Fairly Exhaustive Slow-Carb Food List

It’s no secret that the food list Tim Ferriss has in The 4-Hour Body is not very long. The trouble with it is that you get all these “purists” (as I call them) thinking you can’t eat anything outside of that list, and as a result people get bored with the foods.

Now, I can give you a slow-carb meal plan.  I’ve created one you can sign up for if you don’t feel like planning your own meals.  But you could also come up with them yourself.

The truth is you could make over 70 (an extremely generous number) totally unique meals, not including the spices that give it totally different flair, off of the small list he posted in the book. But 70 isn’t really that exciting.

How about 12,000+ unique meals?

Tweet this: Holy crap! This is the biggest #4hb food list I’ve ever seen!

I’ve put together a “matrix” of slow-carb foods that should help you put together meals for any occasion. I got the idea from Robb Wolf, who did this for one of his clients who said she was bored with eating Paleo.

Below you’ll see a chart of over 100 food items that are totally approved for consumption on the slow-carb diet. To make a meal, pick something from each column (the “Extras” column is optional), and throw it on a plate! The amount of preparation and presentation is up to you.

Download the PDF


Bone Marrow
Chicken Livers
Mahi Mahi
Ox Liver
Red Snapper


Artichoke Hearts
Bamboo Shoots
Beet Greens
Bell Peppers
Bok Choy
Broccoli Rabe
Brussels Sprouts
Dandelion greens
Fennel Root
Green Beans
Iceberg Lettuce
Mixed Vegetables
Mung bean sprouts
Mustard Greens
Napa cabbage
Peppers (all kinds)
Red cabbage
Romaine Lettuce
Seaweed (nori)
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Turnip Greens
Yellow pepper
Acorn Squash*
Butternut Squash*
Sweet Potato*


Black beans
Black-eyed Peas
Cannelloni Beans
Great Northern Beans
Kidney beans
Navy Beans
Pinto beans
Red Beans
Chickpeas **



Bay Leaf
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Celery seed
Chili Pepper
Chili powder
Coriander Seeds
Garam Masala
Herbs de Provance
Mustard Seeds


Clarified butter
Coconut Oil
Macadamia Nut Oil
Olive Oil
Brazil Nuts**
Chia seeds**
Pine Nuts**
Pumpkin seeds**
Sesame Seeds**
Sunflower Seeds**



Beef Broth
Nut Butters
Chicken Broth
Coconut Milk
Fish Sauce
Hot Sauce
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Soy Sauce
Tamari (wheat free)


Notes about some of the foods

* These foods are dense carbohydrates and are fine to eat if you are just trying to maintain weight. They’re not to be consumed if your goal is fat loss.

** These foods are technically OK but are very easy to overdo. They should be limited to small snacks only.

Want some help planning your slow-carb meals? I’ve got months worth of meal plans ready for you over in my slow-carb meal planner. Click here to read more!


How I came up with this list

There are a few different websites that are meant to be exhaustive lists of what you can and can’t eat on slow-carb. Some of them are decent, others are crap. For my list, I started with The 4-Hour Body, and then I compared the lists that Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf put out for their paleo/primal followers.

The proteins were a no-brainer. The veggies are where some of the contention can arise. For example, many people have perfectly fine success eating cucumbers and zucchini, but some respected slow-carb sites say cukes are fruits and therefore strictly prohibited.

I then looked through Tim’s Slow-Carb cookbook (offered here with permission) and noted the ones I didn’t have in my list.

In the remaining questionable cases, I literally searched Tim’s blog for references to the foods to see if they were slow-carb approved.

I’m 100% certain that this is an accurate list, and that if you eat only from this list you’ll be eating foods that promote fat loss.

Related Posts:


  1. Stewart Hart says

    Have been wondering about sprouts. Mung bean ok. What about other sprouts, lentil, sunflower, fenugreek, radish and alfalfa?

    • Stewart, I had no idea people even ate anything else sprouted. 🙂 Here’s my take: if it’s on the list, its sprouted version is Ok. The only sprout I know of that people commonly eat that wouldn’t be OK is quinoa since it’s technically a grain.


      • My best advice on this diet: Don’t be a hero. Cheat day is an essential part of the diet. Without it your weight loss will dwindle until you are barely losing weight at all no matter how much you conform to the diet.

  2. I’m a big fan of peas like Crowder Peas, Field Peas and Purple Hull Peas. Although technically not the same as black-eyed peas, I think they are similar enough to fall into the same category.

    Would you agree? My favorite brand is Allen’s so you can click here and look under peas: http://www.allens.com/iloveallens/products.php

  3. I always thought fish in general was a safe Slow Carb choice for protein. Of course, listing every type of edible fish may dilute your list but I think a few notable fish are missing from your list. You also mentioned shellfish which includes all sorts of crustaceans. Did you list out the different fish to provide some options? Or are there some fish that should be avoided?

    What do you think about adding Catfish, Grouper and Flounder? Deep sea fish like swordfish and even shark should be safe slow carb choices as well.

    For shellfish you could list out the popular choices such as shrimp, crab, lobster and crawfish. Man, I wish I liked crawfish. It’s a BIG deal in the south when they’re in season. Too much work for me 😀

    Oh! What about duck?

    • Any type of animal protein is fine, it’s true. I listed out the fish to provide options, and I like your suggestions as well since you can get them at most supermarkets.

      As for your beans, I’m sure they’re OK. I’d never heard of them before, they are legumes and are therefore most likely just fine.

      Thanks for the comments, Tedero!

  4. Hi and thank you for the extensive food list! Just wondering about coconut.. If coconut milk is okay, I would imagine coconut flour might be allowable in small amounts since it’s just ground coconut flesh..?
    Thanks a ton!

