The 4 Hour Body and the Slow Carb Diet

I’ve been reading the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

It’s an interesting read. But the section I was most interested in (for obvious reasons) was the “Slow Carb Diet” chapter.

In that chapter (entitled “How to Lose 1.4st (9kg) in 30 Days Without Exercise”), Tim Ferriss describes a diet that sounds amazing. Not only can you lose 9kg in a month, but in the opening part of the chapter Tim describes himself and a fellow dieter eating pepperoni pizzas and chocolate croissants as part of this diet.

This really captures the attention. So I read on.

As it turns out, the Slow Carb Diet has 5 rules, but let’s just focus on the first one:

Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates (“Avoid any carbohydrate that is, or can be, white”)
What does this mean? It means don’t eat bread, rice (including brown rice), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas and fried food with breading.


How disappointing.

So for all the hype, actually this appears to be nothing more than a deprivation diet. The only difference is that it includes a “cheat day” where you can eat whatever you want (which explains the pepperoni pizza and chocolate croissant). But for 6 days a week, you’re doing it tough.

Here are my observations about the diet:
1. How many people are realistically going to be able or even willing to cut out bread, pasta, rice and potatoes out of their diet? A diet that excludes 90% of the foods consumed in Western society is hardly practical or likely to be successfully applied by the majority.

2. According to him, people who stuck to the diet did well. Great. But actually that’s true of almost any diet. If you can stick to a diet where you only eat vegetables and salad you will lose weight too. But the key is can you stick to the diet? The Slow Carb Diet is not to me, a practical diet. It wouldn’t slot in neatly into most people’s lifestyles.

3. Let’s say someone was able to stick to the diet for 30 days and lose 1.4 stone (9kg). Then what? This is the eternal question with diets. You might be able to lose weight, but then what?

Will you want to stay on this diet for the rest of your life? If not, then all you have done is temporarily lose weight. Welcome to the world of yoyo dieting.

4. Deprivation diets often turn people off weight loss. People go on deprivation diets hoping for quick results, can’t stick with them because they are quite difficult, and then convince themselves that there is something wrong with them. It makes people say to themselves: “I lack self-discipline”. No, you don’t lack self-discipline, you just picked an unsustainable diet.

As I have said before, all diets work (some are less healthy or safe than others) but only if you can stick with them. A diet that most people can’t stick to is not the yardstick by which you should judge your ability to lose weight.

And a deprivation diet by any other name is still a deprivation diet.

Dr. Khandee Ahnaimugan is a medical doctor who provides a bespoke behavioural programme for weight loss. To book a comprehensive assessment at his Harley Street Clinic please email or phone +44 (0) 20 3130 4770.

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