We know low carb, high carb too – but what should slow-carb be? A pretty clever nutritional concept, where carbohydrates are not forbidden but explicitly allowed.
When everything has to be fast and hectic, we now shift down a gear when we are losing weight. Because “faster” is not automatically “better”: With the low carb diet, you lose a few pounds quickly, but many do not manage to integrate low-carbohydrate food into their everyday life in the long term. Not eating bread, pasta & Co. can soon get on the nerves, and many complain that they are never really complete with low carb.
It is different from the slow-carb concept: Here, too, the focus is on carbohydrates, but they are not prohibited – they are the key to weight loss success.
What Does “Slow-Carb” Mean?
If you translate the English words “slow” and “carb” into German, the principle of the slow carb diet becomes apparent at a glance: slow carbohydrates. Because that’s what it’s all about: With the slow carb diet, the so-called “slow” carbohydrates come to the fore, i.e., complex carbs from whole grain products, legumes, and vegetables should become an integral part of your diet as they effectively help you lose weight.
What Exactly Are Slow Carbohydrates?
Slow carbohydrates are not burned by the body as quickly as fast carbs from sweets or white bread. The reason: They are structured differently. The body takes longer to break down the complex structures of the slow carbs and convert them into energy. Because we can only use carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars (glucose). In principle, all carbohydrates are ultimately sugar building blocks; they have a different structure. In sweets, the carbohydrates are already in the form of simple sugars. The body can use this directly as a source of energy. Complex carbs consist of a series of linked simple sugars, which must be broken down into simple sugars, which take much longer.
The energy kick (which we know from chocolate bars & Co.) does not occur after eating slow carbs – and that’s a good thing because this kick is triggered by the rapid rise in your blood sugar level. The problem: your blood sugar level drops at least as quickly, and cravings remain behind.
Plus: Your insulin level also drives a roller coaster because insulin is always released when sugar is in the bloodstream. With the help of insulin, the sugar can only be transported to the cells. A clever system, which, however, can go awry if sugar is constantly being fed in too much faster. If too much sugar is in circulation, it is also converted into fat and stored in adipose tissue. It is a natural vicious circle that overloads the pancreas (it produces insulin) and leads to constant cravings and hypoglycemia.
How Does The Slow Carb Diet Work?
The body not only takes longer to break down the slow carbohydrates from whole grain pasta and the like and convert them into energy, but they also keep us full longer. The sugar components are only gradually released into the bloodstream, and our blood sugar and insulin levels are constantly kept at the same level. As a result, you are less hungry, and cravings are a thing of the past.
As an additional filler, the dietary fiber should not be missing. Dietary fiber also belongs to the group of carbohydrates, but we cannot draw energy from it. But they are not superfluous “ballast”: The indigestible plant fibers bind water in the gastrointestinal tract and swell up there. The increased volume also ensures a faster and long-lasting saturation effect.
Slow Carb Diet Under Review: The Tim Ferris Concept
If you google “slow-carb,” sooner or later, you will come across Timothy Ferris’ slow-carb diet – and in connection with it, a lot of criticism about this type of diet. What many do not consider: There is no such thing as “one” slow-carb diet. As with the low carb concept (Atkins, LOGI, etc.), several approaches to slow-carb. And although they have the same name, there are sometimes significant differences in the design. Just like in the case of Tim Ferris, because his take on the slow carb diet is far from healthy.
In his book “The 4-Hour Body,” he describes how he lost an incredible 9 kilos in 30 days using the slow carb diet without a lot of sport, instead of with many nutritional supplements and pretty strict rules. Some of these make perfect sense, such as banning unhealthy, fast carbs from wheat flour products and including a weekly cheat or refeed day. However, we would advise against others: At Ferris, fruit is radically eliminated from the diet due to fructose – and thus also many essential vitamins and minerals. According to the author, you should take them in the form of pills (dietary supplements). Another rule from Ferris: The same meals or foods should be eaten over and over again. And the list of permitted foods is not long. Consequence: They eat very one-sidedly, which can lead to malnutrition.
You can achieve quick weight loss successes with the slow carb diet, even without such blatant restrictions. We, therefore, do not recommend Ferris’ method.
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What Role Do Fats And Proteins Play In The Slow Carb Diet?
With the slow carb diet, the focus is on the long-chain carbs, but of course, fats and, above all, high-quality proteins also play a significant (and decisive) role in losing weight. Protein is the building material for our body, since in principle, all structures, such as muscle cells, consist of protein. Animal protein, such as can be found in chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and eggs, is straightforward to use. But vegetable protein sources, such as quinoa, legumes, and nuts, are not despised and should ideally be combined.
Healthy fats shouldn’t be missing if you want to lose weight. These include unsaturated fatty acids, such as nuts, avocados, vegetable oils, and fish such as salmon or mackerel. Stay away from hydrogenated fats and trans fats that lurk in ready meals, chocolate, and chips.
The Ten Best Slow-Carb Foods
We have already given you a few examples of long-chain carbs in our article, such as whole-grain products (bread, pasta, rice), legumes, or vegetables.
- Lentils: Whether red or yellow lentils, beluga lentils, plate lentils, legumes are an excellent slow-carb food. They contain many vegetable proteins, fiber, long-chain carbs, and hardly any fat: a perfect combination for losing weight.
- Hazelnuts: Although nuts contain a lot of fat, they are healthy, unsaturated fats – and they should not be missing in the daily diet. They are also suitable suppliers of vitamin E, which protects and firms the skin. Also great: Tigernuts, almonds, cashews & Co.
