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Simple List of Allowed Foods on Slow Carb Diets (aka 4-hour body)

Simple List of Allowed Foods on Slow Carb Diets (aka 4-hour body)
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The following list is a general list of foods that are compliant with a Slow-Carb Diet, followed by foods to avoid and some ideas for slow-carb meals.  Most of the information also applies to low-carb and Keto lifestyles.

My detailed post on Slow Carb, Low Carb, and Keto diets and lifestyles gives you more comprehensive information about these 3 similar diets and how they differ..

Jump To: Allowed Foods | Forbidden Foods (except on Cheat Day | Meal Ideas | Tips for Success

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Allowed Foods


  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Canadian Bacon
  • Turkey
  • Protein powder
  • Soybean meats
  • Tofu
  • Smoked Oysters


  • Lentils
  • Pinto beans
  • Red beans
  • Soybeans
  • Black beans


  • Sauerkraut, kimchee, pickles, olives, fermented foods
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Frozen spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel  Sprouts
  • Spaghetti  squash (no other winter squash)
  • Avocados
  • Bok choy or any greens
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Zucchini
  • Turnips
  • Sprouts (alfalfa, bean, etc.)
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
Basket of fresh vegetables from the garden.
Basket of fresh vegetables from the garden.

Domino Foods (eat in moderation)

  • Hummus
  • Nuts
  • Cottage cheese
  • Olives
  • Red wine
  • Diet pop (one per day)
  • Guacamole
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
Full fat cottage cheese for a slow carb diet
Full-fat cottage cheese for a slow-carb diet

Forbidden Foods on Slow Carb Diet (until cheat day)

  • Alcohol (1-2 glasses of wine allowed per night)
  • Sugary sweets
  • Popcorn
  • Bread
  • Rice and any other grain (corn is a grain)
  • Potatoes & winter squash & carrots & corn
  • Noodles, pasta
  • Chips, crackers, or cereal
  • Ice cream
  • More than one diet pop
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Fruit (eat only on cheat day)

Some Breakfast Ideas for Slow Carb Diets:

Tip: An ideal breakfast of allowed foods on a slow-carb diet consists of 20-30 grams of protein at your first meal of the day.

Eggs and bacon are the classic way to do this (and boost success rate by 10%).  Here are some alternatives:

  • Protein shake with 30 grams of protein powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs (16 grams) with 3 slices of Canadian bacon (13 grams)
  • 2 eggs (12 grams) with 1/2 cup black beans (20 grams), salsa and guacamole
  • 3 servings of spinach or broccoli frittata (30 grams or 5-6 eggs plus some protein from the veggies)
  • Caffeine is fine.  You can have up to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in your coffee per day

Lunch and Dinner Ideas for Allowed Foods on Slow Carb Diets:

Most of your meals will be a combination of protein + vegetables and/or legumes from the list above.

Tip: Cook in bulk for leftovers, or freeze for later.

I have quite a few low-carb dinner recipes on this site that you can explore for ideas.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Roasted root veggies with pork chops or chicken
  • Salad bowl at Chipotle: hold the corn salsa, sour cream, and cheese — add guacamole
  • Mustard-crusted pork loin with spinach and mushrooms
  • Steak and asparagus or green beans
  • Tuna with mustard and/or salsa with a fresh spinach salad
  • Homemade burrito bowl: leftover chicken breast, black beans, salsa and guacamole
  • Lentil stew
  • Beef and bean chili
  • Meat and vegetable curry

Beverages for Slow-Carb Diets

Tip: High protein diets can be dehydrating. Be sure and get plenty of water when following a high protein-low carb lifestyle.

Make these substitutions for beverages with calories that you’d normally drink:

  • Flavor water with lemon or lime
  • Unsweetened beverages like tea with lemon
  • Limit diet soda to one per day
  • Coffee with cinnamon or up to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (not half and half or milk)
  • Red wine (max 1-2 glasses per day)

 Tips for Succeeding on Slow Carb Diet

1. When Eating Out

Tip: Your default strategy should be to replace carbs with vegetables, beans, or more protein. Most restaurants will have options here and after a while, you don’t even notice the bread, rice, or potatoes.

Here are some ideas:

  • Burrito salad bowl or any dish with vegetables swapped out for rice/wheat
  • Thai curry or soups without rice
  • Salad without cheese, croutons
  • Indian food: lentils, dairy-free vegetable or bean dishes
  • Grass-fed beef burger without the bun or ketchup
  • Roasted, baked, or grilled protein with vegetables
Keep a list of nearby restaurants with slow-carb options that you like and can repeat. This makes meal planning a breeze.

2. Don’t Stress (too much) on the Calories

Don’t worry too much about calories. Listen to your body and eat until you are full.

