How to Master the Art of Seasoning: 5 Tips for Reinventing the Slow-Carb Diet

beef & broccoli 1

The Slow-Carb Diet need not be boring.

Moreover, it doesn’t take much to jump from repetitive to inventive. In my case, even as a grass-fed beef aficionado, I grew weary of flank with nothing more than salt and pepper. Game meats made things more interesting, but the real gold was struck when I began experimenting with Montreal steak rub and, separately, a mixture I remembered as “CPR”: cumin, paprika, and rosemary.

Delicious, not to mention biochemically kick-ass for your heart and anti-inflammation.

The point being: for many people (in particular, cooking-inept bachelors like myself), Slow-Carb meals sometimes become an exercise in culinary déjà vu. This is often paired with common beginner frustrations:

– How do I drink coffee without milk?!? (Answer: cinnamon and/or vanilla extract)

– What can I put on my eggs? (Answer: read this post)

The solutions need not be complicated. In this post, Jules Clancy will focus on primarily spices and include: beginner tips, a starter recipe experiment, and a shopping list for the fundamentals.

Jules is a qualified food scientist who was introduced to me by the minimalist maestro himself, Leo Babauta

Enter Jules

As you’d expect from someone who blogs about food for a living, I dove straight into the Slow-Carb Diet chapter after picking up my copy of The 4-Hour Body. (Actually, it was right after checking out the chapter on 15-minute female orgasms. What’s a girl to do?)

The one thing that bothered me about the Slow-Carb Diet, though, was the assumption that it would be boring for most people. Simplicity does not have to equal boredom. The Slow-Carb Diet can, and should, be both fun and delicious.

If you are willing to learn the basics of seasoning, a world of variety and amazing food can be yours with minimal effort.

5 Tips for Overcoming Boredom on the Slow-Carb Diet

1. Lay the foundation with salt & pepper

One of the oldest but best tricks in the book. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your basic seasoning right to maximize flavor. Forget what you’ve been told about the perils of a high sodium diet; the amount you’ll be adding will be minuscule compared to what’s put in by food manufacturers. For slow-cooked dishes, it’s a good idea to add some salt in early so it can spread through the whole dish over time. For other dishes, seasoning at the end is the best way to go.

2. Harness the power of acid

While the warm and wonderful Thai people mastered the balance between sweet, sour, salty, and heat ages ago, it’s actually something I learned to appreciate during my wayward years as a winemaker.

At winemaking school, we did many experiments where we would ‘doctor’ a wine with different types and amounts of acid. We’d then taste the different samples to see which ones were best. It was incredibly enlightening to see the difference that sourness played in the wine. At the optimal acid level, the wine would be more bright and alive on the taste buds. It would sing.

I’ve since learned to apply this to my cooking. When something doesn’t taste as fresh as I’d like and I’ve already given it a bit of salt, my next step is to add a little vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. Test this on some steamed veg or wilted spinach, and you’ll see how dramatic the difference can be.

3. Unleash umami (a flavor explosion) with humble soy sauce

The Japanese were the first to recognize the fifth taste, umami (also called “savoriness”). Foods that are high in umami components are delicious tasting things like beef, tomatoes, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.

It is said that soy sauce was invented by Buddhist monks to make vegetarian food taste more like meat. Soy is all about the umami, and a little bit can turn almost any food (not just Asian dishes) into a flavor explosion.

4. Add depth with chili

It’s hard to beat the wonderful warming feeling you get from a bit of chili. While I like it hot, it’s more about feeling the warmth and still being able to taste what you’re eating, rather than having your mouth burst into flame. For one suggested brand, check out Dave’s 6-chili pepper flakes shaker for a variety of heat levels.

5. Spice & herbs – the accessories of the kitchen

Using herbs and spices is where you can really start to have fun breathing variety into an old faithful dish. A little curry powder can have your taste buds on a passage to India, whereas the same dish treated to some chili, lime, and fresh cilantro will transport you to Acapulco. See the suggested variations on the recipe below for more ideas on how herbs and spices can work for you.

Suggested Starter Experiments to Try

beef & broccoli 2

Beef & broccoli stir-fry with beans

Serves 1-2

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]

Feel free to play around with the seasoning on this one. I like to use dried chili flakes because they look nice, but by all means use whole dried chilies or chili powder.

If you’d prefer to use fresh broccoli, substitute in 1 or 2 heads chopped into florettes. I used white cannellini beans but black beans, pinto, etc. are all equally delicious.

1lb (450g) ground beef, preferably grass-fed

1lb (450g) bag frozen broccoli

1-2 teaspoons dried chili flakes

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1 can beans (14oz / 400g), well drained

  1. Preheat a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of macadamia or peanut oil, then add the beef.
  2. Fry the beef for a few minutes, stirring constantly to break up the chunks and to get the beef browned evenly all over.
  3. When the beef is no longer pink, add in the broccoli. Cover with a lid, baking sheet, or foil, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, still on high heat.
  4. Stir and test broccoli. It should be bright green and no longer frozen in the middle. If it’s still cold, continue cooking with the lid on for another minute or so.
  5. Add chili and soy sauce. Stir and taste. If you think it needs a flavor boost, add more soy or some salt. Likewise with the heat level and the chili.
  6. Add drained beans. Stir until beans are warm.

Here is a video version of the above recipe to guide you through the steps:

Alternate Serving Suggestions:

Once you’ve mastered the basic version above, you can really mix things up by modifying the way you prepare the meal. It’s amazing how different this dish can taste with a few simple tweaks.

Option #1: Beef & broccoli on a bed of mashed beans

Instead of adding the beans at step 6, crush the drained beans with a fork and stir in a little olive oil. Serve beef and broccoli on top of the mash. The heat from the stir-fry will warm up the beans.

beef & broccoli 3

Option #2: Beef & beans with steamed broccoli on the side

This is a good option for people who are a bit shy when it comes to eating greens. Just nuke the broccoli for 4-5 minutes on high, or boil for 3 minutes and drain. Cook the beef and beans as per the recipe above, skipping steps 4 and 5.

beef & broccoli 4

Option #3: Beef on a bed of mashed beans with steamed broccoli on the side

Crush the drained beans with a fork and stir in a little olive oil. Microwave the broccoli separately for 4-5 minutes on high or boil for 3 minutes. Cook beef as directions state above, skipping steps 4 & 5. Serve beef on a bed of mash with broccoli on the side.

beef & broccoli 5

Bonus: Essentials for the Perfect Pantry

If you’re just getting started with building out your pantry, the below list will give you a solid foundation of seasonings you can use for any occasion.

Salt. I prefer salt flakes (such as Maldon) that have a nice large flake structure, making them perfect for crushing over meals at the last minute. Iodized salt is great for people who don’t get any seafood in their diet and can help combat hypothyroidism. Plain kosher salt is also an excellent, tasty option.

Pepper. If you don’t own a pepper grinder, a disposable bottle of peppercorns from the supermarket will suffice. However, there truly is no substitute for the fragrance of freshly ground pepper. I prefer black peppercorns because I find that white pepper has a nasty odor.

Sauces. I highly recommend starting out with a bottle of soy sauce. Don’t only have it with Asian-inspired dishes; use it instead of salt whenever you crave a more intense, savory flavor. If you like spicy foods, a bottle of Cholula or Sriracha will be indispensable. Oyster sauce is great for lovers of Thai food.

Spices. Take it slow. Start with dried chili flakes, chili powder, or whole chilies, then add 1-2 of the following to your pantry at a time:

Ground cumin. Combine a tablespoon of this with an equal amount of olive oil, then use it to marinate your steak before cooking. A pinch of cumin will also add a new dimension of flavor to a tub of hummus.

Ground coriander. Sprinkle some over cooked fish or pork. It’s also brilliant when added to your spinach before microwaving.

Curry powder. Add a few teaspoons to your lentils before heating them for lunch. I love to add a little to my scrambled eggs.

Smoked paprika. Use as a dry rub on chicken before grilling. It’s also wonderful with tomato-based dishes.

Acids. Vinegar is easiest because it lasts for ages. Go for either balsamic, red wine, or sherry vinegar. Try combining 1 part vinegar with 2 parts olive oil for an instant sugar-free salad dressing. Also, a tablespoon of vinegar stirred through warm canned lentils really brings them to life.

It’s hard to beat the freshening flavor properties of citrus juice and, as Tim’s experiments showed, lemon juice helps to lower glycemic response. I always keep a few lemons in the fridge for drizzling over cooked spinach. Limes can be lovely as well for creating a more Mexican feel.

Herbs. Dried herbs tend to just make everything taste like stale weed. Stay away from herbs until you’re ready to either handle them fresh or start growing your own in a window box. When you are ready to give them a shot, start with basil (great with anything tomato-based) or cilantro (coriander) for its wonderful freshness.

