Slow Carb–First Look
Now a few weeks into the “Slow Carb” diet, a check-in seems appropriate. Setting up my 2012 training (peak
goal being Ironman Florida), I incorporated some specific programs. One of these is the so-called Slow Carb diet–basically a low-glycemic index diet. Generally, I follow my own modified version of the “Abs-Diet” with certain other elements mixed in. My approach has been to make the Slow Carb diet an addendum to my existing plan.
The plan is promoted (designed?) by Tim Ferris in his book The Four Hour Body. The idea being to prevent blood sugar spikes, the subsequent insulin spikes with its accompanying issues, one of which is fat storage (other goodies include blocking fat burn, risk of diabetes, risk of cancer). Ferris has added some other specific ideas surrounding protein intake, not generally found in generic low-glycemic index approaches.
The Slow Carb diet is significant in that it not only emphasizes reducing fat storage, but also looks to increase relative muscle mass.
- Avoid anything that can be white (with a couple of exceptions, e.g. cauliflower).
- Make protein the focus of each meal, especially breakfast eating protein rich meal 30 minutes after waking.
- Eliminate refined sugars, corn-syrup.
- One cheat day where food type & quantity are unrestricted–cheat day is mandatory.
- A good list of the rules and review of the diet can be found at Fitnessblackbook.com
The first thing I did was stop sweetening my coffee. I drink a fair amount of coffee, generally strong, black and sweet. If I’m drinking bad restaurant coffee, or on the road (e.g. one particular weekly morning meeting), I would mask it with sugar and sweetener.
The shift to straight black at home wasn’t so shocking, as my coffee is quality and strong. Coffee on the road is another issue, but now instead of drinking sweetened, creamed, bad coffee, I just drink bad coffee. It has been tolerable, and certainly hasn’t killed me.
The immediate effect of this one simple change was to level out my emotional peaks and valleys throughout the day, especially the crash I would typically feel around 2pm. I still have a dip around 2pm, but it isn’t the crash it used to be. Additionally, I smooth it out with my siesta plan.
I’ve also had fewer headaches. But this could be the result of several changes I’ve instituted. However, many of my headaches are blood sugar related, and with more stable insulin releases, come more stable blood sugar levels, and I’m sure this is a part of the equation.
The fat loss portion has been there, but not super. Check out Fitnessblackbook.com for some good thoughts on this as well. I’ve lost about a percentage point, and I’ve stopped adding pounds from my Augusta Half-Ironman low. This has been pure fat loss, based on body weight percentages I’ve maintained muscle mass.
However, I’m still in the adjustment period, so we’ll see. The hardest aspect has been adjusting to not eating bread and cereal. I still occasionally eat these, but it is far less than what I used to. This has created a couple of challenges:
- What to eat for breakfast, if cereal is out of the equation.
- An endurance athlete in training has a real need for and benefit from dense carbohydrate sources.
- Bread and cereal were mainstays in my fiber sources (fiber being a key part of my existing plan)
- What to eat so that I actually feel full.
I’m working on some solutions and tweaks, which I will need to post in a future update.
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