The last seven days have been horrible to me. Or perhaps I’ve been horrible to them. Sadly, after 2 successful weeks (and 6 lbs of weight loss) on the Slow-Carb Diet, I rebounded after last week’s cheat day and have been journeying this slippery slope ever since.
It’s not that I completely lost my bearings, it’s that I completely lose my bearings at least once a day. Small cheats here and there have put me in a really tough spot, and forced me to look further into what it’s going to take to make me commit to this 100% until I’m at least my ideal weight and fitness.
It’s sort of come to my attention that the fundamentals of the Slow-Carb Diet are just the tip of the iceberg. Especially for women. It’s really important to remember that Timothy Ferriss, though very well-educated and well-informed, uses himself as his primary test subject; and as such, not all his data can cater directly to the female physique. It’s with this in mind that I spent some time over the past week (this miserable CHEAT of a WEEK in which I’ve gained back 1.5 of the lost pounds) trying to figure out what might work best for me as a young woman with a far-from-morbid amount of fat to lose. After scouring the internet, I think I found my answer.
So here is a modification of the Golden Rules of the Slow-Carb Diet (as applicable to my demographic):
Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates. Don’t eat bread, pasta, rice (brown or white), grains, potatoes, breaded fried food or dairy on your slow-carb days.
IN ADDITION: You can’t just stay away from these carbohydrates, you have to count the carbohydrates you DO have. Mark Sisson of the Primal Blueprint makes a very strong argument for this with this simple diagram:
if your intention truly is to drop some pounds, and shed some fat, it seems carb count does make a difference. I know that Timothy Ferriss doesn’t advocate any kind of “COUNTING” restrictions on the diet, but…I think in many cases sacrifices must be made. I’m not a huge person, and so I don’t actually have too much to lose on my body, so if I want to see quicker, more immediate results, I understand now that I can’t just keep having a ridiculous amount of beans with my meals. Now I’ve got to stay within this 50g – 100g sweet spot for the next two months at least to see what sort of changes that makes to my body.
I know it’s not that easy to count carbohydrates, but that’s what labels are for: read them meticulously, and keep a record. I use the Livestrong Calorie Counter to keep track. I don’t actually care about the CALORIE intake, but I use the counter on my phone to track the grams of Fat, Protein, and Carbs I consume, as well as their ratio for the day. In the Nutrition Tab it tells me what percentage of my consumption is made up of what.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again. Meals should include protein, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables; eat as much as you like, 3-4x/day.
IN ADDITION: The trick is to make the bulk of your meals beforehand (like on a Sunday) and just pre-package them so that you can pull them out of the fridge or freezer, and bring them along with you from day to day. For this week I made one tuna stew, and one beef stew and will be bringing a serving of each with either lentils or spinach and cabbage to work on the daily.
Back in the day, when I was at my slimmest though not necessarily my fittest, I had a very strict eating schedule – I didn’t eat carbohydrates (NONE AT ALL) after 3pm (no matter what sports or gym activities I engaged in in the afternoon) and I didn’t eat after 6pm (no matter what time I went to bed – water at night was my friend). AND I ALWAYS AT THE SAME THING FOR DINNER – either tuna and scrambled egg, or grilled chicken breast and scrambled egg. It was that simple. I think I need to mirror some of those habits again: eating the same thing, not eating late, and only having veggies and legumes with my first 3 meals of the day.
It’s interesting because a friend of mine was telling me about how he has begun fasting at night – having very light, early dinners; despite his work out schedule, and it has made him significantly more cut even just in the last week. I know that doesn’t really apply to me, and perhaps he has more naturally-occurring “Fat-Burning Fat” than I do to begin with so it’s easier. Still, there’s something to be said about how it works for him. Similar behavior may work for me as well.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Avoid milk (including soy), sweetened soda (no more than 16oz of diet), and fruit juice. One or two glasses of red wine are permitted.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. Tomatoes and avocados are okay (the latter in moderation).
Rule #5: Take one day off per week. Go nuts and eat lots of calories to keep your metabolic rate (thyroid function, conversion of T4 to T3, leptin) up. Do at least five days of rules 1-4 before following rule 5.
IN ADDITION: I didn’t think it was TOO important to start the day off with a slow-carb meal EVEN on Cheat Day, but after the horror that was last Cheat Day, I see why it makes a different now. Having a healthy high-protein meal will really help you to ring in the day right, jumpstart your metabolism, and provide you with a secret clause: a special unspoken boundary that reminds you: today is only an exception, not the rule.
I’m hoping that, armed with these additional rules, I’ll really be able to make the most of this diet, and do it right for longer than just 2 weeks at a time. Over those two weeks, I am always incredibly disciplined, so I know I can do it. There is no good reason not to keep going.