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Slow-carb before paleo, a question of beginning somewhere?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 08, 2011 at 6:51 PM

For the last few months I have hesitated in tackling the question of weight with my sister; she would admit herself that she is overweight and unhappy. Last weekend she told me that she had done her first circuit training session in the park with a personal trainer and that it went very well. He did mention though that unless she sorts our her eating they were both wasting their time.

I recently moved from slow-carb to paleo, but as I am getting to grips with the diet myself decided to talk from experience and that being of the slow-carb (4HB) specifically. My sister is an amateur cook and baker and so I knew this was going to be tough. For her, meals and money were the first excuse and so as an encouragement I said that I would pay for 6 weeks of sessions with the personal trainer so she could put her money into eating right. I also asked her to cancel her gym membership (which she uses once every 2 months) and so free up that money into a follow up session with the personal trainer once a month. For me it was important to have someone working with her out in the park so that she could create some good workout habits of her own that she could do for free going forward.

Now to the question.

The reasons I did not jump into paleo with my sister straight away was that I believe the slow-carb off day is a great motivator and an easier transition. Also to go from a high refined carb to a no refined carb is a lot to ask. I want to keep her motivated and to start thinking about food for herself; going "cold-carby" I felt was too much to ask too soon.

I am interested in reading Rob Wolf's "30-day Getting Started Guide": http://robbwolf.com/30-day-total-transformation/ but I have just finished his "The Paleo Solution" and so am not so keen on paying $25.00 for the same information. I don't think my sister would be motivated to read his full book; well not yet.

Do you think I have gone about this the right way, or do you think I should have encouraged her to look at paleo in the first place?

Update: Just to say my sister has lost 3kg (6.6lbs) on the 4HB Slow-carb since November and is really motivated by it all. I am buying her "The Primal Blueprint - Mark Sisson" as part of her Christmas present.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 05, 2011
at 10:59 AM

Great news on her progress. I found slow-carb really worked for losing weight, and for changing ideas about food and what meals looked like without grains, and I was really hitting the binge day hard! Over time, I just found I was looking forward to the rest of the week more than the binge. I find Primal much more convincing but think it takes time to relearn every habit and thought pattern to be able to do it.

42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 09, 2011
at 10:14 PM

In terms of cheat days, I have found that going all out on a cheat day can be tough to recover from mentally but trying to be perfect and not having any cheats is probably even more difficult. I would recommend allowing cheat days(preferably one meal or a 4-6 hr period as opposed to a full day) specifically for social situations or holidays since this is the season. This should allow her to better stick to her diet 6 1/2 days of the week but not feel like shes an outcast if shes out with friends or at a party.

42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 09, 2011
at 10:08 PM

If shes already committed to it then thats awesome that you are paying. It sounds like the trainer has a good idea about nutrition versus training for weight loss but I think giving him a call like you mentioned would be a good idea. For goal setting, I would try to get her to write down at least 5 other (very specific) reasons why she needs to lose the weight and why it needs to be lifelong change. I still think your biggest problem is going to be the why not the how.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:37 AM

Really great post! Thank you, your summary has been really very helpful and I am going to discuss this with her. It has also given me fuel to speak to the three friends of mine (with whom I started the slow-carb) as I have wanted a way to introduce them to the benefits of paleo. Thanks.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:28 AM

OK thanks, I spotted http://paleohacks.com/questions/6/good-paleo-blogs so will have a look through this and the like. Recently started listening to Robb Wolf's podcast and will look around for others.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 09, 2011
at 02:23 AM

Just to clarify, I'm not saying the other paleo books I read were bad, they just didn't really add much to the knowledge I had already gotten from reading the blogs and listening to the podcasts. As much as I love books, I've found blogs to be a far better format for paleo--probably because there is so much variance within the community.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 09, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Honestly, Mash, I got a lot more from reading paleo/WAPF/ancestral nutrition blogs and listening to podcasts than I did from any of the paleo books I read. My favorite blogs are not specifically paleo, but definitely paleo friendly like Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Thank you for the kind words, and good luck with your bookmarks. :)

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:07 AM

Don't know about great, especially since it took me so long to say something. To be honest I am excited about working together with her, will be good for the relationship too.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:03 AM

Yeah Drew, we have had a couple of emails go back and fourth a few months ago after I spotted his blog. Nice guy and I think he is doing a great thing. Will be really interesting to see how he progresses and more so hear about his experiences.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Her motivation is she is going back to South Africa in January to meet some old friends and so wants to feel confident about herself. I don't know what this means for her personally and what specific goal she has, but I feel that even that she could talk about eating better, losing some weight, feeling fitter and healthier is a definable goal in itself.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:49 AM

