The Slow-Carb Diet Food List

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Is this allowed on 4HB?

That’s one of the most famous questions you’ll hear if you do any digging for info about the 4 Hour Body and slow carb diets.

It might even be one of the biggest questions you have.

Because food is somewhat a passion of mine, I understand that people don’t want to just stick to the few that everyone talks about. I even have a whole page dedicated to recipes using 4HB-friendly foods.

The list below is pretty much how you find it in the book, so it’s great if you want to be a literalist. I’ve also put together a fairly exhaustive list of slow-carb foods, very highly researched and cross-referenced with everything Tim Ferriss has put out (that I could find) with food in it. You can find the extensive slow-carb food list here.

The Slow-Carb Diet Food List

You’ll find the first answer to this question around page 90 (depending on your edition). There’s a list of 16 foods, and your meals should include one thing from each of the three types of food.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but really with just those foods, you can make over 160 different meals (nearly 2 months) without repeating one. Start by asking yourself this question: do you eat 160 meals before repeating one?

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

The list in the book is pretty small, sure, but it certainly was never meant to be exclusive.

Other foods not on the list

Although you can limit your diet to just the foods in that list, I don’t believe you have to. In fact, I lose weight eating foods that aren’t explicitly on the list but are definitely included in the categories.

Tim says lean meats, but it’s OK if it’s not. Judging by some of his comments about organic vs. not organic, it seems like his concern is less in the fat of the cut and more the non-organic materials that make their ways into the fat.

These are the tricky ones, but only because people might not know what a legume is (although if you’ve been on this diet for three days you are *well* acquainted with them).

One legume I added when I wanted to eat more asian food that usually has noodles was the mung bean sprout. Mung sprouts are the thicker ones (I believe the stringy sprouts are soy).

You can also try adding soy nuts once in a while. They will give a nice crunch to a salad, and now that I think about it maybe even a vegetable dish. I’ll have to try that.

Let’s be clear: broccoli and cauliflower are vegetables; corn and potatoes are not.

Other veggies I eat that aren’t on the list: summer squash, cucumbers & zucchini, tomatoes (especially in salsa), eggplant, onions, peppers, bok choy, and spaghetti squash.

Other stuff
Despite what it says about artificial sweeteners, you’ll also find sugar-free Jell-O listed as OK, specifically for your late-night hunger pangs. No more than 12oz of diet soda a day is also approved.

One of my favorite go-to snacks is natural peanut butter. Jiff and Skippy are not on this list. Smucker’s makes a really good natural peanut butter, but my favorite is Archer Farms (I think that’s the Target brand). When I get hungry between meals, I will eat a tablespoon or two of peanut butter. Make sure yours has at most two ingredients: peanuts and salt.

Other handy snack options are various seeds, like pumpkin and watermelon, and nuts. Be careful with these guys though, because they are very calorie-dense.

The grey areas

One of my more recent discoveries is cottage cheese. Yes, the majority of the book says to avoid dairy period, but if you read closely you’ll see that Tim says there’s something about cottage cheese that doesn’t have the same effect as milk and other cheeses. Some people say that he said to eat it in moderation, but I haven’t found that yet. In “The Slow-Carb Diet II” chapter, about breakfasts he says “cottage cheese, my mother’s preference, is also a fine addition”.

We can also have clarified butter.

Something I think is kind of confusing is that in some places he says that tofu is not “allowed” because of the way it’s made. However, there’s another list he has for “good slow-carb options” for potassium, and he lists tofu. Soybeans and sprouts are always OK.

I want to finish this post with something that Tim Ferriss himself has promoted: Test things out. If you’re wondering, try it for a week and see how the results work for you.

If you’ve found slow-carb friendly foods that I haven’t listed here, please add to the list in the comments!


Related Posts:


  1. The common thing that I have heard about dairy (Mark Sisson and Chris Kesser) is that if you are not sick then moderate amounts of full fat dairy are OK. In terms of fat loss you have to keep this to a minimum, and you must use high quality, organic, grass fed etc.

    I should do a tubers vs legumes post. Personally sweet potatoes, taro and other tubers I find work better than legumes.

    • Yes, you should! I am thinking about testing out sweet potato instead of beans a couple times a week to see if it changes anything. I’ve lately started eating less beans/lentils and my weight goes down quicker that way. My hunger doesn’t always, though. πŸ˜‰


  2. I’m wondering if Bell Peppers are included in the approved list, along with green onions?

  3. I have been wondering about almond milk and whether it can be used in place of dairy? It’s unsweetened, 1 cup 40 calories, 0 sugar, 1 protien, 2 g carb. I prefer to either add to coffee or make a smoothie with it.

    • Joanne, I have occasionally used almond milk as an additive. I wouldn’t use it to replace daily glasses of milk, but I’ve added it to coffee. ps, it doesn’t add well to coffee. πŸ˜‰

      Another milk I’ve used a lot lately is coconut milk. Full fat, unsweetened coconut milk is great! I use it in curries, and you can even whip it (more or less). It tastes better, in my opinion, in coffee than almond milk does.

      But with both of these, make sure you’re definitely getting unsweetened, but ALSO make sure it doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners.


      • Hi. I have been making chia seed pudding with almond milk to eat when my family eats their dessert. (1 cup almond milk, 2 tbsps chia seeds, 2 tbsps shredded coconut and some cinnamon. Mix and let sit 30 minutes for the chia seeds to swell.) I have lost weight so far, but should I stop due to the almond milk? I am eating about 1-2 of these puddings a day. Thank you so much.

        • Hi Kat,

          It’s probably not a big deal. The tricky part with almond milk is you just have to make sure it doesn’t have anything extra in it. If you’ve still seeing results, then don’t worry about it. A cup a day isn’t going to do damage if it’s JUST almond milk. If you were drinking it like most people drink milk, I’d keep an eye on my results.


          • Hi. I just wanted to post an update in case this helps anyone. I switched out the almond milk for unsweetened coconut milk in my chia seed pudding. It tastes much better, and my weight reduced a bit more then usual. So I do think it made a difference.

