Ten Popular Diets — Which Work and Which Are Hype?

100+ pounds lost on The Slow-Carb Diet®.

If you want to lose fat in 2014, how about we do it together?  I need to work off some Danish butter cookies.

Last year, the Lift team helped me test The Slow-Carb Diet® with 3,500 readers.  The result: 84% of people lost weight and the average weight loss was 8.6 pounds over four weeks.  Many people lost more than 20 pounds.  This didn’t surprise me, given the case studies of people who’ve lost 100+ pounds.

Working alongside UC Berkeley, Lift is now launching the largest study of popular diets ever performed.  You can choose from 10 different diets (Paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), and the study includes control groups and a randomized trial.  The Slow-Carb Diet is one option.

I will be participating, cheering you on…and advising.  Here’s what you should do today:

  1. Download the Lift app for goal tracking and motivation. Lift now has Android and web versions, along with the original iPhone version.
  2. Visit the Quantified Diet homepage to choose your diet, or to be randomly assigned to one.
  3. If you choose the Slow-Carb Diet, join the community at 4HBTalk or Reddit for support.  I will pop in every once in a while to check things out.  I’ll be following the diet with you, in addition to using biochemical cocktails I’ll share later.
  4. If you want the full monty, get The 4-Hour Body.  You can lose a ton of weight without it, but the details in the book will prevent you from stalling and make everything faster.

For more background on this study, I asked Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Lift, to tell the story.  Here it is!  It’s a quick read, and I suggest it…

Enter Tony

A year ago, we ran 3,500 readers of Tim’s blog through a four-week study of the Slow-Carb Diet, tracking their progress through Lift.

The results were amazing: 84% of people who stuck to the diet lost weight and the average weight loss was 8.6 pounds over four weeks.  Those stats are crazy, right? Some people lose 100+ lbs going Slow-Carb, but I never dreamed that people’s success rate would be so consistent.

After seeing the results, I wondered whether people fail to adopt healthy habits due to lack of independently testing.  Getting people to change isn’t just about giving good advice; it’s also about giving them confidence in the advice. Our study showed that Slow-Carb definitely works. But what about the rest of the diet world?

As soon as we published the Slow-Carb Diet results, a young researcher at UC Berkeley reached out.  The proposal: that we turn the Slow-Carb Diet study into a full blown scientific research project, or, as he coined it, “The Manhattan Project of diet research.”

Tim is unique, in that he had the vision and the guts to put his diet to the test. Very few (probably zero) other diet authors have tried this.  What if we could replicate this on an epic scale with other approaches?  Real objective data?

Unfortunately, academia doesn’t move fast enough to keep up with popular diets. By the time a study comes out, we’ve all moved on to the next thing. The research that we did on The 4-Hour Body was pioneering in its speed. Tim and I conceived the study in October, ran it in November, and published the results in December.

Taking that rapid, crowd-sourced approach to diet experimentation would be like dropping a nuclear bomb on the existing diet industry. This sort of research could completely change our notion of what works…and for whom.

Our UC Berkeley advisors had just one concern: we had to get more rigorous about our experimental design.

This second study, which we’re calling The Quantified Diet Project, includes a comparison of ten different approaches to healthy diet, a control group, and another group going through a randomized trial.

With your help, we can start getting scientifically-valid measurements for all popular diet advice.  What works and what doesn’t?  The results might surprise you.

When you join, you’ll be presented with ten approaches to healthy diet, along with two control groups. All of these approaches have been vetted for healthiness, but you’ll have a chance to opt out of any that don’t fit your lifestyle.

And, of course, if you are a strong believer in The Slow-Carb Diet, you can go straight to that option (Slow-Carb obviously works).

This is a chance to lose weight, increase your health, boost your energy, and make a real contribution to science.  Join the Quantified Diet Study today!  It could change your life and change how scientific studies are performed.  Win-win.

Here’s to an incredible 2014, starting now,

– Tony Stubblebine
CEO & Co-founder the Lift app
Advice, motivation, and tracking for more than 100,000 goals.

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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153 Replies to “Ten Popular Diets — Which Work and Which Are Hype?”

  1. Hey guys, I’m following a ketogenic diet and noticed that it is insnt an option on that list. What would you suggest? I’d really like to participate!

    1. Agreed, I’m on a ketogenic diet too and would love to see that option in this or a future study. I’d feel dishonest participating and letting my results taint whatever listed diet “comes closest”, though you could side with slow-carb or paleo. Next time keep us Keto people in the loop!

      1. We are asking about people’s dietary preferences. Turns out a lot of people modify these diets to combine with some other form of diet. So, we’re not that worried about you being the person who skews results. Plus, some of the data like change in mood/energy or difficulty is something looks like something we’d still like to gather from you.

      2. Fastest way to fat loss is the Ideal Protein diet. Biological protein made in a lab has the highest bio-availablity and the least amount of calories WITHOUT losing lean muscle tissue. You must weigh gain/loss of lean muscle tissue every week or you have no idea what your results are !

        Paleo and South Beach will work well if you are willing to put in more cardio to get rid of the carbs in those diets. Weight Watchers and Atkins are a joke and I have weeklt data on 50 clinets that have followed these methods that are a joke.

