This post is mostly a resource list of compliant foods that make up a comprehensive slow carb shopping list. Most of the items will also work with ketogenic and low carb diets.
First up is a list of proteins and the gram count for each one. Protein is the keystone of the 4-hour body diet (aka Slow Carb Diet or SCD) and the guidelines call for 20-30 grams of protein for each meal. This list might make it a little easier for you to make quick decisions on how to satisfy that guideline:
Summary List of High-Protein Foods for a Slow Carb Shopping List
- Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
- Steak, 6 oz – 42 grams
- Most cuts of beef – 7 grams of protein per ounce
- Chicken breast, 3.5 oz – 30 grams protein
- Chicken thigh – 10 grams (for average size)
- Drumstick – 11 grams
- Wing – 6 grams
- Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz – 35 grams
- Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 ½ oz (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce
- Tuna, 6 oz can – 40 grams of protein
- Pork chop, average – 22 grams protein
- Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz – 29 grams
- Ham, 3 oz serving – 19 grams
- Ground pork, 1 oz raw – 5 grams; 3 oz cooked – 22 grams
- Bacon, 1 slice – 3 grams
- Canadian-style bacon (back bacon), slice – 5 – 6 grams
Eggs and Beans & Misc.
- Egg, large – 6 grams protein
- Cottage cheese, ½ cup – 15 grams
- Tofu, ½ cup 20 grams protein
- Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) about 7-10 grams protein per half cup of cooked beans
- Soy beans, ½ cup cooked – 14 grams protein
- Split peas, ½ cup cooked – 8 grams
Nuts and Seeds
- Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – 8 grams protein
- Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
- Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
- Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
- Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams
Rice Protein Powder and Other Protein Powders
Rice and hemp, as well as other plants like soy and pea can be used to make protein powders. They are all processed to some degree or other, but can be useful supplements to the diet in some circumstances. Check individual brands for the amount of protein per serving.
Good Sauces & Condiments for a Slow Carb Shopping List
Many sauces and condiments are riddled with all kinds of hidden sugars. Learn to read labels and look for sugars and carbs in all their disguises. For some no-sugar sauces that you can make yourself, click here. If you prefer to purchase them, click here.
- Mustard (except sweetened mustards like honey mustard)
- Vinegars (be careful with added sugar in baslamic vinegar)
- Oils (olive oil and coconut oil are the recommended oils)
- Most bottled hot sauces (check labels for added sugar)
- Most salsas (check labels for sugar)
- Soy sauce or tamari
- Mayonnaise – look especially for brands high in monounsaturated fat
- Sugar-free salad dressings, preferably brands high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil (check labels carefully)
- Herbs and spices
- Lemon or lime juice (1 gram of carb per tablespoon)
- Extracts (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.)
- Broth or bouillon
- Worcestershire sauce
Canned Goods for the Pantry
- Canned seafood (tuna, salmon, crab, smoked oysters)
- Canned tomatoes
- Pasta sauce or tomato sauce with no added sugars
- Canned green chilies
- Tomato paste
- Roasted red peppers (rinse if there is sugar in the ingredients)
- Dried tomatoes in oil (a little adds lots of flavor)
- Chicken and/or vegetable stock
- Artichoke hearts
- Jars of pesto or other vegetable-based sauces
- Dill pickles
- Italian pickled vegetables
- Nut butters
- Coconut milk (unsweetened)
- Dried beans of all kinds (including garbanzo)
- Canned beans (rinse them off if using canned beans)
Packaged Foods for the Pantry
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, or peanuts (domino foods but allowed in small amounts if you can be disciplined about it)
- Seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin
- Sugar-free gelatin such as JELL-O
- Chicharrones (pork rinds)
- Protein Powders: Popular brands on these diet include Isopure, MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition and several others.
**Notes on protein powders:
The main things to look for in your proteint powder is:
- it is a “whey isolate”,
- it includes less than 2 grams or so of sugar,
- at least 20 grams protein per scoop
- and that it is low in carbs.
After that it is a matter of taste and expense. They do all taste quite different, so if one is not to your liking try another. Also, a tsp of cinnamon really helps in the taste department.
Good Choices for the Refrigerator and Freezer
- Low-carb vegetables, fresh and frozen. For example, spinach, greens, peppers, spaghetti squash, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, beans, etc.
- Most root vegetables are NOT allowed and most winter squash is not allowed. Root vegetables include such things as beets, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc. Corn is NOT allowed and carrots are OK but can be a little high in sugar.
- Most fruit is not allowed. 1/2 cup of berries per day can be OK and lemon and lime juice can be OK.
- Meats of all kinds
- Fish of all kinds
- cottage cheese (full fat)
- Tofu (soy products are not deemed “healthy” by 4-Hour body book however)
- Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, peanuts – keep in freezer or refrigerator
- Seeds – sunflower, pumpkin – keep in freezer or refrigerator
- Lettuce: large leaves for rollups – put any sandwich material inside (example: BLT lettuce wraps)
- Bags of greens or cabbage for quick preparation
I’m sure I have missed some compliant foods and have added some foods that 4-hour body gurus debate (i.e., cottage cheese, 1/2 cup berries and unsweetened coconut milk), but this is the most current information that I have been able to curate that has passed most tests of being “compliant”. It should serve you well as a low carb shopping list to take along to the grocery store.
