Slow Carb Diets

With his famous book The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss has made the idea of slow carbs and slow carb diets popular, and he has also laid the foundations for a number of slow carb dieting programs. The general principles are explained in this Wikipedia entry. The most modern programs are offered online. In Europe, and in particular in Germany, two programs are immensely successful:

10 Weeks Body Change and Veronas Geheimnis (“Veronas Secret”).

The programs have a number of key success factors, and the most prominent one is probably that the entire change of diet and behavior will only work if performed without starving. Dieters must always feel well nourished and should never feel ravenous. Since a number of foods are prohibited under this dieting regime, it may well be possible that some dieters will feel deprived of those foods and find it difficult to live without them. In order to overcome these desires, there is even one day a week when any food without limitations can be consumed – even those that are banned the rest of the week. While Ferriss had called this day a “binge day”, the German programs mentioned above call them “Load Day”.

Tim Ferriss has also brought to a wide audience’s attention that it is a misconception to believe that the simple equation of calories intake minus calories used will decide over weight gain or weight loss. Ferriss undertook a number of experiments on himself, not all of which are recommended for emulation. Thus, in one famous experiment, he consumed well above kilocalories. His intake included an entire packet of peanut butter cookies, chocolate croissants, more than one liter of milk, honey, crackers, a nougat and caramel chocolate bar, cheeses, pizza, vanilla ice cream, wine, fruit, and many more. He took in six times more calories than he used during this twelve-hour-period. He did apply some measures to mitigate the effects of this massive over-feeding. He minimized the release of insulin by staging the food in a certain sequence. He also took some additives (AGG and PAGG), which we will be discussed in  a separate post. And he did a limited amount of muscle building exercises in the twelve-hour-period. Nevertheless, the massive surplus of calories should have led to a significant gain in body weight and body fat according to the traditional equations. But, on the contrary, two days later Ferriss had lost several kilograms and had reduced his body fat by 0.3 %.

The apparent mystery is one of the cornerstones of modern slow carb diets. The 6.000 kilocalorie binge described above occurred within the framework of the slow carb diet which Ferriss designed for himself. He had already body was already set to a mode of building muscle and reducing fat. The abundance of food, calories and easily available carbohydrates apparently led to a supercharged metabolism – without changing the basic mode which the body was attuned to. Instead, the rate of burning fat and building muscle was increased. This must be an extremely appreciated messages for all those who need to lose weight and observe diets.

The online programs mentioned above have transferred these findings into the concept of the load day, a cornerstone in 10 Weeks BodyChange (often abbreviated to 10 WBC). Pursuant to Ferriss, the program has the objective of setting the dieter’s body to a mode of building muscle and buying fat. Once per week, the metabolic rate should be purposefully increased. A secondary, but equally important effect of the Load Day is the far better compliance rate, i.e. the discipline in observing  the dietary regulations. Since even “forbidden foods” can be consumed once a week, dieters find it far easier to withstand their cravings for the rest of the week. The program which has been so successful in Germany (“more than 1 million kilograms lost by the BodyChange community”) is coming to the US soon, and we will cover the details in a further post.