The Slow-Carb Diet and Distance Running, Part I

February 2nd, 2012 in Articles by 5 Comments

Last year, following a serious surgical procedure on his foot, Faster Than Forty co-editor Rick Miller experimented with Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb Diet in an effort to shed weight before beginning a distance running program. The free white paper at the end of this post documents the effects of this diet.

A future paper will present the results of attempting the Slow-Carb Diet during a long, slow distance training cycle. (The research for the future paper is underway as this post is going live.)

The net takeaways from Miller’s research:

  • The diet is extremely effective for weight loss.
  • The diet requires some discipline, but most motivated people should be able to follow it.
  • Long-term participation may negatively affect endurance training, but more research is needed.
  • Surprisingly, some fast food outlets (like Chipotle) meet the diet’s guidelines.

You can download the white paper in PDF format here or by clicking the image to the right.


Rick Miller ran track and cross country for Northeastern University, where he graduated with a degree in journalism. He is a trained researcher with experience building complex data models, and now works in advertising. Learn more about him here.



Author: FasterThanForty


Lots of crazy supplements in the book too. Did you just skip those?



During the research phase I cover in the paper above, yes, I skipped all supplements. I am slow-carbing again now while logging btw 50-70 miles per week, and I have started using beta alanine in addition to a typical multi-vitamin.

Too soon to tell if the beta alanine is worth anything — I’ve only tried two 10-mile tempo runs (not very fast). One went much better than expected. One was a complete bust. I think the performance was more related to where I was in the diet cycle than the supplements.




Started this week on slow carb diet. lost 3 pounds in the first few days. My daily runs are a struggle. with 6 weeks to the marathon I really wonder if I will have to include a carb meal the evening before my long weekend run (18.6mile).



I’m still testing, but my early recommendation would be to re-introduce traditional carbs 10-21 days prior to your race day. I am off slow carb for a few weeks to try and gather some data on how it affects the base-building phase of training, but I plan to slow-carb again leading up to a competitive Memorial Day Weekend 10-miler, but I’ll be “full-carbing” a few weeks before the race.




hi there,
i am a 34 year old woman and i have been on the SCD for eight months. i had my fourth child eight months ago and i have not run in 18 months. i have not done any distance running in 6 years when i did the sydney marathon (my only marathon). i started running again 6 weeks ago and 3 weeks prior to starting i did the endurance stretching daily from Tim’s book. i now do the stretching after each run. I ran 8km 2 weeks after starting to run again and had the silly thought that i might train for another marathon – the sydney one in September. I have built up slowly each week and i ran 20km (12miles) on saturday and felt great. i have my cheat day on my long run day and stick to SCD the rest of the week save some dark chocolate every other day. i didn’t even think that the diet might not be good for long distance running until my cousin questioned my training diet yesterday and said i couldn’t possibly be getting enough carbs for such distances. i said i felt fine during the 20km run. i had some jelly beans at the one hour mark and that was it. had a slow carb breakfast as well. I have been surprised at how easy it has been to build my running up so quickly and effortlessly and thought maybe be its the high nutrition of the SCD, the stretching etc. i have only been running 3 x week. 2 x 5km of which i do one as quickly as i can and one long run at a conversational pace. i have not been doing speedwork or weights or CF yet. I wonder if my body has learned to burn fuel from fat considering i have been eating this way for so long and doesn’t actually need the extra carbs. any thoughts? do you think ill start to suffer maybe the more training i do or the longer the distances. have you anymore to add since your last post here? reagrds

p.s. an interesting experiment below on VO2max and ketosis

jenny flanery


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