  4. dan doherty says

    ive been on this diet for 2 months ive lost 24 lbs. i eat cottage cheese everyday (3 cups) for the protein & it doesnt hinder my weight loss

  5. What do you think about soy milk?

    • Alex, personally I stay away from it. First off, it’s hard to find a soy milk that doesn’t have a lot of extra sugar in it. Second, processed soy products are generally not recommended on the slow-carb diet except soy beans themselves. Tim specifically mentions soy milk as something to stay away from when he talks about not drinking calories. He has other issues with soy and their estrogenetic (is that a word?) properties. I haven’t done any research on that myself, but I’ll take his word for it.


  6. Q1) I’ve switched from Adkins to 4HB. Hate to toss food – can any of the shakes or bars be used in 4HB?
    Q2) I was able to snack of 2-4 oz sunflower seeds (roasted & salted). Can I do this on 4HB it’s my watch TV quiest time fix.

    • Hey Marci! Thanks for stopping by!

      1) Some of them probably can. What you’ll need to look out for is soy protein and a lot of sweeteners. Even though they’d be non-sugar sweeteners, part of the point of slow-carb and 4HB is to avoid processed foods.

      I just checked out some of the Advantage products, and after a quick glance, I probably wouldn’t use them. The shakes: sure, they don’t have very many grams of carbohydrate, but they’re almost entirely dairy. The bars look like they use soy products as well, which aren’t that great when it’s not in the form of edamame.

      Bottom line: if you’ve only got a little, just toss it. If you can sell it, try that. Or give it to someone who might be on Adkins. You want to stay away from processed anyway. Those types of bars are generally just junk food disguised as healthy food anyway.

      2. I don’t see a problem with snacking on sunflower seeds. You can do it, but if you really want to kick some bad food habits, eventually you could try stopping. There’s almost nothing more mindless than eating sunflower seeds, and while they do take work to eat, they help reinforce bad habits with food. I love them too, so I know what you mean! I’ve had to be very intentional with not eating while watching TV.

      Welcome aboard! And thanks for the questions! I hope I helped.

      • Hi, I think sunflower seeds are super healthy, they have lots of protein and very little carbs, their nutritional value is close to that of almonds, highly recommended by Tim. So I really don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t eat them. And if you enjoy snacking something healthy while watching TV, like sunflower seeds or carrots, then you don’t need to make things extra difficult for yourself, as long as you stick to the rules the diet should work. Of course watching less TV can help you get much more productive, but that’s an altogether different topic.

        • Hi Mirjam,

          I didn’t mean to suggest that sunflower seeds aren’t OK. It was the mindlessness part. I’m a huge eat-when-I’m-bored kinda guy, and it’s really not a good idea. Part of getting control over the food you eat is eating intentionally. It’s too easy to overdo things like nuts and seeds if you just munch on them while doing something like watching TV. Veggies are harder to overeat mindlessly, though. πŸ™‚


        • The only concern about the sunflower seed are if they are salted. I eat about a half a cup a day of unsalted sunflower seeds as my morning snack and I love them. I buy the unshelled bag at Aldi’s along with unsalted cashews. Filling a delish! Then I have a salad with tuna and or eggs for lunch. Chicken and steam broccoli or fish with a veggie. I work out about 20 mins every other day. Been on the slow carb plan for about a week and lost 5 lbs. So exciting. I love the post it has helped me so much. Keep up the great work. Cheers!

  7. Thanks Jason. All the information was extremely helpful. I’ll have to find a home for the Adkins. The sunflower seeds I’ll have to remember to limit ONLY reason is that they help with osteo-arthritis – can’t find another mico-nutrient that’s so effect on this issue.
    How did you develope your additional information – reading (give book names if possible) or just an accumulation of experiences? If, is information I can obtain please let me know the sources.

    THANKS – THANKS – THANKS and once more THANKS

  8. Can you eat black eyed peas? Also on the 4HB can you drink grapefruit juice with sugar or other fruit juices for the preventative juice on the cheat day? I wasn’t sure because it is a cheat day after all? Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Hi Anna,

      Black eyed peas are fine; they’re legumes. Now for the fruit juices, the grapefruit juice trick has not really much to do with the fact that it’s a juice. It’s because of something in the citrus of the grapefruit (lemon juice does the same thing). Why you’d add sugar to ruin a perfectly good grapefruit juice is beyond me. πŸ˜‰ So technically, sure – drink all the fruit juice you want including sugared grapefruit juice on your cheat day, but know that it does nothing for “damage control”.


  9. grumpy realist says

    I’ve cheated a little by using yams in stews (trust me, you need some form of potato in a Hungarian goulash–all lentils/beans would have turned it into something that could be used to spackle walls) but as long as it’s not that much (1 small yam) to lotsa (1 cup dried) lentils + 1/2 cup dried beans I feel ok. Yams supposedly don’t have a high glycemic load, anyway.

    The other ingredient I’d suggest stocking up on is sea veggies. I’m wondering whether there’s an iodine lack problem for some of us and throwing in a handful of wakame or similar should help.

    • You know, I use sweet potatoes as well on occasion. Some people will yell at me for it, but I’ve combined the knowledge I’ve gotten from 4HB with info from Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson. Being aware of what you’re eating and how much of the starchy carby stuff is what’s important IMHO.

      Thanks for the comment, grumpy realist!


  10. Great article, I really enjoyed it and thought it was spot on, except one minor detail. You said that you eat watermelon as a snack. That is 100% off the 4hb diet. the attached link shows the high amounts of sugar in it (which is what we are ultimately trying to avoid eating as a snack). Other than that, great advice!

    • Hey Mark, thanks for the note! In the article I said watermelon *seeds* are a handy snack, not watermelon itself. πŸ™‚ I rewrote the sentence so it’s more clear.