Anything else? I always have some canned tomatoes or tomato paste in my pantry, along with a jar of roasted red peppers. While not strictly seasonings, they are great for adding variety and a bit of instant veg. A jar of pesto can be a great flavor hit, as well.


Jules Clancy is a qualified food scientist. She blogs about her commitment to cooking recipes with only five ingredients at She also runs an online cooking class, Reclaim Your Waistline, featuring recipes that take 10 minutes or less to cook.

Question of the Day (QOD): Do you have an awesome, non-boring Slow-Carb recipe you want others to try? Submit it here to potentially have it featured in the next version of the Slow-Carb Diet Cookbook!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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603 Replies to “How to Master the Art of Seasoning: 5 Tips for Reinventing the Slow-Carb Diet”

      1. I love Tamari – I think it also tastes so much yummier than normal soy sauce. Another bonus is that it is fermented, whereas some soy sauces are not these days.

    1. I have started the slow carb diet this week and lost a few pounds 🙂 I am trying to really go by everything that Tim suggests and I find myseld a little confused about dairy products. I know we are not allowed to have milk, but we can have a bit of creamer in our coffee. Then it looks like cottage cheese is ok, is the cheese then ok to eat as well?

      Please help 🙂

      1. Hi Natasha – I saw a post from Tim that described cottage cheese more as a ‘last resort’ so I guess it’s not ideal.

      2. Have you eaten cottage cheese on your diet? If so, have you still been able to lose weight? I’m just curious because I started eating cottage cheese in the morning for breakfast instead of eggs. I haven’t weighed myself yet and I want to know if this will effect my weight loss.

      3. As I recall, he suggests low fat baby swiss and Meunster because of their high CLA content. Outside of that, and cottage cheese, I think seldom or rare is the rule.

        Personally, I have quite the affinity for cheese now more so than ever before for some reason. I love good block Parmesan Cheese and I swear I could eat it like Brownies if I let myself. I even wanted to explore cheese shops in WI with my wife this cold weekend.

      4. hi

        just read the book and I’m starting the slow carb diet tomorrow! I got some questions:

        can i have wine with dinner or does it have to be right before bed time?

        can i have shell fish (shrimp, mussels, clams?)

        when I have eggwhites in the morning, how much veggies and lentils would I add to it (im guessing a couple tbs?) how do it get this in when I could never eat within an hour of getting up?

        please help…. thanks!!

      5. I think it has to do with the amount of lactose that is found in cottage cheese. I know that even lactose-intolerant people can eat cottage cheese, so the lactose must be low. I’m assuming the same could go for cream (no more than 2 tbsp in coffee), but definitely not cream-er. Creamers are usually loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other crap that is definitely off-limits.

      6. Try Carb Countdown, for me hard to find thus Wegmans. In green/white carton. I drink one glass/day nonfat milk but CC has 3?gm fat!

      7. Hey lady, if you read a little bit further into the book and/ or blog, I think that he ‘nixes’ the use of creamers and in its place using cinnamon or vanilla extract in the place of creamers. =)

      8. Hello, I did some form of slow carb diet including cottage cheese that I ate for dinner (at 10:30 – 11 in my case). It was my final (for the time being) phase of fat burning. I took the body fat % from about 15 to about 12 %.

        In waist cm: from 87 to 83. I ate both fat free cottage cheese and “fat” ones. 25, 40% fat. With 0% one I was adding a spoon of olive oil to the salad.

        I was also eating normal cheese instead of cottage one. My wife is currently doing the same thing and it’s working. So, eat your cheese and enjoy it!

        p.s. no crazy exercise plans either . Just some swings for few min. couple a times a week.

        p.p.s we make cookies from mashed lentils. Baked in the oven. Anything can be added to it. Great stuff!

    2. Hi everyone,

      I have a basic question on the diet and this is the right place to ask it:

      Is it allowed to drink grapefruit juice during the diet? Because on the one hand fruits are generally forbidden but on the other hand in the book grapefruit juice is recommended to loose weight?

      Thanks a lot for any answer!

      Best regards


    1. I have the best 4hour body recipe if you are getting bored: hamburgers with the lot:

      Add mince meat, chopped onion, refried beans, cauliflower (microwaved for a few minutes and then roughly mashed to resemble bread crumbs) salt, pepper, any fresh herbs you like e.g. parsley, basil, oregano, small amount egg whites, salt and pepper and chilli if you want it hotter.

      mix all ingredients in in a bowl to get the right consistency. You can also add a few drops Worcester sauce or Tamari (soy sauce). The refried beans act as glue holding the ingredients together.

      Mix into small balls and then refrigerate for 30 mins.

      Shallow fry them in grapeseed oil , drain on paper towels add a small salad and you have a complete 4 hour body meal. I make up a huge amount and have them ready in the fridge for lunch, snacks or dinner and the kids love them too.

  1. Tim-

    I’ve been following the slow carb diet for 6 weeks now, lost a ton of weight in all the right places. Thank you!

    For those of us struggling with higher cholesterol levels and who dont wanna go the drug route, can you offer some suggestions?

    You mentioned in 4HB that you recommend eating an orange prior to sleep to control cholesterols levels – can you plz explain?

    Also, can you offer more food-related/natural ways based on your research for one to control their cholesterol levels and keep them in the healthy range?



    1. Mark,

      If you are otherwise healthy, I really wouldn’t worry about Cholesterol levels too much (unless you also have high BP, etc). Check out the documentary Fat Head if you want a good explanation of why, but research is basically showing that not only does high cholesterol not cause heart disease, but in some cases, those with high cholesterol are less likely to get heart disease.

      It sounds like you are getting your insulin levels in check if you have been on Tim’s regimen for 6 weeks, and this will help get your cholesterol levels to what is normal for your body, and increase your good cholesterol. If you are worried about heart disease, avoid Vegetable and seed oils and processed grains/sugars like the plague and you should be just fine!

      Here’s one article that explains more

      1. Can anyone tell me why Tim doesn’t recommend Turkey as one of the protein options? I find it odd that Pork is in there but not Turkey. Generally something funny like that would be explained in the book scientifically, but I can’t find anything on it.

    2. Olive oil is not in the vegetable oil category. It has healthy monounsaturated fats, not the overdose of polyunsaturated fats and Omega 6 oils in vegetable, corn soybean, sunflower, peanut, etc. Just make sure you don’t heat it at high temps… it breaks down when hot!

      1. OK. So in that case, what is the preferred high smoke point cooking oil? I do a lot of stir fry dishes…

        Thanks again!


      2. Mark – Tim recommends Macadamia Nut Oil. High smoke point, tastes “like butter.” And doesn’t make scrambled eggs taste like “cat vomit.”

      3. In speaking with an organic olive oil producer, I learnt that olive oil is okay for frying as the temperatures reached in a home kitchen shouldn’t be of any concern. On the rare occasion when I am frying at a high heat I like to use either virgin coconut oil or ghee (from an indian grocer, if not from the supermarket) as these both have high smoke points.

  2. Thanks for the article Tim,

    I finished the 4-HB a few weeks ago, loved it! This article is going to help big time. I’ve been eating some pretty bland meals as of late, excited to “spice” things up a bit :)..

    – Chad

  3. This is a great how to on variety. People, myself included, need to be braver with spices. I’m going to try and start using CPR more often.

  4. As a culinary expert, I would suggest a few options :

    Spicy : for those of you like me that really like their chilli sauce and can feel the difference try the Marie Sharp’s – (HOT) Habanero Pepper Sauce

    Herb : a magical herb that fits salads, meats, fish and eggs and give it an awesome flavor, try adding Thyme.

    For Flavor : chop tiny pieces of fresh ginger, it will do the trick

    Coffee: Yea cinnamon works great, but if you feel like giving it a stronger kick try adding cardamon as they do in the middle east

    Stews/ Soups: adding a dried lemon ( get it in middle eastern stores ) will lift the spirit of any soup/stew you’ll make

    1. foodhism

      thanks for adding your tips

      I agree, thyme is my favourite herb – look out for lemon thyme too – for meat fish and eggs

      1. Is there anything else thatcan be uses in coffee cinnamon isnt thatgreat and i miss mytwo tsp sugar, and tbsp caramel

  5. Tim,

    I have been following the slow carb diet to a “T” eating 5 eggs w/ veggies and beans, Chicken veggies and beans, (Lunch and Dinner) sometimes beef…in 3 weeks I have only lost 5 pounds and seem to be stuck…I also do the ice therapy via cold showers and ice packs. I work out for about 50 minutes a day…weights mon, plyo tues, weights wed, stretch thurs, weights fri, cardio sat…so I do not think I am over training…any suggestions?

