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.

Shopping for high protein, low carb foods in grocery store in Spain
Shopping for high protein, low carb foods in grocery store in Spain

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.

Slow Carb Sauces: Harissa, Romesco & Chimichurri
Slow Carb Sauces: Harissa, Romesco & Chimichurri
Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce as a good protein source
Scrambled eggs with a side of slow carb Romesco sauce
  • 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)
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Horseradish
  • Pesto
  • 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)
  • Sardines
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Salsas
  • 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
  • Anchovies
  • Nut butters
  • Coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • Dried beans of all kinds (including garbanzo)
  • Canned beans (rinse them off if using canned beans)
  • Olives

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
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • 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.

Protein powder with blender bottle
Protein powder with blender bottle

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
  • Eggs
  • 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.

Online Coaching

Although I am not currently taking clients for diet & health coaching, I have been a coach for many years with the online service called It is a great platform for all kinds of coaching – anything from specific diets, writing a blog, getting up early, or getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site through the link below. There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  You can always contact me to get referrals also.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.


  1. Anonymous on October 4, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    I really wanna do this diet I’m really excited

    • dorothy stainbrook on October 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      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.

  2. Serena Iyama on May 29, 2020 at 4:20 am

    Hi Dorothy,

    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!


    • dorothy stainbrook on May 29, 2020 at 6:03 am

      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.

  3. Beth on May 20, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    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?

    Thank you

    • dorothy stainbrook on May 20, 2020 at 8:40 pm

      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.

  4. Lisa on September 15, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    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.

    • dorothy stainbrook on September 21, 2017 at 7:16 am

      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.


  5. Nick LaFountaine on August 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

    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?

    • dorothy stainbrook on August 15, 2017 at 6:40 am

      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.

  6. Nita on July 26, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Hello! Thanks for the article. I found a pasta where the only ingredient is red lentils – for some reason this feels like a cheat ????. Is this 4hb compliant? Thank you

    • dorothy stainbrook on July 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      It is compliant, but just know that it is a similar situation to using almond flour for baking. It takes an awful lot of almonds to make flour and an awful lot of lentils to make pasta so it can get indulgent fairly quickly. Just watch your daily macros and try to keep the carb level below 100 grams, with the lentil pasta as part of that.

      • Nita on July 28, 2017 at 12:30 am

        Thank you so much! Your site and help is so amazing. I really appreciate the reply ????

  7. Josi on July 9, 2017 at 4:48 am

    What do you think about Shirataki noodles – also known as konjac noddles? Are they good to use within the Slow Carb Diet? Thanks

    • dorothy stainbrook on July 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Shirataki noodles are great and compliant with slow carb as far as I can tell

  8. Alejandra on June 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Hi! My husband and I started two weeks ago the SCD. We both are experiencing constipation. Having bowel movements every other day. We are drinking between 1 to 1.5 liters of water, drinking green tea, eating beans or lentils with meals and having 1 cup of greens with each meal. Greens are usually spinach, chard or green leafy salad. Any suggestion on what could be causing the constipation?

    • dorothy stainbrook on July 19, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Constipation is often an issue when you change diets, no matter what diet you change to. Your body is adjusting. Often constipation results from dairy but it doesn’t look like you are having dairy. Get some magnesium citrate tablets and take 1-2 per day. This often helps. Fatigue and sometimes constipation is a result of an inbalance in electrolytes and usually it is a matter of needing more salt and/or more magnesium.

  9. Gillian Roy on June 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    When people reference unsweetened coconut milk do they mean the cans used mostly in cooking or the 1-2litre cartons?

    • dorothy stainbrook on June 4, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Gillian, Either one will work. Just compare labels and go with the one that has least sugar. I usually use the 2-litre cartons, but will have a couple of cans available for when I run out and can’t get to the store. Just stay away from coconut water and stay away from coconut creams. Get used to looking at the sugar value on labels….brands do differ.

  10. Anonymous on April 6, 2017 at 10:05 am

    What about seafood? Shrimp? Also how much of each should we be eating? Beans, protein, veggies. And did I read that sugar free jello is ok?

    • dorothy stainbrook on April 30, 2017 at 11:39 am

      All of the food that you listed is good protein and compliant with the diet. Re how much of each, that is variable depending on a ton of different individual factors (how much you exercise, what your weight is, whether you are insulin resistant, etc. etc.).

  11. Valerie on February 27, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I just want to know about brown rice?

    • dorothy stainbrook on February 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Brown rice is not allowed on slow carb or keto or most of the low carb diets. It has the same amount of carbs as white rice, but has a few more nutritional components. If you keep your daily totals of carbs really low elsewhere sometimes you can get away with some brown rice. Depends on how strict you want to be and what else you’re eating that day.