  11. I have just started the 4HB diet. For one I was always hungry and crave junk food between really good food and so there is too much fat on my body. I am in day 4. I dont know how to measure my progress really as I am almost permanently on safari living out of a VW van or 4×4 in Africa. I dont carry a scale. No room.
    I do photography and get up by dawn and go out for photos. I have no time to prepare a breakfast and wonder what to eat. I precook lentils, hard boil eggs and eat carrots and baby spinach etc raw. I am not sure what to do with the egg yolks. My hunger is definitely under control now. I also find I eat smaller and smaller portions and sometimes just cant consume the trio every 4 hours.
    So far I dont find my clothes any looser. Is 4 days too soon? And what “no preparation foods” can I eat as a meal. I know there as many Slow Carb foods but if I want to lose 20lbs in 30 days do I need to eat just what is on TF list?

    • Hey Kerstin, thanks so much for stopping by! I wrote a reply here, but it got so long that I just emailed it to you. πŸ™‚


      • I wish you would post the response or email it to me. Having as much information as possible is helpful.


        • Ok, so I went back and found the answer I was referring to – here are the important parts:

          Don’t feel like you have to eat eggs, lentils, and spinach for
          breakfast. If it’s more convenient to eat, say, grilled chicken then
          go with that too. So a decent carry-along meal could be grilled
          chicken lettuce wraps. I think either way you shake it, you’ll have
          to precook something that you can take along with you. Do you have
          time in the evenings that you’re near your kitchen? (Basically, can
          you prepare tomorrow’s food tonight on most days?)

          You’ll definitely see results if you only eat the food on TF’s list,
          but while the purists would tell you to *only* use those foods, that’s
          bollocks. Use the principles in the book. Eat veggies of every
          color, but especially deep colors (deep green, deep red, etc). Eat
          proteins. Eat some legumes. In my experience, if you use that order
          of preference, you’ll lose body fat. And yes, 4 days is too soon to
          really notice anything dramatic. πŸ™‚

          You might have a hard time finding no prep foods to put together as a
          meal, because it’s hard to find no-prep protein aside from hard-boiled
          eggs. If you need to take your foods with you, choose raw veggies,
          seeds, and nuts to go along with your eggs. For some extra fun, add
          some shredded coconut to the menu.

  12. This is just a variation of a food you already listed, but I REALLY like using refried beans. You have to watch out for the high sodium, but otherwise, it has the perfect creamy texture that makes it almost feel like you’re eating mashed potatoes with your meal. There are different flavors too, depending on your tolerance for spiciness, which adds some extra variety.

    • Hi Eric!

      I like refried beans too, and you’re right about the sodium. I really only use canned refried beans when I need something quick. Normally I’ll make a bean mash, which is essentially the same thing. I cook my beans like I normally would, and then I drop them in a skillet with some olive oil and whatever seasoning I’m hankering for. I’ll mash them up with the spatula as they cook, and before long I have refried beans where I control the oil and salt! πŸ™‚


  13. Can you have Hummus on thid diet ?

    • Hi Christine,

      Yes, you can have hummus. I haven’t seen one that wouldn’t be approved. It’s just chickpeas, oil, garlic, and some other things that are approved (like spinach or red peppers, etc). You’ll have to be reasonable, though, if you’re like me. Hummus is a “domino food” as Tim Ferriss calls them, and is super easy to overeat.


  14. Thanks for all the clarifications above. I was wondering about using lemon/lime juice as a flavoring in cooked dishes (lemon pepper chicken, mustard lime chicken, ginger orange and soy sauce steak, salmon with lemon and dill, etc.). They are fruits and juices, but it seems like you’d be using so little (2 Tbsp. probably) it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Thanks again for your help.

    • Hey Daniel,

      Lemon/lime juice is fine when used that way. I even use zest sometimes. 4HB talks about using lemon in water. A small bit like that isn’t going to cause any damage. It would be different if you were making some fresh-squeezed lemonade. Fructose is the reason we’re supposed to keep fruit for cheat day, but lemons have a fairly low amount, and raw lemon juice has some great nutrients like Vitamins C and B and some antioxidants.

      Enjoy your lemon pepper chicken. πŸ™‚


  15. What about olive oil based mayonnaise to make spinach egg white salad?

    • Olive-oil mayo should be OK. Technically I think most mayo is OK on 4HB (it’s just eggs, oil, and an acid), but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the oils they make it with. Check the label to make sure they didn’t sneak anything else in there. Here’s a pretty good, and easy, recipe for your own mayo: Homemade mayo!

  16. Hi all! I’ve been following this diet for almost 5 months and am disappointed to say I have lost only 10 lbs according to the scale (perhaps 12-13 lbs of fat loss since I expect some muscle gain) I am 5’3 and currently weigh 130 lbs. I am fairly muscular, but I can definitely lose a minimum of 5 lbs, probably woul be thin if I lost 8 lbs. I take the supplements as recommended and take a weekly cheat day. A typical day for me consists of:

    Breakfast: eaten 10 minutes after awakening- 2 eggs, egg whites, 3 spoonfuls of lentils, about 5 forkfuls of spinach
    Lunch: 4 oz boars head oven gold turkey
    Dinner: .5 lb filet mignon or chicken or salmon, 3 spoonfuls of lentils, and vegetables- usually broccoli, spinach, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts
    And tons of water

    I reduced my portions when weight loss stopped and lost 2 lbs but have since plateaued again. I stopped taking “nasty” cheat days and eat typically a protein bar, pizza, ice cream, dark chocolate, sushi with brown rice but do not eat myself sick nor do I eat tons of carbs (no chocolate croissants or donuts or chips, etc). I also cut out squash an zucchini (perhaps considered fruits?) but no luck.

    I also work out 5 days/week. I typically run a mile, go on the elliptical for 30 mins and then do strength training- ab exercises, lunges, weight lifting, etc.

    Because I couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t losing weight, I had bloodwork done- all normal and healthy.

    Can anyone think of any reason I’m not losing weight? I haven’t lost in months and with the exception of a week and a half I took off, I’ve been diligently following this diet (and I didn’t gain during my time off). Trying very hard to maintain a healthy and positive outlook but I’m becoming very frustrated and feel trapped in my body. All advice welcome and feel free to ask any questions!

