Here are my 3 reasons for trying this diet:
3 Reasons To Try The 4 Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet
1. I love to experiment
This is probably the main reason for trying it for me. I love experiments and learning new things and this experiment has certainly taught me more than I bargained for about my own tolerance, what I’m capable of putting myself through and how I perceive food generally. It lead me to that simple thought I mentioned above which though very simple, kind of sums up my overall reaction to this experiment and how my perspective has changed.
2. It’s easy to follow/No measuring
This convinced me to get started straight away and is definitely a big advantage of this diet. Not being a fan of diets in general, I dislike the idea of having to check and measure all of that calorie and nutrient information which can make things difficult. This diet is really easy, it has very easy boundaries to follow (see “The Rules” below) and the cheat day once per week makes it all much much easier to take. It can still be tough through the week, but having a cheat day at the end of each week makes it much more manageable. I have also found through the weeks, that my ‘cheat day’ is becoming healthier and healthier as my cravings for unhealthy food are perhaps (hopefully) being re-trained through the week.
3. I like a challenge
In fact, I LOVE a challenge. I think challenging yourself, pushing your boundaries and learning new things are what makes life interesting. This is not quite the same as the first point above because it could be an easy experiment. I haven’t actually set myself a time limit for this challenge, but I reckon I’m going to give it at least 3 months. I will adapt as I go along but I won’t break any rules.
These are pretty much the only reasons I could come up with. You might notice that one of the reasons wasn’t to lose weight. That’s because I wasn’t particularly unhappy with my weight in the first place. As I said in the A Very Simple Thought… post, I don’t particularly like diets, but I do love experiments and this one intrigued me, so I thought I’d try it.
How It Works (“The Rules”)
Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates
This means no bread, pasta, rice, noodles, pastry, potatoes, cereals or even fried food cooked in breadcrumbs. Even brown rice, bread and pasta is forbidden.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again
I see this rule as more a guideline than anything (I couldn’t check – see point #8 below) as it makes it easier to stick to the diet if you eat the same few meals over and over again. In fact, it’s not difficult for me to observe this rule because I eat only fresh food anyway (we don’t own a freezer and live in the countryside so I just eat what we have that’s within the food allowed in the diet. Tim tells us to ‘mix and match’, creating each meal with one from each of the three following groups: Proteins (eggs, meat, fish), Legumes (lentils, beans), Vegetables (you know what vegetables are). See Tims post for more details. As long as we stick to these permitted foods, we are allowed to eat as much as we like.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories
Water & tea, coffee (as long as it’s without full-fat milk or cream), even diet sodas apparently though I personally don’t drink those are allowed, as is a glass of red wine (though I don’t drink that either in my case).
Rule #4: Take one day off per week
One day per week (Saturday for me) is ‘Cheat day’. Everything is allowed on cheat day. The theory here is that by dramatically increasing the calories once per week your metabolism doesn’t slow down.
How The First Week Went For Me
Day 1: Monday
Breakfast: None (cup of tea)
Lunch: Raw Tomatoes & Parma Ham
Drinks: Tea (with low fat Milk, no sugar)
Day 2: Tuesday
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Kipper
Lunch: Butter Beans & Ham & Pea Soup
Dinner: Lamb Chops & Chick Peas
Day 3: Wednesday:
Feeling: Challenged but Positive
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Kipper
Lunch: Tuna Fish, Broad Bean & Spinach Salad
Dinner: Spinach & Broccoli Soup with Butter Beans
Snacks: Pistachio Nuts
Day 4: Thursday:
Feeling: Really Hungry!
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Parma Ham & Spinach
Lunch: Rump Steak & Fried Tomato
Dinner: Rump Steak, Fried Tomato & Broccoli Soup
Snacks: Pistachio Nuts
Day 5: Friday
Feeling: Hungry but looking forward to cheat day tomorrow
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Bacon
Lunch: Lamb Tikka Masala with Lentils
Dinner: Roasted Chicken Legs & Salad
Day 6: Saturday (Cheat Day)
Feeling: Positive, no visible results yet but made it through the first week!
What I Ate: Too much crap to mention
Note: I’ve been trying the diet now for several weeks, but have just posted the kind of stuff I’m eating from week 1 as it’s pretty much the same each week, just to give you an idea and otherwise it could get very boring 😉
Having tried the diet (and surprisingly not getting the results I expected or claimed by the diet even though I have stuck to the rules of the diet), here are 10 reasons why you may not want to try this diet…
10 Reasons Not To Try The 4 Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet
1. It’s Boring
Yep. It’s really really boring. I like to appreciate food, good, natural, healthy food and to enjoy every mouthful. This diet eliminates lots of foods I could otherwise be enjoying 6 days out of 7.
2. Too many eggs?
I’m a little concerned about how many eggs I end up eating on this diet. We believe that a good healthy diet is about moderation, but with this diet it’s very difficult to exercise moderation (particularly for breakfasts and especially when you consider breakfast as the most important meal of the day) regarding the number of eggs you eat. Are too many eggs bad for you? How many eggs are too many? In any case, I really feel like I might be eating too many eggs on this diet.
3. There seem to be ‘leaks’
In the first week I snacked on nuts. Then in the second week I snacked too much on nuts. Nuts are apparently allowed, even salted nuts (I love almonds and pistachios but I read that salted peanuts are fine too) but this to me feels like a kind of ‘leak’ – i.e. snacking on nuts could easily be used as a substitute for biscuits, crisps etc and given that the diet promotes eating as much as you like, this feels a little dangerous. So I have massively cut down on nuts after week 2.