    • Hi, Marie! I personally don’t have a problem with coconut, as long as it’s just coconut. It’s primarily a fat, and it’s carbohydrate load is more fiber than sugar. It’s got a ridiculously load glycemic load (meaning it doesn’t affect your blood sugar much), and it’s an anti-inflammatory food. I wouldn’t eat a ton of it, but it’s totally fine to use as a secondary ingredient or a garnish. Just don’t trick yourself into thinking because it’s a good food that coconut flour cookies are a free-for-all. 🙂


  5. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for sharing this comprehensive list. My gymmates swear by eating a tsp of roasted ground flax seeds every morning. Does this fit in slow carb?


  6. Thank you soooooo much for the list. I just started yesterday. I am very excited and hoping it works for me. I can’t thank you enough for posting this list. You are a great person to do that. It will help me tremendously when I go grocery shopping. God bless people like you!

  7. Chicken broth, beef broth, iceberg lettuce, cashews? Any ideas for salad dressing? Country crock butter or I can’t believe it’s not butter spray?

    • Sure, the first four things are totally fine. Especially if you make the broth yourself! That way you can control the ingredients and sodium. Cashews are fine. For salad dressing, we usually just do some olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Maybe some spices if we’re feeling a certain influence. We’ve also used vinegar and mustard on occasion.

      If you look at the ingredients in Country Crock and I Can’t Believe, you’ll see they have a lot of soy stuff, different kinds of oil that aren’t healthy for you, and coloring. ICB even has buttermilk in it. You’re way better off just using regular butter, since it’ll probably just be for cooking and flavor as opposed to spreading it on toast. There’s nothing wrong with a nice butter made from grass-fed cows. Kerrygold is my favorite and the one I always recommend.

  8. Hey Jason, thanks very much for putting up this list! I was just looking at the Official 4-hour body cookbook, and there is a Tortilla Soup recipe that calls for corn (but he adds that it’s “optional”). I’m sure this is a giant no-no, right? I wonder why he even included it in the recipe book at all.

    • Hey Robin, thanks for the question. You’ll notice that from time to time in his books and such. He even talks about using salsa with corn or mixed veggies with corn. It seems like, for Tim (who didn’t really have a fat loss goal, other than leaning out a bit) corn wasn’t a big problem in small doses like that. For someone who is trying to be totally grain free (not just gluten free) or wants to lose a lot of fat, corn should be avoided. Except, of course, on cheat days. That’s why he marked it as “optional”.

  9. This seems like a dumb question to me but I’ve been doing some searching and find contradicting information. Lentil flour.. It simply ground up lentils I assume. The eslowcarbdiet.com says it’s not allowed. That just doesn’t seem right. What’s your opinion?

    • Not a dumb question at all. Think about it this way: the amount of whole lentils in a cup is way smaller than the amount of ground lentils in a cup. I wouldn’t say it’s not allowed, though, I’d just say proceed with caution. Hummus is a domino food, presumably for the same reason. I certainly wouldn’t make it part of my daily menu.


      • I was just looking for something to coat chicken in or maybe make a “bread” out of. I found a recipe for a bread that is just lentil flour water and salt in a greased pan. I thought it might be nice to get my serving of beans that way.

        How do you feel about protien shakes for breakfast? After 3 weeks I got to the point I could not even swallow an egg so I had to try something. I’ve still been losing weight but I am still not sure if I should be doing this. The mix is low carb and low calorie but the flavor is chocolate peanut butter so it feels wrong.

        • In general you just shouldn’t drink calories, so before switching to a protein shake I’d try different ways of eating breakfast that doesn’t include eggs. I’m putting together a post about eggless breakfast options, but if you look at Chowstalker, you will probably find something nice.

          You have to be careful with shakes. Soy protein shakes should be avoided. Whey protein isolate shakes can be OK, but when they’ve got sweetener in them it’s not ideal. I’d rather get an unsweetened protein powder and mix it with a bit of cocoa powder and PB.

          But first try to find a breakfast idea you can stand that’s actual food.


          • Thanks! I’ll try to figure something out! Lost 17 lbs so far and want to keep going!

      • Hey Jason,
        Thanks so much for all the great 4 hr I info! Could you please clarify what you mean by a domino food? I eat lentils a lot as part of the diet be haze I thought they had the most health benefits?

        • A domino food is something that is technically OK to eat but could very easily cause you to become derailed and overeat it. For me, salted nuts is a domino food. Too many nuts is bad, even though a handful is technically fine. This can depend on the individual, because we each have our own tastes.


  10. I also wanted to share something I’ve been eating that has saved me.

    Red lentils cooked in broth.

    I put them in my blender (ninja) with different seasonings. Always garlic! Maybe some ranch powder or a little butter.

    Blend it up and you have “mashed potatoes”

  11. Hi Jason,
    thanks for your list.
    I know processed meats are out…does this include sausages?
    I’m talking organic sausages that do not contain nitrates.

    • Hey Fran! When you say “processed meats”, what do you mean? I occasionally eat hot dogs, for example. They’re not a staple, but I’ve been known to enjoy a beef frank once in a while. I couldn’t find in the book where he says we can’t have that. So I’d say sausage is fine as well, and organic sausage is probably going to be quite awesome. 🙂


  12. Hi Jason,
    On your list of fats/oils you do not list coconut oil, which I believe is in the 4-Hour Body diet.

  13. Thank you so much. This is gonna make my life so much easier. Love the shopping list. I always have a problem with what to make not how to make. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Thank you for compiling and sharing this list! One question:

    I notice that chickpeas are not listed here, but hummus (which is essentially mashed chickpeas) is listed in the extras section. If hummus is okay, is it safe to assume that chickpeas are okay as well?

    Thanks again, this is a valuable resource!

    • So the reason I might have left out chickpeas is because the book talks about them as a domino food. If I recall correctly, they’re among the higher-GL legumes we have access to. I listed hummus in the extras, which I might have named condiments. I wouldn’t eat a half a cup of hummus (maybe a couple Tbsp), whereas I might eat a half a cup of chickpeas. I’m adding chickpeas, but I’m giving them an asterisk. 😉

      Thanks for the comment!