    • Iffy aka Cameron says

      Have you tried fasting the day after your cheat day? I am on day 4(it’s my second go round) I’ve lost 4.6 lbs so far. When my husband & I did the 4HB back last August (for 1.5 weeks) :/ I lost 8 lbs and my husband lost 12 lbs and on our cheat day, I remember we didnt go too crazy but we did take care of all of our cravings. The next day we just continued to drink our daily water and I think at about 7pm we started to get hungry. So we had a small 4HB meal and didnt have to go to bed with a grumbling tummy. πŸ˜€ Maybe try that & see if it helps, I know we are going to this weekend! I SO cannot wait for Saturday-cheat day! Oh and do you start your cheat day with a slow carb breakfast?
      Good luck!

    • Hi Sydney!

      I’m probably not qualified to give you a superb answer because I’m still struggling with my own weight loss, and I have a lot farther to go than you do. I do have a couple observations based on what I’ve learned about fitness since I started learning. Again, they’re just theoretical things since I’m not in your position.

      It looks like you might be underconsuming calories for your size, activity level, and body type. Try an experiment and increase the portion of protein that you consume for just a week and see if it makes any difference. Additionally, you are probably overworking when you exercise. You don’t need that much cardio, and depending on what you’re working out, you might be going too often. If you’re splitting your strength training into days, like one day you do arms, one day legs, etc, then you might be OK there. I’d defer to someone who knows more about workouts than I do, but generally what the pros recommend is sprint once a week, walk long distances most days, and lift heavy things a few days a week. Check out Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf for better info than I have, since they’re the guys I learn from.

      I also second Iffy’s statement about fasting after your cheat day. Tim Ferriss talked about that in a Kindle app he put out a year ago, and I’ve found that it helps me as well.

      Let us know how it goes!

  17. Just started the diet. Sticking strictly to the basic list of foods. Are they’re any spices I CAN’T use to make some of this food more palatable?

    • Hey Jason,
      I don’t know of any individual spices that you can’t have. I’d pay attention to spice blends, though, just to make sure they don’t have sugar in them.


  18. I had gallbladder surgery a few months ago and before having surgery they put me on a no fat diet. Pretty much nothing fried, no dairy, no caffeine, and no sugar. Is this pretty much the same except I can use seasonings?

    • Hi Valerie,

      That’s interesting – I wonder why a person’s gallbladder can’t handle fat in your diet. Anyway, slow-carb is not a non-fat diet, however you could adapt it to become one. By default you’ve got the no dairy and no sugar (does that also mean no fruit for you?). By making sure you’re getting fat-free cuts of meat and avoiding oils, you can keep the diet fat free. I imagine seasonings are OK! I’d take it to your doctor and see what they say.


      • As someone with a history of gallbladder issues, I can say that every time I ate a super fatty meal, from fast food to prime rib with too much marbling, I would feel awful about 30 min after the meal. Stabbing pains through the gallbladder. Doc suggested it was likely gallbladder stones affected by the secretion of bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine.
        Since starting the slow carb diet, I’ve had zero problems.
        (I realize this response is super late, but figure it’d still be helpful.)

  19. Well when they remove your gallbladder somtimes you can’t process certain foods well because it doesn’t have the bile your gallbladder was producing. I had a list of foods to avoid and most fruits were a no because of seeds. It was pretty much nothing but lean (unseasoned) meats, egg whites, no dairy (but I could have greek yogurt), popsicles, animals crackers, baked chips, crab, and green veggies. After awhile tho you can test to see what your body can handle or not.

  20. Whats your take on non-fat greek yogart? It has become an obsession of mine and cures my sweet tooth!

    • Hi Ginny! Thanks for the question. I’ll have to check the book again (I feel like he mentioned kefir), but yogurt of most kinds are not slow-carb. Also, if your yogurt is curing your sweet tooth, then it probably has added sugar that is also not slow carb. πŸ˜‰ There are some schools that are OK with greek yogurt, but non-fat isn’t the way to go. The fat in dairy is actually the only real beneficial part in it, and when they take out the fat they add other things to make it more palatable (usually sugar).

      So basically, I’m not a fan at all of non-fat greek yogurt. I do enjoy a very occasional, full-fat, unflavored greek yogurt with a few berries in it, though. If you’re going to eat greek yogurt, make sure you pay attention to the ingredients (for added sugars) and macronutrient content (particularly the carbs). Of course, on your cheat day eat whatever you want! πŸ™‚


      • This is the yogurt I eat on the diet…..(see below)

        Serving Size: 1 Container 6oz (170g)
        Servings per Container 1
        Calories 100
        Calories from fat 0
        Total fat 0g
        % DV Total fat 0%
        Saturated fat 0g
        % DV Saturated fat 0%
        Trans fat 0g
        Cholesterol 0mg
        % DV Cholesterol 0%
        Sodium 65mg
        % DV Sodium 3%
        Total carbohydrates 7g
        % DV carbohydrates 2%
        Dietary fiber 0g
        % DV fiber 0%
        Sugars* 7g
        Protein 18g
        % DV Protein 36%
        Vitamin A 0%
        Vitamin C 0%
        Calcium 20%
        Iron 0%

        Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
        *Naturally occurring lactose sugars, no added sugar.

        Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei).

        Appropriate for:

  21. andrea zucho says

    I would like to know about the use of olive oil. Os it in the 4HB?

  22. Hi Jason,

    A neighbor just told me about this diet said I should check out online. I have hypothyroid syndrome and cannot eat anything for an hour after I take my medicine in the morning. So how important is to eat protein within 10 minutes after waking up?

    • Hey Jamie,

      The actual “rule” is 30 grams within 30 minutes (not 10), but the reality is most people don’t find that feasible. According to Tim’s experiments, eating 30g protein within 30 minutes of waking helped people lose fat faster, but you can also find examples of people who skip breakfast completely and lose even more fat. I’d not recommend that to someone who is just starting out and getting their feet wet, but it’s proof that it’s not a rule.