      3. I agree, I’m following Keto as well. The Gluten Free option was chosen for me, which is one of Keto’s guidelines (No grains). But I was disappointed in seeing that wasn’t an option…It’s even mentioned in the 4HB and the 4 Hour Chef.

    2. Same, I’m on a high fat low carb (HFLC) diet- basically ketonic diet…

      No option, closest is either Slow Carb (insert registered trademark here ;-)) or the Paleo

      Paleo is closest in my opinion

    3. ^^Chris, is that where you use your body’s saved fat as fuel? I would be interested to hear the response too.

  2. So I was thinking of fusing the slow carb diet with intermittent fasting and testing for results.

    I’ll eat foods only recommended in the slow-carb but on the eating schedule of a 14 to 16 hour intermittent fast.

    You guy’s thoughts?

    1. Jerome,

      I’ve seen that many people on slow carb forums incorporate intermittent fasting. From my own experience a fast day works great post cheat day. Not sure how much benefit you’d get do it more often than that, but it could be worth experimenting.

  3. I think most diets work – it doesnt matter which one you choose, as soon as you stop putting junk into your system (refined carbs and sugars) you will loose weight if that’s what you have been eating. The success of a diet is more dependant on what you were doing before the diet than the diet itself. Everyone claims their diet works and has proof of it, but that doesnt mean its the best diet. How is “success” measured? I’m looking for the most healthy way to eat (I dont have weight to loose so that isnt a valid measurement for me).. After looking at the long term transformations of people like No-Meat-Athlete, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek and many others, I’m going to try move towards a “whole food, mostly plant-based, not too much” diet.. (Sorry; I’m wary of any diet followed with a “®”)

    I wish everyone a successful, healthy, 2014!

    1. I totally agree: the current diet is the best predictor of the success of the next diet. I sincerly hope that the Lift team will take that into account, and not just focus on the usual confonding variables (age, gender, BMI). I would be a shame to gather lots of good data only to end up with rubish conclusions because one variable (current diet) was overlooked.

    2. one of michael pollans’s books starts out….eat food, mostly plants, not too much…….I’m probably paraphrasing, but not too much!….his books are well worth reading………

  4. Awesome idea. Just curious: it seems like many of the diets are the same or have very minor modifications. Can one choose multiple diets or a hybrid? I for example am a huge fan of the slow carb diet, but I also enjoy nuts for energy.

    1. Martin — You can eat nuts on the Slow Carb Diet.

      I HIGHLY recommend buying a copy of The 4 Hour Body (print edition). It has all the information about the diet, and the print edition will allow you to take notes as you go. I’ve had great success with all the information in the book, not just the diet… Weight lifting, weight loss, endurance, sex, etc..

  5. Hi Tony,

    Do you have any data from the four week study about the age or gender of the participants? I would be particularly interested in the information, both from the previous Lift trial and from this Quantified Diet Study, relating to women 40-50 who have had children and who have less than 10kgs of bodyfat to lose in order to be regarded as lean. I see plenty of results for males and females of all ages who have a lot of bodyfat to lose, they seem to be able to get good fat reductions weekly, and men seem to report quicker and more substantial loss, but there is not much information around women and the group I described. I got 5kgs of bodyfat off with Tim’s SCD almost 3 years ago, (and added 5kg of lean mass) and not one gram of fat will move since. The DEXA scan tells me another 5-7kg of bodyfat off would put me in the lean category (am in healthy category now) so I need to model the success of other women who are similar to me. I’m afraid the results for men, or those who begin from a very high weight, aren’t necessarily relevant for the whole population. Can I urge you to study our group in particular?

  6. Tim, I think it’s great that you’re puttin’ out this weight loss advice, but you might as well just give up. America was meant to be fat, and we’re just going to get fatter anyway. Why go against the grain? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

    I’m from the South (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and everyone here is BIG. Especially the women. I love big beautiful women, because I’ve learned to ACCEPT them for who they are on the inside, not just how much they weigh. It’s time you embrace Fat Acceptance like the rest of us! Get with the program and get your face squashed by a fattie. Eat, Pray, and Love!

    – Nigel Davis

  7. I would like to participate in research like this but for weight GAIN instead… any chances there will be a project for weight gain diets in the future?

    1. We’re planning to do a Quantified Fitness study after this. Weight gain would definitely be something we’d look at.

    2. There is a chapter that talks about weight gain, in the copy of 4Hr Body I have it starts on page 181 “From Geek to Freak”.

  8. Tim, I really appreciate your work – it significantly changed the way i think and it helped me in a lot of different ways, especially with 4HB. This is why I often like to read you opinions on different subjects, and one of them quite important for me – I would like to know your thoughts on vegan eating, would you consider it efficient and healthy in this context? And recomendable? Best regards. S.

  9. I’d love to see Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Diet get in on something like this. I know Tim is at least acquainted with him. Perhaps Dave could get involved if he isn’t already?

  10. As a Dane I really don’t understand the hype around Danish butter cookies. So dry and boring, why not eat Danish instead?

    Anyway, very cool app you’ve got there.

  11. I will have a go at this although I am not hugely overweight so don’t imagine I will lose a lot. Also I am 50 years old so I don’t expect the same results as someone I their 20’s. Having said that I am a young 50. About 13.5 stone post Xmas @around 23% body fat. My aim is body decomposition; gain muscle lose fat and get that body fat %age as low as is realistic but certainly below 20%.

