Here's What to Know Before Trying the Slow-Carb Diet

There seems to be an endless amount of ways to lose weight. Although many trendy plans restrict carbohydrates, there are several ways to put the concept into practice: Keto, Atkins, and Slow-Carb.

The Slow-Carb Diet was originally popularized by Timothy Ferris in the 2010 book, The 4-Hour Body. Keep in mind that Ferris is a technology advisor and investor—not a dietitian. According to the book description, Ferris developed the plan in his quest to hack the human body. With the wisdom of athletes, doctors, and personal experimentation, Ferris says he uncovered an easy way to lose weight.

So, what is the Slow-Carb Diet?

The plan operates on five basic rules, according to Ferris’ website:

These guidelines are meant to give you maximum results by doing the least amount of work, according to Healthline.

What do you eat on the Slow-Carb Diet?

You can consume whatever you want if it comes from one of five food groups: animal protein, vegetables, legumes, fats, and spices.

This means dairy (except cottage cheese), fruit, and fried foods are off limits.

“He’s making food rules,” says Melanie Boehmer, R.D. at Lenox Hill Hospital. “Do these things and you’re going to lose weight—period.”

Essentially, this is a very simplified low-carb plan that emphasizes high-fiber foods, she explains.

Should you try the Slow-Carb Diet?

Generally, Boehmer doesn’t recommend eliminating entire food groups. Restrictive diets can lead to cravings, an unhealthy relationship with food, and nutrient deficiencies.

The plan claims to prohibit dairy and fruit because they cause insulin spikes, but that isn’t exactly true.

For background: Insulin, a hormone that helps your body use blood sugar from carbohydrates, increases after meals. Generally, blood sugar is used for energy or stored for future use. The problem occurs when your body doesn’t respond well to insulin and stores blood sugar as fat.

“Ideally, we try store it [blood sugar] in muscle,” says Boemer. Excess blood sugar is stored as fat when there’s no space left in your muscles, she explains. People who eat a lot of foods that cause blood sugar spikes, like candy or soda, can have a difficult time responding to insulin.

There’s no conclusive stance on whether dairy causes insulin resistance. And whole fruit contains fiber, which slows down sugar absorption, meaning it doesn’t have the same effect on your body as cookies.

Still, Boehmer says the limited menu can be helpful for people who like structure. Plus, it emphasizes foods high in fiber and protein, which keeps you full—and ultimately helps with weight loss. People who have a history of disordered eating should not opt for a restrictive plan like this, she says.

“This is obviously a very simple approach to weight loss,” she says. “My hope is that people can expand upon that list as they get comfortable”

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