      In your case, if you have to wait an hour that’s fine. *Maybe* you’ll see slower results, but maybe you will actually see faster results because you’re giving your body more time to burn fat instead of sugar.

      What’ll be really exciting is seeing if your thyroid condition gets better simply because of your diet change! πŸ™‚


  23. A friend of mine suggested taking a look at the 4HB book, and I had already came across this site while researching slow carb foods.

    I have a very different schedule than most people, as I work the night shift, and really only sleep in a series of 2-3 naps per day. I know I need to work on that, but it is basically impossible because I have to get kids ready for school when I get home, then go pick them up after school.

    I really don’t have a set breakfast or lunch time, and the only set time I have is my hour lunch break at work at around 1am. I have read a lot about waiting to go to sleep until 2-3 hours after you are done eating, otherwise it is stored as fat. Would you recommend this type of diet for someone that has a schedule like that? Would you also recommend that I eat my “breakfast” in the afternoon after I get my kids, and my “lunch” before I go to work? Or try to wake up a little earlier and have “breakfast” before I get my kids? This would be a typical day:

    630-7am – home from work
    730-9am – fall asleep
    1230-130pm – wake up
    230pm – eat
    4-6pm – nap
    745pm – get ready for work
    9pm-6am – work (lunch at 1am)

    I have also been doing a lot of snacking and have been trying to make better choices and better portion control. I’m just curious if my schedule alone is preventing me from any type of weight loss, or if I can actually get results on this, regardless of schedule. Thanks.

  24. I’m assuming radishes are okay? And herbs?

  25. I have been on the diet for 5 days, lost about 5 pounds. Loving it so far. My body just doesn’t want to eat breakfast in the mornings – I would feel bloated if I did. So I am glad I saw the post about a large number of diet participants skip breakfast and still lose weight.

  26. Pattypear says

    For those that do not mind eating pork (Pork Rind or Chicharrones) is a good protein snack made with pork skin. It is fried but has no sugar. The ones at the bottom of the bag can have too much salt.

  27. Daniele O'Toole says

    I am curious about shrimp and other shell fish. Allowed, not allowed? I usually like a few (6-10 depending on size) tossed in steamed vegetables. Thanks for the list πŸ™‚

  28. what about quinoia? please?

  29. Ever since starting this 4HB diet for about 3 months, my weight is consistently the same, but my body fat % has dropped from 17% to 12%, so that translate to muscle gains.

    I reckoned that this is due to the fact that I workout almost daily (I’m ADD, exercising helps me focus and I like to stick to routines anyway…).

    And since I’m ADD, I have a haphazard way of doing things…such as taking some a spoonful amount of honey to make my red bean soup more palatable. (
    Thus I might be sabotaging my progress. I also haven’t finish reading the book, jumping from one book to another, or getting involved in other projects. Needless to say I didn’t even measure my body inches.

    To the questions:
    1.) Is small amount of honey OK?

    2.) How much beef is considered dangerous with all the bad rap on red meats?
    I eat grilled lean beef, lentils and salads (without dressing) for lunch after my workouts almost daily for the past 2 months. I am worried whether this will spike up my bad cholesterol levels (which is still in the good range)

    • Great job on your body fat percentage! Definitely a result. πŸ™‚ The book only talks about honey on a cheat day and in the Meatless Machine chapters, and honey *is* pure sugar. I’d say categorically it’s not on the slow-carb approved list. That said, I’d hardly say your results are being sabotaged. Perhaps in the sense that without honey you might experience a faster drop in body fat, but with the honey you’re still dropping body fat. So it’s not OK on the slow-carb diet, but it seems to be fine for you (and probably because you have a lot of lean body mass that can handle it).

      As for beef, the bad rap on red meats is mostly bunk. Here are a few posts to help you out:

      But basically, you’re fine eating grilled lean beef. You can even get away with beef with fat in it if it’s grass-fed. I *would* diversify the protein a little, but that’s more because it’s nice to have a variety, especially by adding fish in too.


  30. Thanks Jason,

    I usually get in chicken and fish for dinner, beef for lunches.
    ADD likes routine…hahaha!

  31. I’m getting ready to start this diet and have a few questions-are briney veggies ok? Like capers, black olives, pickles, etc.? Also, does it matter what time you eat the final meal vs. Going to sleep? I work a desk job, so I gotta sleep kind of early, but I’m worried about going to bed with a full stomach.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Kori,
      Briney veggies are fine, as far as I know, as long as the brine doesn’t have a bunch of sugar in it. I eat capers and olives, for example. As for your meal, time shouldn’t matter, but I think it’s more recommended to not go to bed on a full stomach for digestive purposes, not specifically with respect to slow-carb. If you look at Tim Ferriss’ schedule, he doesn’t go to bed until several hours after eating dinner. I don’t prefer sleeping on a full stomach either. We eat between 6 and 7, and try to get to bed around 9. I get up between 5 and 6am.

      Hope that helps!

  32. Ty'roneshia M says

    I am about to start this diet next week. Can somebody let me know if exercising makes you lose weight faster.

    • Hi Ty’roneshia,

      In my experience, the one thing you can do that has the most dramatic results is dial in your diet. Exercise is designed for mobility, not necessarily weight loss, although obviously using your muscles helps use energy. You’ll probably feel better if you exercise, but I wouldn’t say – in my experience – it makes the weight come off faster, but your mileage may vary.

      If anyone else has different experiences, please let us know!

      • Ty'roneshia M says

        I walk 5 miles a day. And I also do:

        100 Sit Ups
        90 Jumping Jacks
        80 High Knees
        70 Squats
        60 Seconds of Running in Place
        50 Second Plank
        40 Jumping Jacks
        30 Squats
        20 Push Ups
        10 Sit Ups

        In that order.

        • That’s quite a list! Awesome deal on the walking! Do you do that all every day, or do you skip a day? What do you do when one of the exercises is no longer challenging?