  12. This sounds fascinating! I can’t wait to see the results. I tried the paleo diet for health reasons once and it was one of the toughest things I’d done; mostly difficult from a planning standpoint (grocery shopping, meals, etc).

    Good luck guys!

  13. I have lost 50 lbs over the past 80 days

    on Ideal Protein (Ketogenic Nutritional Protocol).

    I still have 30 lbs to go but I am very confident that

    I am on the right track. The reason that my wife,

    who has lost 35 lbs, and I chose IP is that the actual

    weight loss is only the first phase of four phases. The

    following three phases help to reinforce healthy eating

    in order to ensure that the weight stays off. I was sceptical

    at first but have been amazed with the results.

  14. In my honest opinion, for most people it’s not the actual diet itself that helps, it’s the fact that they are eating consciously and taking note – mental or physical – of their portions and what they’re eating throughout the day.

    1. Yup! totally agree. The best “diet” is paying attention, having a goal, developing life-long habits, and following through.

    2. You mean there isn’t “one weird trick” Benny?! That sort of crazy talk doesn’t sell ebooks and launch forums though. Yeah at the end of the day all of these tricks to reduce calorie consumption are worth experimenting with, and any one of them could work for any one individual. But you have to eat less, and do it consciously and consistently, simple but not easy.

  15. Great! another chance to test the slow carb diet. I have was on it for 3 months last year and it was just incredible times. Hopefully with some kind of community this year I can stay on it for longer. Thanks Tim, and Lift(which I am using currently).

  16. The “slow carb diet” popularized by Dean Karnasez and borrowed by others, is nothing more (or nothing less) than basic, healthy eating. It is NOT a diet but rather a lifestyle, one that has been around for a very, very long time.

  17. Cool idea and delighted to see academia involved. Did you guys get UC Berkeley ethics board approval? A major reason academia is so slow is because of the need for ethics board (also called IRB) review and oversight. General idea is that all health research participants must be informed of risks, consent to participate, etc., etc. I don’t think there are any academic medical journals that would publish findings from studies without this stamp of ethics board approval. I think I remember 23 and Me running into problems trying to publish without ethics board approval. I am sure you got this approval, I am interested in how the board received the idea.

    1. Your point re: ethics is spot on, and some of the ethics requirements are up front (consent, confidentiality) on the enrolment form.

      The LIFT trial appears to be a promotional tool for the proprietary diets in the “trial.” Even so, I’ve joined because it’s a good motivational tool, and the slow-carb diet doesn’t seem to have any inherent risks.

      🙁 I love me some fruit more than white foods or sweets.

  18. Tim & everyone,

    I’m a huge fan. I love data. I’m using the SCD as outlined in your book.

    I’ve been through episodes of vegetarianism, paleo, slow carb, low carb, and intermittent fasting.

    Intermittent fasting and slow carb was what helped me. You know why? Because I don’t want to cook four meals. I don’t even want to cook three. I eat twice a day because I’m lazy. SCD was an arbitrary choice. I decided to follow the diet because I like the stuff you do and that’s it. I was also frustrated that I spent the last three years reading about eating instead of just “eating better”, so I took up SCD just because it was outlined by someone I liked. An arbitrary choice. I thought I’d give it a go for a month or two and switch to something else if it sucked. I’m making progress so I’m not switching. Simple as that.

    I know that most people will argue with my comment, but in the end it’s all about calories in/calories out. It sucks. It really does. There’s no magic. You gotta eat less calories. Better quality food also helps. I tried paleo low carb (all the rage a year back and still strong) for a month once with no effects. Why? I was consuming the same amount of calories I would have otherwise. And no, I didn’t put on muscle (I tracked it best I could; also — please no touchy-feely rebuttals about healing my gut and calories magically disappearing to cure me of wheat ailments I didn’t know of).

    In the end slow carb worked, because — without paying attention to it — I was eating way less calories. I’m sure IF helped because it’s harder to eat too many calories if you just have two meals per day. I decided to count my caloric intake once and I it turns out I eat approx. 1500-1800 calories per day. Most calorie calculators say I’d need to eat 2100 to maintain weight. So basically I ended up eating was the old school suggested -500 cals per day on average.

    I love data, I can’t wait for the results but they will be nothing more than an exercise in what the Internet and new media can achieve. Without a clinical ward you can’t monitor what people do. Period.

    What’s more, you’ll have plenty of people not following a specific diet (you’d need a clinical ward, again) but weird personal hybrids. As the comments already show.

    I do wish you all the luck but this is not science.

    Thanks for helping me loose ~25 pounds. SCD keeps working and I should reach my goal somewhere in February.

  19. What about the supplements participants take? I haven’t found any references to this while checking the 2-3 links about the previous study. Did I miss something?

    1. How’s your cognitive performance on the fasting days? Do you feel like you’re as productive as the feeding days?

  20. What makes a diet successful in my estimation is if people can maintain the weight loss and keep it off. Sure, lots of diets work to lose weight, but very few help people create a lifestyle they can sustain. That is the missing link in all of these studies, long-term outcomes for a large enoug sample size.