4. Not the best for nutrients
Tim does say in his book that this diet is designed to be effective, not necessarily to be the best nutritionally or something like that. In general the diet promotes healthy food (what’s not healthy about vegetables) but it also misses out lots of ‘wonder’ foods full of nutrients (apples, blueberries, fruit juice etc etc etc). So there are probably lots of healthier diets out there when it comes to getting the vitamins and nutrients you need.
5. No fruits
I get it that fruits contain a lot of sugar, but they also contain a lot of goodness, they’re natural and full of vitamins. No fruits whatsoever could be a big turn off for some people. This point alone for me makes the diet unsustainable in the long term. Apples and bananas in particular will probably find a way back in to my life at some point during the week.
6. It’s anti-social
This diet is really difficult if you are invited to a friends for dinner and it happens to be on a day other than your cheat day. I also eat every day with my family but don’t share their meals. The last example was a beautiful lasagne I made at the request of my kids (I do make a mean lasagne) but I couldn’t eat any of it!! Whilst my wife and kids finished off my beautiful lasagne, I sat with them eating a repeat of the meal I’d had earlier that day (steak and lentils).
7. It’s confusing
Take a look at Tim’s How To Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise post (i.e. the slow carb diet post) – what’s the pizza doing there? Are pizzas allowed on this diet? It seems a bit contradictory to what he said was allowed. Am I being thick? I don’t eat pizza as it is a bready/whit carb type product, surely! Let me know what you think – I find this very confusing, but maybe that’s just me.
8. Lack of ‘official’ information & support on the diet.
On that How To Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise post you may eventually be able to find my comment (left March 19th 5.12pm). I ask for some guidance and a few questions as I can’t quite understand why the diet is not working. No response. It’s no surprise. Tim is obviously a busy boy, but it seems to be par for the course for this diet that you have a plethora of contradicting ‘participants’ opinions (and don’t get me wrong, some very helpful people and an amazing community) but no official feedback when things don’t quite go to plan. Reading through the comments there are quite a few others who have struggled with the diet and got little help – though it does seem to be effective for the majority of people.
9. It’s probably not sustainable
I don’t know about you but I don’t plan to stick strictly to this diet forever and have always been an advocate of, when making any kind of change, making it a sustainable one, particularly when it comes to your health. Having said that, it’s been interesting and I think it certainly will serve to educate me as to what works and what doesn’t. I will certainly consider continuing with my own ‘version’ of this diet once I’ve tried it for a few months (e.g. re: my point above, perhaps allowing apples and bananas back into my diet during the week – or perhaps even all fruit, but just not other sugar such as sweets etc).
10. Dangers coming off the diet
As a follow-up to the above point, there are lots of people commenting on Tim’s blog post that we should Be VERY careful with this diet and remember as soon as you return to normal eating habits you will gain all back and more. Be smart, choose a diet you can maintain for life and that won’t screw with your hormones.
Two Bonus Reasons
Just for good measure, here are two bonus reasons why this diet may not be the best idea for you. Admittedly the first isn’t a strong reason, and it’s more of a suggestion about how the diet is communicated, nothing in the diet stops you drinking lots of water – I just think it should be a bigger part of the diet. Tim should make that one of his rules. It would have more impact than ‘eat the same meals over and over’.
11 (bonus). Not enough emphasis on water
This diet only really started working for me when I introduced a minimum daily consumption of water as part of it. Once I did that I found that the diet became effective, but it’s not something that is prescribed as a necessary part of the diet.
12 (bonus). It’s Tricking Your Body
Basically this diet is ‘gaming’ your metabolism. The body is a complex and wonderful thing, it’s also finely balanced so messing with the complex system that is your body may be dangerous.
Would I Recommend The Diet?
That being said, I wouldn’t go on a campaign against it either.
Tim Ferris is obviously a very smart guy and he does present several caveats in his work. So if you’d like to try it, you’ve read the caveats and disclaimers and you’re comfortable with these, why not?
I tried it because it intrigues me.
I can’t recommend it though because we promote health and moderation and this diet is about neither of those things in particular, though one could argue that despite the diet allowing you to eat as much as you like and on cheat day eat anything you like, at least if you have a sweet tooth, then you’re only eating sweet things one day per week (so it can’t be that bad) – what are your thoughts about that?
What’s The Alternative?
Well, there are lots. I’m probably the wrong person to ask. As I said, I’m not particularly into diets as such as for me it’s always been simply a case of eat less, move more, eat healthy. When I’ve obeyed these simple rules, I have generally been healthy and a good weight, when I’ve disobeyed them, I’ve put on weight.
A while back when on a fitness drive (more so for fitness than weight loss at that time) I invented my own kind of diet which someone actually offered me money for. It’s essentially a kind of accountability diet to keep you on track versus your own health goals and make sure you are making good healthy choices every day (e.g. 5-a-day, vitamins, execise, drinking enough water etc etc). It’s basically a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets) and I think at some point I will transition from Tim’s diet above back to my good old reliable spreadsheet. I may even write a post about it ;-).
I’m going to continue on the diet for a while (I’m now on week 6) to make sure I’ve given it a good chance and most likely will slowly transition to what I consider a healthier diet based more on healthy choices, moderation and getting the right amount of exercise than quick wins and tricking the body. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have…