  15. You are amazing! My beans and flavorless chicken were making me very angry. Can you tell me are chia seeds okay? I’ve been taking a spoonful every day for a year now and feel like it really helps with my digestion and is a good source of calcium. Thank you again!

  16. Really nice shopping list. Thank you for sharing. However why haven’t you listed quinoa? I know it’s a grain but is very healthy and it’s gluten free. Since I discovered quinoa I haven’t touched rice again.

    • Hi Jacqueline! This website isn’t about healthy foods in general, but primarily slow-carb foods. Slow-carb isn’t simply gluten-free. It’s more about the type of carbohydrate than the quantity, and quinoa (and rice) is definitely not a slow carb food. And at a macronutrient level, there’s little difference between quinoa and white rice. In terms of health, vegetables are healthier (more nutrient-dense) than either rice or quinoa, or any other grain for that matter, and they do more for fat loss than a “healthy” grain would.

  17. Great list, this will make my transition to cutting out dairy/sugar/grains so much easier! Quick question ( sorry if this has been asked before) is almond milk ok in small amounts for tea or is it a complete no no?

  18. DP Kindred says

    Thanks for taking the time making this list Jason – I really appreciate the time and research you put into it, and I also really LOVE your website! You are right on point that many lists out there are a bunch of crap. Now I have something definitive that I can keep on the fridge to keep me on track. Cheers . . .

  19. I like salads however salads with no dressings don’t taste as good, is there any dressing besides oil and vinegar out there. Also you put sunflower seeds are good? Can I get flavored?

    • Hey Mark,

      You probably won’t find any SCD approved dressings in the grocery store. Even the vinaigrettes often have extra stuff in them. Here’s a yummy garlic-infused oil and vinegar dressing that could work. Sometimes my wife and I will use a squeeze of lemon with some salt, and that seems to be enough as well. Also, I will sometimes use salsa or a chimichurri instead of a dressing. It’s got a lot of flavor in it, and it’s more veggies!

      As for the sunflower seeds, the flavored nuts and seeds almost always have some type of sugar and/or milk powder to achieve the intense flavor. My recommendation would just be to check the labels. Make sure they don’t have sugar, soy, or anything dairy if you want to keep it legit slow-carb.


      • Jennifer Fry says

        I want to share my dressing recipe, because I love it, and a little goes a long way. It’s just coconut milk, citrus zest and juice, a little salt and pepper, and a big fat handful of fresh herbs. I love using cilantro, but Italian parsley is also good, or whatever you like. Just throw that all in the blender, and voila! You could even thicken it up a bit by adding an avocado. It keeps really well also.

  20. Hi Jason,

    I was doing some research on acai, and it seems to be mostly fat (omega 3,6,9, 5g/serving) and protein (2g/serving). The little bit of carbohydrate (0.6g/serving) is all fiber. It is not sweet at all. I understand it is biologically a fruit, but it does not have a high fructose content or a high GI/GL. Would raw, unsweetened acai be ok?

    • That’s a really interesting question, Michelle. It’s fascinating to me that a fruit has so much fat! Although I suppose avocado is a fruit as well, and it also has a lot of fat. Acai and avocado seem to have pretty similar profiles, actually, except that avocados have significantly more fiber per 100g than acai does. Looking at 100g of it, it looks like the carbs are half fiber and half sugar, but it’s still very low. Lower than 100g lentils. In the end, I’d say it’s worth checking out because of the other health benefits, but I’m not ready to tag it as slow-carb friendly yet. Do you want to test it out and get back to us with how it affected your results? 🙂


  21. Is Honey OK?

  22. I was doing Atkins for a while. It was easy for me being a busy single mom of 4 kids. I’ve done the 4 Hour Body and really liked it. But I can’t help but feel that the Atkins shakes and bars are just so convenient for my schedule. Are they in any way compliant with the 4 Hour Body philosophy? Is there a protein powder out there that is compliant? Thanks!

    • Hey Tracey! Thanks for stopping by! With the Atkins stuff, they just look, feel, and taste too much like candy and cookies. It doesn’t remove the mental addiction we have to those kinds of things. I would say they’re not compliant with the philosophy of healthy eating habits, which is where we want to get to with 4HB. Personally I try to stay away from them unless I’m really jonesing for a treat and don’t want to wait for cheat day. And even then, I hardly ever eat one.

      I do recommend a protein shake for people who need it. It’s called Primal Fuel, and it was created by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. You can read this post to get some better info: The Truth About 30g Protein Within 30 Minutes Of Waking.


  23. Hi Jason, Great list! My question: you only have ghee and clarified butte on your approved list, yet you say in a response to one of the comments that Kerrygold butter is your favorite and butter is fine. This is not clarified. Do you think regular butter is on the approved list?

    • Kerrygold is an exception. It’s not the only one, though. If you use regular butter, it must come from grass-fed cows. The reason is that the fat profile from grass-fed cows is totally different from conventional butter. In a pinch I’ve used clarified butter made from conventional butter, but I always prefer Kerrygold, and I don’t clarify it.

      Thanks for the question!

  24. Thinking about starting the 4hb but I am paleo (weight loss has stalled) and don’t eat legumes. Should I just omit or add in other carbs like sweet potatoes, squash etc. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi there, Teresa! If you poke around the site, you’ll start to see that my 4HB looks a lot like paleo (I go light on the legumes). That may be because I take what folks like Robb Wolf and Sarah Fragoso say about starchy carbs to heart. Are you switching because your weight loss has stalled eating a paleo-style diet?

      There’s no problem omitting the legumes as long as you’re getting enough food to eat between the fat, protein, and veggies. Most people find that legumes are useful to get adequate calories as well as keep you feeling fuller. But they’re not necessary.


      • Hi Jason, thank you for the reply, that helps. My weight loss has stalled on paleo however I think I am looking for more of a fat loss than weight loss which is why incorporating 4hb intrigued me. I think I am going to give it a try for 30 days and see what happens. Sneaking suspicion I have been overdoing it on almond butter and fruit. 🙂

  25. Hi! Great list except sriracha should not be on it. Contains sugar!

    • Hey Billy,

      You’re right, it does have some, but it’s in the book so that’s why it’s on the list. You end up using so little anyway (most of us, I suppose) that the sugar is negligible. But if you’d prefer staying away, that’s fine too!


