Slow Carb Diet for Vegetarians

A Guide to the Slow Carb Diet from "Four Hour Body" for Vegetarians

Getting ready to Slow Carb? You'll be eating lots of eggs and beans!. Photo by John E. Kelly / Getty Images

Why do I love the slow carb diet for vegetarians? Many, many people have successfully lost weight on the slow carb diet. There's no calorie counting, and you get a cheat day once a week where you can eat pizza, ice cream, chocolate, whatever you want! The diet is effective, yes, and yes, cheat days are great, but there are some limitations. Here's what you need to know about the Slow Carb Diet for vegetarians. 

What is the slow carb diet? 

The slow carb diet was discovered through much testing and research by Tim Ferriss and published in his blog and in his book, The Four Hour Body. It has been successfully used by many people to lose significant amounts of weight. Based on anecdotal evidence from people who have tried the diet, it works best for people who have plenty of weight (30 or more pounds) to lose. If you're just 5-10 pounds overweight, it may be a bit more challenging, but you are also likely to have good results. 

If you've found this article, chances are you already know all about the slow carb diet and are more specifically wondering how it will work for a vegetarian.

See also: Slow carb vegetarian on Pinterest

If you don't already have the slow carb basics down, you really should read the book or check out other resources for more in-depth coverage, however, here's the basics:

  1. Eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Other meals should have about 20 grams of protein per meal.
  1. Drink lots of water throughout the day. More than you think you should. Lots means LOTS.
  2. Once a week, take a day off the diet and eat whatever you want. This so-called "diet cheat day" is required
  3. Eat only unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods, excluding all grains (quinoa, barley, wheat, bread, rice, flour, etc.), starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes) and especially sugar. For the purposes of the diet, fruit is considered a sugar and is not allowed. Corn is also not allowed.
    • The only drinks allowed are water, black coffee and one glass of red wine a day. No juice, no vegetable juice, no milk, no almond milk.
    • Meat is allowed, but vegetarians will eat only eggs, vegetables, beans and some nuts on the diet (a small portion of nuts is allowed, but discouraged), along with a small amount of condiments (hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce or tamari, spices, etc.). Dairy is not allowed on the slow carb diet.
    • Try to eat a protein (for vegetarians for the purposes of this diet, that means eggs), beans and vegetables at each meal.
  1. That's pretty much it! The diet allows for you to eat as much as you want of the allowed foods, as long are you're reasonable about it. No calorie-counting or fat-counting is needed.

See also: Meal ideas for vegetarians on the slow carb diet

Can vegetarians lose weight on the slow carb diet?

Assuming you have weight to lose and follow the diet rules strictly, you should see the same results on the diet as anyone else. Vegans may struggle to follow the protein requirements of the diet without eating any eggs (though that's not to say that vegans don't get enough protein, however, the slow carb diet requires a higher amount of protein intake than is generally required on a daily basis). 

Many people have had incredible weight loss success on the slow carb diet, and as a vegetarian, your success shouldn't be any different provided you follow the rules strictly. Most people average around two pounds weight loss each week for the first couple months on the diet, and many people have reported even bigger losses depending on how much they need to lose. Up to four or even five pounds a week is not uncommon.

See also: Slow carb diet vegetarian recipe list

Can I eat...?

Many common and healthy vegetarian foods such as rice, quinoa, soy milk and even fresh fruit are prohibited on the slow carb diet, so the "rules" can seem a bit counter-intuitive at times!

There's plenty of questions about this diet that start with "Can I eat...?". In general, the answer is probably no, but I'll answer some of the more common questions about what vegetarians can and cannot eat on the slow carb diet.


See also: Slow carb diet vegetarian recipe list

Tofu: There is some debate about whether or not tofu belongs on a slow carb diet. The general consensus is yes, it's ok to eat tofu, but watch the portion size. Tofu is made from beans, but it is a processed food, and consuming unprocessed or minimally processed foods is best on the slow carb diet. Tofu is great because it is high in protein and can help you meet your protein requirements on the diet. If you're unsure about using tofu on a slow carb diet, have you ever had hemp tofu? It's made completely from hemp seeds and is high in protein. Hemp tofu, or "hempfu" is a great alternative for anyone avoiding soy or cautious about tofu while eating slow carb.

