Nerd Diet: The Slow Carb Diet

Okay, so I’m going to make a sweeping generalization that may offend a few people.

Nerds, as a community, need to lose a few pounds.

I acknowledge that this is especially a bitch statement coming from a girl blessed with an Asian metabolism.  I will preface this by saying that I definitely think that the priority is for people to feel good about themselves and their bodies no matter what their size.  However, reaching for and maintaining a certain BMI is just healthy.  I love you nerds, and I just want you to be healthy and feel good about yourselves!

And yes, I do believe that nerds are more likely to be overweight.  Why?  Because many nerds are not athletically blessed, so we tend to spend more time on our asses reading and gaming and blogging.  Which is awesome, but it doesn’t burn many calories.  Your D&D character might have +4 to endurance and +3 to athletics, but unfortunately, this does not translate to real life.

Also, fact, Think Geek apparel offers most of its items in an XXXXL.  So…yeah.

Because my mother didn’t keep junk food in the house, I was able to stay slim for most of my life.  However, sitting at my desk 50+ hours a week and having the freedom to purchase anything I wanted at Trader Joe’s destroyed my waistline within a few months of graduating college.  So, a few months ago, Jesse & I decided to try the slow carb diet.

Within a month, I lost 10 lbs.  Jesse lost 20 lbs.

Here’s why the slow carb diet is the perfect diet for nerds:

1)  It’s endorsed by the Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, as well as his co-hosts.
2)  It’s not required to exercise to lose the weight (So, if you desire, you can keep gaming and avoid the sun.  The cruel, cruel sun.)
3)  We have a bunch of great recipes here on Castles & Cooks to guide you on your weight loss quest!

If you’re going to try the diet, I highly recommend buying Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body and spend 30 minutes reading the details of the diet first.  But here are the basic rules:

1)  Avoid “white” carbs (pasta, bread, potatoes, etc. – it all turns to sugar).
2)  Also avoid fruit, sugars, dairy (already all sugar).
3)  Eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up (boosts metabolism for the day & keeps you full for the morning)
4)  One day a week, eat as much of whatever you want (tricks your body into burning more fat the rest of the week).

Obviously not having to starve yourself and getting a break from the diet once a week is awesome.  However, once you cut out all the carbs and dairy and sugars the number of things you can eat is extremely limiting.

After going on and off the diet a few times, Jesse and I have found a few tricks that really help you get through to your next cheat day.

1)  Learn to enjoy unsweetened beverages.  Let flavored seltzer and tea become your best friends.  I was already a big tea fan, but after the diet I became obsessed.  Teas with strong flavors that are reminiscent of juice and soda you might miss work best.  My favorite flavors are passion, cranberry, lemon, and mint.  Seltzers are also zero calories, and Polar makes seltzer in really fun flavors, like black cherry.

2)  Make your cheats count.  If you are going to take the diet super seriously, then good for you!  However, if you’re not strong enough, I promise you that indulging in a bag of chips will not help you get through the week.  Cheat in ways that will help you get through the meals you’re not crazy about.  For example: adding butter to green beans, or a pinch of cheese to scrambled eggs, or a couple croutons on salad.  You’re better off without them, but if you’re really hurting, these cheats will help more and hurt your waistline less.

3)  Time your diet appropriately.  The first time we tried the diet, it was starting to get chilly, and all we wanted was delicious comfort food.  Summer and spring recipes simply contain less carbs, so if you’re going to choose a prime season for this diet, don’t make it winter.

4)  Plan your menu in advance.  I work late hours, and I was much more likely to cheat with a packet of ramen if I came home too tired to cook and realized that I couldn’t quickly make a diet-friendly meal.  Think realistically about which meals you are going to cook that week, make a list, and go to the grocery store.  Do not buy cheat day items before cheat day, having them in the house will be too much of a temptation.

5)  Pick up some diet-friendly snacks.  Not snacking was the hardest thing for me when I first started the diet.  However, when I found snacks that worked with the diet, I was able to quell my mid-afternoon salt cravings.  Some of my new favorites included kale chips, roasted seaweed, carrots with greek dressing, crunch green beans, and edamame.  You can even have Indian lentil chips called papadums.  Okay, it’s no bag of Lay’s, but finding good snacks to reply on help a lot.

6)  Have a diet buddy.  If you’re able to get your roommate or partner to diet with you, that works best, because then you can still shop and cook meals together.  However, just having anyone to diet with helps you stay on track and gives you an outlet to whine when you’re missing buttered toast.

7)  Mix it up.  Tim Ferriss says that repeating meals is an important part of the diet, but I think not adding variety makes the diet much more boring and difficult.  Let’s face it, in the book Tim says that he’s not much of a chef, and you are!  Here are a few C&C recipes that work great with the slow carb diet:

Skyrim Salmon Steaks
Roasted Chicken (skip the gravy)
Lentil Soup
Minestrone Soup
Tacos (skip the shell/tortilla/cheese)
Epic Level Chili

8)  Embrace cheat day!  This is the best part of the diet, so take advantage of it!  Plan every second of your cheat day throughout the week, and eat until you hate food.  It’ll make you miss cinnamon rolls less mid-week.