  26. Question, what about sausage that contains 1g of sugar? I buy sausage from wegmans that they make. Is this ok? What do you think?


    • A few more:

      What about tea? (Celestial seasonings brand)


      Heavy whipping cream? I know he allows 2tbsps a day, but maybe none is better for maximum weight loss?

      Thanks again 🙂

      • Hey Heather! I’ll catch them all in one. 🙂

        I really do try to keep my sausage to 0g sugar. Because when it says it has some sugar, it usually has actual sugar. I don’t think 1g per serving in a sausage is going to derail you, but if you eat it regularly and you’re not seeing results, it’s one of the things I’d put on the chopping block.

        Tea is totally fine as long as it’s not mix. So the bags that steep should be no problem. Coffee is also totally fine. Black is best, but up to 2 Tbsp is allowed in case you just can’t take it. But I always say if you can’t drink it black, you probably need better coffee. 🙂


        • Thank you so much!

          I’ll look into making my own sausage to have at breakfast, or maybe just some ground pork with spices.

          Had black coffee this morning, it wasn’t terrible, and definitely worth it to just omit the dairy all together.

          One last question, what are your thoughts on spring mix greens, are these ok? Salads are my go to for work usually.

          Thanks again!! 🙂

  27. One of the top ingredients in Oyster Sauce is sugar – how is it 4HB compliant?

    • Good call, Hank. Might be an oversight on my part. I’ll look into it. Thanks for pointing that out!


    • I did some digging around, and I found this on Tim’s blog, specific to slow-carb:

      If you like spicy foods, a bottle of Cholula or Sriracha will be indispensable. Oyster sauce is great for lovers of Thai food.

      It sorta flies in the face of avoiding sugars, since sriracha and oyster sauce have them. I think the danger is in the dose. You’re not going to be using a lot of it, so it’s not going to damage your results. But I’d also add that it’s one of those things that if you start to feel like you’re not getting results and everything else is dialed, start being real careful about the added sugar.


  28. So no sugar in my coffee? Not even stevia?

    • Hey Angella,

      Correct – no sugar in your coffee. Actual stevia would probably be OK, but the problem is real stevia is very hard to find. Any white powder is probably not actually stevia. Things like Truvia are not Stevia. You can find liquid extracts that are legit, but I haven’t found one in the US.

      What really works well, and what Tim Ferriss recommends in the book and in other places, is cinnamon. I was surprised at how my coffee tasted sweet when I added cinnamon.


      • Have you looked into sweetleaf stevia? I found this and it seems to be legit organic stevia. What do you think?

        • The only stevia that’s legit is the stuff that’s made only from the actual stevia leaf. Sweetleaf is stevia extract and inulin, and while their website says it’s OK, I’d still go with one that ONLY has stevia extract and nothing else.


  29. Homemade caesar dressing? Here’s what I put into it—

    1 rib celery
    1 small onion
    1 garlic clove
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    2 tbsp yellow mustard
    1 tbsp white vinegar
    3 eggs
    2 cups olive oil

    Didn’t have any anchovies lying around, but it tastes good without them.

    Can you find a problem with anything in this recipe? Thanks!

    Also- is spring mix lettuce allowed?

  30. Do I need to count calories on the 4HB? I haven’t started yet….still gathering my information, but wondered if on top of my meal choices do they need to be within my suggested caloric intake for my size. I’m a small female at 5′ and don’t have any extra room for extra calories on my small frame.

    • Hi Toby,

      You’ll likely find that you naturally eat fewer calories on 4HB, and part of the whole culture of the eating style is not to count calories. I’m robust dude, and when I would track my food, I was barely getting to 2000 without trying.

      The other thing is not all calories are created equal. Our bodies treat 100 calories of bread way differently than 100 calories of avocado, for example. So even if you’re eating more than the “recommendation” for your frame, think about where the recommendation came from, and what its calories consist of.

      And finally, you may find that testing and tweaking gets you to your sweet spot. So find the right portion sizes and food “ratios” (for lack of a better term) that work for you.

      As always, let me know if you have any questions!


  31. Hey, a lot of nice tips!! 🙂
    I took upon 30 – day challenge doing the Slow Carb Diet, in addition in my Sibling Duo Blog you will find tips, recipes and a description of the slow carb diet. I deal with many other interesting topics. Have a nice day !!

  32. Kathy Fryslie says

    I’m 75, and have loved the idea of slow carb dieting. Have needed to get down about 15-20 lbs for some time, and this is absolutely effective and easy!! I love all kinds of vegetables and don’t get tired of the same food for more than one meal. If I fix my husband a wrap, I just put the ingredients on my plate w/o the wrap, zap it and it’s delicious. Have latched on to spices to help relieve the blah-ness of some veggies. For brkfst I saute my pre-prepped veggies (jalapenos, sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, actually whatever I have on hand) in a little coconut oil, then pour in 2 scrambled eggs (from the farm) and stir. I love it w/ various seasonings – it’s a different dish w/ the different seasonings. Salads are my go to when we eat out, which isn’t very often. That free day just makes it easier and when I’m religious w/ it (life interferes sometimes) I find I don’t enjoy the free days as much…not as “necessary”. Thanks for the blog, it makes life easier.

  33. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for the list and all of the clarification. What differentiates chick peas from other beans? I have been eating all sorts of bean varietals thinking beans are beans…is that correct? There are tons of eclectic beans that come dry. As examples that are common, Lima and flagoulet.

    Thanks again,


    • Honestly, Anthony, I’m not sure. From what I’ve read chickpeas have either less fiber or more sugar or something than other beans. The glycemic load is higher than other legumes, but not much. Maybe hummus is the real domino food because it’s already processed and you can eat a ton of it. Personally I don’t sweat chickpeas too much, and I can control my hummus intake, so it doesn’t bother me. As far as I know, beans really are just beans.