  12. Erin McKnabb on February 14, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I recently found a slow carb breakfast frittata recipe that called for bacon and turkey sausage. Is this allowed on the 4 hour body diet? Also is it ok to have a protein shake when you wake up instead of a big egg breakfast if you have limited time in the morning?

    • dorothy stainbrook on February 14, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Yes on both counts. Just make sure the protein shake uses protein powder that is a whey isolate with very little carbs and less than 2-3 grams sugar. It doesn’t have to be right when you wake up either. He has moved on that recommendation.

  13. John Schneider on January 31, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Hello and thank you for this article.

    Do you have any information on the suitability of chayote? I understand it is a member of the squash family, but other research seems to indicate it’s very good for low carb diets. So I’m hopeful it’s OK for this variation as well.

    There is so much you can do with it, from faux baked potatoes, to ingredients in casseroles and more. (Great for low carb Thai curries I’ve been concocting.)

    • dorothy stainbrook on February 2, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Well, with respect to the slow carb diet, chayote is considered a fruit and a large portion of its calories come from sugar (2 grams of sugar and 6 grams carbs for every 25 grams of calories). This would make it non-compliant with a slow carb or low carb diet. Chayote is, however, a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. So, value in the health area, but not in the weight loss area.

  14. Sofia Simone on August 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Wow that’s not very much food. 20 grams of protein for supper is basically one chicken thigh and about half a cup a beans or split peas. I though in the book he said that we can eat as much of the above as we want. I’m kinda confused 🙁

    • dorothy stainbrook on August 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      That is a minimum amount of “protein”. You want to get in about 30 grams of protein for breakfast, at least 20 grams for lunch and 20 grams for dinner. It’s a guideline and remember you’re also getting carbs, fat, etc. with your meals. Most people have a lot of trouble getting in 30 grams of protein for breakfast and if you are getting enough protein and fat you are not going to be hungry. The total protein per day should run from 70 grams upward.

      Beans are allowed but too many beans can stall your weight loss. They are included to keep your energy levels high enough that you don’t get fatigued and quit.

      • Sofia Simone on August 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        I meant to say can I substitute beans and lentils for split peas?

        • dorothy stainbrook on August 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

          Yes, lentils are the best in terms of weight loss, black beans next best, then red kidney beans and peas are least best as they have more sugar than the others. I will try and post an article on beans next week. I haven’t had time to post much lately but hope to do a lot more now that my blueberry season is over. I’ll let you know when I post it.

          Thanks for the questions/comments!

          • Sofia Simone on August 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

            Thank you so much for the enlightenment . You’re so kind 🙂

            • dorothy stainbrook on August 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm

              No Problem Sofia! I love helping people out on this diet. It has been very good for me and my family and I’m a strong advocate for this way of eating. Healthy and long term sustainability, no hunger, and gets rid of all the sugar. (plus the cheat day is like having Christmas once a week).

              • Sofia Simone on August 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm

                I’ve been on this diet for about 4 days now and I love it so much because I’m never hungry. But I’m little worried because everyone is talking so much against legumes because of the lectins they contain. I have been soaking and sprouting mine hoping this would help because I really want to stay with this eating plan. I’m glad to know that you and your family encourage this way of eating !!!

                • dorothy stainbrook on August 17, 2015 at 7:28 am

                  One more thing on beans Sofia. Briefly, National Geographic hired Dan Buettner to search the globe for those areas which have the longest lived people with the least amount of health issues, and then try to figure out why. They were looking for places with high concentrations of 100-year-olds who had grown old without diseases like heart problems, obesity, cancer, or diabetes. They identified 5 areas in the world that met the criteria. He then studied their diets. Each area had very different diet regimes, but the one thing they all had in common was a cup of beans a day. He called beans the cornerstone to health in these areas’ diets.

                  • Sofia Simone on August 17, 2015 at 9:07 am

                    That’s so good to hear??? Thank you for the encouragement ! I’m sticking with the diet !!!

  15. Elly on July 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Under eggs, beans & misc. Category, tofu is listed to show how many grams of protein yet under the low carb refrigerator and freezer you lis tofu as not being accepted under this diet. Can you clarify-is it or is it not okay to eat under this diet? Also, I’m not able to find any information on shrimp-I know shrimp is high in protein and low in calories. Is that an acceptable protein? I would appreciate your help! This was a helpful post with the exception of those two clarifying questions. Thanks so much

    • dorothy stainbrook on July 19, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Elly, thanks for pointing out the tofu confusion. Tofu is compliant with the diet as far as carbs go, but soy products are considered unhealthy by the author in terms of GMO’s etc. Shrimp is fine. I’d have to google it to find the number of grams protein and calories, but I’m sure it would be easy enough to find. All the seafood proteins are compliant.

  16. Nichole on March 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the list! I see you on all the time and I love your input. Your products look awesome and your blogs really show that you’re a down-to-earth lovely lady. Keep up all of your awesome work!

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