  21. Years ago I did no gluten, sugar, dairy or alcohol for three years and it worked great.

    Am strongly considering doing the same now, although in New York (where I am now) it is much more difficult to pull off than in California (where I was then).

    I don’t know if there is a formal name for this but I have heard of others doing the same.

  22. I am taking part too, with Paleo, although I would have liked to give a ketogenic diet a chance once.

    Something tells me that, if it were free, also John Cena’s new program, the 10 Weeks BodyChange (there’s this info website http://www.10wbc-changetime.com) might be in the list to choose from as well. It has had already great success in Germany and seems to me a mix of paleo and slow carb.

  23. Tim or anyone else,

    I would love to do this challenge! I have lost 50 lbs on SCD before and kept it off, have about 20-25 more to lose. One bump in the road I’ve come across is that I tried a ketogenic diet for almost a month without any carb refeeds or cheat days and it completely killed my thyroid function. I was actually gaining weight on a caloric deficit and while in ketosis. I just jumped back on SCD hoping it would fix my thyroid and lower my TSH, but I am afraid I will skew results because I may not lose as much as I would have without this condition. Should I do it anyway? Please advise! =)


  24. Having trouble with the lift app…. where do I go for that? I cannot find how to setup the start day, how to enter data…. just a blank “intuitive” screen. As a side mote, I hate the icons world. Give me words, not symbols, and I can figure it out…. ah well, hope to get an answer.

    1. Hey Roger, I’m having the same problem — I can’t figure out whether Lift is incredibly limited, or whether I just don’t know how it works. (As a side note, I’m a user experience designer by profession, so I’m not a total newbie when it comes to apps.. 😉 I don’t know whether I’m supposed to check in every day, or just when I’ve achieved my goal; I’d prefer to have the option to enter a LOT more data.

      I’ve been randomly assigned the sleep diet, and I’d love to be able to put in how much sleep I got, what hours I slept, how I felt the next day, and what I ate. It doesn’t seem like Lift is going to give the researchers (or me) very much data!

      Also… the description page for the sleep diet is not nearly as detailed as what I get when I google ‘Sleep Diet’ and find all sorts of variants related to what you eat. Am I supposed to go with only what the study’s description is?

      In any case, I was chuffed to bits to be assigned to sleep more, as I feel like I’m chronically sleep-deprived. Here’s hoping it makes me happier, healthier, and a bit slimmer!!

      1. Ah — I meant to say that you do have to sign up for the study from its own page in order for it to show up on Lift. That’s working fine. It’s the rest of the interface that is giving me trouble.

  25. I’m not on diet and I’m in a pretty good shape cause I always try to eat healthy, but when I get those three pounds more, I usually decrease the intake of carbohydrates and exercise daily. I’m very curious to see the results of your research! 🙂

  26. It’s ridiculous that they are not including some version of a low-carb diet. They could have Low-carb/Atkins/Ketogenic diet as one option.

    Paleo is not necessarily a low-carb diet.

  27. Very exciting stuff, I gained some pounds over the holidays (after losing it through 4-hour body) this is a perfect opportunity to get back on the horse. 🙂

  28. What will this prove? It’s not that hard to lose weight. What’s hard is not regaining the weight after it’s lost.

    I would be interested only if the results included 1-year and 5-year results, compliance with the diet long-term, or other measures of long-term success.

    Anyone can lose 10 pounds in a month. I think the success of a diet (or lifestyle change) should ONLY be measured when the weight isn’t regained after a certain period of time.

    1. I agree. Losing weight is the easy part which I think we kinda have figured out. Also it’s quite swift to lose a few pounds just water weight and especially the depleted glycogen stores in the liver and muscles (when you’re going lo carb or ketogenic) may fool one to think that a lot of fat has been lost even though it hasn’t.

      I also think that, especially keeping it off is different for some people. It’s a whole different ballgame if you’ve got a metabolical disorder and you’re trying to stay lean.

  29. Interesting. I do hope the study will include activity levels, health metrics beyond just mass, and weight loss maintenance – otherwise it really isn’t going to tell us much as most diets result in weight loss over a short term period.

  30. People complicate this too much. A diet is nothing more than what you eat and there is no ‘magic’ in any one diet. The only way to have long term success is to count your macros (protein, fats, carbs). If you take the time to do this and establish a baseline (how much you’re currently eating protein, fats, carbs) and weigh yourself weekly you can easily modify.

    Example – If you’re eating 150g protein, 300g carbs, and 50g fat a day and you find yourself gaining weight week after week you simply reduce the intake (most likely reduce carbs by 25-50g) and you than weigh yourself weekly. When your fat loss stalls reduce the carbs another 25-50g.

    You may have success with a diet for awhile but without establishing a baseline and tracking your macros you really don’t have any idea how to continue improving. It’s all guess work if you’re not counting your macros.

    It baffles me that so many intelligent people that read Tim’s blog are utterly clueless when it comes to nutrition. It’s basic math. That’s all it is. Count your macros and please stop saying things like, “I’m going to eat healthy” because you absolutely, positively can become obese from eating healthy foods it’s just generally tougher because most of them are less calorie dense.