  34. hi
    You have peas in the veggies section but they are legumes, so can I have for example…beef, onions, zucchini and garden peas? I struggle with beans.

    • Yes, that’s totally fine. Don’t stress too much over which category a food is in and making sure you only have one from each. Allow your meals to use any ingredient in any list and keep a variety! 🙂


  35. On the wiki page it says cottage cheese is okay because it is high in protein and low in carbs. Is it really an exception to the strict “no dairy” policy of the diet?

    • Hi Athena,

      Cottage cheese in the book is the only dairy other than a bit of heavy cream in your coffee that’s OK in slow-carb. Most people still tread lightly with it, but Tim Ferriss did say it was OK. I think he was saying his mom needed something, and she used cottage cheese. It’s got to do with how it’s made, I think, that keeps it OK. And it’s really useful for vegetarians who are on slow-carb as a protein source.


      • Thanks for the clarification Jason. I’ve seen other sites deeming apples and brown rice (and even oatmeal) as exceptions. But I’m not so sure about those…

  36. I noticed in the book that the Chipolte lunch/dinner it lists sour cream? Is that really okay?

    • Hey Cindy,

      I’m surprised, but if it’s in one of the Slow-carb chapters, that’s where I’d go for my answer too. I’m definitely going to take a look again.


  37. Hi. I am curious about the foods that are ok unless fat loss is the goal, like carrots. My goal is definitely fat loss, and I am just wondering if add butternut squash to a recipe once in a while, am I ruining everything? I am enjoying this diet and cook from scratch all the time but still have difficulties keeping up a good variety. I really struggle with eating the same things all the time. I guess ultimately I am wondering if it’s ok to add those foods once in a while, potentially in place of a serving of legumes?

    • Hey Carly,

      Once in a while some squash isn’t going to be deleterious. As long as once in a while isn’t every few days, I guess. 🙂 And definitely, if you use squash or something similar, don’t use legumes.


  38. hi
    Great list! I’m wondering about nut milks. I’ve made homemade batches that are just soaked almonds and water, blended and strained. I imagine this would be ok once in a while? Would it be acceptable to use almond milk as a base for a dairy free white sauce where I thicken it with a plant based thickener like agar or xanthan gum?

  39. Hi Again
    I also have a question about legumes. Pigeon peas (gandules) are a favorite in Latin cooking but it’s not on the list. Is it safe to assume that legumes in general are acceptable even if every single possible variety isn’t mentioned on the list?

    • Hi Alex,

      Should be fine. I’d never heard of them, so that’s why they’re not on the list. All legumes are fine on slow-carb, as far as I know.


  40. Wondering why you have soy sauce listed, when the majority of soy sauces contain wheat? I always go for wheat free Tamari or Coconut Aminos. Also, I found other sites that say Coconut Milk is not okay, yet I love using Coconut Milk (especially to make cauliflower mash with)

    • Because it’s in the 4 Hour Body, and that’s the main source the slow-carb stuff comes from here. I’d use wheat free tamari or coconut aminos myself, but they’re not as easy to come by as soy sauce.

      As for coconut milk, it’s a split party. Here’s my take: it’s a fat, not a carb. We’re also not using much of it anyway, more as an additive like we would butter or oil. I would never recommend using coconut milk as a beverage replacement for cow’s milk (aside from it being super thick), but it’s totally fine as a condiment.


  41. Hey Jason, one question: are we allowed to eat mixed vegetables in our meals or we just have to choose only one vegetable from the list? is it ok for example if i have my protein choice, my legume choice and a lettuce + tomatoe + onion salad for the veggie part of the equation? thank you so much!

  42. Is corn ok? And what about regular bacon?

    • Hey Steve,

      Corn is out, regular bacon is in! You’ll find corn in a few of Tim’s recipes, but only because they’re in some things he purchases, like black bean salsa and the mixed veggies with peas, carrots, corn, lima beans, etc. But don’t use a bag of just corn, no corn on the cob, no corn tortillas/chips, etc.


  43. Mike Smullin says

    I have found huge list of zero & low carb foods in andriod play store. It has 2k plus food items with zero carb.
    you will really found it useful.

    • This could be useful, but it’s important to note that SCD is NOT a low-carb diet, it’s a “proper carb” diet. Carbs aren’t the enemy. Only certain carbs are.


  44. Tim Cupschalk says

    Jason… Thanks for the list… Curious – is there a restriction on homemade mayonnaise? if not, it can definitely be used / complemented by spices as a veggie dip or salad dressing (for those tired of v&o all the time)…

    • Hey Tim,

      I think you’d have a hard time eating enough for it to be a problem. That stuff will fill you up! 🙂 Go for it, and if you start to see diminishing results and everything else is fine, you may have hit your calorie limit for your body.


  45. Sriracha is ok? The second ingredient is sugar.

    • I noticed that too. Tim Ferriss talks about using sriracha in his book as a condiment. There’s likely not enough in what most people use to even care about. It’s not like barbecue sauce where you can eat several tablespoons of it at a time.


  46. Thanks for your post of the 4HB slow carb diet list of foods. I’ve been on the slow carb diet about 4 weeks now (thank god for cheat days!) and I’m down 5 lbs so far. As you mentioned, though, it is easy to get bored with the food choices, and having your list printed on the fridge helps me more easy visualize what combinations I can throw together.

  47. hi…thanks so much for posting this info! Meat does not appeal to me so I was hoping I could get my protein from vital wheat gluten. there are 75 grams of protein in 100 grams of wheat gluten. 14 g of carbs, .6 g fiber, 0 sugar. Do you know if this is approved or can you suggest how I could find out? Thank you soooooooooooooo much!!

    • Hi Elle,

      I’d imagine, since gluten in wheat is the biggest no no there is in human diets, that getting your protein from that would not be a good idea unless they do something to it that makes it different from eating a piece of bread. I’d go with something like eggs, cottage cheese, or beans way before I went with wheat gluten. I’m going to eventually write a post on 4HB as a vegetarian, but in the mean time check out the Meatless Machine chapter of The 4 Hour Body.


