I Tried the Slow Carb Diet While Breastfeeding — Here's What Happened
note: I am not a medical professional. Please see your doctor before starting a weight loss program.
I recently picked up Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Body. The decrease in free time experienced with parenthood is severe and my days of spending leisurely hours in the gym are (at least for now) over. Tim Ferris is the king of efficiency hacks, so I wanted to hear his take on the most efficient way to get a toned body. One of his main recommendations is to follow the Slow Carb diet, which in its distilled version follows these 5 basic rules:
- Avoid 'white' carbohydrates
- Eat the same few meals over and over again.
- Don't drink calories
- Don't eat fruit
- Take one day off per week and go nuts
I decided to take on the Slow Carb diet for 3 weeks — here's what happened:
The objectives: lose weight, see more abdominal definition
The process: First, I consulted with my pediatrician who gave me the green light to go on a low carbohydrate diet (please check with your own doctor before starting this diet). Then, I decided to give up all sugar, dairy (except cottage cheese, which is allowed) fruit, starchy vegetables and grains, except one bowl of Ezekiel cereal per day (I made this modification because I am a ravenous breastfeeding mama). Tim advises eating egg whites, but I believe in eating the whole egg, so I also made this modification. I also restricted myself to 2 handfuls of almonds per day and only one avocado (though healthy, these foods are still high in calories and fat, Tim calls almonds a 'Domino food' and actually advises to eliminate them altogether).
The concerns: Going in, my main concern was milk supply (ended up being a non-issue), mid-way I began to worry about ketones in the blood stream affecting the babe (I have been eating enough carbs to not go into ketosis). There are a lot of ethical concerns surrounding studies on mamas and babies, so there just really isn't any research into these effects.
- I lost about an inch around my waist (definitely noticeable) and felt much less bloated.
- Breastfeeding mamas need a lot of protein anyway, so the diet was pretty easy to adopt.
- I also love cheat day, having one day of excess / naughty foods made it much easier for me to adhere to the rules the rest of the week.
- The diet had no impact on my milk supply or my babe's temperament as far as I could tell.
- We ate out several times and I had little problem finding simple protein and vegetable dishes.
- I gained .5 pounds (after the first week I had lost a pound. Tim also warns against using weight as a measurement, but old habits die hard).
- It felt like I was eating too much animal protein (eating 6 eggs a day, just doesn't feel quite right) and sometimes felt inflamed. I had to consciously try to eat enough vegetables.
- After cheat days, I felt miserable. 2 of 3 cheat days triggered a migraine, not to mention not-Miami-beach-day friendly bloating.
- I missed fruit at first, but by the end felt fine eating it only 1 day per week.
I did not lose weight or significantly increase ab muscle definition (I'm not sure who I was kidding, I've never had ab definition so 4 months postpartum after a 3 week program in hindsight was a bit aggressive of an objective) over the course of three weeks, but I am definitely going to stick to the diet. Mostly because I feel good, but I am also confident that I am slowly, but surely losing more inches and gaining muscle definition ( I am also working out almost every day. I also started out trying Tim's 2 ab defining exercises every day, but ended up having some postpartum mama stomach problems, so put this aside for the time being). I will try to find more ways to skew towards more plant-based foods.