          • Ty'roneshia M says

            I do it all 4 times a week. When its not challenging i just jog mostly while enjoying my music in my ears.

  33. Ty'roneshia M says

    Oh an will it hurt me to just eat once a day because i am hardly ever hungry. I am a mood eater. As long as i stay busy food wont be on my mind.

    • The answer to that really just depends on how much you’re eating. You still need to eat enough energy to let your body know it’s not starving. Check out intermittent fasting to read a little more about it. If you can eat enough (like, as many calories as you need in a whole day) in one meal, you should be OK. But do check out intermittent fasting to see if that’s something that works well with your lifestyle. It’ll help you eat properly as well as stay busy.

      • Ty'roneshia M says

        I read it. Thanks. An can we eat wheat bread or drink low fat milk which has 140 calories an no fat?

        • Both grains and dairy have inflammatory proteins that work against your health, not for it. Don’t think about healthy in terms of calories and fat – the only useful part of milk is the milkfat anyway, but either way it’s not part of a slow-carb diet. Even on your cheat day you should stay away from skim milk – it’s totally useless. The only dairy that is OK on slow-carb are clarified butter or ghee, and grains of all kinds are out.

  34. I have a question regarding the fruit thing. Tim states clearly that tomatoes and avocado are the only exception to the no fruit rule, but I see here and in other similar sites/blogs that cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini are also OK. Why is this? Thanks and thanks for this site…..very helpful!

    • Hi Marcia!
      I think the difference is that no one except scientists consider cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini to be fruit. So in terms of diet, they’re vegetables. At least that’s how I look at it (and Tim Ferriss definitely uses all three in the official 4HB Slow-Carb Cookbook).

      Hope that helps!

  35. I’m just confused since Tim said the ONLY “fruits” allowed are tomato and avocado. So I took that definition of “fruit” to mean all veggies with seeds. Also, when I see lists of veggies, it’s exclusively the leafy types. Admittedly, I have not read Tim’s book – am just picking up bits and pieces from internet sites.

    If we’re using the usual definition of vegetables, then butternut squash and pumpkin would be OK too???

    Thanks – Marcia

    • This is where things get fuzzy and people start having different opinions. Even Tim. For example, in the blog post where he gave additions and corrections, he says sweet potatoes are not slow carb. Several months ago, during a live event at creativeLive, he said they are. Here’s my bottom line: things like squash and pumpkin are great, healthy sources of carbohydrate. But they’re dense, starchy carbs that don’t play well with the fat loss goals of many people. Even in the paleo community they’re recommended against if you want to lose fat primarily. If you’re just looking to eat healthier and maintain weight, they’re great. Also useful as post-workout food. -j

  36. THANKS πŸ˜‰

  37. Hi,

    I just started this diet and searching thru the internet I found you. My question is: what can I eat for breakfast instead of eggs wt vegetables? I know that after a week I will be sick of eggs. Any suggestions??

    • Hi Julia,

      You can really eat anything you want for breakfast, we just decide to stick to eggs because here it is considered breakfast food. Some cultures eat soup!

      If you get sick of eating eggs the same way, try doing them a different way. For example, instead of a scramble try a fritata with fresh vegetables, maybe some mushrooms, and meat. Alternatively, try some kind of hash with meat, veggies, and spices. Maybe some ground beef, shredded zucchini or broccoli, garlic onions, etc. One popular Paleo blogger I read, Sarah Fragoso, talks about salmon and spinach under a homemade hollandaise sauce.

      Just try to think outside of the box. The only thing limiting your breakfast options is the stereotype we’ve given to what breakfast should be. Most people turn to eggs because they’re quick and easy. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

      Good luck, and keep in touch!

    • I simply can’t face any food within 30 minutes of waking up Julia, and just have a protein shake. Gives me my first glass of water of the day as well, which I also struggle drinking the full amount, so works for me. Not all protein shakes are equal though, so check out the body builder forums to find out the best ones.

  38. Hello! I’m on the third day of my second round with 4HB. I did it, *almost* by the book, last year and lost 38 pounds in 10 weeks. I was astonished at how well it worked, how easy it became to follow, and how much better I felt. I took/am taking all the recommended supplements but polycosanol, plus Cinnamon and Biotin. I maintained my weight loss until the last few months, and stress has been the main factor in my recent I just got lazy and enjoyed too many white potatoes and my biggest weakness – candy. But on my third day back I’m already down 5 pounds, so it’s playing out much like my first go-round.

    I’ve read your blog and pinned several things from here on to my 4HB board on Pinterest. There are so many arguments about what is and isn’t allowed, and I feel different things will work for each person, so I thought I’d contribute my own “experiments” that were successful for me. The beans have been great, trying to do sweet potato instead didn’t work. And I’m a cook/baker at heart, I cannot rotate the same few meals. I managed to create a whole new household menu with allowed foods, so we never got bored. By mid-week, I am needing something that feels like dessert, and Jello grosses me out a little. I got very creative on my first go with things like black bean brownies, and later into making what I call “emergency fake cake” with coconut flour or almond meal, natural PB, unsweetened almond milk, an egg, and unsweetened cocoa powder. I always used a little stevia or Splenda – never had a problem. I am not a wine fan, so I do not partake in the allowed 2 I think getting my cocoa evens it out. πŸ™‚ I eat cottage cheese every morning, I always keep a stash of pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and pork rinds around for snack urges, and Sriracha helps on the days the eggs are hard to choke down. I stay gluten-free on cheat days. I know so many hardcore 4HB followers would say that I’m not following all the rules, but what I’ve done has worked – and better than any other diet/weight loss program/lifestyle change I’ve ever tried. It was restrictive and I had some hard days, but it’s something I can stick with. There are a lot of great general ideas and concepts to take from 4HB and modify to fit each person’s body, goals, and personality.

  39. I was looking for a fast breakfast like a protein shake. I’m a terrible morning person, sleep till late minute and wake up 15 min before go out the door. So is it acceptable to have 30 g protein and spinach in a shake?