  48. Hi Jason,

    Thanks a lot for this list. I’m a newbie in 4HB diet, so still figuring out what kind of 4HB approved foods that suitable for my taste buds. Especially since I came from Asian background, I used to flavorful meals; so I got to be a bit more creative in prepping my meals.

    Anyway, a question, are long bean and salted egg 4HB approved? I looked up the nutrition facts, they seemed OK.. Although particularly for salted egg, I might need to go easy, because of the calories. Your thoughts?


    • Hey Nia,

      It sounds like “long bean and salted egg” is a prepared dish, and I’m not sure what’s in it. But if it’s pretty much a green bean or maybe bean sprout and eggs, then you’re good to go. 4HB is not a calorie restrictive diet at all, so don’t think of something being good or bad because of how many calories it has. Think of what the dish contains. If it’s got sugar, flour, lots of milk (coconut milk or heavy cream is usually OK), and things like that, then you either have to figure out how to make it without that stuff or not eat it.

      If that doesn’t help, describe to me what long bean and salted egg is and I’ll answer your question better. 🙂


  49. Hi Jason. You are a lifesaver. thank you for all the time/hard work that went into this. I had a ton of questions .. and thanks to everyone’s contributions – they were ALL answered. The only comment / request (and I hope I’m not alone here..) is, have you ever considered creating a Vegetarian or Pescetarian (fish) list / site? It seems more and more people are avoiding meat, especially red meat these days. thank you. Sara

  50. Question..there is a new product from Tolerent that is Lentil Organic Pasta – all varieties. the ingredients are just lentils..nothing else added. Would it be allowed in small quantities?

    How many ingredients in the TOLERANT
    Pasta Shaped Legume line?
    A: There is only one single ingredient, and it is either certified organic, non–GMO
    Red Lentils or certified organic, non –GMO Black Beans.

  51. Hi! Amazing list, thank you! I was wondering if you had any thoughts on exactly how much oil we should be allowing ourselves to keep up weight loss?

    5ml per meal, 20ml per meal, 4 times a day? I like to grill my meat with a little oil, and then use it to dress my salads or vegetables, but I’m wondering where the limit it, and is it causing my diet to stall the same way nuts would. I can find little mention of oil and amounts in the book.


    • Hey Alex,

      You just need to shift the way you think about what affects weight loss negatively. Fat (oil) is not one of those things. In all honesty, I’d rather get my calories from oils than legumes. I’ll say this, though, if you are measuring oil then you’re being too rigid. You won’t be able to stomach enough to cause a stall in weight loss.

      If you’re experiencing a stall, it’s possible you’re actually not eating enough, or perhaps you’re eating too many legumes and not getting enough veg and protein. But food isn’t the only thing that can stall fat loss. Exercise (too much), not enough sleep, stress, they all can as well.


  52. Can i ise millet in slow carb diet

  53. Will 2 “full” glasses of red wine affect my weight loss? Also, what does everyone put in their coffee since we cant have dairy (except on our cheat day). Just started today.

    • It could affect your weight loss, yes, if you do it every day.

      If you can’t drink black coffee (I couldn’t before, but now I use good coffee and brew it well so it’s pretty delicious black), then use heavy cream – from grass-fed cows if possible. It’s mostly fat, and it’s the sugar and in some cases proteins in dairy that cause problems. Dairy fat is fine.


  54. Hello,
    What is the verdict regarding tomatoes? Are we allowed to eat as many as we want or only in moderation?

  55. I see sweet potatoes on the list. Conventional wisdom is SP are “healthy.” However, Tim mentions concerns about fructose in 4hb. SP have a fair amount of fructose. Is the fructose avoidance a general aside or is it one of the reasons slow carb works?

    • Hey Cody,

      Sweet potatoes are there in maintenance mode, and I’ve also heard Tim Ferriss say that sweet potatoes are a “slowly digested carbohydrate”. He gave an example at a talk of how to make a slow-carb treat using sweet potatoes, chocolate powder, and peanut butter.

      So I’m still on the fence with them. You’re probably good with sweet potatoes once in a while, and I wouldn’t eat legumes if I also had sweet potatoes in a meal. But if you start to see a slowdown in progress, and everything else is spot on, they’d be the next place I do some more tweaking and take them out to see if that moves the needle again.


  56. Hello,
    What about tahini? Is it a friend or a foe?

    • Greg Skyles says

      Check the ingredients…IF it’s just sesame seed, lemon juice and garlic (which is how I make tahini), then you can see from the list above that it falls into the “fats/oils/nuts” category; OK if used sparingly. Some prepared tahinis have sugar and/or starches added to them, which would be a no-no.

  57. Hi Jason,
    Another question if you may – I tend to consume a lot of lemon juice. Is that legit? Can I consume as much as I want? If not, what is the preferable amount?


    • Francois Lachance says

      Yes, 1 lemon per liter of water is acceptable and even recommended especially on an empty stomach…
      I’m celebrating my first year anniversary on the diet and lost 48 pounds on the scale (and reduce my body fat percent from 35 to 22)

  58. Is sweet corn allowed ?

    • No, corn is a starch, like a potato, rather than a vegetable. You may find it in mixed veggies, so a few kernels won’t really do damage, but on its own it’s not “allowed”.


  59. Can you have granola ?

  60. Becca Gilgan says

    Hi Jason!

    I love your list, it helped me so much the first time I tried slow carb, and I’m about to dive in again!

    I think the recipes in the slow carb cookbook pdf look great, but I’m slightly confused as there are several recipes with “not allowed” foods, such as carrot or corn, among others! Why is that? Because it’s from a paleo diet, not slow carb? What’s your opinion about making those recipes? Cook them but take out the not allowed foods? (Seems like a simple answer, but I’m just curious how flexible one could be with those recipes.) Thank you!