Tempeh: The answer for tempeh is the same as tofu. In general, it should be ok but stick to eating tofu or tempeh only once per day or even less. Best to focus on eggs and beans since both simple foods and simple meals are recommended.

Edamame: Yes. Edamame shouldn't be your primary source of protein or beans, but it can be included as part of your vegetarian slow carb meals. Have edamame as a snack if needed, or add some edamame to your salads or to a mixed vegetable dish for extra protein.

Miso: Yes. In fact, all fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut are encouraged on the slow carb diet.

Protein powder: In general, you should be eating whole, minimally processed foods. Most protein powders are highly processed and many contain sugar. Pure whey protein (read the label to see what's in it) and 100% hemp protein are the only possible exceptions, but best to use them only occasionally and they are officially discouraged. Green supplements which contain no sugar, rice or grains are fine, but read the label very carefully!

Nutritional Yeast: As far as I know, Tim Ferriss himself has never given an answer about whether or not nutritional yeast should be included. However, knowing what we do about the slow carb rules, we can figure out a good answer. Nutritional yeast contains little to no sugar, has a relatively high protein content with little carbohydrate content. Therefore, it should be okay to include on a slow carb diet. However, knowing the "keep it simple and unprocessed" rule, best to use it only in small amounts

Meat substitutes: While some vegetarians following the slow carb diet have included meat substitutes, they are highly processed and most contain wheat. All meat substitutes should be avoided on the slow carb diet. 

See also: Slow carb diet vegetarian recipe list

So, what do vegetarians eat on the slow carb diet?

There is some limitation of foods for both vegetarians and meat-eaters on the slow carb diet. It's recommended that you find a few simple meals that you like, and stick to them.

As long as you eat eggs, you'll easily be able to follow the slow carb diet. Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Body actually recommends a vegetarian breakfast of eggs with black beans and spinach and salsa or hot sauce for flavor.

 Beans are a big part of the diet, which is great for vegetarians. So you, my slow-carbing vegetarian friends, will be eating a whole lot of eggs and beans, as well as vegetables, of course. Basically, the only difference between a slow-carb vegetarian and a slow-carber eating meat is the meat. That is to say, people who eat meat on the slow carb diet will be eating lots of eggs and beans too. 

See also: Slow carb diet vegetarian recipe list

You'll eat eggs, beans, lentils, a small amount of hummus, any kind of vegetable, lentil soup, green salads, chili, bean soups, dal, refried beans, salsa, and, in case you hadn't already noticed, lots of eggs and beans.

Here are a few general food and meal ideas for vegetarians on the slow carb diet:


  • Eggs with black beans, salsa, spinach or guacamole. One egg mixed with egg whites  or plain egg whites is recommended.
  • Because you need to get 30 grams of protein first thing in the morning, eggs are highly recommended for breakfast. Protein shakes and protein bars are discouraged and usually contain sugar, which is not allowed (you can try a pure hemp protein powder from time to time, but it's not delicious in plain water!).

    Lunch or Dinner:

    • Beans: Homemade chili, bean soup, bean salad
    • Lentils: Lentil soup, dal or curried lentils
    • Spinach salad (add beans or hemp seeds to add extra protein)
    • "Naked" burrito or taco salad without the shell from Qdoba, Chipotle or other similar made-to-order Mexican restaurant with lettuce, extra beans, salsa and guacamole (no cheese or sour cream).
    • Because of the high protein requirements of this diet, it's best to add another egg to your lunch or dinner
    • Indian vegetable curry


    • Snacking is discouraged, but you can always have leftovers or more of the allowed foods
    • Vegetables with a small amount of hummus
    • Kale chips
    • A small amount of nuts (less than 1/4 cup) or seeds (I like the sugar-free versions of these pumpkin seeds)
    • Roasted chickpeas

    Do you have any vegetarian recipes for the slow carb diet?

    I sure do! Each one of these recipes is 100% compliant with the slow carb diet rules and is 100% vegetarian. You may also want to check out my slow carb vegetarian Pinterest board here.

    ​More Meal Ideas for Vegetarians on the Slow Carb Diet


    Lunch or dinner:

    • Indian Chole (Spicy Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce)


    Soups and chili recipes:

    See also: More meal ideas for vegetarians on the slow carb diet

    For more information about the slow carb diet, read The Four Hour Body book, by Tim Ferriss.