I feel that I need to preface this post with a disclaimer: I’m not one for dieting, and never have been. I can honestly say that I’ve never counted calories for a day, other than very roughly, let alone tracked my calorie intake for even a week! But then I read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and learnt about his slow-carb diet and saw the results people were getting with this. I will cover the basics behind this diet in this post so that you can develop your own 4-Hour Body Diet plan.
What Sort of Results Can I Expect?
The results that you can expect from this diet are supposed to be relatively effortless weight loss, meaning you can lose weight with little or no exercise. The high protein/low carbohydrate ratio of the diet is geared to get you to a lower body fat percentage, which will make you look leaner and fitter simply due to the loss of fat resulting in a more defined look to your existing underlying muscle.
There are a heap of people who have had positive results from following this diet, their stories are outlined in the book as well as online if you feel like going for a bit of a google.
The best thing about this ‘diet’? You can eat as much as you want, and there is no calorie counting involved whatsoever! I would describe it as flexible (in a sense) and simple.
Oh, and my favorite part – the once-a-week binge day that is not just recommended, it is mandatory. Craving that deliciously rich double-choc mud cake? How about another serve of deep fried wedges slathered in sweet chili and sour cream? On cheat day everything is free game. Eat your heart out.
#1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates
#2: Eat the same meals over and over again. Each meal should consist of Protein, Legumes and Vegetables
#3: Don’t drink calories
#4: Cut out eating fruit (the sugary kind)
#5: (My personal favorite!) Take a cheat day each week
Okay, so it is a ‘diet’ after all, which means there are restrictions. In his book Tim says it straight up – the diet is designed to be effective first of all, not meant to be fun (though of course the cheat days are pretty fun if you ask my opinion).
Anyway, basically you have to prepare yourself for the fact that you’ll be eating the same meals over and over again, which can get a bit boring if you let it. I say ‘if you let it’ because with a little effort you can always spice things up in a different way to create a bit of variety.
The positive out of this downside is that food preparation can become super efficient. I like to cook in bulk and only have to prep food maybe twice a week which saves me at least 5 hours a week where I used to be cooking a different meal every night and get caught up in the kitchen… so an extra 5 hours spare time is not bad!
I’m not sure how this would go if you had to provide food for family members, if they would join you on the slow carb diet or not (if you had kids). To me it seems like more of a singles diet, but I’m sure you could just as easily implement it with a willing partner as well.
Each meal should be built by including foods from 3 different groups – Protein, Legumes and Vegetables. A few choices from each of these are listed below that you can mix and match from:
- Chicken breast/thigh
- Beef (preferably grass-fed)
* Being a quasi-vegetarian and all-around animal lover, these are my additions to the diet for this category. I also would recommend to go cage-free, stall-free, organic or free-range where possible with all animal products, not only is it closer to being cruelty-free but the less chemicals in your food, the better. <End vegetarian activist plug :)>
- Assorted beans (kidney, pinto, navy, red, black, soy, etc)
- Mixed Vegetables (pumpkins, capsicums, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, green beans etc)
So What Kind of “White” Starchy Stuff is Not Allowed?
You want to avoid any kind of starchy carbohydrate that is generally ‘white’ in color. Note, this coloring system is just a rough guide to help it stick in your memory. In addition to the list below that the 4 Hour Body recommends, I would personally recommend staying clear of any kinds of processed food as much as possible.
- Rice (even brown)
- All breads (even wholemeal)
- Fried foods with batter/breading/crumbing
- Milk products (not starchy but it is advised to avoid dairy products with the exception of cottage cheese.)
And Your Final Step: The Plan
As you’ll be eating a few of the same type of meal and simply repeating this, I’ve developed a few options below that you can pick and choose from. Personally I am a vegetarian, so all of my options do not contain any meat, but I have made some guesses about meat based meals (remembering what I can about how meat tastes from when I used to eat it!).
Scrambled eggs, lentils/chickpeas/beans, spinach, tomatoes
Burrito bowl: Chicken or beef mince, beans, salsa, corn, capsicums, tomatoes, cabbage
Mixed vegetable salad: Pumpkin, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, red cabbage, tempeh, beans
Traditional meal: Chicken/fish/pork/steak, side of steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans), bean mash
Bean mash: A mashed potato substitute – mash any white beans (e.g. cannelloni) with steamed cauliflower, season with butter, salt, garlic or onion poweder and pepper and add some water to bring it to the desired consistency
Stir-fry: Stir-fried mixed vegetables with chicken, beef or pork strips
Curry: Mixed vegetable curries with chicken or beef, instead of eating these with rice substitute with a bed of cooked lentils