    • Hey Becca, Tim Ferriss himself created the cookbook, so I take it with the same trust as I take the books he’s written. I know he’s OK with corn as a garnish, not like chowing down on 10 ears or plowing through a bag of corn tortillas. I know he’s OK with mixed veggies, which in addition to green beans and lima beans usually has carrots and corn. But it’s not much.

      For some things, it’s that it’s used as a garnish or condiment rather than an ingredient. Think of it that way.

      So feel free to use the recipes in Tim’s cookbook as they are!


  61. Hello. Just starting. I’m used to drinking my coffee with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. But seeing you recommend grass fed heavy cream… That sounds delicious! But I’m having trouble believing heavy cream is better than almond milk or coconut milk. Do you really advise the switch? Thanks.

    • Hey Valeska,

      Yes – if you’re having trouble getting calories or are lactose intolerant. We’ve been programmed to believe that low fat and low calorie is healthier for us, and that’s just not true. If you’re eating enough, of the three use what you like the best. 🙂

      Regarding the carbs, your point is a really good one for everyone to consider. No, this is not a zero carb and zero sugar diet. One serving of black beans has 4g sugar. It’s different than added sugar, obviously. You should be OK with the shake in terms of sugar, but just make sure the other ingredients are good too. Lots of things can have a “paleo” label, which is why a lot of bloggers and trainers I’ve followed for years who follow “paleo” stopped using the term. I can’t tell what’s in it from their website.

      Thanks for the questions!

  62. Is there a minimal level of carbs/sugar that is ok? For example I just realized my coconut milk paleo cave shake has 5 grams of carbs per serving & three grams of sugar. Tho is has no added sugar, only organic stevia. Are we only going for true zero for carbs and sugar? Or is there a low # that is ok? Thank you.

  63. What do you think about sprouted grain breads like Ezekiel bread? Its glycemic index is 35, I think.

  64. Rose Devitt says

    Hi Jason,

    First let me say thank you for such a wonderful resource! My husband and I are starting this week and have really enjoyed your blog so far!

    I apologize if you have answered this before, but I have done a lot of searching and cannot find a direct answer about peanuts and peanut butter.

    While I do know they are a legume technically and I think they are a little higher in sugar than other nuts maybe, I am just curious if they are allowed or not? I would only be using it as an emergency snack or maybe a Tbsp here and there throughout the week for some fat.

    Any help on this would be appreciated 🙂 thank you!

  65. Hi Jason. Just started following this diet a few days ago. I know salmon is on the list, however is smoked salmon also good? (I’ve recently starting adding this to my morning breakfast together with my egg)
    Also, I go to the gym 3 times a week and usually drink powdered isolate whey protein with water after my session. I’m not 100% sure where the 4HB diet stands on protein shakes as I’ve read conflicting answers. What is your take.

  66. VicFromTuesday says

    I clicked the PDF link and I see Peanut Butter on that list. The list on this website doesn’t. I’m confused and it would be great if you could clarify this.

  67. Thank you for the list. FYI, coconut oil is missing from the .pdf version of your list.

  68. Is there any slow carb carb source in powder form that could be mixed into a liquid meal replacement instead of the usual oats or corn starch etc.?
    Coconut flour? Flaxseed powder? other? A mix of different ones?
    Lentil flour is not an option as far as I know as it can’t be digested uncooked.

    I know you shouldn’t drink calories.
    Yet I simply can’t eat in the morning. Therefore I came accross the loquid meal replacement community, aka Soylent and others.

    There’s also a large DIY community, where people mix all kinds of recipes according to their dietary needs. There’s plenty of keto and low carb recipes, yet no SLOW one.

    You would really make my day if you could push me into the right direction, been searching for ages!

    • So I’m not sure how to answer your question because I’m unfamiliar with this DIY meal replacement approach. There is a protein shake I recommend, but if you’re simply looking for a DIY option, I’d say flaxseed or chia, coconot flour could work too, I guess. Maybe peanut or almond butter? Why does it need to have a carb source, though? I’d say a keto or low carb recipe would be just fine. You don’t *need* to have carbohydrates. The point for carbs on SCD is to eat enough calories. You can do that through adding fat rather than carbohydrate.

      I’m not sure if I answered your question, but I’m not sure I understood it perfectly either. 🙂


      • Hi Jason,

        thanks a lot for your reply!
        The difference from keto or low carb to SCD is it’s option to also fill yourself up with slow carbs instead of reducing carbs all the way.
        As I’m planning to replace a meal here and there with a liquid meal, I’d love to obtain a powderish slow carb source that could do the job of my beloved legumes in a regular meal.

        I’m coming from low carb/keto which didn’t really work for me. I really need the slow carbs to keep me energized, probably also since i’m doing a lot of sports.

        Does that help clarifying? Would you still recommend the above flaxseed or chia, coconot flour?
        One in particular? A mix of those?

        For nuts it’s always said to limit intake cause of the density in calories and fat – is that what you mean with your maybe?

        Thanks once more!

  69. I see that nut butters are on the list. So is there a particular brand of nut butter that is acceptable? The peanut butter I have been eyeballing seems like it would have too much sugar in it. I wont keep it in the house if its a no go, as I might be sabotaging myself unknowingly.

    • Hi Lori,

      No, no brand specifically. Just pick a natural butter (the kind that has the oil floating on the top) and you should be good. “Sugar” on a package when it’s not in the ingredients list is just natural sugars. The ones you want to avoid are the ones they have to add to the ingredients.

      Hope that helps!

  70. Only been doing this for a week. The week prior to finding the book (4hb) on my own I dropped sugar, gluten and dairy. ( Except vanilla Greek yogurt – small amounts.) I was eating quinoa. Lost 4 pounds. Then I discovered the book and it is becoming torture :/ refried beans made me want to vomit, lentils I thought I was tolerating (ate yesterday each meal then tried for breakfast. Had to toss the rest in the garbage or would be vomiting :/
    Pure water instead of poop. I am definitely not sick, it’s the lentils. Feeling very frustrated.
    I will look more at the book but can’t seem to figure out what to do :/
    ( I bought sprouted lentils. Rinsed them. Cooked in water with salt and pepper. The refried were from a can. Both have a texture like powdery mud :/ What to do?
    Can’t seem to understand how many calories etc. Must have missed that section in the book. It is mentioned here beans are adding calories. Need to eat enough calories. Confused. Ty in advance!!!!

