The 4-hour Engagement

A post by Chris

About a year ago, before we were engaged, Jaime and I decided it was time to make a change in our diets. Being together we had gotten comfortable and both put on a little extra weight.  We began very simply by removing simple carbs from our dinners.  It was surprisingly quite easy to do, and we decided we weren’t going to be too strict or stress ourselves out (like worrying if we ate out and didn’t have a no-carb option).  We just wanted to feel better.

In the summer of 2011 I read a book by Tim Ferriss called The 4-Hour Body.  I was already a fan of Tim’s work from his first novel, The 4-Hour Workweek.  In the new book, Tim outlines a nutrition plan that he calls the “Slow carb diet”.  This was taking our improved eating habits up a notch.

For the last 8 months, Jaime and I have followed this diet while tracking our progress.   Each week we measure various points around our body to track our weight loss number.  The points measured are right and left bicep, the waist at the navel and the right and left thigh.  Jaime started out at 113 inches and I measured in at 117.75. As of this week Jaime is down 6.5 inches and I have lost 7.5.  Measuring is a more accurate way to see fat loss but for comparison I will also share my weight.  I am about 6’4″ tall and before we started, I was somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 240lbs.  Today, eight months later, I weigh in a little under 195lbs.

Here’s how we did it:

1) Avoid white carbohydrates.

No breads, pasta, potatoes, quinoa etc.  A lot of people consider this rule one of the hardest things to follow.  Luckily for us, we had had been experimenting with carb free dinners for a while and knew it was something that we were ready to take to the next level.  The trick is that what you lose in white carbs you need to replace with beans and legumes.  Our favourites are: black beans, lentils and multi-bean mix.  At the beginning, the carbs may maintain their addictive hold on you but with time the urges subside.  I can happily say that I am no longer addicted to pasta.

2) Eat the same foods over and over again

This rule exists mostly for people just getting started with the slow carb diet.  It’s less of a requirement for results and more about making it easier to stick to the plan.  The thinking is that if you don’t have to think about what you are going to make for your meals then you are less likely to get stuck and give up.  I am a pretty experimental guy when it comes to cooking and it’s something that I enjoy.  I ignore rule number two to some degree.

3) Don’t drink calories.

Beer and liquor are the obvious ones but it’s also recommended that you don’t drink Milk (including soy), soda and fruit juice.  Nearly all dairy products are included here as well.  Luckily for me, Tim is a big fan of wine and so red wine is permitted on the diet up to two glasses per day.  White wine is not allowed.  After a long day’s work it’s nice to be able to enjoy a glass of the good stuff.

4) Don’t eat fruit.

This is where I lose a lot of people.  Fruit is good for you!  I agree, there are definitely things in fruit that can do some good in the body.  Unfortunately, fructose (fruit sugars) tells our bodies to store fat.  So, fruit is out.

5) Take one day off per week.

If I lost you on number four hopefully this can make it up to you.  On the slow carb diet you have a mandatory cheat day.  On this day you should do your best to consume everything that you are not supposed to including anything you may have had a craving for during the week.  Cheat day serves two purposes.  The first is to increase your metabolic rate so your body doesn’t get accustomed to the new diet and slow down.  The second is so that you don’t go insane and you can stick it out for another week. Having this cheat day increases the success of participants.  When we first started we wrote down our cravings during the week and made sure we were well prepared on cheat day.

This is the day you should be eating as much fruit, dairy and pure junk that you can fit in your face.  In the beginning, our cheat days involved waffles, cereal, ice cream, candy, chocolate, beer, bread, pasta and more.  It’s important to just cut loose, go a little crazy and maybe even make yourself a little sick.  On occasion I have been known to eat so much that my back hurts.  I know, it’s weird but it happens.

Some other tips/rules for the diet include:

30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up

Aim for around 20g of protein per meal

Drink lots of water, including on cheat day

Avoid artificial sweeteners

Don’t overdo exercise

Breakfast typically looks like eggs, egg whites and turkey bacon.  This morning we had eggs with leftover sausages and refried beans which was a great change of pace.

Unfortunately I don’t think I do a good enough job on the water but I try to get as much as I can.

Don’t overdo exercise?  No problem!  Jaime and I are still active, but have lost more fat with less working out than we would have ever thought possible.  In fact, Jaime was working out as much as five days per week before we started and still gaining weight.

For us, slow carb isn’t just a diet to reach our goals.  It’s a new way of eating for life.  Other than a great tool for fat loss, we also sleep better and have more energy.  Believe it or not, food actually tastes better.  On cheat day, fruits taste amazing.  Most surgery drinks, especially anything from Starbucks involving X pumps of sweetener, need to be ordered 1/2 sweet now.  We can taste again!

If you made it this far thanks for reading!  If you have and questions or comments leave them below.  We would love to hear from you.

Here are some of our slow carb meals we have created:

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43 thoughts on “The 4-hour Engagement

  1. Sounds like I great diet, I’ll try it when I’m done being pregnant! You’re not the only one who experiences back pain along with an “upset” stomach, Chris. Whenever I have a really, really upset tummy, it automatically comes with a back ache. Nothing like multiple negative symptoms at once!

    Good job losing the weight, you two. You will both look great on your wedding day!

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