    1. hi joseph. how are your other measurements? fat loss? inches? those count, especially when you are not losing. but 5lbs in 3 weeks is not bad. also, is your strength improving?

      one comment on your diet, are you eating eggs or egg whites? i made the mistake of eating full eggs for the first two weeks.

    2. Joseph, that sounds like a P90X routine. For me, it is overtraining and I am better off cutting most of the days in half. Also, maybe you are already in great shape. I can’t lose weight on the slow carb diet because I am already lean, and I have been eating a lower carb paleo diet for several months. Tim’s chapter on shredding the last little bit of fat turned out to be closer to what I was already doing (strict meat and veggies), so the “slow carb” diet was relatively less aggressive. If nothing else though, beans are more affordable than broccoli!

    3. Joseph, I was in a similar situation to you and I suggest you test the overtraining assumption.

      There’s an easy way to see if you’re over-training or not, cut way way back and see what happens. A two week experiment will quickly answer many questions.

      I’d recommend following the Tim’s weight lifting regime for adding mass quickly, basically one set to failure in 8-12 reps for 3 exercises and then 7 to 8 days off. Better details in Tim’s book. It takes about less than 30 minutes per WEEK to do, which is far less than you are doing now.

      Then do something cardio once or twice a week, nothing strenuous or long, more to enjoy the feeling of a body in motion. A 20 minute walk or light jog should do.

      After 2 weeks of this your tape measure or before/after photo’s will tell you if the fat loss picked back up, and your own perception of fitness/strength will tell you if your body is performing better or worse than before.

      That’s what worked for me, I was doing 3 heavy lift days per week, running 5K three times per week, and doing air squats with every meal. Then I switched to 30 mins per week of weights with the One Set To Failure method, and dropped cardio back to 20 minutes per week (we had a few blizzards in Colorado which kept me inside). Amazingly, I gained muscle mass, lost more fat than before, and felt more physically capable, all while severely reducing how much time I was spending on fitness.

      A two week experiment on your own body and you’ll know for sure if you’re training enough or too much.

      1. I did take a week off and have not really followed the diet that closely…with the exception of breakfast. I have put 4 pounds back on and my energy has dropped, but I am back on the wagon as of today 2/21/11 so I am back on the diet…going to just stick to kettlebell work outs and maybe light runs…I have a goal/challenge to run a marathon…so I am thinking that maybe I do sprints and crossfit as Tim outlined in his book in the chapter on running…thanks to you all for the kind words and support! I used to be in shape, but have always been kind of the big kid in class…except when I played football and martial arts…I leaned way out then…just so you know currently I am 267 and looking at gettting back down to 175-185…I use cardio trainer and am on facebook if anyone wants to start a support group!

    4. Joseph – I didn’t do any of what you listed and was still stuck ! I hate eggs, have no time to cook for breakfast. I read that Tim’s dad switched to 30g protein shakes in the morning, I bought a pack from Costco (Premium something…), they don’t taste bad (chocolate), and I’ve used them for the past 5-6 weeks. The weight’s been dropping off, about a pound a day. I cut out bread, rice etc. I do need to up the amount of water I drink – also haven’t tried the ice packs. I have about 10-15lbs to go, so may need to get to the extremes.

      Good luck!

    1. hey brad

      normal soy sauce does contain small amounts of wheat.

      look for Tamari, a wheat-free version of soy sauce if you’re concerned about it.

    1. Soy sauce is, soy milk and soy products (such as Boca Burgers) are not. I made this mistake the 1st two weeks on the plan and not getting any results. I’m having a hard time with cinnamon in the coffee… it’s revolting in the bottom of the cup. I like the idea of cinnamon extract, but I think that will be too sweet?

      I’ve been posting my results on my own blog “aSagmoment” (not many women doing this) and posting a new recipe every day that keep in line with The 4 Hour Body Plan. I’ve been on the plan for 3 weeks, and I’ve lost 5 pounds. As I said, my 1st 2 weeks I used soy milk every day and it resulted in a SLOW weight loss. I hope the next 2 weeks will be better.

      1. hi Heather! So nice to see another woman blogging out there! I’m at the end of my 3rd week now and havent lost ANY weight. I have, however, lost 11 total body inches. I know it’s been a few weeks since you last posted but have you seen improvement once you cut out the soy milk? I havent had anything soy, dairy, bread, rice, etc but still no weight loss. I look forward to reading your blog!

      2. So Delicious Coconut Milk, UNSWEETENED.

        I need creaminess in my coffee, so I use So Delicious Coconut Milk (UNSWEETENED). It has 50 cal per cup; 1g carb (0g sugar); 1g protein; 5g fat. I only use about a tablespoon and that lasts for several repours/topping off. It is sold in the dairy aisle at Whole Foods.

        I’ve been on the diet for 2 weeks and use this milk daily. I’ve lost an average of 7 pounds per week of the 35 pounds I need to lose to be at my size 4 self.

        I hope this helps.

      3. Hi Heather! I’d like to check out your blog for recipes. How do I get there? I’ve been on the diet for 5 days and have lost 4 lbs! I’m NEVER hungry but force myself to eat 3 meals a day using the guidelines in the book. I usually have a snack around 3 (handful of pumpkin seeds does the trick) and lots of water. Also, two glasses of red wine a night. I can’t believe that every morning the scale goes down! This is the first diet that I haven’t had cravings and I am a HUGE carb junkie. LOVE IT!

  6. I’m a big fan of spices (and cooking) but have found powdered garlic is the life saver.

    Everyday for the past 2 years I’ve had the same breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms, green peppers, mushroom, and capers seasoned with powdered garlic, salt and pepper. It’s particularly great since I prepare all the ingredients in the beginning of the week (veggies in one bowl, spices in another, eggs are fresh) and don’t have to think about it again for another week.

    Another simple recipe is stir fried steak tips with soy sauce, deli mustard, sriracha sauce (hot sauce), and powdered garlic. Just put em all together in a pan and fry until the steak is cooked enough for your tastes.

    If you want to get fancy, I also make my own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar, powdered coriander and powdered ginger. Just mix and pour.

    Spices are the spice of life!

    1. One thing I forgot. Beware of which soy sauce you get; they are not all the same. There are two main types to us westerners: Chinese and Japanese. (Yes it’s a huge generalization. No flaming)

      The chinese is stronger and much heavier in flavor. Taste the soy sauce in a chinese food take out and this’ll be what you get.

      The japanese is milder and easier to take. This is what you use with most sushi. Look for tamari sauce when grocery shopping. It’s next to the other soy sauces and is fantastic for cooking. I’m partial to the low sodium low gluten variety.

  7. I knew I had seen those pictures somewhere 🙂 I follow Jules’ food blog (a really great blog indeed – I use some of her recipes whenever I need to prepare really quick and simple meals which still taste delicious) so I had already checked out that recipe.

    I’m glad you posted about the importance of seasoning. In fact, I have myself been a victim of the “no-seasoning-whatsoever” problem for a very long time… Honestly, it didn’t really bother me, but then, when I started cooking for others, I had to learn how to use spices…. and that’s when I discovered that, even if I can survive eating the same dishes over and over again, I won’t mind a bit of seasoning for variety 😉 Now my food is much more “entertaining”.

    Of course, the key is to learn how to use at least a few spices correctly — matching ingredients appropriately makes a huge difference. Jules’ post is a very good example of that.

      1. isnt the sugar content of things like siracha and canned tomatoes too high for slow carb? thanks for all the ideas really help.

    1. Try lentils.

      Soak them overnight in baking soda before you cook them. Should give you 90% less gas than most beans. Delicious too once you get used to them.

  8. What a timely post. After a couple weeks of the same boring bachelor slow-carb meals, I suddenly noticed my room mates cupboard full of spices. Let the experiments begin! Though I have struggled with some less than tasty combinations, boredom is no longer an issue. This post should help guide my spice selections in a more constructive direction.


    1. Curious-Understand that beans, brocolli etc are allowed on the Slow Carb diet, but what about winter squash? Also, understand that cottage cheese is o.k, any other types of cheese, Parmesan?


    2. I had to do that… I hate protein, but getting a lot first thing makes a huge difference for me. Yeah, I just scramble eggs stick in my wrap and add cottage cheese on top, with salt, pepper and garlic powder. If I feel ambitious I’ll cut up some green onion too 🙂

      Nice thing about the lemon is that it makes absorbing iron much easier.

      I’ve been on this type of diet before so I know where I can cheat and still get great results. It’s just so much easier to stick to, now that I know so many other people are on it too.

      Grapefruit before exercising also works well. Glad I saw that when Tim was on Dr. Oz.