It turns out that your body digests calories from different macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) differently.  

Take Note! When you ditch the sugar and refined carbs, the calories will decrease. Your body will be more in tune with hunger signals after this adjustment period.

Get enough protein.  You should be getting around 20 – 30 grams of protein at each meal.  This will keep you full longer and help you burn fat as fuel rather than glucose.

Protein powder and blender bottle
Protein powder and blender bottle

The problem with Atkins and some of the low-carb diets is that vegetables and protein are high in nutrient density, but very low in calories, which can keep you hungry.  Hence the beans are on slow carb diets.  

The beans and legumes make up for the caloric deficit and you don’t get fatigued or tired (and then quit). 

If you hate beans, add some of the good fats to stay satiated (eggs, fish, avocados, nuts, olive oil, etc.)

Avocados, beans and salsa for slow carb lunch
Avocados, beans, and salsa for slow carb lunch

3. Be Careful of Portion Size with “Domino Foods”

Some foods like nuts, chickpeas, hummus, and nut butters are allowed foods on Slow Carb Diets but can stall your weight loss if you consume too many calories from them.

If you’re trying to lose weight, the easiest solution is to limit them or avoid them if you can’t control it. 

Although not considered a domino food, I have also witnessed clients that stall out on weight loss with too many beans. 

A cup of beans a day is a good measuring stick for the optimal daily amount.

Take Note! Eat lots of veggies! Not eating vegetables on the diet correlates with less weight loss! You can eat as many of these vegetables as you want:

  • Spinach
  • Mixed vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetables)
  • Sauerkraut and kimchee
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans 

Avoid starchy vegetables (hint: the ones that grow underground).

4. Eat Whatever you Want on your Cheat Day

Indulge in whatever you want on your scheduled cheat day. Ideally, your first meal should still consist of 20-30g of protein, but eat whatever you want after that. 

Over time you will probably want to decrease cheat days to a cheat meal, particularly if you stall out on your weight loss goal.

5. Drink More Water than Usual on your Cheat Day

Sparkling Water with Lemon Ginger Syrup
Sparkling Water

6. Have Grapefruit (not Grapefruit Juice) Shortly Before your First Cheat Meal

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Tuesday 9th of January 2024

Edamame beans ok?

Shawn DeJesus

Monday 8th of January 2024

Almond/oat milk ok?

Dorothy Stainbrook

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

yes, as long as it is unsweetened. Check the nutrition label and make sure there is limited sugar. Sugar is the ingredient to take the most care with.


Wednesday 13th of December 2023

I recently purchased the 4-Hour body book, I thought that you could eat avocados olive oil and cottage cheese on the diet but I haven't found it anywhere in the book. So if it is allowed how much and how often.

Dorothy Stainbrook

Thursday 14th of December 2023

Avocados and olive oil are definitely allow on a slow carb diet. Cottage cheese is a "maybe". This article clarifies the dairy and cottage cheese issue:

Re the how much and how often, it depends on your overall carb intake for the day/week and your personal goals and bodyweight. The best thing to do is use an app like myfitnesspal and monitor your daily carb intake and macronutrients.


Monday 20th of November 2023

Hi Dorothy-I have been doing Intermittent Fasting pretty consistently for the past 2 months and lost about 10 pounds. I try to do 16:8 but vary it sometimes to confuse my body. I’m interested in doing the slow-carb diet but Mark recommends eating within 30 minutes of waking. I’m just not hungry when I get up and usually don’t take my first bite of food til 10 or 11am. I usually do a 2-3 mile walk before eating anything and I heard that was bad also. Any thoughts?

Dorothy Stainbrook

Monday 20th of November 2023

Yes, the slow carb diet (aka 4-hour body) was written quite a while ago and some of Ferriss’s “rules” have changed a bit. Ferriss himself does intermittent fasting and I found it was the only way that I lost the last 5 pounds. I think the rule for eating a high protein breakfast within 30 minutes of waking was designed to help people who regularly ate high carb breakfasts and needed to change that habit.

The morning walks have a lot of studies behind them showing morning exercise as a positive, both for sleep and for weight loss. There are so many belief systems around exercise that are in conflict with each other. The bottom line on exercise IMHO is to get it daily.

Every body is indeed different and it looks to me like you are doing a lot of things right (16:8 and daily walking). Ferriss consistently says in his book to experiment with your own body. The key benefits of slow carb to me are 1) you dramatically decrease the sugar from carbs, and 2) it allows delayed gratification in the form of cheat day so you can sustain the lifestyle indefinitely.


Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Dorothy Hi, I appreciate your great information.

My question is about Tequila and Whiskey which are allowed in limited quantities on Keto, but aren't allowed in Ferris's Slow Carb. Do you know the reasoning? Appreciate clarification.

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