    I ate pizza 3x last week among various other ‘unhealthy foods’ and my body fat without exaggeration is around 12-14% right now and that’s high for me. Because I count my macros I know what I can get away with in terms of eating while not becoming overweight and I can also easily reduce my body fat % and have my 6 pack show as we get closer to summer whereas most people will abstain from eating ‘bad foods’ and drive themselves crazy following some diet that tells them they can’t eat anything bad for them and they’ll still look worse than me when they take their shirt off.


  31. I can attest you can lose a ton of weight with the Four Hour Body–it’s great for tricep curls!

    Seriously, folks–do hot yoga daily or nearly every day, eat a low-carb, vegetarian diet and you’ll lose weight–sometimes more than you want to. On this regimen, I started at 144 and am down to 122.

  32. Tim,

    I’m a big fan of yours but you are becoming myopic in your projects and being perceived as ‘selling out’ for big companies. You of all people should know that short term (4 weeks) weight loss is a very crude and dangerous measure of getting a healthier outlook on our relationship with food. By being associated with these kinds of ‘quick fix’ diets, you are diluting your brand, damaging your reputation longer term. You may think you are helping people, but maybe you need to stop and take a long think about what you are now involved in. I’ve seen many good brands take a downward nose dive over the years. Please have a good think about your motivations… as you are not helping people long term and if financially gaining from your associations with diet companies, you are now entering the dark side. I hope you see sense and turn back to the many good things you do for people.

  33. I would like to see a study that focused more on overall health metrics rather than “lose 100#”. While losing weight, for many, is the goal, I think the increase in long-term health is more important.

    1. Could not agree more. All of this discussion is about weight. While yes, it’s a good idea to lose weight if you’re overweight, there are plenty of healthy people who are a little overweight and probably some very unhealthy people who are skinny. Why is no one talking about measuring what’s actually going inside people’s bodies, i.e. a study of people’s blood/biomarkers as the intake of food is certainly going to affect our biochemical makeup (i.e. cholesterol, triglycerides, etc) and THAT is the true measure of health not how much you weigh or whether you have a six pack.

  34. For what it’s worth, I didn’t lose or gain weight on a Paleo diet (I’m happy with my weight anyway), but I did become a heck of a lot healthier.

    It’s been two years since I started, and I’ve had maybe two short colds since then. Before that I was getting sick at least once a month, be it a flu, cold, or even pneumonia. In fact, the month before I started I was hospitalized for pneumonia for the 2nd time that year!

    1. Hey Chad, during that time period when you changed your diet and felt much healthier, did you ever undergo blood testing to see any changes in your biomarkers after you changed your diet? It would be interesting to know, since you said you were much less frequently sick…

  35. Hey Tim/Tony,

    what about intermittent fasting? I know this idea has been blowing up recently and there are many different variations on the time frames for fasting and feasting intervals. All of the results that people are getting tend to be very positive and the science behind these types of diets is strong.

    1. Agree this would be very useful to have been put into the study. It’s unfortunate that IF isn’t represented, hopefully in the next round…

  36. Hard to believe the best in the business (TF)would support any contest based solely on weight loss. It’s your book that got me addicted to measuring body fat, but more importantly lean muscle tissue loss. This study will prove nothing. I could win this contest doing the 3 twinkies a day diet. All I would prove is that I take in less calories than I burn. So what ? The all fruit and lemonade only diet will be a huge success if its weight only. I own 2 diet centers and we weigh and measure clinets from every diet there is and I can not explain in words how people do not understnd the damage they are doing when they lose lean muscle tissue as I believe 85% of people do on stupid diets. We use the Inbody520 to measure and weigh every clinet for weight loss,lean muscle tissue gain or loss, hydration levels, and visceral fat every week. Please please please do NOT use a scale to determine if a diet is working it’s the single biggest problem in the world. You have absolutely no idea if a diet is “working” if your are going to use a scale as your measuring tool. Read Tim’s book and you will never just use a scale again.

  37. Hi,

    Just joined your program and I can’t find the directions. The program assigned me to the Calorie Counter diet, but does not tell me what to do.

    I hope you can point me in the right direction.


  38. Hi,

    I think this is a good survey but in my opinion one more important would be figuring out the diet that keeps the weight off. Since it seems a lot of people who lose a ton of weight eventually gain that body fat back. Sometimes even more. It’s my understanding that the body wants to maintain a certain amount of fat for example: if one is 220 lbs and loses 20 the body will try like hell to get back to that 220. I’ve seen people eat like birds and still struggle to not gain fat.

    This seems to happen even though the person adjusts his/her calorie intake to a lower level but instead they end up having to diet just to maintain that lower body weight.

    Well, that’s probably another survey. Interested to see what results this reveals.

  39. This is a good one! I’m totally for experimenting on your own. The current health recommendations and even research results may be influenced by the food industry. The more I read about that the more suspicious I get about any official recommendations. This kind of project will prove objectively what works and what doesn’t. Where’s intermittent fasting, though?

  40. It looks like you can’t choose your own diet (self-designed)–is this correct? The one that gives me spectacular results doesn’t fit into any of the categories as far as I can tell (lots of vegetables, and a LOT of fat).

  41. Just to throw this out there:


    I don’t want to discourage any new years resolutions,

    but I thought her findings might help explain the differences in results between diets as well as have some impact on the design of diets.

    For example, the thermostat metaphor of the brain’s weigth range: What if the speed with which weight is lost determines how much weight comes back on because of the way the brain’s thermostat can respond?