      PS Is there a public forum where we can post some recipes?

    1. Try the Montreal steak rub in your eggs for breakfast mixed with fresh spinach and beans ( any kind ). Absolutely delicious!

  9. You haven`t tried GPT 😉


    G – Garlic, 1 knob

    P – Pepper (long pepper, in german its called “langer pfeffer” is the shit)

    T – Turmeric

    Even for me as an regular amateuer cook who often tries out new stuff, this simple 3 way . haha. was a refreshing new taste

    Cooking the meat in coconut butter, then for the last minute or so adding kerrygold butter.Season it with GPT. BAM. thats the stuff.

    Guten Appetit.


    1. That sounds like an awesome base. I do something similar, with the addition of either soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or ginger depending on which way I want to take a recipe. I also do a Thai curry with the above, and a tbsp or two of thai curry paste. Beef and veggies.

  10. Hi Tim. I had been wondering if soy sauce was ok on the Slow Carb Diet and your post reminded me. I know soybeans are not. Does Soy Sauce have the same estrogenic effect as soybeans?

  11. Although it may taste terrible, adding fish sauce is perhaps even more of a flavour enhancer in terms of the glutomates than is soy sauce. I use the kimchi base mix which is explained here: and add it to just about anything savoury that I’m cooking. The combination of garlic, chilli, fish sauce and ginger is the best flavour enhancer I’ve ever discovered.

  12. Help- Read the book at Christmas- I’ve been doing it buy the #s for 5 weeks. I even do a 50 degree pool dip 20 min 3 times a week. I have lost zero weight. I’m a MArine officer-46 years old physically fit but about 15lbs overweight- I have followed the slow carb diet including the cheat days. I cut back on my work outs. My initial reaction was this looks awesome…now I’m ready to quit. Part of me thinks cut portions but I’m eating single serving sizes, or work out more but that seems counter to the book. I take all the supplements like clock work. Currently I’m 200lbs 5’10” I can do 15 pullups 80 situps in 2min and 3miles in 20:45. I even purchased the kettlebells to do KB Swings. I do the breakfast high protein first thing. When I read the book I was telling tons of people about it…I even got my wife into it but I’m now wondering what I’m doing wrong. Jim

    1. Jim,

      Tim will be the first to tell you it’s not strictly about weight. How are the measurements, and clothes fitting? Feeling better? I too, only had about 20 lbs to lose, and lost a bit at first, then had a dry spell, so I lengthened my cheat day to once every two weeks, and that has helped kick start the weight loss again. I keep the food journal and found that when I had 2-3 cups of coffee per day, ( I do use 2 tsp of half/n half and 1 tsp of s.f vanilla syrup) it made a huge difference, so I had to give that up. I think everyone has to tweak the diet slightly to get maximum effect for themselves. Tracking helps. Good luck.

      1. hi laysha,

        regarding coffee, did you give up the coffee or just the milk in it?

        i am at 5 weeks and down 2.9kg. not as much as i had hoped but i am sticking with it. i am down about 3.5 inches overall, but that happened in the first week and nothing since then. other friends are telling me to eat more. i feel like i am eating a fair bit. one big benefit is that i have virtually no craving for sweets. like others, i am experiencing being stopped up and also have gas…. although that seems to be getting better. ha.

    2. are you snacking on anything between meals? Also bear in mind it says (either in the book or on here) people over 40 dont get serious results til 4-6weeks.

      1. Tim, I bought the book and have been trying to follow the diet for the past 3 weeks. I lost 3 lbs, but gain 2.5 back every cheat day and it takes til midweek to lose it again, then nothing. I eat either a very large eggbeater omelet with onions, peppers, spinach and spicy Mrs Dash topped with picante or protein shake which is Vanilla flavored and contains 3gm sugar (acesulfame K and sucralose). I have black beans (plain or with picante) 1/2 can lunch, plus large salad with balsamic and chicken or tuna. At dinner I have chicken, pork, or beef with 1/2 can black beans, and some type of veg. This week I cut the full cream from my coffee and use approx. 2 packets of Truvia per day. I’m not a big water drinker and probably only have 2 glasses/day. Plus, I haven’t started exercising yet. I’d like to see better results. I find the book has everything so spread out, it’s hard to follow. Is the diet broken down into specifics somewhere. I believe this could work for me but I’m the type who needs a structured plan to follow. Also, I’m 47, so based on SimonM’s comment that could be affecting my results as well. Help.

      2. good point about the age. I am in my early 40’s. maybe we are slow learners? ha.

        right now, i am eating a lot of canned fish in a bowl of lentils with celery/cucumber/lettuce/any green veg. That is lunch and dinner. A fish lentil salad.

        And, lunch, i have an egg white omelette in place of the canned fish.

        It’s easy that I don’t have to think about it too much.

  13. I’ve seen your posts about lentils, and just a suggestion: Mulligatawny soup with lentils. Omit the lamb or chicken if you like, but this is a super low-fat, highly spiced, super tasty way to kick up your lentils. Sometimes I add brown basmati in the coldest months of winter, and you can make it as thick as you want like a dal, or as watery as you want.

  14. Love the program, down 13 lbs in 3+ weeks (have 187 to go)

    I drop a pinch or two of kosher salt on my freshly blanched broccoli, also use some locally made salsa (it’s tomatoes-cilantro-onions, no sugar added, fresh) on my daily “egg concoction”. Been using pepper more and more, will add soy sauce to my arsenal.

    1. Help…I am a little confused on what we are actually allowed to have. The book talks about what to avoid then gives a list of what to eat but it sounds like you can eat more than what he just suggests in his list of proteins, legumes, and veggies.

      So refried beans are ok? Tomatoes are technically a fruit but we can still eat salsa?

      1. Tim lists those foods that he personally finds easy and that work for him. As long as the food you choose is either protein, legumes, or vegetables, then the choice is up to you.

        Tim also has a whole section on refried beans which is worth reading.

        Tomatoes are covered, as is salsa. It’s all there in the book…

  15. Guam shout out! What makes Leo’s journey and insights so special is that on Guam, there are delectable and slow-carb unfriendly delicacies; check out the calories in a typical fiesta plate!

    Also, Chamorros had the highest overall age-adjusted cancer mortality rate at 247.2 cases per 100,000 population, more than 25% higher than the US rate (source:, and high incidents of type 2 diabetes and a high prevalence of smoking, both adult and underage.

    So, thanks for mentioning Leo (again; I know that you’ve referenced him before, being a long time Tim fan). He’s a great example for Guamanians and the rest of your readers.

  16. I like to add turmeric to eggs with a shake of cayenne and maybe just a pinch of curry. Use the largest pan you have to spread the mixture thin, quickly cook on high heat and then roll up with spinach inside or your item of choice. I believe turmeric and cayenne are also beneficial for your cariovascular system.

    It’s also real easy to make your own chili powder or other spice mixes by buying various bags of dried chiles and pods and pulverizing them in a coffee grinder and re-using an old shaker or spice container. Make sure to rinse out the grinder throroughly though! This brings life to any dish you can concoct. I’ve made several differnt mixes so even if the dishes are similar I can have Mexican style one night, Indian another, Thai one, etc. so it doesn’t seem like always the same thing.

    I like to occasionally use a drop or two of Maggi seasoning in lieu of soy sauce, not sure if that’s diet approved for this diet though.

    Cholula is great and so is Valentina, which I find a tad more intense.

  17. 3 weeks on the #4HB diet. Down 9 pounds and 4 inches off the stomach. I can’t deal with boring foods so these tips are perfect.

    A few more, if I may:

    1 – Try Red Pepper sauce in addition to / in place of chili. It’s more of a Creole/Cajun flavoring thing and is awesome on eggs. Some who can’t handle the chili thing love this – and vice versa. They aren’t both “just hot” – they add a variety that is key. Bottle will last you long time.

    2 – Chili, Garlic, Ginger and Oyster Sauce tossed into veggies (frozen or otherwise) give a Thai kick that makes them worth taking on.

    3 – A little red wine vinegar with a little mustard in a little olive oil is the only way I can handle lentils so far – open to suggestions.

    4 – Can’t overstate the power of whipped cauliflower and or white beans for the faux mashed potato action.


    1. Garlic, Chilli, Ginger along fresh herbs like Basil (I live Holy Basil with garlic, chilli, fish sauce and stir-fried veggies), Cilantro and broad leaf Parsley are all life savers.

      Also, especially for breakfast, I make up a batch of tomato sauce similar to what is served with Patatas Bravas:

      Saute some garlic and onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add a can or two of good tomatoes, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, a pinch of raw sugar, pepper and a splash of vinegar. Let this cook for a few minutes (not long enough for the sauce to darken though). Let it cool, then puree. Fantastic mixed in with steamed or sauteed chard and spinach, eggs, even works well with beans.

