There are several different versions of a slow carbohydrate ("carb") diet but the concepts of each are generally the same. A slow carb diet should not be confused with a low carb diet, which restricts the overall amount of carbs you eat. Instead, a slow carb diet restricts mainly carbs that are processed, such as white breads, rice and snack foods, and allows you to eat carbs that are not processed (complex carbs).
Processed carbs are sometimes referred to as "simple" because they are easier for the body to break down compared to complex or whole-grain carbs. Because they can be broken down so quickly, these processed carbs often raise your blood sugar much faster than the good complex carbs. Since your body tries to keep your blood sugar at a constant level, fast increases in blood sugar are not wanted. This is why the diet is called a slow carb diet — you want to eat carbs that raise your blood sugar slowly.
Carbs to eat… and to avoid
The specific meals and foods you eat is determined by your individual preferences, but here is a general list of foods that you should and shouldn't eat when on a slow carb diet:
Avoid these carbs:
Candy and sweets
Other sugared beverages
Eat these carbs:
Long grain rice (or brown rice)
Whole grain bread
Whole grain cereals
Unsweetened coffee and tea
Some slow carb dieters recommend that you avoid rice and bread completely, but this isn't necessary. As long as you stick to whole grain products, you can eat rice. Eating brown rice may be different than what you are used to, but it is much healthier for the body. Also, it may be wise to try to reduce the amount of rice you eat, but you don't have to cut it out of your diet completely.
5 more tips for slow carb dieters
Here are some additional tips when on a slow carb diet:
1. Try to eat five to six smaller meals per day. This helps spread out the amount of carbs you eat at one time. Try not to go longer than three to four hours without eating.
2. Concentrate on vegetables and lean protein. When on a slow carb diet, you can still eat complex carbs, but it is best to concentrate on eating vegetables and lean protein, such as fish, lean beef and lean pork. So, try to decrease the amount of rice you consume and increase the amount of vegetables.
3. Fruit is usually considered a simple carb, but because of all of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that fruit contains, you don't have to cut it completely out of your diet. Try to consume no more than two daily servings of fruit, preferably spaced throughout the day.
4. Remember that losing weight is really about calories, not carbs. However, by restricting processed carbs, you are restricting "empty calorie foods" — a term used to describe foods that contain calories and very few other nutrients, such as vitamins or minerals. Thus, a slow carb diet can help you lose weight because it helps you eliminate foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients.
5. When on a simple carb diet, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin, depending on how long you decide to stay on the diet and the foods that you are eating. For example, if you are eating plenty of vegetables, lean protein and low-fat plain yogurt, you may not need a vitamin supplement. However, if you are finding it hard to eat a lot of vegetables, for example, you may want to take a multivitamin just in case your diet isn't providing enough vitamins and minerals.
Slow carb diets are like any other diet in that they take time and willingness to change. Emphasising vegetables, lean mean proteins, low-fat (and low-sugar) dairy while restricting processed carbs and sweets will help you succeed at a slow carb diet.
Remember, a slow carb diet can be useful in losing weight, but it is not for everyone. Speak with your doctor before starting the diet, especially if you have issues with your blood sugar or have diabetes.
By Registered Dietitian Arielle Kamps, M.S., R.D, L.D. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide "Eat Your Way to Health — Secrets of a Healthy Diet".