Slow Carb Diet Cheat Day: Why You Need It

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the Slow Carb Diet cheat day? Why is having a day off from your diet important?

The Slow Carb Diet cheat day is the one day every week where you don’t follow the rules. In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss explains the importance of the cheat day.

Read more about the Slow Carb Diet cheat day and why you need it.

Slow Carb Diet Cheat Day

Follow the Slow Carb Diet rules only six days per week. The seventh day is a built-in cheat day—eat and drink whatever you want, all the no-nos included.

Though it sounds counterintuitive, the Slow Carb Diet cheat day provides many benefits:

  • If you make yourself a little sick by overeating junk food, you won’t crave it so strongly on other days.
  • Eating a lot once a week maintains your metabolism (which slows when you restrict calories). Your metabolism is what makes you lose weight, so it’s important to keep it going strong.
  • Everyone cheats on diets. Building in a cheat day dispenses with guilt and keeps you mentally healthy.
  • Eating varying amounts helps prevent your body from decreasing hormone production.

You won’t gain any permanent weight from cheat day as long as you adjust your body chemistry so that what you eat either passes through you or is absorbed into muscle tissue (rather than fat tissue). To do this:

1. Keep your blood sugar levels consistent so your body won’t release as much insulin. To manipulate blood sugar levels:

  • Use the techniques in the “Understanding Insulin” section. Particularly, drink a little bit of citric juice (the author recommends grapefruit) before your first cheat meal. The fructose in grapefruit juice will flat-line your blood sugar.
  • Eat a regular, non-binge breakfast of 300-500 calories. It should contain 30 grams of protein minimum. It should also contain fiber to avoid diarrhea.
  • Use supplements that control the release of insulin.

2. Increase the speed of food passing through you by eating or drinking 100-200 milligrams of caffeine at each meal. If food passes through your body fast enough, there isn’t time for your body to absorb all of it. 

3. Encourage the storage of calories in muscles instead of fat. The glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) is a “gate” on both muscles and fat that allows calories to enter. You can stimulate GLUT-4 on the surface of muscles by doing 60-90 seconds of muscular contractions just before you eat and then again 90 minutes after eating. Try squats, push-ups against the wall, or chest flys with a resistance band.

It’s normal to gain weight immediately after cheat day and that’s not a problem—you’ll lose the weight again over the next two days. Remember that circumference measurements are a better measure of fat loss than weight. 

Men can often replace cheat day with a single cheat meal. Some women can’t because the diet decreases leptin (a hormone that regulates fat storage), and low leptin levels can inhibit menstruation.

Slow Carb Diet Cheat Day: Why You Need It

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Timothy Ferriss's "The 4-Hour Body" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The 4-Hour Body summary :

  • How to do the least amount you need to do for the results you want
  • Why you need a cheat day in your diet
  • How to improve everything about your body, including sleep, sex, and longevity

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

One thought on “Slow Carb Diet Cheat Day: Why You Need It

  • September 14, 2023 at 7:52 am

    Hey guys I was wondering how can I ingest that caffeine and not mess up my sleep? Im quite sensitive to caffeine


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