Slow Carb for Vegetarians


Sneaking in a whole, thick, juicy Gammon steak was the best thing I ever did. As it sizzled on the grill pan I was almost giddy with excitement. I was about to eat some real food.

I have a big date coming up in October and for that date, as well as my own self-esteem I, like most of the developed world, need to lose a bit of weight.

I'm an Omnivore. My SOH is not. She's a vegetarian.

We both enjoy a glass or two of wine.

In the past when I've decided to lose weight, or to get fit, my eating tactics have been a mixed bunch.

Tactic One: The Boiled Rice Diet

In my twenties, I successfully lost about 2 stone in weight by cycling three times a week and eating mainly plain boiled rice with Chicken Bovril.

A typical day's menu would be as follows:-

  • Breakfast: 50g wheatbran cereal with milk, coffee
  • Lunch: 50g boiled rice or pasta, with knob of butter and Chicken Bovril drink
  • Snack 200 calorie snack bar
  • Dinner: Whatever my Mum was cooking

(I lived at home, and my Mum was a good cook)

On the weekend I ate what I wanted.

Now this is not the ideal, or most famous diet, but it seemed to work for me. And I managed to hit my desired weight within about a year.

Tactic Two: The Scarlet Fever Diet

Not long after massively succeeding with The Boiled Rice Diet, I contracted Scarlet Fever.
This has to be one of the most effective diets I have ever tried. Effortlessly I lost about 15lbs in just over 4 weeks. No worrying about what to eat or drink. All I had to do was to remain bed ridden, take copious amounts of paracetomol and sleep for days on end.

There was a minor amount of discomfort in the diet, as I didn't want to eat anything, and everything I did try to eat tasted the same. No sweet or sour sensations at all, just bleh.

Tactic Three: The Slow Carb Diet

With the help of Mr Tim Ferris, I ate eggs, steak, broccoli and sweet potatoes washed down with a small glass of red wine daily.  On weekends I ate croissants, chocolate, whole packets of chocolate biscuits and pints of proper beer.  I swung my kettle bell thrice weekly. The weight gradual fell off.

I'll be writing more about this at a later date.

Tactic Four: The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet

Rose Elliot has written this book to help veggies get on the Atkins bandwagon. Doing any kind of low carb diet without eating meat is a pretty tough order. Not impossible, but difficult.

My reasoning for going down this route has mostly been to support my SOH. It's hard enough cooking for kids and then a grown up omnivore if you have to additionally rustle up one of the many egg/cheese or tofu based delicacies. So I decided to join her and see how it went, whilst holding onto my ability to add a bit of meat if required.

The basics of the diet are to follow 2 weeks of very low carbs to go into ketosis, where the body fuels itself with fat rather than carbs.

Meals are basically built around egg, cheese or tofu combined with salad or some green vegetables. No booze for the first 2 weeks and no caffeine either. No fruit, sugar, bread, pasta.

The diet works. In so far as we both have lost a lot of weight.

Here's the actual data for myself:-

  • 14th July  13 stone 7 lbs
  • 15th July 13 stone 2 lbs
  • 23rd July 12 stone 12 lbs
  • 25th July 12 stone 10 lbs
  • 29th July 12 stone 9 lbs
  • 2nd August 12 stone 9 lbs

In Americaneze, that's 12 lbs in 3 weeks.  In European that's 5.4kg

But it's hard.

Rose Elliot promised that after the first few days you won't feel hungry.  She lied.  Both of us, doing this diet, never had this feeling. I felt starving a great deal of the time.

You will feel tired. Very tired. My energy levels plummeted as I went through the first two weeks. Walking up stairs made me feel out of breath. I tried to get to bed early but always awoke feeling very tired.

You will get irritable. Be prepared for this from the beginning, so when you find yourself being just annoyed at the smallest thing, your SOH, child or whippet know's it's not you, it's your brain trying to work out why you are subjecting your body to this tofu torture.

When you do allow yourself a small drink, (did you know there are no carbs in spirits and very few in wine either) be prepared for the worst hangover the next morning after only two (large - is there any other kind) gin and slimline tonic and a couple of glasses of wine. In addition, be prepared to be a cheap date when imbibing, as your capacity to hold your drink will have plummeted, with your weight.

So there are the pro's and cons.

In future, I'm now through the worst of it and am gradually increasing my carb intake, as recommended in the book. In addition I'm slowly moving towards the slow-carb / paleo sustained way of eating again as for me it's far more compatible with (a) eating meat and (b) finding easy protein sources when out and about for work (c) enjoying the food that I eat.  The gammon was the first, delicious, example of that.

I'll be writing more on this type of eating plan in future , but for now I'll sum up The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet as one that really does work, gives you easy instructions to stick to and does allow vegetarians to embrace the low carb, high protein way of losing weight effectively.

But it also requires a large amount of willpower to stick at it, will make you feel hungry for the initial weeks, will make you irritable and will probably cause your energy levels to drop quite substantially.

It's worth it in my opinion, but not for the feint hearted.

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