- Berries: Take advantage of the berry season (you can use frozen berries in winter) because the small fruits are super healthy, contain little fructose but a lot of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Together with low-fat quark or natural yogurt and a few nuts, it becomes an excellent low-carb breakfast.
- Oat Flakes: Oat flakes are an absolute must-have for every slow career because cereal flakes are excellent sources of energy. Eat them two to three hours before exercise, and you will have endless energy. In addition to slow carbohydrates, they also provide essential fiber, protein, B vitamins that support metabolism, and athlete minerals such as magnesium and iron.
- Flaxseed: Flaxseeds are real fiber grenades: 1 tablespoon provides 6 grams of the healthy digestive booster. The DGE (German Society for Nutrition) recommends consuming around 30 grams of fiber every day. They also contain plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can sprinkle flaxseed over the muesli or salad or incorporate it into your morning smoothie. Also good: chia seeds.
- Dried Fruits: Dried fruit contains plenty of fructose, but you shouldn’t nibble on a whole bag of dried apricots, dates, or cranberries, but only 1 to 2 pieces as a power snack for in between meals. They are also a natural sugar substitute. Tip: Are dried fruits too sweet for you? Then snack on cocoa nibs. The crushed cocoa beans taste intensely chocolatey but not sweet. Try it out!
- Beans: Beans are one of the top slow-carbs because legumes contain many healthy ingredients: fiber, vegetable protein, and natural complex carbs. The perfect combination keeps you full for a long time and supplies you with all the essential nutrients.
- Jerusalem Artichoke: At least they know Jerusalem artichoke, and the exotic tuber can score with us with its inner values. It contains the soluble fiber inulin, which hardly affects the blood sugar level and promotes the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria. Raw Jerusalem artichoke has a taste similar to artichokes; cooked Jerusalem artichoke tastes sweeter.
- Cabbage: Whether cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red or white cabbage: Cabbage is not only a top-quality fiber supplier but also a wholly underestimated source of vitamin C. Example: While an orange only has 73 milligrams of vitamin C in stock, a normal-sized portion of broccoli manages a whopping 115. Vitamin boosts the immune system and has an antioxidant effect, i.e., it protects the cells from harmful influences.
- Chickpeas: The third legume in the top 10 – and with good reason: Because chickpeas provide our body with lots of high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, and plenty of iron and calcium. Canned chickpeas are pre-cooked and can be quickly and easily turned into a healthy low-carb dish.
By the way: Grains and pseudo-grains are also allowed in Slow Carb and are expressly desired. Dare to think outside the box and try “exotic foods” such as green spelled millet, amaranth, or quinoa.
The Best Low-Carb Recipes
You now know the basics of slow-carb cuisine: all you have to do is cleverly combine vegetables, legumes, wholemeal flours, pseudo-grains, and low-sugar fruits with healthy protein and fat suppliers. And that’s not as difficult as you might think now. Because the good thing about the slow carb diet: unlike with low carb, you have to do without much less food.
This Is What Your Slow-Carb Breakfast Should Look Like
What many find problematic with the low carb diet is not a problem with the slow carb diet. Because here you don’t have to do without your beloved carbohydrates in the morning. (Unsweetened) mueslis, oat flakes (or other cereal flakes) in combination with fruit (such as berries) and milk, yogurt, or quark make a full-fledged slow-carb breakfast. Ideally, top it all with kernels, nuts, or seeds.
And of course, wholemeal bread or rolls are also allowed, preferably with cheese, smoked salmon, chicken breast cold cuts, (grainy) cream cheese, or a boiled egg. Speaking of eggs: eggs are real all-rounders – not only in slow-carb cuisine. Whether fried eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelets: you can refine the egg dishes with bacon, salmon, ham, cheese, and all kinds of vegetables, e.g., tomatoes.
Recipe Ideas For Your Low-Carb Lunch And Dinner
With both slow-carb lunch and dinner, there are many options open to you because there are so many healthy foods that you can use for your low-carb recipes. At lunchtime, in particular, you can make good use of the energy boost in the form of long-chain carbohydrates. In addition to wholemeal pasta *, brown rice, lentils, chickpeas & Co., you shouldn’t miss out on filling protein sources such as lean fish, meat, eggs, or tofu.
And This Is How Your Slow-Carb Lunch Could Look Like: A piece of fish or meat (e.g., salmon fillet, shrimp, or turkey breast) with whole grain rice and vegetables (e.g., broccoli or spinach). Also great: hearty stews and curries – with or without meat.
Example Of A Slow-Carb Dinner: Sweet potato fries with meat (e.g., beef or pork fillet) or stuffed vegetables (e.g., eggplant or zucchini) with couscous, millet, or rice.
If you focus on losing weight, you can reduce carbs a little in the evening. You don’t have to leave them out entirely, but to lose weight even faster, reduce the carbohydrates a little to make room for healthy sources of protein and fat: Protein-rich foods such as fish (e.g., shrimp, salmon, tuna), meat (e.g., turkey, chicken, beef, mince), eggs or tofu take up most of the space on the plate. They are complemented by delicious side dishes such as salad, vegetables, or wild rice.
Conclusion: Lose Weight Quickly With Slow Carbohydrates
The slow-carb principle is not that revolutionary but combines everything that makes a healthy, varied diet. The fact that you can lose weight with it is significant, but it is not necessarily the focus of the nutritional method. That is why you shouldn’t see slow-carb as a classic “diet,” but rather as a healthy form of nutrition that you can “stick to” in the long term without any problems. Because here you get all the critical nutrients you need to lose weight healthily and maintain your weight for a long time.
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