binge illness, bloat, and guilt is basically a recipe for a very unbalanced way of living. "Suffering" (or at the very least depriving) and then full potato mode on rice crispie treats works for some people, but also causes a lot of people to fall off of the wagon and just live every day in the daily cheat day struggle. 

Because of the rather boring, sugar reduced nature of this diet, I feel it is particularly in danger of causing people to want to jump ship. Especially when the first full cheat meal comes around.


Do I recommend this diet? Well, not really. I mean, it's not going to kill you, you will lose some weight, you may actually be able to stick to it since it's fairly satiating and you're not limited on your quantity, but like I've said before, any diet that has a lot of restrictions and brands foods as either good or bad, or allowed or not allowed is doomed to fail unless there is a pervading psychological or moral belief behind it.

When thinking about diets, you should pick one where you don't mind being on it for an extended period of time. I'm talking about at least a few months. Most non calorie restrictive diet's (including this one) aren't effective enough to elicit huge amounts of fat loss within a months time, and even then the physical and mental ramifications of losing more than 40lbs in a month (I'm estimating) are staggering. This diet is beyond boring in it's food inclusion, and I cannot imagine eating this boring ass food for longer than a couple of weeks.

So, until next time, fuck the rules, tell diet Moses to take his ass back up that hill, and as always...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro


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