      I have one question though: What about almond milk & vegetable juices? In the book Tim mentions not drinking fruit juices and staying away from lactose and processed soy, but these two seem like a bit of a grey area to me.

    2. I am not a big fan of lentils – so I toss them with about a lb of caramelized onions as well as a hint of vinegar/lemon juice and just a hint of sauteed garlic.

      For a different carb try split peas cooked in ham stock (I usually just buy smoked ham hocks from a local farmer), and make a super thick split pea soup. Super tasty.

    1. I eat red meat and poultry, but I do like Tofu quite a bit. Is this okay to have? It seems like a reasonably healthy protein source (unless fried). Any suggestions? Have not read the book yet but will as soon as I can. Thank you!

  18. Tim, has anyone talked to you about creating a food blog for 4 Hour Body recipes? I, like a few people here it seems, am collecting recipes I can use for it and would be more than happy to share.

  19. Sumac is my new favorite spice/seasoning that I learned about from a Middle Eastern coworker. You can make great ground turkey kebabs by mixing it with salt, pepper, onion and garlic.

  20. 3 quick questions

    1) are beansprouts ok?

    2) is there a limit on the amount of (olive) oil you use in stirfrys?

    3) I was using Soy sauce, but stopped due to the wheat content, is it really ok?

    brilliant, brilliant book btw, have skimmed fat off my stomach, which at 11stone isn’t easy.

    1. I would also like oto know about beansprouts but cannot find the answer anywhere.

      ps I am a 47year old male, uk based and started the diet in Jan, based on a copy of the audiobook.Have lost lots of inches e.g.down two jeans sizes.Not sure on weight but it is well over two stone (28lbs).

      1. I hqve been eaten beans sprouts but I am also have doubts… it is in the list of low carb food in several websites… and it is so nice to do a fake padthai instead of nuddles

  21. I love experimenting with different spices. Some new favs are middle eastern/Moroccan….zata’ar, ras el honout, sumac. Really different from what I’m used to and really yummy with almost everything.

  22. Here are some of my favorites from countless experiments:

    – Any vinegar (especially balsamic) is great with all beans – except lentils.

    – Red onions (chopped, raw) and/or garlic puree make bean salads fantastic.

    – Cook your eggs with butter and add some cumin, you won’t believe it!. Cottage cheese is nice with eggs, also.

    – Walnut oil makes the salads a dream, seriously.

    – Thyme is a magical spice, just find a quality type, and experiment with various foods.

    – Sumac is very acidic, I love it. Though, the good type spoils easily on shelf, so, buy little.

    – Zataar is a great spice mix. Buy a nice quality pack.

    – Bored of your eggs? Cook them together with sauteed swiss chard and/or spinach + onions. You’ll thank me.

    – Oyster sauce is as good as soy sauce for flavor.

    – Fish sauce+lime juice combination is great for cooking.

  23. I’d love to try Soy sauce, but I’m hesitant as I remember Tim saying something to the effect of “…I’d never wish soya side-effects to anyone, even to my enemies…”. I can’t remember where it was from, but it stuck with me and now pops up whenever I think of consuming soy foods.

    Does soy sauce get the O.K. stamp? Or should it be avoided like all soya derivatives?

  24. Great post, Tim!

    I’ve been working through how to liven up the food I’ve been eating on this diet. Sticking strictly to the diet, I dropped 15 lbs in 28 days (and continue to drop at least 3 lbs per week since starting). It would have been damn close to the full 20, but I made an assumption about a couple ingredients and only lost 1 lb one week.

    I’ve used soy sauce and was hesitant considering the soy and wheat contents, but considering the quantity was so low, I figured to heck with it (maybe if I was drinking a bottle a day it’d be an issue, but 2-3 shakes in an entire pan? no worries).

    With some minor adjustments to the paleo diet (eliminate fruits and avoid nuts as best you can), there are some great options that work as a foundation there as well:

  25. I’ve been following the Slow-Carb diet and doing kettlebell swings for 6 weeks, and am always looking for new stuff to eat so nice post.

    I haven’t been losing weight on this diet but I believe it does promote a healthier lifestyle, if nothing else I eat a lot more vegetables than I used to.

    I’ve been wondering if my body is just stubborn and doesn’t want to lose weight or if I’m gaining muscle from the swings which is obscuring my fat loss. I’m going to have a DEXA scan done in the next two weeks so I can measure any future fat loss, but I want to make sure I’m following it correctly in the first place.

    With that in mind here are two days of meals for me:

    Breakfast: 3 eggs (scrambled), lentils, spinach

    Lunch: Grilled pork, peas and carrots

    Dinner: Jerk pork, lentils, steamed vegetables

    Snack: Handful raw almonds

    Before Bed: 2 Tbls. Peanut Butter

    Breakfast: 3 eggs, lentils, spinach

    Lunch: Steak, lentils, peas and carrots

    Dinner: Grilled beef heart, black beans, peas and corn

    Snack: Handful raw almonds

    Before Bed: 2 Tbls Peanut Butter

    With all of these I drink water, and have been having Yerba Mate after.

    I am also supplementing with potassium and magnesium, and I was using PAGG but I’ve just run out of AGG.

    Please let me know if there is anything that I might improve on.

      1. Wait a minute i’ve been eating full eggs for a week in the morning 3 of them.

        Does that totally kill the diet? What is the big deal?

    1. Corn is a no-no, peas and carrots in moderation. Maybe have either peas or carrots with each dinner, but not both at once, and ditch the corn all together.

      Almonds – have 5 – 10. A handful can be way more than that depending on how big your hands are!

    2. It has been said that Time believes many people are protein deficient.

      Perhaps this is true with me. The diet is easy to follow. but the weight loss is imperceptible. I have lost 7 lbs of fat in 3 weeks but have gained almost that much lean body mass. Apparently my 64 yr old body is craving the protein.

      I will take this several months and see what happens.

    3. I realise I’m necro-ing an old comment, but in case anyone reads these, I thought it worth pointing out a few factors that may be contributing to no weight-loss here:

      1. Make sure there is a legume with every big meal. Lunch #1 doesn’t have one.

      2. In the book, Tim says you shouldn’t need to snack, and says to up the volume of the other ingredients at meal-time if you are not full, especially the legumes. If you need a snack every day, the meal sizes should be increased.

      3. Tim advises to avoid nuts, especially almonds, unless using them as a travelling life-saver. They should definitely not be eaten daily as a snack, and if so, should be limited to a half dozen, no more.

      4. Tim advises to avoid corn and carrots (as these are high in sugar), or use them in low amounts, yet these are present in both days.

      5. PB before bed should only be done if there are sleep problems, as this gives a quick protein boost. But if used, he recommends only 1 Tbsp, not 2.

      6. Whole eggs are OK, but should be organic, and (from my own experience) should be limited to 2 at a meal. If scrambled, only water should be added to them – nothing else.

      These are small deviations from the SCD, but when they are all happening daily, I can see how this would stall the weight-loss. Also, no volume of water is mentioned. Followers of this diet should be aiming for 3 liters per day, ideally with the bulk of it being consumed between meals.

  26. I’m not going to lie. When i first saw that recipe i nearly gagged. But after a bit of reading it got a lot better. I love experimenting with food and adore cooking so the idea of a blank slate like this recipe represents is pretty cool. I’m going to have a crack tonight with a few additions. I think I’ll roll with: thyme, oregano, a squeeze of tomato paste, a lot of black pepper, and I’m going to start it all by melting a couple of anchovies into the oil before adding the meat. Yum.

    Love the blog, keep up the good work you crazy b#$*!^d.


  27. Good post,

    I just love spices and making my own spice powders. I make a really easy taco seasoning with…

    1½ tbsp chili powder

    1 tbsp garlic powder

    1 tbsp onion powder

    1 tbsp ground cumin

    1 tbsp paprika powder

    1 tsp sea salt

    Just mix together.

    Much better than the bland store stuff!

  28. Damn, the broccoli looked so good with those spices I’m going to do the same right now with the asparagus I have in the frig!

  29. I have been follow the low carb diet. A lifesaver for me was buying sauces for the grocery store to marinate my meat before grilling it. You have to be careful some of the sauces have high fructose corn syrup but others are healthy. For my beans, I bought some seasoning made by Goya to make my black beans taste better. I should have started eating this way a long time ago. I love my new meals better than the junk I have been eating.