    • Hey Julie,

      I’m actually working on a test with that. I know that ideally the meal will be food, but sometimes it’s not feasible. I’d say it’s fine to use a shake if that’s what you need to do. Just make sure it’s a good whey protein isolate, and not soy or something crappy like that.

      What I’m hoping to get some anecdotal data from is drinking a shake when I get up at 5am and then eating a slow-carb breakfast at a normal time, like 8:30. I’m going to be using Primal Fuel for my experiment, and I’ll definitely be reporting on what happens.

      I’d love to hear how things work out for you!


      • Jason I’m now on my 3rd week of the diet and have been drinking protein shakes every morning. I’m loosing pounds very slowly but given I’m not exercising at all. I am noticing an over all slimness, which probably means I should have measured my self. So maybe the the protein shakes are hindering the speed of progress but over all its still possible to loose weight with them. The other thing that also might be causing my slow loss is I have a hard time pigging out on my cheat day,. First cheat day barely had any time to eat which was disappointing, but second cheat day i indulged much more and have eaten the forbidden pasta and now noticing a more dramatic drop. So It is crucial to actually indulge on cheat day it makes a difference.
        I’ll keep up with updates

  40. Hi Jason,

    Just curious about the use of soy sauce, and baby carrot. I personally like salty taste and I wonder if the sodium would hinder weight loss?

    Thank you very much

    • Hi Rosa! Soy sauce is totally allowed, and baby carrots are fine too. Some might say that you shouldn’t eat many carrots because as far as veggies go they have a high sugar content, but I don’t think most people are capable of eating that much raw carrot, which is how I assume you’d eat baby carrots. Root vegetables in general are higher in starch and can hinder fat loss, so that’s why we avoid things like sweet potatoes (mostly, although Tim has said they’re slow carbs) when fat loss is our main goal.

      Sodium might impede weight loss because it causes water retention, but you’re not interested in weight loss – you want fat loss. And if you’re avoiding processed foods, you’re probably also not getting a ton of sodium anyway, so a little soy sauce isn’t going to affect you much. Just drink more water and it’ll flush itself out.


  41. Hi Jason,

    First I must say good article. I tried the slow carb diet a year ago today for 3 months until I fell off the wagon for personal reasons. In those 3 months, I had lost around 30 pounds. Unfortunately, in the 9 months that followed, I gained it all back. I am started the slow carb diet again a week ago, and I’m already getting relapses of how dull and boring my food would taste on this diet. I mean for 3 months straight I was eating (mostly) chicken breasts and some fish, with a side of black beans or lentils, and some untasty veggies. Do you have any recipes that can make these foods taste any better? I need something tasty and within the rules to keep me busy for 6 days. Otherwise, I find myself looking at food porn online of what I want to eat for my cheat day.

    • Hey Alvin,

      Thanks for the comment! There’s an abundance of slow-carb recipes online, so you should have no problem finding some tasty recipes for things. Realize that part of what you call “untasty” might just be a result of being used to the hypertasty, engineered processed food we can buy in the store. Your taste buds might not even recognize how real food is supposed to taste, and we’ve been designed to recognize “delicious” as “healthy and safe to eat”, so it’s in you to think broccoli is delicious (in fact, it almost tastes sweet to me sometimes). πŸ™‚

      Here are a few links to get you started:
      my slow-carb recipe list
      Slow-Carb Foodie
      Slow-Carb Snacktime (a new favorite of mine)

      I’m also always tweeting out recipes, posting them on Facebook (and Google+), and pinning to my slow-carb Pinterest board.

      Let me know how it goes!

  42. Just wondering what further ‘rules’ there are with the eating 1 hr after waking.
    Lately I’ve been waking up numerous times during the night and then also way before my alarm goes off.
    Do I eat when my body wakes up and go back to bed?
    Or just eat when I should get up?


    • Good question, Jade. Eating within one hour after waking would be like when you get up to start your day, not every time you wake up in the middle of the night.

      • Thanks Jason!
        I also have another question in regards to which cream to use with coffee?
        I’ve only ever had milk and there are so many types of cream out there!!
        Thanks again

  43. And, Green beans..
    Are they a bean or a vegetable?? Can we eat them or are they like peas?

    • For cream, look for full-fat cream made from pastured cows. That’s going to be your best bet. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even use some Kerrygold butter. πŸ˜‰ You have to blend it, though, to get the fat distributed enough in the coffee.

      As for green beans, they’re a veggie.


  44. Question about coconut: I’ve seen you mention unsweetened shreds & milk as options in moderation. What about coconut flour? Is that allowed?

    Also, is stevia allowed?

    • Hey Terrell,
      The thing about flours is that folks usually want them so that they can make bread and still be technically on the diet. And the problem with any kinds of bread is that it’s way too easy to overeat them. So technically coconut flour would be allowed, as long as it’s only really finely ground coconut. But I’d really recommend against incorporating it into the SCD if you’re trying to lose fat. As a treat one day, sure.

      Stevia is allowed, but make sure you’re actually using stevia. Truvia, for example, isn’t stevia – it’s just piggybacking off of the hype. The only kind of stevia I’d recommend is either the actual leaf ground into powder or an extract that only has the sweetener. Most of what you can find in a normal supermarket isn’t going to be that. Here’s a great article about stevia that will explain more than I can.


  45. How many times should you eat legumes a day? Should you eat with each meal? 1/4-1/2c?

    • Hey LaDonna,

      From my experience and the experience of others, it seems to totally depend on your body. The legumes are there to get sufficient calories, so if you’re getting enough for you with just proteins, fats, and veggies, you might not need any more (but “enough” isn’t usually as low as a “how many calories should you eat to lose weight” calculator will tell you). But when you can’t possibly eat any more chicken and are still calorie-deficient for the day, that’s when you can turn to legumes as they’ll digest slowly and won’t raise insulin as much as other carbs. To give you an idea, when I started I probably ate 1/2c with each meal, but eventually I stopped forcing myself. A decent rule of thumb is if you up your protein and fat and still are hungry, add legumes.


