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The Diet, part 2: 30 Grams

You guys can all save yourself some time and just read "The Four Hour Body" if you want for lots of details and specific information that goes beyond what i have to say. Also from time to time I diverge from the esteemed writer of said volume, so I'm going to focus on what I do, which may not work for everyone.

The diet is called the "Slow Carb" diet, therefore it isn't a no carb diet. It functions similar to one, however, in many ways. One of those ways is it relies quite heavily on protein to reach it's goals and to manipulate your metabolism into burning the fat in your body more quickly, and not storing so much for later.

Yes, I said manipulate. This diet is something of a body hack. Observation and experimentation yield consistent results when something is true and works. The authors idea was to compile the experiments he'd done on himself (yup...scary cyberpunk stuff, no) and on hundreds of others into one "diet". Basically the idea is to use every system in your body to do the bare minimum of work to get the most effect. Our metabolisms are amazing engines, and every engine can be tweaked.

The first tweak is a sort of priming of the pump of your metabolism and involves making your body begin the process of metabolising correctly (for fat burning as opposed to vs incorrectly) right off the bat and not lose any of the resting metabolic rate to simple sugars. That is done by giving it a lot of the right kind of energy, that energy would be protein.

Test after test revealed that the simple addition of protein within a very short amount of time after waking increased any diets capacity to burn fat by an astonishing factor. So after some experimentation and fitting it into his personal philosophy/equations (the least work for the most result, after which there are fewest diminishing returns) he came up with a simple formula: 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking. If you do nothing more than eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up you will burn fat roughly 40% more efficiently that you do without it.

Sit with that for a minute. 30 grams of protein, 30 minutes after waking for a week means you will burn potentially 40% more fat than you did the week before.

He's loaded up with success stories about that one function, including his dad who did that and nothing else and was able to break the 250 pound barrier for the first time in his adult life. (again, I'm doing this from memory, and well I can haz remembering?) I tried it myself. My first three weeks I did nothing more than 30/30 and I lost 4 pounds. I still ate like a lunatic the rest of the time, but I lost 4 pounds.

Anybody decides they want to complain about not controlling for variables and it not being a proper experiment on myself etc etc blah blah I will summon my +10 blog lightning and ssssssszzzzzaxxxx! you. I'm recounting what happened, and sharing my success not writing a paper for the journal Science. This aint the God Particle.

I will say, with comfort, that the single most effective tool in my fat burning toolbox is this 30/30 rule. When I don't get to it, I don't lose, when I am consistent and committed, I do. I really need no more evidence than that.

30 grams of protein is difficult to ingest without some strategy. at first I was all "eggs" but eggs are very nutrient dense by volume its just such a small volume, but you're talking about at least 4 eggs to hit (and you must hit) the protein threshold. So with a little research and kind of a lot of money, I found "Whey Protein Isolate". Apparently all the lactose has been removed (lactose I'm guessing is a sugar, I don't know: all the other sugars are "ose"s) so you're left with just dairy protein. It tastes vaguely of milk when you mix it with water, but it mostly just tastes like nothing.

Mixing the whey protein isolate (WPI) sucks, so I use a blender. Over time i've created some fairly tasty breakfast options (more on "tasty" in a few) for myself. I typically have a pitcher of cold coffee in the refrigerator and one of Iced Masala Chai (no sugar or dairy, 'natch). Super cheap, super tasty. I keep a bottle of vanilla extract, some cinnamon, and a lime nearby. Which gives me a variety breakfast smoothies to choose from.

My favorite is Iced Coffee, WPI, and a tsp of vanilla. I can kill that in about 30 seconds. I get my caffeine, I get my protein, and I get a little yumminess. My second favorite is the same thing but adding in cinnamon. The chai with a splash of vanilla is good as well. My least favorite tasting but most healthiest is WPI, Water, 1/2 a limes juice and Kale. And then I Blend it until it's smooth and green. I get a little extra nutrients and protein and the lime masks some of the less unpleasant flavors.

This is me, every morning. Every day I'm blenderin'. I've really gotten used to the flavor and I'm at the point where I look forward to it.

On that note, however, flavor is not,in this diet, a key function. One of the things i've always fought was the idea that you should see food as fuel, I've always believed, and I still believe, that creates a boring palate, a boring life and a boring human. Food is one of the great pleasures in our all too brief existence, giving up my love of it was never, will never, be a part of the plan. However, once I made room to consider the possible merits I realized that, If I view most of my meals as refilling the gas tank, it gives me liscense to really truly enjoy food i love on the day of the week (cheat day) that I get to do that. I have zero guilt sitting down to an almond croissant or a slice of pizza on my cheat day because every other day i'm drinking a smoothie that will never ever get a James beard nomination. I don't feel compelled to try and eat tiny cheese burgers with ridiculous toppings that have been modified to be calorie and fat free on bread that tastes rather like ass because I don't spend my entire diet trying to please my palate, which gives me the freedom to eschew tiny portions of food i want big portions of, fake food, and to embrace all the foods I love at the appropriate times.

30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking has achieved, for me, so much more that weight loss.

I never thought that the only thing standing between me and a healthy, healing, relationship with food and my body was 30 little grams.


  1. Got the audio from the library; now I have to see if I can adjust my philosophy. Your results have given me some hope, though.

  2. About to weigh in on Wednesday. Wish me luck!


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