    Or the argument of failing strategies that rely on constant application of will power: What if the diet’s fit to the lifestyle determines how long it is applied?

    Cheers 🙂


  42. I’ve heard the Lift app mentioned before, I may even have it downloaded on my phone the first time I heard it mentioned here.

    I’m going to be using that baby to help me keep myself accountable for my progress in 2014.

  43. I’m very excited to participate. I very successfully followed the slow-carb diet to lose 30 lbs. in two months in early 2011, but was derailed and have been stop/start dieting since then. I started the slow carb diet along with a quantified self lifestyle to track everything and hopefully use the numbers to motivate me daily.

    I’ll be adding this to my daily quant routine. Feel free to follow me on Lift. Name on there is “Stephen Panico”, Twitter handle is @stephenpanico. I’ll be starting some discussions with some of my best diet recipes and tricks.

    To get the discussion started here, will anyone following slow-carb be supplementing it with the PAGG stack? I’m debating adding it in, as it was only marginally effective for me for the three weeks I used it earlier in 2013.

  44. I’m focusing on 50 lbs for 50 – which is what I will be very shortly. My eating habits aren’t too bad, but I spend more time sitting than I should. Metabolism is shot. I’ve never been much for exercise for the sake of exercise. But give me a project and I can usually burn some calories. Lucky for me my house was damaged in a storm last year. I have several weeks of flooring, sheet rock and paint to look forward too.


  45. I would like to know, in the 4HB, if your following the Occam protocol one or two, do you do more than one set? I know it may be a stupid question, but it only lists one set of reps and on weight. If you do more than one set, how many sets do you do? Thank you

  46. big tim,

    thanks for one of the most important poems of my life “Slow Dance.” I was living life as a race and that simple poem made me sit back and make some more sense of life. Just awesome! It also led me to create my own blog on weebly to give more meaning to life, I’m sure you’ll like creativity of the idea… 🙂 cheers

    1. I believe after determining the weight you only do one set per exercise p197 paragraph five. However when I tried this out I did do one warm up set prior to each heavy set. See p 219 re warm ups.

  47. I’m on a ketogenic diet. very curious about fitness. I totally agree with the slow carb diet workout. It’s very interesting. Need to know more useful information.

  48. Interesting post.

    It all comes down to what kind of physique you want combined with lifestyle. For example, I am into lifting weights and bodybuilding. My diet and fitness goals related to both are going to be a lot different than someone who is looking to drop 50 lbs or drop a pants size or two.

    The key is to find out “what” you want your overall health and fitness goals to be and then study which diet/workout program suits your needs best and tweak things occasionally.

  49. One thing to look into is the body fat. I really try to eat right, and thank God I have a great body. Let me recommend a few apps: A6W is great. And 7 minutes workout. You should try it out. Runtastic is great for aerobics and is so power-packed, you’d love it. Just try these apps out. Good for you.

  50. Hi Tim (and likely associated VAs)-

    Thanks so much for your recent contributions to my life. 4HWW has changed things for me dramatically, and I’m about a third of the way through 4HB. For the first time in a long time I’m excited to get my life back.

    Knowing you’re busy and respecting your time, I was wondering if you or someone else here could comment on two questions:

    1) Do we know if any long-term juvenile (IDDM) diabetics have succeeded with this routine?

    2) Does taking hot baths have an opposite effect as cold baths / showers? Does it add weight? My sense is that it wouldn’t because fat gain is about storing excess calories whereas fat loss in the context of your Ice Age is about thermodynamic homeostasis.

    Thanks for everything! Happy to be here

  51. Some interesting thoughts here. I’m going to be starting a new workout program next month and have been looking for ideas on how to go about it. I’ve usually been about just eating well in general and excercising at the gym, but no doubt that specific diets can work for some people.

  52. Hey,

    I personally found after a few months on a blended diet with a little extra walking, I was able to shave off a few spare kilos. For those interested, the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead is a grate inspiration!

  53. Hi! Super excited about The Tim Ferriss Experiment – however I’m in Australia and unable to download it as is only downloadable on iTunes USA. Is there any other way I can access the episodes?

    Thanks a million!!


  54. Tim, you have received a lot of feedback from people on The Slow-Carb Diet. Do see differences between the people that successfully change their eating habits and ones that struggle. What strategies would you recommend to someone focusing on adopting new healthy eating habits? Thanks.

    1. Tim rarely responds to any blog questions on here anymore.

      As someone who’s been obsessed with bodybuilding, health and fitness for 8 years, I would answer your question by saying the primary difference I notice with people who stay on track with their diet/workout regime from those who don’t, all comes down to their level of commitment. The people who are in the middle of changing their diet and stick with it are those who rarely break from the daily rituals that made them successful with it.

      A real life case example related to your question would be Jared Fogle (the Subway guy). When he started eating at Subway, he would always order a 6-inch turkey sub for lunch and a full-length veggie sub for dinner, both meals with a bag of baked chips and a diet soda. The Subway diet was 100 percent his idea too. He said “The big thing was no mayo, no oil, no cheese,” he said. “I did it for 11 months.”