  30. lots of questions about what you should and shouldn’t eat. i live in Peru and its hard to find food without some kind of potato, of which there are over 3,000 species, but most are not white, including dark purple, bright red, etc., are they still out of consideration? also, the corn here is giant, white, starchy kernels. ok or not? there are several other vegetables here that have no english translation that are either white or close to white, but they’re not starchy. is there some other indication besides color if you can eat it or not?. also, there are also fruits that aren’t sweet or sugary.

    1. I’d say that any potato is out, as are all corns. The general idea being that his is a low carb-diet, but these are all high carb veggies. Things like yuca would be out too, since it’s very starchy. As a rule of thumb, root veggies, grains and kernels all have high carb counts (these are all meant to either nourish the plant, or nourish the animals feeding on the plant.)

      As for the fruits, to which are you referring to? Tomatoes are fruits, and I think they’re okay in moderation, in other foods.

      1. frutas includes aguaymanto (small cherry tomato like), tuna (from a cactus flower) chirimoya (green but with large pulpy white meat a large black seeds), and my favorite lucuma (green but with dry orange center that tastes a little like dirt), among several others. I don’t know why they don’t export them to North America. maybe because they are too fragile for shipping? who knows. anyway, what to do?

  31. I’m using the Indian cooking spice staple – Coriander powder, cumin powder with a lil turmeric (1:1:1/2-1/3rd). With salt and pepper added to taste.

    Just throw in some tomatoes (sometimes a can) into a dish, open up a can or two of beans and add the spices and I’m good to go! Oh yes, takes less than 5 minutes.

  32. May want to switch to a different steak rub. The one you linked to has hydrogenated oils – not so good for you…

    From wikipedia: “…NAS has concluded there is no safe level of trans fat consumption…”

    To your health!


  33. Lost 11 pounds in two weeks. Have developed a problem though, the taste of beans is literally gagging me!!! Any alternatives out there??

    1. Matt, way to go with 11 pounds in 2 weeks! Nice!

      Since the beans are mostly for keeping your total calories up so you don’t crash, you can try substituting FAT for the same purpose. Experiment for a week and see if the fat loss stays high.

      Coconut milk and Avacado are my favorites, just try to match the same amount of calories you would have gotten from the beans.

      It takes a bit more discipline since you’re consuming more calories in a smaller volume, you don’t feel as full as eating beans. If you can keep with it though, you get used to the feeling of a smaller stomach after a meal pretty quickly. Just don’t snack for volume on top of it, tell yourself “I already ate sufficient calories”

      I eat beans or lentils 3 days a week, and the other 3 days I have either a can of coconut milk per day, or two avocadoes. The seventh day I do intermittent fasting. I’m consistently losing 3-4 lbs of fat per week, and I don’t get burned out on beans.

      Try it and keep it if it works, or forget it if it doesn’t.

  34. Great stuff, guys. Here’s a couple more tips:

    Add berry-based vinegars to your list. They are tasty and berries have all sorts of excellent properties.

    For cooking salt, use coarse grey sea salt. If you want a dish to have a touch of a salty taste, add pinch of “fleur de sel” or other flaky sea salt right before serving or right at the table.

    1. I have been using Braggs Liquid Aminos for a while. Love that they are no salt! Add a dash to my beans (rinsed canned or home cooked) with a dash or Balsamic vinegar then microwave to heat. Also adds a savory base to meats.

  35. Tim –

    Thanks for the tips, and thank you for 4-hour Body! I have been having great success!

    A couple concerns though, you do say in the book that tomatoes and soy are not allowed, correct? Or is that just a soft rule? I have been following to the letter, so clarification would be appreciated.

    Thanks again!


    1. tomatoes are okay. tomatoes and avocados are the only ‘fruits’ allowed. avocados in smaller quatities–max 1 cup per day and only at one meal. i dont know what page its on, but i have read that section a few times.

      soy sauce is okay. i use an alternative called Braggs, which you can find in health food stores.

    2. No soy milk or soy products. Soy sauce is OK because you use such a small amount.

      I made the mistake of using a little (1/4 cup) soy milk in my coffee and it resulted in very minimal weight loss. I’ve been on the plan for 3 weeks and lost 5 pounds since I stopped the soy milk. For those struggling with recipe’s… I was too, so I’ve been posting a blog with recipe’s that are family friendly and also fall in line with the 4 Hour Body Plan. I’m new at blogging and recording (my camera man is my 12 year old son) but I’m getting better. I also post my daily foods/exercise.

  36. I’ve been on the diet for four weeks now and have seen great results. When I started, I was in decent shape, but now I can clearly see my first four abs, and so can the GF.

    I follow the diet to the letter and really let loose on the cheat days. I use OCCAMS protocol with a full body workout, and cardio and abs once maybe twice a week and its working great. No PAGG.


    Thanks Tim!

  37. This looks delicious however I can not stomach most artificial flavorings, soy sauce included. I was taught an alternative: pulse dried/lightly roasted mushroom with dried small fish and almond to fine grain. And there you have it – natural flavoring. You can add it to salad, soup, or stir fry. Give it a try!

  38. Thanks for helping simplify my life and my clients lives on the other side of the world!

    You’ve made my business run smoother, my life less stressed and am now helping my clients with food choices too! Luvn it!

    I’ll have to shout you lunch when I’m over in the US some time!

    Keep up the good work mate.


  39. Tim,

    I noticed she used olive oil on high heat :

    I don’t want to be a stickler but olive oil is primarily oleic acid (monounsat)….not good on high heat.

    Regardless, good food – cant beat that!

  40. Great to see a fellow minimalist blogger on here! We love the stonesoup blog. Everyone should be sure to check out Jules’ free desert e-cookbook for your cheat days.

    Tim – I’m excited to try the CPR combo – seems very interesting.

  41. I tried this recipe tonight and it was amazing! I was skeptical at first because I do not like broccoli or chili, but that all changed tonight 🙂

    I followed the recipe but I let the broccoli cook for a couple of minutes longer and I used soy beans.

    Thanks for the helpful video as well!

  42. Cinnamon and unsweetened, original almond milk in coffee is actually outstanding… at least I think so! Also, I’ve found that using a little break of an actual cinnamon stick is a much better way to get the cinnamon flavor, without all the grittiness in the coffee (since the cinnamon doesn’t dissolve).

    Also, a lot of interesting comments regarding seasonings, substitutes and kimichi sauce. I’m going to look into that.

    My wife and I find we use adobo lately in a lot of dishes… pink mayo, aioli, chili, etc. Great flavor and lots of distinct POW!!!

    1. hi JPR.

      are you losing weight using the almond milk? is it store bought or homemade? i love tea and coffee with milk, but i gave up the 2tbsp of milk because i think it was stalling my weight loss. i would love to have that flavour back.



  43. I have lunch and dinner covered with homemade soups, salads, and such… but I’ve been trying to find some different recipes for breakfast that don’t include eggs… I’m finding that there’s mostly dairy, starches, or lots of sugars involved in almost every bfast dish out there…

  44. Sorry Tim, I know you are partial to scientists so I can see why you brought a food scientist in on this job, but next time you may want to consult a Chef. Sloppy, sloppy food.

      1. I’m with you, Charlie, anyone give some suggestion on this problem, it really looks not so tasty, to be honest.

    1. @Charlie – agreed…taste definitely trumps aesthetics, …..aaaand I think simple, quick, easy, speed cooking trumps aesthetics …. however… I have the same sentiments as Amir. For me the textual information was right on, yet the video/cooking was sub-par to what I’ve seen out there. I vote for a blog focused on Ratios… see Michael Ruhlman’s new iPhone app. He also has incite-ful video rants on food and such.

  45. As long as you don’t eat after 5pm you can practically eat whatever you want, in which amounts you want.

    Also: I love living in Asia, since great food is very affordable here.

    To me it’s very difficult to build up spice-awareness. I understand salt now (the different kinds of and their tastes and effects). I also started to work with Cayenne-Pepper recently. But takes time to build up experience and … knowledge!

  46. @Leah…. have you tried the “Eat like a king for brfast, Eat like a queen for lunch, and Eat like a pauper for dinner” routine? This works for me and many others. I found great pleasure and endurance with eating ‘dinner’ for bfast. … like this morning… meat and spinach. If you’re one that isn’t that hungry in the morning then have a swig of apple cider vinegar (or a tsp mixed with a bit of water)… it will not only jump start your stomach acids but also wake up your brain to be interested in food.

  47. I always thought soy sauce was off the agenda because of the bad long term side effects as mentioned in the book from soy based products?

    Anyway, I think cumin is my new favourite spice, gives a nice middle east flavour to things. I enjoy cooking and this diet is making me think more about things.

    Here is my favourite slow carb recipe: spicy Italian meatballs.