The reason I am paying for the trainer is that she had already arranged and committed to him for 6 weeks herself before we even spoke. The trainer focuses on outdoor multi-activities as you mention and I will be personally chatting to him to find out what his plan is. Mainly I wanted to say "Yeeehaa well done" to her and give her the gift as encouragement to keep going and free up her money for groceries. I am meeting her again this weekend and will chat about the diet. You are quite right it needs to be decided by her. Even simply eating less bread and pasta will have an effect. Thanks.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:39 AM

i didn't find it to be engaging or entertaining. i'm sure he's more so in person.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:35 AM

If you could recommend a book what would it be?

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on November 08, 2011
at 09:05 PM

Wow -- I can't even bring myself to delete truly useless bookmarks!

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9 Answers

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3
42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 08, 2011
at 07:30 PM

From an outsiders perspective it doesnt sound like shes very committed to changing her habits just yet. I would make sure that shes extremely motivated to "why" she wants to change before you even bother with the "how".

Along those same lines I definitely would not pay for her personal trainer sessions and don't think its even necessary at this point. One of the principles of the 4HB(and Paleo for that matter) is to get the diet straight first and then worry about exercise later. I would get her into walking, lunges, air squats, push ups, etc not for the sake of burning calories but just to move her body more in general.

I think its really up to you and her to decide which diet is better fit for her. I personally have done Paleo + cheat day/meal and slow carb + cheat day/meal and have had good results on both. I don't think the cheat day has to be exclusive to the slow carb so I would base the decision on whether she really likes beans and lentils or not.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Her motivation is she is going back to South Africa in January to meet some old friends and so wants to feel confident about herself. I don't know what this means for her personally and what specific goal she has, but I feel that even that she could talk about eating better, losing some weight, feeling fitter and healthier is a definable goal in itself.

42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 09, 2011
at 10:08 PM

If shes already committed to it then thats awesome that you are paying. It sounds like the trainer has a good idea about nutrition versus training for weight loss but I think giving him a call like you mentioned would be a good idea. For goal setting, I would try to get her to write down at least 5 other (very specific) reasons why she needs to lose the weight and why it needs to be lifelong change. I still think your biggest problem is going to be the why not the how.

42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 09, 2011
at 10:14 PM

In terms of cheat days, I have found that going all out on a cheat day can be tough to recover from mentally but trying to be perfect and not having any cheats is probably even more difficult. I would recommend allowing cheat days(preferably one meal or a 4-6 hr period as opposed to a full day) specifically for social situations or holidays since this is the season. This should allow her to better stick to her diet 6 1/2 days of the week but not feel like shes an outcast if shes out with friends or at a party.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:49 AM

The reason I am paying for the trainer is that she had already arranged and committed to him for 6 weeks herself before we even spoke. The trainer focuses on outdoor multi-activities as you mention and I will be personally chatting to him to find out what his plan is. Mainly I wanted to say "Yeeehaa well done" to her and give her the gift as encouragement to keep going and free up her money for groceries. I am meeting her again this weekend and will chat about the diet. You are quite right it needs to be decided by her. Even simply eating less bread and pasta will have an effect. Thanks.

best answer

4
80da9f79e2d79978130925702d4c6092

on November 09, 2011
at 09:28 AM

I started with 4HB/Slow Carb (I hadn't heard of Paleo yet).

I found the cheat day did not work at all for me.

  1. It meant I never stopped having cravings.
  2. It meant I was in a continual cycle of depriving myself and then binging. That's disordered eating, not health.
  3. It reinforced that this was a "diet" not a nutritional choice for life.
  4. I would lose weight all week, then gain most of it back on Cheat Day, and struggle all the next week to lose more.

Paleo is so much easier, and feels healthier and more natural.

  1. Cravings are gone as long as I don't cheat, which I don't want to because my taste has actually changed and candy is way too sweet and doesn't taste good now.
  2. No more cycles of deprivation and binging. I eat healthily and naturally.
  3. I no longer see this as a temporary thing to struggle through. This is a lifestyle choice and I see it as a journey of self-education and culinary experimentation. It doesn't feel like a chore because I'm committed to it for the long term.
  4. I lose weight gradually, and don't go up and down. This is way more motivating for me.

Reading all the science behind Paleo makes me feel like I'm doing something good for my body.

Reading the 4HB felt like "here's how to trick your body into losing weight".

The philosophies are very different. Even if you eat beans/legumes and not fruit, being in the Paleo mindset is different than being in the 4HB mindset.

What I kept from the 4HB was:

  1. Eat protein first thing in the morning.
  2. Don't eat so much fruit (I eat some now, but later in the day, and mostly berries).
  3. Have some staple meals that you can eat with regularity to make life easier.

What I've gained from Paleo is a sustainable lifestyle, not a quick fix.

I did lose 12 pounds on the 4HB. But then I couldn't force myself to keep going, and it was 8 months before I could handle even thinking about nutrition again.

Now that I'm doing Paleo, I've lost 12 more pounds, and I'm just going to keep going, and eat this way for life because it feels good, simplifies food, and has short and long term health benefits.

So for me, Paleo is way easier. But I went through a journey to get here, and I had to be ready to give up sugar (I was a serious addict). Everyone comes to it on their own--it's up to your sister what she wants to do with her body and what she is ready for or interested in.

Lastly, I don't think any diet works unless you are also committed to:

  1. Not over-eating. Eating just what your body needs (or a little bit less - stopping right before you are full). You can over-eat on any diet.
  2. Facing whatever emotional stuff you have around eating, weight, etc. For some of us this is way harder stuff than changing your eating habits and can take time. If over-eating is an addiction, it has to be dealt with as such (i.e. look at the feelings underneath and why that pattern is in place).

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:37 AM

Really great post! Thank you, your summary has been really very helpful and I am going to discuss this with her. It has also given me fuel to speak to the three friends of mine (with whom I started the slow-carb) as I have wanted a way to introduce them to the benefits of paleo. Thanks.

1
Medium avatar

(154)

on November 08, 2011
at 10:04 PM

Here's another interesting perspective. There's a trainer who, in trying to approach weight loss from the perspective of his clients, purposely gained weight by eating crap food, before attempting to lose it again (documented on http://www.fit2fat2fit.com ).

The long and short of it, despite some of his menu choices, such as including a cleanse (which I guess can correspond to an intermittant fast of sorts), is he'll spend his first month losing weight without exercising much, only doing stretches and core exercises.

Once your sister nails down a paleo or slow-carb diet (I guess the key being something very different from SAD), the rest will thopefully take care of itself.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:03 AM

Yeah Drew, we have had a couple of emails go back and fourth a few months ago after I spotted his blog. Nice guy and I think he is doing a great thing. Will be really interesting to see how he progresses and more so hear about his experiences.

1
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 08, 2011
at 07:29 PM

Having a sister I have yet to convince to get off a SAD diet, I can relate. Two things: I do think that what would help someone re diet is whether or not they actually feel any better. This is what I think is helpful about the Whole 30 kinds of approaches ... do the drastic for a fixed period of time and if you're like most folks, at some point during those 30 days you're going to notice real results. And at that point, tweaking it to make it work for you over the long-term is more straightforward.

With the holidays approaching, now may not be the time, but you might be able to say something like "hey, there's this Whole 30 thing we could both do in January" that might be something to try.

The other thing is that your sister might resonate a bit with the No S diet. It's like 4HB in a way ... it's a little kitchy, but there's quite a community of dieters there that she may find helpful (not geeks like us PHers ;).

1
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 08, 2011
at 07:20 PM

I think easing her into healthier eating slowly is the right way to go and if she is open to slow carb that's a great choice. I know some people do successfully make the jump from SAD to paleo but I suspect (from anecdotal evidence) this is not usually the case.

As she becomes more comfortable eating whole foods, then she may be ready to move into paleo.

However, I do have one word of caution. I will probably get down-voted for this, but I would not recommend Robb Wolf's book to, well, anyone actually--but particularly to women. I know there are lots of women who liked the book, but honestly if I wasn't already convinced paleo was a good idea his book would have driven me away. I felt like he came off as a total douchebag in that book and in reading other reviews on other sites I can see I am not alone--especially among women. The whole "buttercup" thing really rubbed me the wrong way. Again, not everyone has this reaction, but I also know I am not alone so if I were you I would not risk it. There are non-stop, juvenile vegan jokes and his attempts at wit and humor fall flat. Not only that, the book is poorly written and shoddily referenced, and he really fails to make a solid scientific case for much of what he claims.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:35 AM

If you could recommend a book what would it be?

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 09, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Honestly, Mash, I got a lot more from reading paleo/WAPF/ancestral nutrition blogs and listening to podcasts than I did from any of the paleo books I read. My favorite blogs are not specifically paleo, but definitely paleo friendly like Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:28 AM

OK thanks, I spotted http://paleohacks.com/questions/6/good-paleo-blogs so will have a look through this and the like. Recently started listening to Robb Wolf's podcast and will look around for others.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:39 AM

i didn't find it to be engaging or entertaining. i'm sure he's more so in person.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 09, 2011
at 02:23 AM

Just to clarify, I'm not saying the other paleo books I read were bad, they just didn't really add much to the knowledge I had already gotten from reading the blogs and listening to the podcasts. As much as I love books, I've found blogs to be a far better format for paleo--probably because there is so much variance within the community.

0
Medium avatar

(154)

on November 20, 2011
at 04:53 AM

I do have one more followup and it came quite accidentally recently. I was listening to Joe Rogan's podcast, one of the previous ones, and Tim Ferriss was on for a couple hours. He talked about the Slow-Carb diet, and basically, he stated that it is a paleo "type" diet with beans (and for weight loss, minimize fruit). Here's the MP3. The part he mentions this is at 1:04:50. Warning: it's Joe Rogan, raw language (and he's high) Just before this timestamp, he talks how it's related to cyclical ketogenic diet. If you stick with the podcast, they talk about paleo vs. vegans...kind of interesting.

0
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 09, 2011
at 12:49 AM

changing the way you eat for life is a slow process no matter how you do it. most people who choose the diet end up failing and trying again and failing with no end in sight. small changes with corresponding small successes will take a long time, but usually achieves some level of improvement.

and i think the trainer you hired is a total fail; he had the opportunity to helped her make one small change, but instead made it a waste of time.

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 08, 2011
at 07:16 PM

I agree you are a great brother, but I have to agree with the trainer. Unless your sister discovers a firm desire to change her eating habits, and takes initiative on her own behalf, you are wasting your time. We just can't change other people; we can love them, we can be there for them but in the end their actions will be their own.

As much as I love being primal, it was a very difficult change and I only made it this far because I really, really wanted to. In August, when binge fever hit, there was nothing anyone could do for me. I read PH every day along with other paleo sites and it didn't matter--until I went ahead and had the binge. With high drama, I even deleted all my primal/paleo bookmarks and "officially quit."

Ironically though, my dissatisfaction with the results of the binge is what made it crystal clear to me where my true desires lay. I haven't had even a mild urge to binge since and I couldn't re-establish my bookmarks fast enough. I even added a few non-paleo bookmarks so I could have fun disagreeing with them.

I wish the best for you and your sister. I hope she appreciates how lucky she is to have you and I hope you can find peace with whatever choices she makes in the future.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on November 08, 2011
at 09:05 PM

Wow -- I can't even bring myself to delete truly useless bookmarks!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Thank you for the kind words, and good luck with your bookmarks. :)

0
0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on November 08, 2011
at 07:04 PM

First -- damn! -- you're a great brother. Good on you for helping your sis get her act together.

Great that you're thinking of ways to ease her into it, so as to minimize potential shock, which could discourage her, depending on the extent of her carb affections. I think it's different for everyone, really. Personally, I used to joke that I didn't have a sweet tooth -- I had carb teeth -- lots of them. Now, I realize that they're prolly pretty close, since carbs break right down into sugar anyway. ;)

Initially, I was really bummed about having to give up bread and pasta (I'm Italian), not to mention pizza. And my beloved lentils. And hummus. And all the other things on the AMA-sanctioned SAD that were supposed to be good for me. But, the trade off was that, sure -- I had to give that stuff up -- but in exchange I get to eat all the SAD-discouraged stuff that I love which I've deprived myself of for nearly 20 years (in my attempt to live healthy) -- eggs, red meat, bacon, avocados. Been doing it now since Feb, really, pretty exclusively -- with a little dairy (cream in coffee and an occasional piece of cheese), a piece of candy in weak moments, maybe a cookie here and there -- all cheats of opportunity. Reality is my health has never been better -- I've lost 30 pounds, have continued doing CrossFit 4x/wk, and feel better than I've felt since I was 20.

Personal trainers are great -- but for me, I'm sure my results and motivation were vastly improved by having other real people around me, who looked and felt great, and who could tell me that they started out in the same crappy leaky-gut boat that I'd been in.

Hope this helps -- keep us posted!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:07 AM

Don't know about great, especially since it took me so long to say something. To be honest I am excited about working together with her, will be good for the relationship too.

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