      The key strategy is at the end of the day is just to be discipline about eating very specific foods day in and day out. Sometimes people may get sick of eating the same foods over and over again but I have never really had that problem. If I get tired of chicken, I will substituted it for fish or turkey. Sorry for the long answer but hope that helps.


      1. Thanks for the answer Ross. I agree with your answer. I am conducting an experiment on myself to determine the most effective ways to add a habit. I have added 239 positive habits in 239 days. I have noticed having a reason is key factor to push through when things get tough and boring. Sticking to a diet requires commitment and willpower. Having a reason will help you to have the strength and discipline to stick to your plan and stay on track.

  55. Wow. I’ve long wanted to try the SCD but never had the time to be serious about it. Right now I’m 2 weeks into this quantified diet thing (I got into SCD group by the choice of Holy Random) and feel great! I was a bit afraid I would skew the results of the research because I don’t really want to lose much weight (maintenance would be alright for me), but I’m minus 4 pounds and counting — all without any trouble whatsoever!

    This is surely the easiest diet that ever is. A guy can eat a delicious pizza in front of me, and I just make my mental check and forget about it.

  56. Biochemical cocktails? I can’t wait to hear more about that. The challenge for me is gaining weight, so I probably won’t be of any use in this.

  57. I’m on the Paleo Diet for a few months now and I love it.

    The Paleo Diet is a low-carb diet which is based on what our caveman used to eat. The food we are ‘supposed’ to eat.

    From the moment I started the diet I feel a lot fitter and healthier. Could really advice it!

  58. Hey Tim,

    Any ETA on the next episode of Random? Seems like we’re due for another one soon…

    Thanks for being an inspiration!



  59. Incredible about the misinformation about protein and fat intake.

    No one here appears to be on a HCRV diet, or 80-10-10.

    1. I think a successful diet is a simple combination of natural whole foods like veggies, fruits and whole grains; and also, plain food cooking that supports a balance of flavors. A bit of exercise helps; you can gauge the merits of your diet by looking in the mirror and seeing a better-looking you, after a while. Hope this helps.

  60. As a physician who has been managing diets for 3 decades, the most successful weight loss plan I’ve seen is a simple balanced diet, composed of foods you normally like and will eat, with moderated caloric intake, and combined with a reasonably active lifestyle. No gimmicks, no secrets, no quick & miraculous answers. For feedback reinforcement, I’ve recommended an app called “My Fitness Pal” (sometimes called “Calorie Counter& Diet Tracker”). Easy-peasy, slow and steady, and IT WORKS!

    1. Mike, as a physician for 3 decades tracking this, have you ever monitored your patients’ biomarkers to see any changes as a result of their dietary intake? To me this seems to be the real measure of health versus weight alone. While yes a “balanced” diet is good, we have to admit not everyone is going to react the same to every food (eg why do some people die from eating peanuts and i can eat a jar a week of PB), so we can’t make blanket statements such as one diet is good for all. Any thoughts. Thanks.

  61. I have what is probably a very basic question considering the current comments on ketogenic diets, but I haven’t been able to find any info in a (albeit relatively quick) google search. Maybe one of you can help.

    Are green beans allowed on the Slow Carb Diet?

    They are technically a fruit, but the glycemic index is very low. I’m just a little confused, and as a good old southern boy, I like my green beans.

    Thanks everybody!

  62. Hello Tim,

    When are you going to hold a session on “The Experiment” about learning deep snow skiing (powder/freeride/heliskiing)?

    That would great either here in the Alps or Rocky Mountains…

    Servus from Bavaria,

    Divad Edliw (reverse both for real name)

  63. When you are not busy, can you tell me who to speak with about questions for The Tim Ferriss experiment?

    I purchased the whole season, yet, I have only received episodes 1, 2, and 3. How do I receive the rest of the season?

  64. Lost 78 pounds since April 2013 by applying the 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking rule. Thanks Tim!

  65. 2 years ago I began to address my addiction to flour, sugar, binge foods and larger than “normal” quantities of food through the 12-step program of food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous – http://www.foodaddicts.org. I have not only recovered a right-sized body by losing 110 pounds but I now have ways to help me maintain that weight. This is a program of recovery. In my opinion anyone who has tried other means to lose weight but has not been able to maintain the weight loss will beneft from this program. I have not ingested any flour or sugar over the last 2 years and I don’t miss it! I have ways to deal with life situations without using food. This is a free program of recovery. Check it out!

  66. I have lost 30 lbs. because of “slow carb diet”. This fact started many positive changes in my life so I’m gratefull Tim. Thanks. And I wish You very well in Your quest 🙂

  67. Hey Tim,

    I am a Palo Alto native who currently resides in Manhattan while I attend college. I am a huge fan of 4HB and a dedicated reader of your fantastic blog.

    Since moving to New York (where are the fresh vegetables?) and adjusting to cafeteria dining, I have found that I have gained 5-10lbs. I just started doing the Kiwi workout and I love it — quick and to the point. I have tried many different meal/exercise plans, but no program has been sustainable and effective. When I eat old, gross salad, etc. I find that I am starving 2 hours later. I’ve tried doing the 3 minute slow-carb breakfast, but the vegetables take 7 minutes and the microwave is a 5 minute walk away.

