One sentence answer: A slight change in the food I ate.
Let’s begin from the beginning. Six months ago, I came across this NYT Bestselling book called the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Among other things, the key highlight of the book was this rather intriguing diet pattern, which (as a result of this book) became known as the ‘Slow-carb diet’.
Upon reading about the slow-carb diet, I wanted to try it. Simply because I wanted to look slim! Who doesn’t?
After months of waiting for the perfect occasion, my window of opportunity finally came in April 2015. The first Monday of April was when I decided to experiment this diet. Today, exactly 4 weeks later, my body is lighter by 5kgs, my mind… so much more!
In order to find the exact effects of the diet, I decided not to do any exercise. Tim suggests 20 minutes of workout per week and no more. I however decided to skip that too.
Okay, moving on to the diet. What did I eat and what did I not.
First, the misconceptions. There is a popular misconception that following a diet means eating nothing but tasteless watery dal, rice khichdi or green leafs over and over again till the time hell’s bells ring and the good lord of death takes you away. So much so that even if you do get slim following the meek diet, you anyways die out of not tasting the elixirs of life, viz. the pizzas and the pastries and all the other vices we love so much to eat.
Well. Not true. Neither about the diet, nor about the good lord.
Now that we have the niceties away, let us get on to the meat.
The foods are divided in two categories. What to avoid and what to eat (six days per week).
What To Avoid
1. No ‘white’ carbohydrates
Avoid any carbohydrate that is or can be white. The following foods are prohibited. No bread, chapatti, rice (including brown), cereal, oats, potatoes, pasta and any fried food with breading.
2. Don’t drink calories
Do not drink any caloric drinks like soft drinks, fruit juice. No milk or other dairy products. No beer or white wine is allowed.
3. No Sugar
No food containing sugar is allowed. Don’t eat fruit or fructose.
What to Eat
Protein intake can be had from the following foods:
Chicken (or other meats products)
Vegetarian foods containing protein like black beans, sprout beans, lentils (or dal)
Legumes provide for the necessary carbohydrates and are a source of a lot of other nutrients the body needs.
Legumes such as dals of all kinds, beans (or chholey in Hindi) of all kinds such as black beans, red beans (rajmah), white beans, soy beans etc.
Vegetables are anyway good for health and we eat them on a daily basis anyway. One can eat from the following vegetables.
Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, peas, or other green vegetables like saag etc. Salads and everything you eat in salads are absolutely okay.
The important thing to note is this: Eat as much as you like of the above approved foods. The idea is NOT to eat less or stay hungry but to eat to satisfaction of the approved foods.
Other approved foods (in moderate quantities): Nuts, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds etc. 5-10 pieces (and no more) of these can suffice for the short-term hunger you may feel once in a while.
Other important points to remember:
1. Eat as much as you like of the approved foods.
2. The idea is to keep it simple. Pick three to four meals and repeat them.
3. Eat within an hour of waking up. Thus, if you wake up at 7am, make sure you get your first meal by 8am.
4. Eat almost every four hours. 8am, 12noon, 4pm and 8pm can thus be one possibility. I followed a 9am, 1pm, 5pm and 9pm schedule, although it wasn’t always that strict. (Many times I skipped evening food because I was busy with work.)
5. For those (like me) who drink alcohol, Red Wine is okay. Beer is better avoided.
6. Cottage cheese (paneer) is fine because of the protein content.
7. Salt, spices, sauces like salsa sauce etc. are allowed while cooking. All my food in this diet tastes real good!
8. Oils for cooking: Olive oil, grapeseed oil.
9. Drink lots of water (important). The body is expected to lose water (along with the fat) and therefore it is important to drink good quantities of water during the day.
Take One Day off (Cheat Day)
The above diet is to be followed for six days in a week. Seventh day (Sunday for me) is the dieter’s gone wild day! Eat anything you want in as much quantity as you want on this seventh day. I celebrated all my Sundays with Aaloo Parantha, butter and curd. Drank all the beer I wanted and ate all the chocolates, pastries, puddings, pizzas and cakes I loved. Eating pure crap does lead to weight loss. Eutopia!
My Meal Plan
Here’s a bit about me and the diet plan I actually followed.
First, a little about me (so you don’t start making excuses that I don’t have anything better to do in life than to follow this diet). I am 28, 5 feet 7, MBA working with a reputed organization in Gurgaon spending good 10 hours a day in office. I cook my own food, don’t mind non-vegetarian and don’t really mind eating the same dish tomorrow. I eat out every Wednesday night and party with friends (as much as any other 28 year old does)!
The following was my diet plan:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (egg bhurji) of four eggs from which I remove egg-yellow of three. One whole egg is for taste. Along with this I usually have black tea/green tea without sugar.
Lunch: White beans, red beans (lots of it!) with salad (cucumber, kakdi, tomatoes, onion etc)
Evening snack (outside): Egg bhurji of two eggs, from any stall nearby office. I have found a good one who cooks egg bhurji with chili sauce which makes it taste good!
Dinner: At home, depending on my mood and how hungry I am, I bring some chicken (chicken shawarma without the chapatti or frozen chicken), cook a big bowl of dal (green or yellow) and eat it along with salad. Otherwise I just eat dal with the salad.
While I’m out, I eat salad (Subway or other salad), or chicken tandoori, sausages, seekh etc with Red Wine. Almost all restaurants will give you salad instead of fries, potato wedges and burgers.
And the good part is, this diet has given me the opportunity to taste different kinds of Red Wines too!
My Cheat Day
My cheat day usually begins with banana, cashews and almonds in milk early in the morning and then continues with aaloo parathas, pav bhaji, beer, biscuits, sweets, sugarcane juice and what not. I never cared about the type and quantity of food I eat on cheat days. I just enjoy the cheat day as much as I enjoy the other six diet days.
Before weight: 76kgs. After weight: 71kgs. Ideal weight for a 5 feet 7 male is somewhere between 60kg and 73kg. I’m kind of in the range.
Exercise done during four weeks: None.
I must confess it was a bit difficult during the first week but after two weeks, when I started seeing the results, things began to fall in place and I started enjoying the diet.
Now that my four weeks are up, I have decided to continue with the same diet for the next four weeks too. I may do some modifications here and there but the basic rules of chapatti, rice, potato and sugar will remain the same.
Mark Twain once said, ‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.’ The fact that I got the opportunity to read (or in my case listen) to this book, I was able to experiment with this particular food pattern. Reading is good for health and in this case, it proved to be literally the case.
As is customary, I will leave you with a question. Do you want to reduce weight but don’t find time to exercise? My whole idea behind no exercise during this period was to find whether weight loss is possible without any exercise. Now that I have been successful you can too.
If you think the diet is a bit strict, well, truth is, it is. But then, there is always something for something. Something for nothing does not exist. Either you eat what you eat and workout hard to make up for it or you make modifications in what you eat so that with minimum workout you still lose weight. The third option is of course to continue on the same course and keep dreaming about those hidden six packs. The choice is always yours.
Care to begin your four week experiment and see the results for yourself?
P.S. Write to me below or logon to 4hbtalk for any questions related to the diet.
P.S. For any food stuff, the rule of thumb is, when in doubt, better avoid!