In his best selling book The 4-HourBody Tim Ferriss outlines his Slow Carb Diet.
The diet is basically a Low-Carb diet with some add-ons.
One of the add-ons is Beans or Legumes.
You are required to eat beans or lentils with every meal. That includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The problem is, Tim never says how many beans. In other areas of the diet info (about 60 pages out of a 600 page book) he says to eat until you are full. No need to count calories or carbs.
So, as you can imagine this is a BIG problem for Slow Carb dieters because there is a LOT of leeway. Does eating beans with every meal mean one cup? more? less?
So here’s where the BIG questions and the BIG challenge comes in.
The Slow Carb Diet is a low-carb diet.
Beans are ULTRA HIGH carb.
So why does Tim include them on the diet? Again, it is really NOT explained. So most people guess that the purpose of the beans is to make you feel full.
Well … the real purpose of the beans is to slow down the digestion of your meal and the rate at which the nutrients are absorbed into the body. THIS is why the diet is called SLOW CARB. Because of the slow rate of nutrient absorption into your body. And the BEANS are the key to that slow absorption.
It is all based on something called the Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index was developed to find out how how fast various foods are absorbed into the body.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels. – https://universityhealthnews.com
The Glycemic Index is a huge list of foods that are measured according to how fast the food is converted into “glucose.”
A GI index of 100 is pure glucose.
Table sugar (sucrose) is kinda in the middle at GI 63. If you eat sugar the body rapidly converts it into glucose and your blood sugar levels spike. An hour later your blood sugar levels bottom out, causing you to crave and want more.
There are many foods that are rated higher than white sugar … fruits, potatoes and rice for instance. Here’s something that might surprise you … the GI of a baked russet potato is 111. Yep, higher than pure glucose.
On the other end of the spectrum are beans. Beans are converted into glucose very slowly. Eating them together with other veggies and protein means that everything you eat at the same time, slows down.
So beans are a good thing, right?
Well … maybe.
The challenge is in figuring out HOW MUCH do you eat? And how much is the critical thing. You need to eat enough to have an impact and slow down your digestion and glucose absorption into the body. Eating TOO much means you will not lose weight and in fact may gain weight.
How much should you eat? My suggestion is to start with 1/2 a cup per meal. Depending on your results you can increase this, or decrease it.
You can try eating beans at your 3 main meals. If you prefer, cut back to just two meals.
1/2 cup of cooked kidney beans:
22.4 g Carbs
7.6 g Protein
7.6 g Fiber
1/2 cup of cooked lentils:
20 g Carbs
9 g Protein
8 g Fiber
If you are NOT losing weight or are gaining, cut back to 1/4 cup per meal, or eliminate beans entirely. See below for an alternative.
What kinds of beans or legumes should you eat?
Legumes include: beans, dried peas, pulses, lentils, and dhal (dal).
MOST beans (white beans, kidney beans, black beans, Lima beans) come in at between 23 and 26 on the GI tables. One of the highest is Garbanzo beans at 36 and the lowest is Channa Dhal at an amazing 8.
Lentils are a fabulous choice because they are at the low end — 20, and are high in protein. They are also easy and fast to cook, and you can flavor lentils with dozens of different spice and herbs. In less than 30 minutes you can make fabulous soups and stews. (see recipes below)
For Diabetics and Keto Dieters
I love beans and I am crazy about lentils, but because I have diabetes, this is one of the foods that I only have on my binge or cheat days … and even then in VERY limited quantities.
My solution has been a Slow Carb Diet Hack.
- Forget about the beans
- Replace the beans with a starch
By doing this I am no longer ingesting the huge carb load that is associated with beans, BUT I am getting the same or an even better absorption slowing effect as well as a more effective feeling of satiation or fullness.
What Starches Do I Use and HOW?
Depending on the size of meal I intend on eating, I stir one to two teaspoons of Glucomannan into a COLD glass of water and chug-a-lug it 20 to 30 minutes before eating. If I forget to do this ahead of time, I just chug-a-lug right before my meal … it is not as effective, but still works.
Start with 1/2 teaspoon for the first week in order to give your body time to adjust.
Though not as effective, you can also use potato starch, Xanthan gum or Guar Gum. Potato starch mixes easily into cold water, the gums need to be slowly sprinkled over the water and stirred in quickly. All of these starches will slow digestion and the rate of food absorption into your body. Do NOT use corn starch.
Back to the beans
Here are two Glycemic Index lists, each including more information about the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.
Here are two fabulous lentil recipes. If you like them, you can double or triple the recipes and freeze in 1/2 cup containers.
Lemony Lentils (leave out the maple syrup)
Find out more about the Slow Carb Diet