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Sunday 4th of October 2020
I really wanna do this diet I’m really excited
Sunday 4th of October 2020
I’ve tried a lot of low carb diets for a year at a time, including keto. For me, and many that I coached, slow carb is by far the most sustainable which leads to keeping it off long term. I started to let up during Covid, but when I hit the red flag limit of a 4-lb gain, I decided to quickly go back to slow carb. I will say that I have combined it with 16/8 intermittent fasting and walking 2.5 miles a day and that seems to be a winning combination.
Friday 29th of May 2020
I'm starting the SCD again from 1 June 2020. Currently I'm doing research and ensuring I'm prepared as much as I can be to comply for 30 days.
I usually practice intermittent fasting (16-8 /18-6) so wondering if I can still do this and get fat loss results if I just have 30g protein around 12pm which is normally when I break my fast. Or is it better to have it upon waking? It says in the book it boosts metabolism? Will the metabolism be hindered if i don't eat?
I'm just 5kg away from my target weight and really want to see the fat go for good!
Friday 29th of May 2020
Hi Serena, In my experience intermittent fasting coupled with a slow carb diet is the hands down best way to lose fat and see a change in body composition. I lost 25 pounds in the first six months on strict slow carb, but couldn’t seem to lose the last 5 pounds. Finally, when I added in 16/8 intermittent fasting the last 5 came off pretty quickly. I have maintained my loss now for six years and love intermittent fasting.
Here is where I think Ferriss was coming from with the eating breakfast within the first hour: Most people are coming from a really high carb way of eating and breakfast is often the highest carb meal of the day. By simply switching your breakfast for a high protein one at the beginning of the diet, you can stave off hunger while significantly lowering calories. Ferriss now does a lot of intermittent fasting himself.
Bottom line on this diet is to avoid sugar, decrease processed foods/carbs, and eat a lot of protein. By doing that you naturally decrease calories, and calories do matter. Ferriss’s bottom line is to experiment on your own body. For my body the magic has been intermittent fasting, decreased carbs and sugar (resulting in decreased calories), and regular exercise of some sort.
At the beginning I practiced the cheat day once a week. After you have been doing this diet for a while, cheat days are still important to bumping up your metabolism (if you have been 100% compliant), but it really doesn’t have to be once a week. Once every other week might be better if you stall out.
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
Hi there. Thank you for all this wonderful information! I started slow carb a month ago and I am so happy I stumbled onto your site. I am wondering if you could tell me if spaghetti squash is ok?
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
Hi Beth, Spaghetti squash has the least carbs of any of the winter squash and I personally use it quite a bit. There are probably some people that would say it is not technically compliant, but it really is a relative thing. If you use a tracking system like myfitnesspal then you want to keep the total carb level for the day below 100 grams. Spaghetti squash can fit in with a slow carb diet if the rest of the macronutrients are all in line. I think it makes a great bed for ragus, etc. and prefer it over zucchini noodles.
Friday 15th of September 2017
Hello. I am just learning about this 4HB and am very excited, but due to thyroid cancer a few years ago, don't have a thyroid and rely on synthetic thyroid. How much will this impact the science behind this way of eating? Many thanks for your time.
Thursday 21st of September 2017
Hi Lisa, I'm not skilled in answering diet questions that deal with serious medical conditions. Constipation, yes. Synthetic thyroids are out of my baliwick. I would suggest you connect with a doctor that practices functional medicine. They are generally much more knowledgeable about the connections between diet, nutrition and specific health issues.
Monday 14th of August 2017
What about cashew milk in limited quantities? Also, I saw in an earlier thread that the 30g protein within 30 minutes of waking is no longer considered as important. Can you elaborate on why that is?
Tuesday 15th of August 2017
It's not that it is no longer considered important Nick, it's just a nuanced version of why you should do this and maybe why not. First of all he talks about within an hour of waking in his book with the "30 within 30" just a phrase that is easy to remember. Secondly he has stated often that he tries to keep the diet and principles really simple for people, but if you follow him on his blogs and interviews, etc. he gets much more nuanced about what he means by the rules. He himself experiments frequently with skipping breakfast altogether and fasting, etc.
From everything he has said in the book and since, I am interpreting the breakfast philosophy like this: Most people coming to this way of eating are used to eating a lot of carbs for breakfast (cereal, toast, pastries, bagels). Your "first meal" of the day is quite important as that is when your body is looking for energy after coming out of a fast (sleep). Whether it be within 30 min of waking or 2 hours of waking, your first meal should be high in protein and moderate in fat so that the body will turn to fat stores for its energy rather than burning glucose.
When new people coming to this diet follow the rule of eating protein and fat and excluding carbs for their first meal, the results can be significant if they are coming from a high carb place. Whether that first meal is 30 minutes or an hour or two from waking is dependent on a whole lot of individual variables.