    Mince (ground) beef

    Chilli powder

    Chopped onion (small pieces)

    Black pepper


    1 egg for binding

    Mix all together (note I’ve not put in specific measurements as I always adjust to what I fancy that night) and form into balls. Fry in shallow oil turning when brown and that’s it!

    I serve it with crushed tomato (which I add lots of basil too) to complete the Italian style of it.

    You can actually omit all the spices and put completely different ones in to change the flavour too.

    1. Thanks Rob for the recipe. I made the meatballs last night with ground turkey and some homemade tomato sauce and they were so good I thought I was cheating. Delightful!

  48. Hi Tim,

    I am working my way through your book and have started implementing the eating principals this week. Can you please let me know if this diet is suitable for women with PCS?



    1. Hey Sally,

      I have PCOS, and have been on the diet for 6 weeks now. My doctor cleared it. However, f you are taking Metformin, talk to your doctor, because on this diet the Metformin will make your blood sugar levels drop to dangerous levels. I am off the Metformin now and am doing great.

      Hope this helps.


  49. Tim, have you ever considered your diet from an anthropological perspective? I’ve noticed eliminating bread, pasta, rice etc (most carbs) from your diet makes it remarkably similar to what the original migratory humans were probably eating. Before the advent of sedentary agriculture there was almost no way for people to collect grains and grind them into flour. The more I contemplated this the more it became apparent that humans weren’t really meant to eat that junk.

  50. Hi Tim,

    Great reading like always.

    But do you have a bunch of advices to vegetarians as well?

    Personally I quit meat some time ago, and indeed soy sauce is must use.

    But I would love to find more great ideas how to manage in your style :-), but with vegetarian ethical-flavor.

    1. Patrick, I eat fish occasionally but no meat. A typical day: I eat a couple of spoonfuls of cottage cheese within a half-hour of rising (though I really hate to eat early in the morning, but Tim advises it and it does seem to work). I eat a two-egg omelette between 10-11 am with lots of veggies and maybe some of my vegetarian chili inside, or perhaps some curried lentils. I eat again late in the afternoon or early evening, usually a large salad with beans for protein, or maybe a homemade veggie soup with, again, beans or lentils.

      If I get hungry later I’ll have a few Brazil nuts and almonds with a glass of red wine.

      I drink a lot of fluids, and I mean a lot, at least 60+ ounces daily.

      And that’s it. I don’t need to lose a lot of weight but have lost about 7 pounds since starting this diet shortly after 4HB came out. And my exercise program is minimal due to my frozen shoulder 🙁

  51. I am person who spends so much time just to make my husband a delicious meal without risking his health. Beef & broccoli stir-fry with beans is just so perfect for him.

  52. Just started the Diet this week and Jules ideas are the perfect solution to spicing things up. Great timing and great tasting food! Thanks Jules and Tim.

  53. Just for clarification, everything is okay on cheat days right? Sugar, bread, and milk, or do I need to stay away from any of these? Thanks.

  54. You forgot to mention garlic powder, I add it to pretty much everything i eat.

    Also, I’d love to hear feedback on where I can find canned lentils, I’ve searched all the usual places (trader joe’s, whole foods, local grocery) and couldn’t find it.

    1. Costcos has Amy’s lentils soup and Tasty Bite Madras Lentils. The Madras Lentils have about 2grams of sugar and are made of with cream and butter – will bet not much of both.

      The red lentils are easiest and fastest to cook, but can be frustrating. Whole Foods has an IPad app that has a fast recipe.

      I’ve talked to a number of people who culturally eat lentils or Dahl everyday and to a person they all use and swear that the fastest and no hassle way to cook lentils is with a pressure cooker.

      1. I spent about $2.50-$3.00 making enough Dahl to least me 3-4 days. Very easy. Pour your lentils in a pot, rinse a couple times, add a chopped up onion, and a chopped up tomato. Add cumin, chili powder, curry power, turmeric powder, and coriander powder to taste. I like to leave mine unsalted and salt individual servings later. cover by a couple inches of water, stir it up real good. get it to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, if you have to add a little water to keep it from drying out, no prob. It will be a nice mushy consistency. I like it spicy, and with lots of cumin, but its up to you. there are more complicated recipes, and you can add butter at the end if you want, but I prefer putting a pat on top of the Dahl right before eating.

    2. Sam – Westbrae has a great line of organic lentils and beans. You can order online or check out the store locater on their website. Good luck!

      1. Sam, I love Trader Joe’s lentils–they come in a bag, precooked in their produce section. I like them so much I’ll eat them right out of the pouch!

        They’re right next to the cooked beets, which are an interesting addition to the usual salad ingredients, and very convenient (if you have ever bothered to peel and cook a beet you know what I am talking about).

    3. I found a whole bunch of organic canned lentils and beans at fairway (I live in NYC). And they are cheap, $1.25 on sale 🙂 I just started this yesterday and just love it…I am excited bc I do believe it is something I can stick to and I LOVE lentils and beans 🙂

  55. 4 hour body related but on a different note.

    Has anyone researched golite blue light. I was going to buy it but reviews on Amazon talk about blue light causing damage to the eyes.

    Did Tim or anyone else research this?

  56. Down 18 lbs (10% of bodyweight) since Jan 1 on Slow-Carb w little to no exercise. Eating like a king!

    I have been experimenting with reductions and even making my own stock. Both super easy for new cooks.

    Google the following for quick recipes

    “Citrus Reduction” great on Tilapia, catfish or Trout

    “Balsamic Reduction” great on pork chops, pork loin and add rosemary for the best lamb chops you’ve ever had.

    “Red Wine (wine) Reduction” works great with chicken and beef.

    Reductions are an easy way to add tons of flavor and variety to the meal plan.

  57. For those of you who think soy sauce is too strong, too salty – try Bragg Liquid Aminos. It is also made from soy, but isn’t as strong. Has a wonderful savory flavor. Available at health food stores and some grocery stores in the health food section.

  58. Himalayan sea salt is mineral-rich and does not ignite any salt cravings for me like iodized table salt which is highly refined.

    And hot sauces! You can carry a small little bottle in your purse/briefcase for discreetly livening up take-out/restaurant food.

    These are good for the transition, ultimately, it simply takes time to adjust to a new taste of food.

  59. I don’t know what area you live in but in so. cal I finally found them at my local health food store, Clarks. The brand is Westbrae Natural and they are listed as vegetarian organic lentils. All the supermarkets, Trader Joes, etc. do not carry them.

  60. Tim, if you’re a fan of the Montreal Steak rub, you should definitely check out their Montreal Chicken rub as well. Those two (and good ol’ fashioned garlic salt) are absolute staples in my spice cabinet.

  61. IN 8 weeks I lost 40 lbs. Great, HOWEVER, for the past three weeks, NOTHING! No weight loss, no fat loss, nothing. I am almost “monk-like” in following the diet, but three weeks with no change has me looking at Atkins to get something going again! I still have 40 remaining to lose and before you ask, yes I have tried your father’s approach and changes to get restarted and have read and re-read all the part of the book covering the usual suspects on why the diet fails.

  62. Is anybody else getting a DRY MOUTH on the slow carb diet. It’s really dry on the inside of my lips, similar to the sensation after eating lots of spinach.

    Does anybody know why? I’m also getting dark circles around my eyes. Weird. Could it be candida die-off?

      1. Thanks for the question Miguel 🙂

        AM – egg omelette (sometimes with bacon) and leafy greens

        LUNCH – Lentils and steamed zucchini with some cold cuts

        PM – Rice cakes and hummus with a tad of veggies

        I know some of this is not allowed, I’m working on it. I usually eat a variation on the above, sometimes with more meat (the culprit could be the salt in my bacon and cold cuts?)

        Sometimes I run of out of house to get a cupcake from the coffee shop when I’m hitting an emotional low.

        And I get the feeling my portion of veggies is too small.

    1. Nothing that you mentioned is out of the ordinary. Kill the rice cakes, period. There’s no excuse for them while there are so many other options out there.

      It sounds like you’re getting something astringent in your diet but I can’t say what it is though. The excess salt could also be it since you’re getting it in processed meats. Try baking some chicken at the beginning of the week and swap out the cold cuts.

      Make sure to drink a ton of water and stay away from processed and prepackaged foods unless you know how to read ingredients.

      All in all you’re seeing the same things I am.

    2. Camila- I’m Tim’s assistant. It actually looks like you’re not getting enough protein. Your daily meal routine is comprised of almost all veggies. That’s going to naturally have a noticeable effect on your energy levels, because vegetables are low in caloric density.

      Try two weeks of upping the protein dramatically. Drink a low sugar, low preservative protein shake for breakfast (30 grams worth) and eat large quantities of beef, chicken, or pork for lunch/dinner, along with some beans.