    So here is my challenge to you: How can a college student eat well, feel good, and still partake in the less healthy (ahem) joys of college, while maintaining a toned body and not hating the food she eats? Oh, one more thing, I’m broke. Can it be done?

    I’ve been trying to deconstruct this challenge and I would really appreciate any advice you may have for me.

    With gratitude,


  68. Hey

    I have been inspired by your book . But we indians eat rice and curry or wheat bread called roti and curry. How can I substitute the roti or rice . Any suggestions . And v love are tea with milk and sugar … u talked abt artifixaula artificial sweeteners being a big no no . What are the alternatives and I hate spinach …. I really wanna try this but I m unable to plan a indian way..kindly help

  69. Ok, an update after using the lift app as part of this. Silly me, I thought that was kinda the point of this, to gather data…..

    Anywho, 3rd time of slow carb. The first time, I lost 15 lbs, the second, 10, this time, 10, all three after a month. I started at 5’11”, 183 lbs, this time around. In other words, I do not have a lot to lose, but here in my later 50s I find a little more belly than I want. My comparison is 10 years ago, when doing martial arts, I weighed around 162, and was still there when I did a sprint tri a couple years later. Some was muscle, most belly, yada yada.

    My observation from reading non this blog articles is that most people who do a higher protien diet, low carb thing tend to gain the weight back fast-and at my not too terribly fatter self weight, that is what i found also. I will stick with it, though, because I really was tired of chocolate pop tarts for breakfast and dollar menu lunches. This is healthier… and my new fave lunch (since I eat in my truck alot) is a salad with roma tomatoes, avacado and honey smoked salmon.

    I also had a torn meniscus last year, so now that its better (surgery) I hope to start my gecko feet running again, which should help a little. Toying with either another sprint or doing the 5x5x5 powerlifting program from earlier in the blog…. havent made a decision on that yet.

    My conclusion is that SCD works way better for thos with a lot to lose, and not as effective for those needing to lose 10 or 15. Perhaps that is more for the cold showers, pagg stack, squats before dinner, but I did not try that. Most of what I do lose is water weight, and it pops back on quickly. I was surprised that the lift app did not check in again at the end of 28 days, just after the first week, that might be something to relay to the designers of that program.

  70. Hey Tim,

    I met you briefly in San Fran back in Sept at the “fireside chat”.

    At the time I was 12 days into the slow carb. Now I am 5 and 1/2 months in and as of Saturday’s weigh in, I’m down 60 lbs!

    Your books are life changing. First the 4 Hr workweek (I quit my day job almost 4 yrs ago to do my eCommerce biz full time) and now this amazing new health change. What would I do without you!?

    Hope to run into you again in the future. You mentioned you have a place in Utah. I live in Provo, so let me know if you ever do any live events in the Beehive state!

    Thanks Tim!

  71. Hey all,

    I’ve read the 4HB’s relevant chapters and am ready to launch tomorrow.

    One concern though: I haven’t found any information on what happens when people stop the SCD, and yoyoing back to much worse then when I started is a concern.

    Any insight would be very much appreciated.

    Have a blast of a year,


  72. Hi Guys! I’m starting to read up about SCD and I have a small question, haven’t found the answer yet, but I think you can help me: can I use the diet to cut when i work out and don’t want to lose muscle weight, but just get rid of body fat? Thanks in advance!


  73. Hi Tim!

    As a tango follower, I have always pondered over if it is a good idea to learn the leaders role as well. Some people say it will confuse the intuition of following.

    What do you think?

  74. Hi Guys

    Have been reading the 4 hour body and am very interested in following the eating plan. My only query I have is that I exercise most mornings and have breakfast when I get home. That obviously contradicts the golden rule of eating within 30 minutes of waking. Not sure I I could push down 3 eggs then exercise…..

    Any suggestions??

    1. Hey Melissa,

      Not sure how early you are already waking up but you could wake up a little bit earlier (obvious, I know). Another suggestion is you could prepare hardboiled eggs beforehand and put them back in the fridge. That way all you have to do is take them out of the fridge and eat them. That way it would be quick and simple.

      You could always stick to what you are doing too. When I was more into my bodybuilding routine, I was going to the gym at 5 am and not eating breakfast till I got home and cooked afterwards like you are currently doing. If the routine you are doing now works great, you might not want to mess with success. Hope this helps.

    2. Or you could just eat when you get home and release 4 lbs. instead of 6 lbs. There are so many elements in the plan I doubt any one small variation is going to kill it for you. Personally I skipped the cold showers and still released 30 lbs. in 5 weeks. Best of luck.

  75. I do not eat any junk food at all, ever. I ride my bike, hike and do gyrotonics twice a week and my life is generally busy, physically. I cannot loose weight. It drives me crazy. Walked 806km in 4 weeks and lost 5kg, felt like heaven, it’s all back after less than a year. I walked through rainforest for 4 weeks and didn’t loose 1kg!!! My weight is all around my waistline and I often eat too much in the evening as I don’t eat enough during the day; but I don’t binge. I’ve always lost weight on diets (tried them all) but as soon as I stop, it creeps back again. I’m 57 and I am TIRED of diets! What can I do, any suggestions?

  76. There are lots of effective diet programs out there but the hype outnumber them like 3 to 1. You can be fit in any way you can think of as long as you have the dedication to achieve your goals and stick with it.