I have been dieting for over 60 days during which I have made several achievements. First of all, I have followed a diet pretty much to the letter for over 60 days. Second, I have lost fat and bloat from my body. I suppose I was strictly dieting when I started losing weight with a personal trainer but that was more about small regular meals rather than drastically cutting down on carbohydrates.
I have been carefully recording the results using a set of scales that record fat and muscle mass, and by measuring areas of my body. In fact, I’m kicking myself for not recording all of the statistics from day one because I will never truly know my full progress. I have kept a separate blog of my progress including details of measurements, exercise and food consumed.
The diet is the Slow Carb diet which is described in Tim Ferriss‘s book, The 4-Hour Body (and also here). In a nut shell: 1. avoid white starchy carbohydrates, 2. eat similar meals consisting of protein, legumes and vegetables, 3. don’t drink calories (juice and alcohol), 4. don’t eat fruit except tomatoes and avocado, and finally 5. have a day off the diet once a week where any food is allowed. This day off is called a cheat day or binge day. On binge days you can have your fruit and your cake too.
There are good reasons why such a diet works and the key reason is that carbohydrates affect insulin levels in the body which in turn affect the way our bodies store fat. This is described in detail in Gary Taubes’s book Why we get fat and what to do about it.
So what progress have I made?
1. I feel a lot healthier and less bloated
Too much bread. Too much junk food and too many takeaways. All these things have disappeared from my diet. I’ve had one cheeseburger since starting the diet and this was on a binge day. I have not been to Macdonalds, Burger King or KFC for over 60 days (this has to be a record). All this junk food has been replaced by salads, legumes, protein and vegetables six days a week. One of the nice thing about the diet is the binge day – you can have anything you want. You just have to suppress your cravings until your binge day and you can get away with it.
2. I have lost weight
The results speak for themselves here – I’m steady around 81kg this week but have been as low as 79.7kg. My weight is declining.
3. I have lost visible fat mass
The above graph is my waist measurement. At the beginning of the year I was wearing 40″ trousers. More personal training and careful eating got me to 38″ trousers in May. I put a bit of bloat and weight on in May and June. Now I’m wearing 36″ shorts from Next (the 38″ ones I bought are too big) and I’m having trouble with some of my work clothes. My shirts are tents and my trousers probably need replacing. In fact two suits that I bought in New York in April are now too big for me.
4. One disadvantage is slight fatigue at times and lack of energy when exercising
This is no surprise given the change in diet, but I do not exercise to perform like an athlete – I exercise to feel better and burn calories. If I was competing in a race (unlikely), I would definitely take some carbohydrates and fruit back into my diet for the training and the competition itself.
5. Eating out is tough but one has to be persistent
Going to Starbucks is not an option for lunch any more. All you can have is an espresso and a bottle of water. Preparing one’s own food is the best way to do this diet, but think Seafood platters, Steak and salad, and Nando’s (without the chips obviously) and immediately you have three options for eating out.
I’m about to embark on a holiday to the USA and I intend to continue the diet as best I can, but also ensure I have a holiday as well. The travel days will be binge days to make life easier and no doubt I will be grazing heavily at restaurants and delis. I’ve made enough progress to keep going and be self-motivated. If I can do it, you can.
Slow-Carb Diet is a registered trademark of Timothy Ferriss.