      The problem is likely that you’re just not giving your body enough fuel. When you eat enough meat and beans (along with the veggies), you’ll start to feel much better, won’t hit an energy low, and won’t feel the need for that cupcake hit mid-afternoon.

      Best of luck, and keep us posted!

      – Charlie

      P.S. I’m obviously not a doctor, so please consult a real one before making any dietary changes that have been suggested by strangers on the web 🙂

      1. How lovely to get feedback from you! Thank you (I read your ebook and loved it, it’s some of the same stuff I was doing too).

        I will totally take you up on the protein and get back to you guys, I knew something was lacking but I didn’t know what.

        Did Tim read my suggestion for good ole Barb? My goal was to make him chuckle (and you too).

  63. Thanks for the great article! I am always afraid of seasoning because it always seems so complicated. Thanks for simplifying it.

    The slow carb diet is great. I’ve already lost 15 pounds, pure awesomeness!

  64. Tim, thanks for all the great information you share. Big fan…

    I was diagnosed with Menier’s disease about a year ago. It effects my inner ear and causes me to have EXTREME vertigo and permanent hearing loss… Not fun! There is no cure, but I can manage most of the symptoms with a low sodium diet… Under 1000 mg. Although it is challenging to find ways for me to eat enough food to bulk up (8oz of milk has 130mg of sodium for instance… GOMAD is out for me), it has given my wife and I a fantastic opportunity to learn new ways to season things. Woo hoo!

    Ms. Dash and fresh herbs like thyme, Rosemary, and basil have been a huge lifesaver. Mrs dash has a wide range of seasonings and marinades that work great if anyone needs to keep sodium levels down or just wants to mix up their seasonings. It’s not very strong, so don’t be afraid to use A LOT of seasoning.

  65. Tim,

    This is an excellent post. My clients have been asking for tips on how to make it “un-boring” as you’ve suggested.

    They’re gonna eat this up!

    Thanks again!

  66. I love this diet. My sugar cravings are gone completely and though I look forward to my cheat day (and take full advantage) I enjoy the diet daily.

    No one here has mentioned Chimichurri or Peri Peri sauce. I’ve been using those…in fact I loooooove them! Is this good or bad? I haven’t lost much weight but I’m looking to drop 5 pounds and Tim mentioned women should look for most dramatic effects around week 6….its only been 3.5 for me.

    Anyway, Chimichurri or Peri Peri, should I use or avoid??

  67. I’ve been making cauliflower rice which is real simple and handy.

    Just cut some cauliflower up and put it in a food processor. Then just boil for 5 minutes tops. Mix with a little butter and herb.

    Goes great with all the slow carb’ recipes…

  68. My question – Damage Control.

    On page 103 you tell us about your super binge day and you give your “before” and “after” weight.

    29th August – 12st

    31st August – 9.7st

    Now I don’t mean to be a doubting Thomas, but two and a half stone seems too much to lose in just a weekend – is it a typo?


    1. As I haven’t had an answer on this I’m going to take it that Tim didn’t lose 2 1/2 stone in a weekend. It was just a typo.

  69. This post is exactly everything I thought about when I started hearing people say how boring the slow carb diet is. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE! I’m glad a food scientist says the same thing too. Fantastic post for the foodies out there.

    One of the goals of my site is to provide awesome and 4HB friendly food. To prove to everyone that it doesn’t have to be just chicken, black beans, and lettuce.


  70. Hi I love this diet.. but I seem to be at the same plateau over and over again.

    I am able to lose at least 4-5 lbs during the week then on my off day all the lbs jump back on then I spend the next week taking them off etc.

    Any suggestions?

    Also I find it hard to always eat within an hour of waking up. I read Tim suggested a protein shake for his father. Any suggestions on which ready made protein shake would be good? Or maybe a quick throw in the blender shake?

    Also I have been staying away from almond milk. But if I make it at home natural and unsweetened would this be ok to drink on the diet?

    Thanks everyone!

  71. Tim, you are a legend mate.

    I’ve been on the 4HB way of eating now for 6 weeks and I’ve lost 10kg (22lbs). I feel like a new person.

    I have lost all sugar cravings and have started craving legumes. Weird huh?

    Anyway, I live in South Australia – so if you are ever down this way look me up and I give you a guided tour of the Barossa Valley’s best wineries.


  72. Any reason not to have good quality Dijon mustard on a steak? It says 6% carb, 0% sugar on the label.

    Diet is going awesome, 6 weeks in, losing steady weight and loving it.

  73. I really wish your recipes had a vegetarian option Tim. It seems like a necessary component for all of them is some type of meat. If you could mention any alternatives that would be highly appreciated.

    1. Eggs, whey, and cottage cheese. That’s what I eat normally and I eat meat on my cheat days.

      In all honesty, I didn’t an evaluation of my low carb diet based on the data from the Navy SEALs nutrition guide and I saw that my carbs were way too low and my fats were too. You have to eat a hell of a ton of beans and don’t skimp on the olive oil or whatever fancy oil you want to use.

    2. Vegetarian Taco-free salad:

      Make a salad with lettuce or spinach, tomato, onion and other veggies you may need to use up (cucumber, carrots…). Then in separate bowl combine black beans and corn. Spice with garlic pwdr, salt, red pepper, cumin, chili, onion pwdr, (cajun or fajita seasoning is great too) and heat in microwave. Serve bean mix over a plate of salad with salsa.

      Optional: lactose free cheese or cottage cheese (since the lactose is why dairy is out). Also could somebody please correct me if corn is a no no. It would still be good without it.

  74. My favorite black coffee is a blend I make from the bulk beans Fresh Market has for sale.

    2 scoops of espresso beans, fill the rest of the bag w/ Jamacain Blue Moutian Blend (stir / shake to mix )

    Grind w/ burr grinder on a setting just a bit corser than fine/espresso grind.

    Brew 7 rounded tablespoons in a 12 cup pot.

    Makes great smooth coffee to drink black.

  75. Tim!

    Good to see another post up here! Its seems you finally gotten around to outsourcing the blog, judging by all the recent guest posts! =)

    Also I’ve been referring the 4HB to my personal training clients…

    they LOVE it!! We’re seeing great results, and it has them stoked on fitness.

    One client told me on Monday he lost 10lbs (in 2 weeks and 4 workouts!)

    Rock on brother.

  76. Another great meal that tastes good and is easy to prepare. I’m the ultimate bachelor and hate preparing food…this one works for me:

    White Chicken Chili

    2 cans great northern beans – well rinsed

    3 cooked, boneless, skinless, chicken breast – diced

    4 cups chicken broth

    2 cups chopped yellow onions

    2tsp cumin

    1-1/2 tsp dried oregano

    1 tsp ground coriander or chili posder

    2 clovges minced garlic

    Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve.

  77. Really enjoyed this post, and will definitely cook this recipe.

    Question for all the Four Bodyers out there:

    What’s the tastiest thing you discovered on this diet?

    I expected bland food, but have been pleasantly surprised – my fave?

    Black beans, with that weird gravy from the can, plus taco seasoning… tasty!!

  78. karen s –

    I actually really like it. I’ve used both homemade and store bought. The store bought brand is Blue Diamond Almond’s Almond Breeze – Original Unsweetened. With only 3g f, 2g c and 1g p in 8oz… I doubt the tsp to a tbsp in your coffee would lead to weight gain or a stop in weight loss. We tend to use the store bought more frequently as we are already home-making a TON of other things… almond butter, salsas, mayos, aiolis, almond meal/flour, flax seed meal/flour, etc… Give it a try. When you were using Almond milk, were you using a flavored one? The only flavor I’ve tried and would trust is the unsweetened chocolate. Its a .5g more f, 1g more c and 1g more p. Good luck!

    1. @ Tim Spell = Adding high notes and low notes not only make a good sounding music – but also great tasting food. So – boost the taste factor of your chicken dish with topping it off with chopped cilantro. Here’s more info… Add high notes at the end of cooking (most are volatile, meaning the flavor is released quickly esp with heat) such as: citrus like lemon, lime, orange zest/juice, or fresh herbs like dill, tarragon, cilantro. For low notes add the aromatics in the beginning stage of cooking (to permeate the dish) such as: sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, ginger, yellow onion (use red onion if you want the flavor to go to the sweeter side), or… add the low notes as a garnish like smoked salt and anything toasted like nuts, seeds … coriander seeds (this has been my go to for a month now, they will add great depth to your chicken dish). I like to cook in ratios… 1:4:1 …. 1 part low, 4 parts medium-range and 1 part high. Oh, btw – there’s a Ratio app for the iPhone… yumfun!

    2. thank you so much. i have tried it in the past but it is hard to find where i live, but it is easy to make so i will do that.