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.

Posted on: January 5, 2014.

Please check out Tools of Titans, my latest book, which shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. It was distilled from more than 10,000 pages of notes, and everything has been vetted and tested in my own life in some fashion. The tips and tricks in Tools of Titans changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for sample chapters, full details, and a Foreword from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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150 comments on “Ten Popular Diets — Which Work and Which Are Hype?

  1. Hey Tim,

    I love your blog and your book I have currently read the 4 hour work week and the 4 hour body. Im also a fitness enthusiast like you are and was wondering what your opinion is on intermittent fasting. The slow carb idea for me personally is great for losing fat but for muscle gain its very difficult. I followed Martin Berkhams Lean Gain workout and I had great results. I gained muscle at a rapid pace while my belly seemed to be slimming in. Obviously everyones body is different. I was wondering have you tried Martin Berkhams and routine and what is your opinion on it.



  2. Question – I’ve been doing the diet for years. Now a lifestyle. Some ups and downs. How bad is it when you nimble mid-week on something you shouldn’t – a couple chips, cheese on hamburger and lettuce wrap? Does the whole Ketosis process fall apart?


  3. With all due respect, and I do mean that, can you really believe that you can tell about the effectiveness of any approach by looking at it for four weeks? Much, much research has already shown us that people who go on diets end up heavier two years later. And people who restrict certain foods do lose up front, but don’t maintain the loss or the eating habit. And most of the weight loss is because they get tired of the same foods and eat less. Good short-term tactic. Bad one for three, five, ten years. Yes, yes, I know there are successes at this but they are the EXCEPTION! This no matter what plan they use. We know that no matter how a restricted a diet helped people lose weight, they are rarely still eating that way two years later. We also know that there is often a honeymoon during which people love the program and are convinced they will always live this way. The stats prove that wrong. There really are things that taste better than being thin feels, if you can judge by the majority experience.

    I know speed sells. But real weight loss is finding a way to live with food for five YEARS or more. And not just for the minority. When there’s a dropout rate as there was here, which is typical, we’ve got to find another way.

    Tim may be just the man to do it. But he may have to give up hacking i.e., shortcuts.. just for this one.


  4. Just about to embark on The Occam Protocal challenge of gaining muscle. I am 6 foot 6 and 87kgs and want to get to 97kgs in ten weeks. My problem is that I play intense basketball one night per week on Monday night.
    Q: When should I do my Work Out A and Work Out B to maximise gains and have maximum recovery time?
    Many thanks


  5. Consuming protein mix slowly:

    I started using a talking clock app set to read the time every five minutes. I take a sip of protein mix (1 scoop with 16.9 oz water) every time the app speaks the time. I am trying every ten minutes today. Helps with hunger and possibly constipation.


  6. I plan to eat just a little less than what I burn off and see if that gets me to where I want to be in my weight loss journey. You think I can join this study?


  7. I have tried many diets over the years to biohack my IBD and get off pharmacotherapy. I have been successful using a modified Paleo diet, however when i eat clean, I lose too much weight. Interning this summer with the CCFA, I wrote a white paper explaining that gut micro biome research is leading the clinical dietary discussion towards personalization. This quantified diet effort is important for improving the evidence base of dietetics.

    I am excited to learn more about this research effort. Given recent data demonstrating the high variability in the responses of different individuals to identical meals, I am very curious about your methodology, particularly regarding outcome metrics and internal controls. Thank you kindly!


  8. I find your subject/headers frequently misleading – the body of this email did not give me any of the information that the subject suggested it would


  9. problem with low carb diet, is the taste. After 2 weeks of eating beans beans beans…i want to throw up from beans. PLUS, there aren’t many good recipes to make beans more tasty.
    Low card diet would be THE diet, if it would be tasty.
    for now, its no different from eats “greens” diet. or fruits diet or other not so tasty or too much of something diet.