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Path to Health - Day 2: Slow-Carb for Frugality, Fun, and Fitness

"Yeah, I'm into fitness...FIT'NESS WHOLE BURGER IN MAH MOUTH!! *NOM!*''

That always makes me laugh, but that's totally gonna be me come Sunday, because Sunday is my Cheat Day. And Cheat Day is just one of the reasons why I love the Slow-Carb Diet.

At the end of 2010, author and human guinea pig Tim Ferriss published his book "The Four-Hour Body," which introduced the world to the Slow-Carb approach to weight loss and general health, and it's one of the best two books on weight loss I've ever read (Jon Gabriel's "The Gabriel Method" is the other, which I mentioned yesterday). I did the Slow-Carb thing towards the end of 2013 with tremendous results, but fell off the wagon once holiday foods became ubiquitous and never picked it back up for 2014. My results? After losing almost 30 lbs. in just a couple months on Slow-Carb, I ended up gaining almost 40 back across 2014.

Slow-Carb is a new approach to weight loss that I'm implementing because it works without having to count calories or be a complete drain on my limited budget. I currently earn little better than minimum wage, and my weekly grocery budget is only $50, and I can tell you right now that I can easily buy a week's worth of food on this plan while staying under budget and not starving myself. And there are a few reasons why this works so well:

1. Ferriss figured out that the basic math of calories in/calories out doesn't frame the whole picture well enough. Nutrients and calories don't matter when you cram them into your maw--they only matter when they reach your cells.
2. Relying on legumes as your sole source of carbohydrates is not only easy on your wallet, but they metabolize at a rate that keeps you fuller for longer.
3. And even though you don't have to count calories, my tracking shows that you're going to be eating less calories across the board anyhow, so Slow-Carb is basically a way to dramatically reduce calories without ever going hungry, and for a big guy like me who loves food but lacks money, not going hungry is a big deal.

So how does it all work?  Well, the tenets of the Slow-Carb Diet are simple enough:

1. Avoid "white" carbs" Avoid any and all carbs that are or even CAN be white, including breads, pastas, rice (even brown rice), sugar, cereals, potatoes, tortillas, and fried foods with breading. Eat carbs that come in legume form instead, such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, etc.
2. Eat the same few meals over and over again. This part used to worry me a bit, as one of the biggest reasons I've quit eating healthy in the past was a lack of variety, but this will be mitigated by Rule 5.
3. Don't drink calories. Drink lots of water (already a check for me) and unsweetened tea or coffee, but avoid sodas, fruit juices, or basically any other beverage with a calorie count greater than 0. Diet sodas and other drinks with aspartame are allowed in moderation--no more than 16 oz. a day.
4. Don't eat fruit. Yeah, according to this diet, the thinking is because fruits aren't indigenous to a lot of regions where some of our ancestors flourished, we ourselves also don't need fruit every day to stay healthy. And because fruits contain fructose, eating them would counteract the idea of eliminate sugar as a carb.
5. Take a day off each week. The slow-carb diet advocates a cheat day, where you get to go balls-to-the-wall with anything and everything you might want to consume. This sort of caloric spike helps shock your system to keep the metabolism running strong. One dieter came up with the elegant idea of keeping a log of cravings she got each week, so she could indulge in them on her cheat day. I do this myself, and it's a fantastic approach.

"BUT WAIT!" I hear some of you saying. "What was all that yesterday about not restricting ourselves and not punishing ourselves into health? Isn't this diet flying directly in the face of that?!" For some people, yes that will be the case, but not for me, and it's because I've done it before. When I was doing the Slow-Carb Diet in the past, I actually had a really great time with it. Experimenting with new recipes and flavors, the excitement of Cheat Day, and watching the pounds just melt away all combined to make it a tremendous experience. What's more, I've already been prepping myself going into this DietBet by switching my breakfasts to Slow-Carb for the last week, which makes for a smoother transition.

I'll talk a little bit more on other elements of the Slow-Carb Diet and what I've learned from Tim Ferriss' book in future posts in this series. For now, though, I'll just go ahead and leave a link to where you can learn more about the book and pick up a copy: