My One-Month Four Hour Body Diet Check-In

Just over a month ago, I began my journey with the 4 Hour Body Slow Carb diet in an effort to kick off some serious weight loss. A few posts back, I talked about my DEXA scan, which if you don’t remember is the scan that measures your body composition through kind of an x-ray device. The DEXA scan is one of the three approved methods that Tim Ferriss suggests because of its accuracy. My first scan gave me a complete measurement of my body composition, including the percentages of my body that are consisted of bone, muscle, and fat. This morning, I went for my follow-up one-month appointment and got the results of my new DEXA scan, and I’m pretty excited about what I read.

2

You can see the detailed information of this scan above, but to save you the effort of interpreting these results, I’m proud to report that in one month’s time I’ve reduced my overall body fat percentage by approximately 2%. This means I went from 32.3% to 30.2% body fat, which translates to a loss of 9.4 pounds of fat. However, I also lost approximately 4 pounds of muscle and this is the area I am most surprised about. Admittedly, this month I’ve been a little less active in the gym than usual. However, the technician running the scan had told me that one of the factors for the decrease in muscle could be due to the amount of hydration that I had from one scan to the next, which came as a surprise.

screenshot-{domain} {date} {time}You see, muscle is water-soluble, while fat is not. If in one scan I am very hydrated, it means that my muscles have probably absorbed water, which would make them appear bigger. When they appear bigger to the scanner, they naturally assume that there’s more mass there. Now this morning I could have been less hydrated for this scan than I was for the one a month ago. If that’s the case, that dehydration would result in less water being present in my muscles, making them have less mass. This, of course, would be interpreted as weight loss.

I’m not going to know for sure about the true nature of this muscle loss until I go back for another scan. One month ago I couldn’t tell you what my level of hydration was, but a lot has changed since then. I’ve now started writing down what I’ve done in the last 24 hours with respect to consuming water and exercising, and I’ll aim to replicate that same condition the next time I get a scan to see if that has any impact on my muscle mass results.

1Despite the loss of muscle, I’m very pleased with my results. I originally went into this hoping for 3 pounds of weight loss, and I have exceeded that by a long shot. My clothes are fitting better. My general attitude and feeling about myself is great. I am very pleased about how I’ve been able to stick to the requirements of the diet, and have had some real key discoveries about my own eating habits.

If you’re out there considering doing the 4-Hour Body Slow-Carb Diet (or any other diet for that matter), I highly recommend using the DEXA scan as a tool for measurement of body composition. It can really help you remain confident that the work that you’re doing is having the right impact in the right areas.

 

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Can Salad Dressing Be Slow Carb and Taste Good Too? Yes!

Salad Dressings And Olive Oil

If you’re on the Slow Carb diet like I am, you’ve probably realized that the program aligns really well with the inclusion of lots of tasty salads. However, the big hurdle to overcome when preparing a salad on the Slow Carb diet isn’t the salad itself, but the salad dressing you put on it. So many salad dressings are terrible for you, so you’ve got to make sure that you don’t mess up by using a salad dressing that isn’t compatible with the program.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many salad dressings I’ve accumulated in my fridge over the years (and now that I think about it, I should probably throw some of those away.) Anyway, nearly all of those salad dressings are usually filled with sugar or dairy, neither of which are permissible on the Slow Carb program. This didn’t leave me with many options other than olive oil or balsamic, until I stumbled on this incredible recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 fresh garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe really creates a nice, complimentary flavor for whatever salad you make, and the oil spreads nice and evenly over the salad. You get good coverage, there isn’t a bad-tasting “bite”, and there’s no lack of flavor. This is my go-to dressing from now on, but I want to know what you think. Let me know if you liked it in the comments!

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Happy Life or Healthy Body? Pick one.

The 4-Hour Body Slow-Carb diet is not about losing weight. It’s not about using the strategies and tactics to game and trick your body into losing fat and gaining muscle without exercise. There’s a greater purpose that nobody talks about when you engage in the 4-Hour Body. That purpose is about creating a significant change in the habits that form your life. The habits that I’m talking about are the ones that help you have a healthier body AND have a happier life.

A lot of people view diets as having to give up on a happier life in order to have a happier body.  Quit doing all the things I enjoy, stop eating all of my favorite things and start doing things I hate. I say that’s bullshit. I don’t want to be a part of a program where I have to choose between whether I feel good or whether I’m happy. For me, excluding the things that I love in my life which might be sweet foods, beers after work… the things that create the experiences and memories that I’ll have forever.

I look at my slow carb experiment as an opportunity to shift, drinking and exercise habits. It’s a way to kickstart a lifetime of better choices in my future. It is creating the possibility of choice.  In the past I might have given into the temptation to drink every night.  Or, if I had one bad meal it would cascade into a waterfall of bad eating choices for days or weeks on end.

For me, Slow-Carb is not about losing weight through a series of tricks. It’s about using these techniques to help me understand that in every moment, at every meal, every day I have a choice to make. And sometimes, that choice is to eat a crappy meal, or drink too much.  It is when I am back in control of my choices, I can then blend my choices to create a balance that achieves both a happy life and a healthy body.

In this world I choose to have it all.

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Avoid the “Inevitable” Slow Carb Meltdown!

explosion nuclear bomb in ocean
(Luckily, not an actual picture of my meltdown)

My I’m about two and a half weeks into the Four Hour Body (Slow Carb) Diet, and I’ve got to say that I have definitely been seeing some substantial results in this short amount of time. I’m really excited to report that I’ve lost 13 pounds so far! I’ll be writing a post soon that will catalog my full diet report after three weeks.

It was very easy to remain motivated in the first couple weeks, as all of it was new. Believe it or not, it’s overall been fairly easy to stay on track with all the components of the diet, like avoiding carbs, not drinking calories, and avoiding fruits. Overall, I’m kind of surprised to hear myself say that it hasn’t been a great challenge to remain faithful to the diet, mainly due to how simple and intuitive it is. Of course, anytime you see results it’s highly motivating!

With all that said, there have been times where remaining true to the diet has been tough. I found that in most cases where it was challenging, it was due to me putting additional constraints on myself that ended up setting me up for potentially eating poorly.

Let me tell you a story about a few nights ago where I messed up and what I think I could have done differently. I’m really hoping this helps someone out there who might be getting the point where they need to find some additional ways to keep themselves on track. I’m training for a half marathon and I went for my run after work. I did a five and a half mile run and I was feeling great. My endurance was there, my body felt great, and I was really proud of the time that I made in my loop around the park. Right after finishing my run and getting into my car, I saw a text message from my wife asking if I could pick up some food for us on the way home from Pei Wei. Now, you may or may not know this, but according to my personal research, Pei Wei is one of the more difficult places to find Slow Carb compliant meals. I know there’s some of you out there that will say that there are ways to make it work, but it takes an awful lot of modification and I just wasn’t in a mindset to do that.

I agreed to pick up my wife and daughter’s order from there, but I was planning to go across the street to another restaurant that I knew had a Slow Carb option, which was a really tasty lentil salad. I was really hungry at this point and after driving for 25 minutes and smelling Pei Wei and my lentil salad, I was totally ready to dive into the meal.

When I got home, I sat all the bags on the counter and prepared to dig into my salad. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just a lentil and lettuce salad– the lentils were mixed with rice. Rice is a big no-no; it’s a white carb which the Slow Carb diet doesn’t allow. At this point, I’m in no position to make a better choice about my eating habits. I had a fantastic smelling meal that I’m ready to dive into, I was crazy hungry, and the last thing I was thinking about wa how I can rearrange or prepare my meal in a way that’s Slow Carb friendly. You can probably guess what happened next: I gave into temptation. I put the salad together and just tore through it. In the moment, it felt great. Afterwards, I thought, “That was kind of dumb.”

After the meal, I began to think about what could I have done differently in that situation. Of course, beforehand I hadn’t known that the lentil salad wasn’t Slow Carb friendly; I just ordered it from memory. My blood sugar and energy were at a point where I felt like I really needed to eat. I really didn’t have any options at my fingertips. That’s when it hit me is that every time I’m making a Slow Carb meal at home, I’m more or less doing it from scratch. I am taking chicken out of the freezer, defrosting it, turning on the oven…no matter what, I’m not getting to eat until I’ve spent about 40 minutes cooking and preparing my meal.

Now what I realize is that in that moment if I had had a Tupperware container of lentils ready to go in the fridge, or some chicken, or some other raw components already assembled and cooked, I could have taken the other ingredients that came with the salad that I had bought and subbed out those things for Slow Carb compliant stuff. I’ve read online and other places people talking about spending their entire Sundays cooking a week’s worth of meals so that way, and it makes sticking to the diet easy for them. To me, that sounds boring, unoriginal, and uninspiring: it almost makes me not want to participate in the Slow Carb diet at all. Objectively though, I can see that in moments of pressure, having those items available would have allowed me to make a better choice.

The bottom line is that in the moment I realized that what I was about to eat was not conforming to Four Hour Body, I was unwilling to spend additional time to prepare food, and the smell and the temptation of what was before me was greater than my desire to remain true to the diet. Moving forward, this is unacceptable. To remedy this, my plan is to have enough food in the fridge that’s cooked so I can, at a moment’s notice, incorporate complaint food into what I’m eating or use them as meals on their own. That will be one more way that I can fight the temptations: and continue to change the old eating habits into the new ones that have helped me see so far 13 pounds of weight loss in just under three weeks.

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First Cheat Day Complete: Here’s How it Went

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t THIS bad…

Yesterday was my first cheat day on the Four-Hour Body Diet, and I’d been looking forward to it all week. Believe it or not, I’d actually been using the cheat day as a way to help me stay on the diet because I was able to deny any cravings for foods that were not on the diet because hey, I could eat it on my cheat day. The cheat day itself was, as you can imagine, pretty awesome. I got to eat everything and anything I wanted. I had sushi for lunch, probably at more than I should have had. Last night was a steak and lobster benefit for a group that I’m in and I had plenty of steak and lobster and chowder and ice cream and I can’t even remember everything else. I course, I drank a bunch yesterday too: any alcohol that I wanted. I didn’t limit myself in any way. After my wife and I got home and we dismissed the sitter, I dove into the leftover pizza and chicken nuggets that were sitting out and ate like a pig.

Not surprisingly, I don’t feel awesome today. Like I suspected, the fact that I feel bad is the point of the Four Hour Body Diet including a cheat day in the first place: it helps me connect those bad decisions with the bad way my body is feeling. Slow Carb isn’t about counting calories, but I was curious so I entered all of the things I remembered eating yesterday into the My Fitness Pal app and it told me that I ate over 5,000 calories yesterday. I really should be eating around 2,200, so I ate more than double what I should have! In addition to simply counting calories, The app has an interesting feature that tells you what your weight would be if you ate that daily amount of consumed calories every day, and it told me I’d gain 11 pounds in five weeks. That’s pretty crazy.

Now, every time I’ve used the app on the diet and saw the numbers, I came away feeling motivated. Well, when I ate like I did yesterday, that number went the other way. It’s not a surprise that I have made to the weight that I currently am based off of this understanding. The way I ate yesterday on my cheat day, I can’t honestly say that it’s that far off from a lot of the days over the week, especially if I’m drinking, because I always wind up snacking. I’ll come home from work and snack and then I’ll have dinner. Then after dinner I’ll have a drink then snack some more and steal a few chicken nuggets that I had made for my daughter. I’ll even put a few extra in the oven so I can snack on those, too.

One of the benefits of the Slow Carb diet has been getting me in the habit of actually tracking what I’m eating and paying attention to what I’m actually putting in my body. Just by tracking these things, I’m much more aware of the choices that I’m making (and their consequences) and I feel much more in control of my ability to manage my weight based off of those choices. With one cheat day down, I am excited to return to my new and normal eating habits and I’ll be putting off my junk food and drinking for another week, which has got to be helping me with my goal of losing weight. I can see how eating poorly like I did yesterday could easily turn into another day of eating poorly, which could lead to another, and another.

This morning when I got up, the last thing I wanted to make was a Four-Hour Body compliant smoothie; it just didn’t sound good to me at all. I wanted to have something greasy: I wanted to suggest to my wife that we go out and grab breakfast, a meal which would probably have consisted of eggs, greasy potatoes, cheese, bacon…things that would just make me revert back to my poor ways of eating. However, knowing that I’ve got to remain true to the plan which has given me the tools to make a different choice—which is to eat healthfully— I am going to spend this next week committed to eating well, as opposed to getting more and more into trouble each day by getting lazier about controlling the types of things that I’m putting into my body.

 

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How I Stick With The Four Hour Body Diet

When I was calorie counting or doing Weight Watchers, I’d have to pay such close attention to what I was eating that eating itself stopped being fun. So far, with the 4 Hour Body Diet, I haven’t found this to be the case. The biggest thing I have working against me— and probably everybody else who starts a diet—is my ability to stick with it. This time around, I’ve got a few things that I’ve put together that I am using as a method to stay on track and be true to it— because at the end of the day, I really WANT to succeed at this.

My Plan For Sticking With It

The MyFitnessPal App
The MyFitnessPal App

One of the first things I started doing was logging all the things that I’m eating in an app called My Fitness Pal. What’s nice about it is that it’s really easy to log everything I’m doing. It does technically count calories, though I’m not necessarily paying attention to that: the app is. What I’m paying attention to is what types of food I’m eating, and what is the level of protein that I’m getting in most of my meals. It certainly will report on carbs, sugars, and such, but as a result of the high focus on protein, and the natural elimination of a lot of those carbs, a lot of the other stats are in line which is also a motivating factor to see.

The second thing that I’m doing is telling my friends and family about my dieting. A lot of people going through substance abuse treatment will do the same thing because it helps them stay accountable. I’m fortunate because my wife is very supportive of my dieting, although she was reasonably skeptical. When I explained the diet to her, one of the things she asked me was: “Is this something that you could actually stick with beyond this initial 30 days? Is this something that becomes a lifestyle change as opposed to a fad diet?” I didn’t know what to tell her because to tell you the truth, I wasn’t totally sure yet. But so far, it seems to be attainable because I’m getting to eat the stuff that I like, and not necessarily having to limit quantity. I’m getting to eat meat: chicken, beef, and fish. I’m able to eat veggies, and luckily, I love veggies. The most difficult things I had to cut out were sugar, and carbs. However, I find that if I eat enough protein, those cravings for sugar, and the cravings for carbs are less drastic and, even in a lot of cases, totally gone.

I read that one of the key elements of the diet is to have at least 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Doing that has really staved off the cravings and the hunger that I have before lunchtime for things that are just not good for me, and I’m not finding myself snacking more than I should. If I end up feeling hungry, I’ve learned to solve it in one or two ways. First, by having some nuts. The second is I found that having some coffee, some caffeine, will knock out that desire, that hunger, and keep my mind off it for long enough to get to when it’s time to eat my next meal.

Better Coaching Through Technology

The third thing that I’m doing to remain accountable is using an app called Coach.me. It’s like a community of self improvement. If there’s anything you want to do, there’s a group on this app of people that are aiming to remain accountable to that activity. I’m serious: there are groups about learning to play guitar, losing weight, drinking more water: the topics are endless. Naturally, there is one for the 4-Hour Body, or Slow-Carb Diet. There’s a lot of people on there that are checking in every day saying that they’re holding themselves accountable. There’s a lot of people asking questions about the program and getting clarification, which leads me to the coolest component of this app (which happens to also be the way that this app makes its money.) The component is that people who have been active enough in this app can qualify to become a coach. For a weekly rate, you can hire a coach on this app, and you basically get a text-message buddy that’s going to keep you accountable, or at least talk to you through the process.

I said, “You know what? I’m going try it”, and so for the last few days, I’ve had a coach. She’s a woman from Austin, Texas, who originally lost 60 pounds on the 4 Hour Body Diet, and then after that, she has moved on to some other weight loss methods. She’s lost a total of 120 pounds. I like her approach because it’s not strictly Slow Carb, although that’s how she got her start. Her emphasis is on developing a versatile long-term program, and that’s where I want my focus to be right now: on developing a longer-term program for myself.

One or two times a day, we’ll exchange a message through the app. She’s asked me some really good questions in terms of what kind of goals I want to see for myself, as well as questions I should be asking myself but haven’t been. A good example of that is, I told her that one of the things I’d like to see as a quick win is a drop in three pounds in this first week on the diet, and she immediately told me that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. I was glowing with encouragement, but she instantly shook me out of it by asking me “But what if it doesn’t happen? What are you going to be thinking?”

How I Get My Mind Right to Win At Dieting

It’s helpful for me to place the spotlight on that question. What am I going to do if this doesn’t actually work out? Am I going to quit? Am I going to go back to my old eating habits? What it comes down to for me, is that I have a choice to make. I can either continue working at it, or I can give up. If you’re like a lot of people, or like me in the past, you’ll give up. I don’t want to give up. I’d rather have the high fitness level, the healthy weight, the ability to feel good in my clothes and not feel lethargic or tired or embarrassed to take my shirt off. I want those things. When I look at it from that perspective, the question really becomes “is one week really enough to get that?” Obviously, it’s not. So why would I want to give up?

Having that coach and having someone to talk to about that has been helpful in a surprising way in that’s it’s helping me think about the questions that I truthfully already know but not asking myself. There was a really low-barrier of entry to start that program and get matched with a coach. It’s not cheap when you think about other things we pay for– it’s about 15 to 20 dollars per week, which equates to sixty to eighty dollars a month. That’s not cheap, but then again, if that’s the difference between me succeeding and failing, it’s totally worth it.

So those are the things that I’m doing to remain accountable to the diet and most importantly, to myself. Actually, there’s one more thing I’m doing: talking to all of you about my progress, so wish me luck! I’m feeling motivated about what I’ve got going on here, so I’ll definitely talk to you again soon.

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My First Four Hour Body Diet Cheat Day Is Finally Here

Man eating from multiple plates of food

Today is my first cheat day on the Four Hour Body, or Slow Carb Diet. I’ve been looking forward to this cheat day all week, mostly because I’ve been using it as a way to justify not eating the bad things I would normally eat or drink. The times that I felt like I wanted to have an alcoholic drink or something else that isn’t good for me, I’d tell myself that “I can do that on my cheat day so I should hang on a while longer.” And so far, it’s worked!

I’m a bit nervous going into the cheat day because on most other structured diet plans I’ve been on, there was no such thing as a cheat day. It was all or nothing. Either I ate healthy or I was off the wagon. It seems counter-intuitive to me to have a day where I’d going to throw all my hard-earned training and discipline out the window in exchange for eating whatever I want. While part of me is nervous, the other part of me is kind of excited that I am getting to have a day off, because dieting isn’t easy. The timing of all this actually works well because I have a business event tonight that I have really been looking forward to, and there’s going to be a lot of non Slow Carb-compliant food and alcohol to be had.

The Psychology of the Cheat Day

The thing about cheat days is that they really allow me to have something to look forward to on non-cheat days. But on the cheat day itself, I’m going to be eating some things that are not so good for me. This is an opportunity for me to listen to my body and to understand how it responds to some of those things. I believe, in some cases, there will be no response, meaning I’ll feel fine. In other cases, some things I eat might make me feel different, uncomfortable, bloated, low-energy…any number of things. I’m actually more interested in this type of “research” than I am in actually eating off-limits food, which tells me that this diet might already be working for me. The thing that’s really important for me to recognize is the connection between what I eat and how I feel, because how I feel is a reflection of how my body reacts to the things I put in it.

The cheat day has taught me that for a long time, I ignored what my body told me when I ate badly and neglected exercise. However, today’s cheat day is kind of a swinging the other direction because it will let me feel the experiences of eating how I used to and really understanding how it makes a healthy body feel. With that information, I have the power of choice to decide if that eating habit is something that I want to continue. Even though I haven’t reached my cheat day yet, I’m already predicting that in future cheat days I’ll willingly choose to eat right as opposed to eating badly, due to how gross I’ll feel when I go off the diet. We’ll see, though.

I start today with a bit of nervous energy around my cheat day, but I’m excited to experience it. I’ll update you on how it went and how it made me feel in my next blog!

 

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Try My Slow Carb Smoothie Recipe

Woman pouring smoothie into glass, close up

One of the tenets of the Four Hour Body (or Slow Carb) Diet is that you should begin each day with a minimum of 30 grams of protein in the morning. What this supposedly does is give your body an energy store to work with right away, and in my experience this energy store has helped reduce the amount of food cravings I have for quite a number of hours. I’m usually feeling very full until it’s time to eat lunch, and I have a general sense of being full throughout the morning.

The recommended breakfast that the book and a lot of websites recommend is some combination of egg whites, beans, and a green, like kale or spinach. This is fine, but a lot of people report having a difficult time eating so many eggs in the morning when they’re not used to it. Now I don’t have any problem with eggs and I enjoy eating them, but I much prefer making smoothies. However, making smoothies the traditional way would involve using fruit to sweeten it, which is against one of the tenets of the diet. I’ve had to modify the smoothies I make in the morning to become them Slow Carb compliant, and although I searched around online to find some recipes that would work well with the diet, I didn’t find very many options. That’s why I had to make up my own!

Now just note, if you have a sweet, mall food court smoothie in mind before you taste this, you’re not going to think this is the world’s most amazing smoothie. It’s not something I would recommend having every day because you will get burnt out on this flavor. The taste is hard to describe but the strongest flavor you taste is definitely the nut butter, which gives the smoothie a sort of peanut-buttery taste. If you’re expecting the smoothie to be a comparable match to what you’re making with fruit, you might be disappointed. That being said, the smoothie is palatable and effective.

Now the preferred ingredients vary from person to person, but when I make smoothies I use the following:

  • I start with two tablespoons of some type of nut butter. One option I like is sun butter, which is made from sunflower seeds, almond butter, and cashew butter. There’s also a nut blend called Nutso that works really well.
  • I’ll then put a cup of coconut milk. However, it has to be unsweetened. Flax milk is another choice: some flax milks have protein added to them which could boost your overall protein, which is an added plus. You could also use almond milk.
  • One tablespoon of Chia seeds,
  • Three tablespoons of hemp hearts, which are basically shelled hemp seeds,
  • One scoop of protein powder, and I use a protein powder that’s low in sugars and low in carbs.
  • Then I’ll put in a cup of chopped kale. I’ll usually approximate that with a generous handful.
  • Next, another cup or generous handful of spinach.
  • Then I’ll put in some turmeric powder. There’s a brand called Daily Turmeric, and I use one scoop of it.
  • I then put a medium or average-sized carrot in there.
  • Then I will add seven to ten ice cubes.
  • Finally, I’ll add a cup or so of water during the blending process to get the consistency I want.

After I combine the ingredients, I blend it on low speed for 30 seconds just to get the bigger pieces chopped up, then gradually increase the speed and let it blend for a minute and a half altogether. The recipe above should produce about one and a half glasses of smoothie, which measures somewhere between 600 – 700 calories, which should far exceed the protein requirement.

A word about blenders: I’m using a Vitamix Blender, so you may want to experiment with your blender depending on the variety that you have, since different types of blenders vary in their size and blending power. I would highly recommend that you get a good blender for the Slow Carb diet. I chose the Vitamix— which I bought at Costco— over the Blendtec and the Ninja. It seemed to be the most reasonably priced for the quality of blender it is and I’m very pleased with it.

Well that’s it, I hope you enjoy your smoothies! Let me know if you have suggestions as to how we can make them taste a little better by leaving some ideas in the comments. Thanks!

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The Beginning of My Journey With the 4-Hour Body Diet

Empty asphalt road. Sunset Sky
Empty asphalt road. Sunset Sky

My name is Mike, and this is my first blog entry detailing my journey on Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body Diet. Over the course of my life thus far, I haven’t been what you would call a “diet person”, even though I have dabbled in dieting here and there. So it’s logical that when I decided I needed to start losing weight a while back, my original plan was to ramp up my physical activity as opposed to changing my diet. I’ve been more physically active in this past year than I’ve been a lot of my life. I’ve run two half marathons in this last year along with a handful of shorter races. I also joined a CrossFit gym about five month ago. While I’ve noticed my strength increase, I have not seen my scale budge. No matter what I did, I’ve always been real close to about 245 to 250 pounds, and was really disappointed  that I hadn’t seen the scale change at all, even with all the added activity. However, I now know why. I drink more than the average person probably should, and I’m not someone who avoids carbs, I’m not somebody who really pays attention to portion size. It’s really not a surprise when I really look at what I’m eating, as to why I’m not moving the scale: at least, not in the right direction.

So, What Can’t You Eat?

Of course, the first thing that people want to know is “what won’t I be able to eat on this diet?” Although I prefer not to focus on the negatives, this diet spells out a few somewhat unique things that are definitely off limits (other than the obvious classics, like sugar and dairy):

  • The first is not eating anything that is considered a “white carb.” This means no potatoes, no rice, no breads, or anything that could be considered white in color. This also includes something that’s a whole grain or something that could be bleached to be white. If there’s a version of whatever you’re eating that could be white, the diet requires you to stay away from it altogether.
  • The second thing is no eating fruit, and although I didn’t think that was going to be hard for me to follow, it turns out it’s a bit more difficult than I expected. Fruit is in a lot of things, and it turns out I used fruit as a sweetener a lot, especially in smoothies. There are a few other somewhat expected features of the diet, but the white carbs and fruit have been the biggest adjustments for me.

No Anti-Carb Mentality

You may also know the 4 Hour Body Diet as the Slow-Carb Diet, but no matter what you call it, this is a first journey into try a structured diet for me in quite some time. I’ve calorie counted in the past, and have also done the Weight Watchers Diet. While those have both worked to some extent, the thing I really like about the Slow-Carb Diet is that the diet is typically very high in protein, and there’s not necessarily a limit on the amount of protein that you can eat. It’s also not like the Atkins diet where you have to eliminate all carbs, and the lack of an anti-carb mentality makes this diet a lot more realistic and flexible for me. When I go out to eat and there’s a situation where I might not be in total control of what food is being prepared, I’ve found—so far, at least—that there’s always some food option I can have, and I’m never super disappointed in it either!

 

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Slow Carb Body Composition with DEXA

dexa-1So I just left the doctor’s office where I had gotten a DEXA scan. If that sounds scary, it really isn’t. The DEXA scan is simply one of the methods that the 4-Hour Body recommends for determining your body composition, i.e. figuring out what percentage of your body is fat versus muscle. I had previously tried the handheld body composition scanner, the one you can get from Amazon and a million other places. Not surprisingly, I found it just to be all over the place. In the Four Hour Body Diet book, Tim Ferriss says that those handheld scanners can be wildly inaccurate, and can be thrown off by what you drink, the time of day, and many other factors. That’s exactly what I was finding with that device. For me to stay true to this diet and feel like I’m making progress, I want to know that I’ve got accurate numbers that I can rely on to tell the true story about where I’m progressing and where I might not be progressing.

You Can’t Get It On Amazon, But It Is Easy

I decided to go to the DEXA scan at a local physician’s office. Unfortunately this isn’t a thing that you can get at home or off Amazon: you’re going to need to do a Google search for your area to find a place that offers them. A lot of universities have them, and some weight loss centers have them. I was surprised to find out that the DEXA machine was actually originally designed to be a bone density scanning machine. Besides helping out dieters like myself, hospitals also use them to diagnose osteoporosis and other bone disorders. Obviously, one of the other things this device can do is measure body and muscle composition. This means that the DEXA scan allows me to see my total body mass as a sum of my bone density, fat, and muscle.

This morning while I was preparing for my first DEXA scan, I had a normal morning: I ate my breakfast, and drank some water. There was really nothing that I needed to do to prepare other than show up. When I got there, I needed to remove any kind of jewelry, meaning my ring and my watch. That way they could have a complete scan that was uninterrupted from the equipment’s perspective.

What the DEXA Scan Was Like

The scan started with me lying on a type of table with a scanner attached overhead. I was in a gown, but luckily they let me wear my underwear. They then positioned me on the table in a specific way. The reason why it needs to be a specific way is because the next time I come in, I want it to be easy to compare the results. The actual scan involved the overhead scanner gliding across the top of my body from my feet to my head, then coming back down over the middle of my body, and then going to the side of my body. It passed over me 3 times to get the scan. I didn’t feel anything; It’s kind of like an X-ray. The guy said that it’s 1/10th the radioactivity of what a chest X-ray would be, which is a pretty harmless dose. It’s like being out in the sun for a day. Very little, very noninvasive in terms of radiation.

The scan took only about 5 minutes, and was really easy and painless. The guy that ran the scan was really good about talking me through what the scan was going to do and even listed some of the benefits of using this for body composition, as well as some of the areas in which it might not work so well. When you go to see someone about a scan, make sure you have them walk you through what it is and what it will do. Maybe you won’t be as lucky as I was and get someone who’s going to go through all the detail, but it sure is helpful if they do.

Interpreting my DEXA Scan Data

dexa-2At the end of the scan, I got to see a picture image of my skeleton, which was pretty cool because I’ve never seen one. We all see skeletons all the time in pictures, Halloween decorations, and what not, but getting to see a complete head to toe picture of my skeleton was pretty cool. There wasn’t anything particularly unique about my skeleton, though, which I guess is a good thing.
The DEXA image naturally also shows where you muscle and fat is. You can see the darkest and most dense part is bone on the image to the left. Then from attached to the bone you see muscle. The lightest area is fat, which shows up yellowish orange on my image. The software then analyzes that image to come up with a body composition. I was surprised to learn that I got to see the body composition of each part of my body: right and left arm, right and left leg, your torso and crotch area, and then your head. Each one of those sections I get to see what amount of muscle is there, what amount of bone is there, and what amount of fat is there. Another unexpected thing is that you get to confirm any kind of dominance you have in terms of your handedness: you might have less fat and more muscle in your dominant arm, which is the case with my right.

dexa-4My overall body fat percentage was 32.3%. According to a lot of scales, that makes me obese, which wasn’t nice to hear. However, I’ve got a great opportunity here to watch that number change over the next 30 days before I go for my next scan and see how it might change in different areas: in my arms, in my legs, and in the trunk area. The scan was $79 if I went once, but $99 for two, and since that’s a great deal that’s what I did. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on where you go. A word of warning: this is not typically covered by insurance. It’s totally elective, even though this could probably help a lot of people out in the pursuit of their health, and reduce overall health and medical issues.

Hydration Matters (A Lot)

One area of potential inconsistency with this that was told to me by the operator of the equipment is that when it comes to these scans, it’s important to show up to the scan with a consistent level of hydration. This morning I had a 10 ounce glass of water when I woke up, followed by a 4-Hour Body compliant green smoothie, which was probably an additional 16 ounces. Then I had probably another 20 ounces of water since I showed up to my appointment. The reason why the hydration level is important is because the more hydrated you are, the most water in your body that is a lot of times stored in muscle. The more hydrated you are, the bigger your muscles will appear and the bigger your numbers will appear in the scan. If you show up one time super hydrated, your muscles will show that they’re big. Then if you show up dehydrated the next time, the muscle mass will be smaller and therefore can get thrown off. Hydration only has that type of effect on muscle. It doesn’t have an effect with fat because fat doesn’t store water, only muscles do. That’s just something to keep in mind for next time.

I’m pretty pumped now that I’ve got these numbers because I now have a baseline to draw from. The day I got the scan, I was about 5 days into consistently following the Slow-Carb Diet. Maybe I would have seen different numbers if I got the numbers 5 days ago, but I now have basically 30 days to work my butt off and just remain consistent both in 4-Hour Body and my exercise habits. We’ll see where those numbers go.

For me, that’s important because I want to make sure that I’m making progress. At some point during each day, I find myself questioning whether what I’m doing is right and whether it’s working. It’s usually in the evening when I’m done for the day, changing out of the clothes I wore that day into some pajamas, and I’m seeing my midsection just as big as ever and wondering if what I’m doing exercise and nutrition-wise is actually making a difference. I’ve committed to following this, though. I want to be one of the stories that people get to read that found success with this because it’s important for me.

Okay, so that’s the story of my first DEXA scan. I hope that was useful to some of you out there. If you’re going to be doing a DEXA scan or have questions about mine, leave some questions or comments in the comments section, and let’s keep the conversation going. Good luck to you.

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