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Paleo Diet Vs. Slow Carb Diet

author image Michelle Matte
Michelle Matte is an accomplished fitness professional who holds certifications in personal training, pilates, yoga, group exercise and senior fitness. She has developed curricula for personal trainers and group exercise instructors for an international education provider. In her spare time, Matte writes fiction and blogs.
Paleo Diet Vs. Slow Carb Diet
A cut of salmon steak on a plate with a small salad. Photo Credit karandaev/iStock/Getty Images

High protein, low carbohydrate diets have been cropping up for decades, with variations on a similar theme. Two popular 21st Century low-carb diet plans are the Paleo Diet, developed by Loren Cordain, PhD, and the Slow Carb Diet, outlined by Timothy Ferris in his book, "The Four Hour Body."

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is a nutrition plan to which the human species is best genetically adapted, claims author Dr. Loren Cordain, professor of exercise science at Colorado State University. The diet is based on studies conducted by Cordain and his team of researchers that mimic the way Homo sapiens ate prior to the agricultural revolution, which occurred 500 generations ago. The Paleo Diet is founded on a belief that post-paleolithic agriculture has led to a decline in the quality of human nutrition and health.

Paleo Diet Essentials

Paleolithic humans were hunter-gatherers, whose diet consisted of plant foods they were able to forage, and animals that they were able to track and kill. While Dr. Cordain admits that our Paleolithic ancestors lived short and brutal lives, he asserts that death was most often a consequence of accident brought on by the environmental challenges of living outdoors, in the absence of modern health care. By contrast, modern humans most often perish of lifestyle-related disorders brought on by poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The Paleo Diet includes only fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Dairy, grains, sugars, salt, processed foods and alcohol are excluded.

The Slow Carb Diet

The Slow Carb Diet was developed by Timothy Ferris, and presented in his book, "The Four Hour Body." The Slow Carb Diet is based on five rules: avoid white carbohydrates, eat the same few meals over and over again, don't drink calories, don't eat fruit, and take one day off per week to eat anything you want. Under this plan, rice, potatoes, sugar and white flour are out, as are juices, milk and non-diet soft drinks. Ferris does allow one or two glasses of red wine nightly, and the plan allows for a "cheat" day once a week when you can eat anything you want, including otherwise banned foods. On noncheat days, the mainstays of the diet are meats, fish, eggs, legumes and vegetables.

Paleo versus Slow Carb

Both the Paleo Diet and the Slow Carb Diet include consuming relatively large quantities of meat. If you lean toward vegetarianism, neither diet is likely to appeal to you. Physical activity is an important component of both diets. The Paleo diet is a no-nonsense plan geared to superior health and long-term lifestyle change, based on peer-reviewed research conducted by Dr. Cordain and his team of academically accredited scientists. Mr. Ferris, who also authored the bestselling book, "The Four Hour Work Week," lacks the academic credentials of Dr. Cordain, and by his own admission, his research is based on personal experience. The weekly cheat day allowed on the Slow Carb diet may appeal to dieters who still want to dabble in nutrition's dark side while losing weight.

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