  71. Heather Pollard says

    Thank you for the list !! Is cream in tea ok once a day? As well as diet pop?

    • Hey Heather – sure, a little heavy cream is OK. But actual cream, not “coffee creamer”. 🙂 And the book allows for one can of diet pop a day. But personally I’d start moving away from diet sodas in general. Artificial sweeteners still mess with your body, insulin response in particular, and that’s the hormone you want to get under control to have sustaining fat loss.

  72. Diane Dolansky says

    You may have already addressed this question, but, if so, I didn’t see it. How much fat are we allowed in a day? I use a bit of butter for my eggs at breakfast, vinaigrette at lunch on my salad, sometimes a small amount of mayo in egg or tuna salad, and a small amount of oil to prepare dinner.

    • Hi Diane – there’s no practical limit to fat. The way you’re using it you’ll be fine. In theory you’d be able to consume more fat than will be helpful to fat loss, but that would be kinda hard for most people. You’re fine. 🙂

  73. Adam Roberts says

    Cucumbers are definitely acceptable. 15 on the GI index, which is what Tim Ferries based the slow-carb diet on.

  74. Chris Williams says

    Are sweet peas acceptable? Nutrition says 6g sugar. Ingredients says peas. Nothing else on ingredient list.

  75. Hello! Are beets and/or carrots not allowed? I don’t see on your list, but don’t know why they would not be allowed. PS: Thank you for putting this together – VERY helpful!!

    • I think they should be OK, and I guess most root vegetables are not allowed because how carb-rich they are. Potatoes, for example. However, I’m probably OK with colorful roots like carrots and beets.

  76. Hi there, I’m wondering about Organic dark chocolate in the 85% range…is that allowable in small quantities or only on cheat days?? Thanks in advance!

  77. Hi I’m new to this slow carb diet and I was wondering if celeriac is okay? ?
    Also is it ok to have a breakfast of home made granola which only has almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds ,sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds in it ??
    Thanks in advance. Marie

    • Hi Marie,

      Celeriac should be OK as well as your home made granola. If that’s all it has (and no sweetener as a binder) you’re good eating a portion of that. It’d be easy for me to eat too much of it, though, so be careful there.


  78. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for the detailed list! It’s very useful. I would be happy if you could expand on the recommended quantity of the following foods:
    Green peas
    Almonds and other nuts

    Thank you!

    • Hi ETG,

      The only two I’d specifically have to limit are probably tahini and nuts. A handful or two of nuts in a day is OK. Eating a whole bag isn’t. Tahini should be used as a condiment (not a dip, for example) or an ingredient in a larger dish.


  79. Hello!
    This list is amazing. Thanks so much for putting it together. I did the SCD almost 10 years ago and had great success. I am coming back to it and so much has changed. I am wondering what your thoughts are on sugar alcohols like erythritol? As far as I can tell the GI is quite low (1), but I wanted to reach out to someone that seems to know what they are talking about. Thanks!

    • Hey Melissa,

      I don’t have a huge problem with erythritol itself, but the way most people use it is to make desserts. We really should get out of the dessert habit. It just makes it harder to stay away from sugar in general.


  80. Hi Jason,

    Any particular reason swede/Rutabaga (depending on what part of the world you are from) is not on the list?

    • Hey Dan,

      Mostly because it’s not a common root veggie in my vernacular. 🙂 I’d probably put it in the same category as beets, parsnips, and squash. They’re OK, but if you have one don’t use legumes that meal.

  81. Hi Jason,

    I like drinking Malbec on my non-cheat days. Is that allowed?
    What other kinds of red wines are OK?


  82. Hi Jason,

    Really helpfull list and comment responses!

    I know beer is called out as a “no go”, but Tim F doesn’t drink beer and may have never tested it!

    So, if one-two glasses of certain red wines work then wondering if you know whether anyone’s succeeded with moderate beer drinking instead of wine?

  83. Hi,

    What about non-black coffee? Like instant coffee, for example, the Golden Blend with Arabica coffee.


  84. Hi Jason,

    Several questions. I’m on WW right now and tired of counting. I lost 15 pounds but now it stopped for months. I’m 160 lb and just want to loose 20 more. I’m thinking this will be ideal diet for me because Whole Foods and lower carbs and cheat days to boost up metabolism. I’m pretty literal about nutrition. But here some niches I need to clarify about the SCD.
    1. Is lentil (processed in blender) with coconut yogurt and eggs, ok? It’s a bread recipe.
    2. I have an other bread recipe with hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxmeal, coconut or almond flour, eggs and coconut yogurt. You think this will be ok for diet days?
    3. Cheat days, can you eat anything really and still loose weight? Pizza, burger, Ice cream etc. not all in one meal of course, lol.
    4. All cheese are no go as I see except cottage cheese. How about small amount of feta cheese. I’m Mediterranean, it’s my weakness. But if not it’s ok, I can always have that in my cheat days I guess.

    • Hi Dr. Soy.
      1. Not sure what’s in the coconut yogurt. That would make or break it.
      2. Again, coconut yogurt is the key here.
      3. One day of cheating with 6 days of strict compliance, you will lose weight. It sounds weird, but when you see it work you’ll be in.
      4. I don’t totally understand the cottage cheese allowance, other than Tim says he added it because his mom really wanted it, and it has something to do with how it’s made vs a cheese like cheddar. Maybe compare the two and see. Worst case, you give it a shot and see whether a little bit for flavor hurts or not.


  85. Thanks for the list! just what I needed!

  86. Hello,

    Is baking soda allowed? (my soda water contains it).


Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.