  46. I’ve been reading up on this diet and seriously considering it, but it just seems like a bit of a fad diet. I know that Ferriss isn’t really a doctor, but this does seem interesting. Any have any actual results from this diet?

    • Depends on what you’re looking for, Ty. It’s pretty effective for fat loss, and it’s backed up by a bunch of science despite his lack of explanations in the book. The Paleo crowd has a lot of research, and it’s basically the same stuff. Personally when I eat properly following slow-carb principles, I tend to lose a pound or two a week. At the moment I’m down 25 lbs from when I started. Here’s another guy who has has great success.

      Poke around and let me know if you have any other questions. I’d be glad to help!

      Welcome aboard!

  47. How many times a day should a person be eating… I’m just starting out. I’ve always heard that if you want to lose weight you should try to eat 6 small meals a day? Also would it be better to consume your carbs (ie: beans) only during the day, (and not at night)? So you don’t have those carbs stored?

    • That’s a big question, Jesse, and the answer usually depends on who you ask. πŸ™‚ The argument for eating that often is to maintain a stable blood sugar, but it can also maintain a stable ELEVATED blood sugar depending on what you eat, which via insulin response *could* translate to more difficult fat loss.

      Tim Ferriss recommends three main meals and a smaller meal/snack, so four times, but only if you need it. Some people have success eating twice a day following an intermittent fasting protocol. In terms of eating beans, you’re fine eating them whenever you need them. The point of using legumes is they’re processed slowly and used more efficiently.

      I’ve added protein powder to my coffee. It’s not bad. πŸ™‚


      ps: Do you mind if I use this question on one of my Q&A posts? It’s a good one!

  48. Also I was just thinking… has anyone ever tried protein powder in their coffee (as a substitute for cream and sugar)? I’d think that’d come out good πŸ™‚

  49. I don’t mind… thanks for the feedback jay

  50. Here’s another question for you Jason… which do you think would be more optimal for the best weight loss. To give yourself a cheat day every week (as suggested) or to go as many days (obviously longer than a week) without a cheat day. And if that day comes when you do cheat (say day 17 for example), OK cheat that day, but then back on slow carb the very next day and try not to cheat again for at least 7 days if not more? In other words would it be better to try to hold out as long as possible without a cheat day?

    • As far as science, I’m not sure. As far as what feels right, probably your optimal is to eat more calories during the week and not do a cheat day, since the cheat day “scientifically” is to get more calories. However, you can look at things like Carb Nite and read about how folks eat strictly and then one night they up the carbs significantly (I’ve never read the book, but I’ve heard Kiefer on a few podcasts).

      Honestly, I’m not into hacking as much as just keeping things going, so I haven’t researched it that much. Personally, I’d love to get to a place where I don’t have a planned cheat day, but that my food is dialed enough that a very occasionaly unplanned meal won’t make me feel derailed.

  51. I have read the book three times. I know what to eat but I’m still unclear how much to eat. Did I miss the information on portions? Thank you

    • Hey Joanne,

      What the book says about portion size is eat as much of the approved foods as you need to be able to feel satisfied. Don’t count calories, just eat until you’re satisfied. The tricky part is to learn the difference between feeling hungry (and subsequently what satisfied feels like) and having a craving. But when I’ve tracked my calories, I’ve found it very difficult to overeat in terms of calories when I’m eating only the foods on the list.

      Does that help at all?


  52. Hello, I am a vegetarian and looking for other filling protein substitutes. Do you know if Quorn products are acceptable? Also is plain Greek yogurt allowed? The carb count is very low but I was not sure about its insulin response.

    Thank you!!

    • Hey Nicole,

      Quorn is not going to be compliant with a healthy diet in general, because in the end it’s still just processed frozen foods. It’s not any more healthy than frozen chicken nuggets would be, for example. But from what I can tell, even though it’s made primarily from a fungus, some of the products have wheat, bad oils, and sugar in them. So in general, I’d say it’s not acceptable during the week. Eat all you care to on your cheat day, though.

      I really need to do a “how can you be vegetarian on slow-carb” post, because people ask me all the time. I’m not a vegetarian, so I haven’t taken the time to come up with a proper response that’s actually helpful, but I really should. πŸ™‚

      Regarding Greek yogurt, technically no. But if you don’t have problems with dairy and you’re looking for non-muscle forms of protein I’d put it in the same category as cottage cheese. Make sure you get as full-fat as you can, as the milkfat in yogurt is what’s really beneficial. If you notice a stall in results, pull out the yogurt to see if that’s what was doing it.

      Honestly I’d just try to get your protein from as many whole-food sources as you can. And please keep me posted!

  53. Hey Jay… been a while… hope you’re well… While trying to get back on the wagon… I was setting up my daily menu and I remembered cottage cheese was aloud. But then I stumbled across the nutrition facts for ricotta cheese and it looks more impressive than cottage cheese? Is it allowed? I mean obviously it’s OK on cheat day, but is it good for the rest of the week? It’s low carb (really low), plus high protein, and high fat (about even protein to fat).


  54. Is Quinoa ok?
    I have a feeling it would fall into the (not if you are trying to lose weight but maintain section)

  55. Thanks for this awesome website. I have a question about corn. You say it’s not allowed in the diet in the diet, but it is included in three recipes in the Slow-Carb Cookbook Volume 1 from Tim Ferris. So I’m confused about whether it’s allowed? Thanks for your help!

    • I was too, Jennie. It looks like he’s not mad if it’s in something like mixed veggies, and sometimes uses it as a condiment. But it wouldn’t be “ok” to eat it as your vegetable side, or as popcorn, or a bag of corn chips or corn tortillas, for example.

      In short, it’s not going to negatively effect results in very small doses.


  56. Hi there

    I am wondering if dark chocolate (>80%) is ok on slow carb?

  57. Potatoes Are vegetables as they do not bear seeds and cucumbers are fruits as they do bear seeds as well as squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.

    • All that is true, but potatoes are quickly digestible starches, and cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers are not sugary fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges.

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