A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided to give ‘slow carb’ eating a go for a while. We were in the post-Christmas slump and had seen the pounds creep on for too long. I had taken a long time to be convinced, as I was fully tied in to the accepted wisdom that the way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn – and, specifically, to make those calories come mainly from low-fat food, basing meals around starch and carbs to fill up without filling up on fat.
My husband had read ‘The Four-Hour Body’ and was absolutely convinced it was the way to go. You can (and should) read it for yourself, but a very *very* basic summary is:
- don’t count calories (not all calories are equal)
- do eat fat – fat is filling – specifically good fat such as butter, avocado, oils, fatty cuts of meat
- do eat loads of (the right) vegetables – so lots of spinach, cabbage, cauliflower etc and not lots of sweet potatoes and sweetcorn
- don’t eat simple starchy carbs – no pasta, rice, bread (not even brown pasta, rice, bread) and no potatoes
- do eat pulses/legumes – lentils, beans, nuts
- don’t eat fruit. This last one can be hard to accept as we know that fruit is super-healthy and usually a cornerstone of any diet. In this case it’s a no-no as it’s still full of sugar.
Plus you need to drink loads of water, don’t have diet drinks, don’t add sugar or sweeteners to anything (lots of research to show that this still triggers the same insulin response as the full-sugar versions).
Some people can eat dairy (full fat milk, cheese, yoghurt) and still lose weight/fat, others find that it slows down weight loss. I think this is trial and error really – I found that I could eat lots of dairy for the first year of eating like this, now I think it slows me down if I have too much.
There is plenty of controversy about this sort of way of eating, although I think most people are thinking of the Atkins / low carb diet where you have lots of meat and fat and very few vegetables. However, many experts now agree that the low fat/high carb accepted wisdom really doesn’t work and has a strong correlation with the increase in obesity. Sweden was the first country to recommend a high fat/low carb diet and others will surely follow.
From my own point of view (and my husband’s), the results were extraordinary. I lost 10lb in the first week, then continued to lose 1lb or 2lb every week after that. In addition, my body shape/composition totally changed – I was a smaller back/chest size than I’d been as a teenager and a smaller clothes size overall than I had been at the same weight in the past. I clearly lost fat specifically, which is the aim of this way of eating. I wasn’t hungry, I lost the post-meal ‘slump’ which I now associate with simple carbs, and I found it a really easy way to eat when out and to combine with family meals – I wanted to be able to eat with our young daughters and not set any notions of dieting in their developing minds.