Bored? Try the “Matrix”…

*with all due respect to Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution blog – he inspired this post, along with some discussions I have had with some co-workers…

I’ve been pretty successful on the slow-carb and 4HB diet (at least by my standards).  I’m down 20 pounds since Dec. 19th when I started, and I feel great.

Now I’ve started to get vocal about my love for this diet and lifestyle.

Just this past week I had a few conversations with different people about the diet.  I’ve talked about what I was doing to lose weight for myself, but only recently have I started talking about what I believe is the best way for others to lose weight and get healthy.

Let me tell one such story – at lunch a co-worker was complaining about following weight watchers and being sick of salads and points and not really getting anywhere.  I felt compelled to sit down and start discussing why I thought weight watchers wasn’t the answer, and why slow-carb/4HB is.  This person went on to say that they wanted to buy the book, but didn’t think it was for them or it was just sensationalized or something like that.  I also talked about eating “paleo” or “like a caveman” (which, as I recently wrote is what I think is the natural progression for followers of this diet).

We talked and my friend then said about how it seems “boring” or that they couldn’t come up with “enough ideas” to make for meals.

I was dumbfounded by that…because I have honestly not gotten bored, but also because I realize that we don’t make that many different meals.  The meal that changes most for me, and I’d bet that this is the case for most people, is dinner.  We’re always trying to come up with different things to cook, but usually we end up falling back to our old standby’s.  I tried mentioning this (actually, I think I had almost this same exact conversation 3 times this past week) – but I found myself stumped to come up with a good argument for why there doesn’t need to be a “boring” day on 4HB.

Then I stumbled upon Robb Wolf’s “Food Matrix” – and was like, “yes, this is what I need to show people”.  His matrix is awesome and doesn’t really need any changes – except if you are intent on following 4HB (which allows beans/legumes while Paleo forbids them).

So, I plagiarized a little (please forgive me Robb!) and created the 4HB Food Matrix!


So, what we have here are the essentials for creating delicious 4HB worthy meals.  All we have to do is pick and choose at least one item from each row, cook them, put on a plate…and voila! a new, non-boring meal!

Using this list (which is not even close to exhaustive, just a quick put together from Robb’s matrix and some things I like to use) we can create over 200,000 different meals (16 proteins * 15 veggies * 9 beans * 5 fats * 19 spices/herbs = 205,200 combinations).  That is only using one item from each row.  This also doesn’t take into consideration different cooking methods (i.e., slow cooker, grilling, broiling, etc…)  Honestly it’s close to infinite the number of possibilities you could experiment with using just this list.  And again, this is just what I put together.

What do you think?  Is this something you could use or share?

If you like this, please let me know in the comments – and also please check out Robb Wolf’s Paleo site, since he is the inspiration for this.

I’d love it if you’d share this too, just re-tweet or post to facebook – or word of mouth!


photo credit: Flickr/MyMeltingBrain


  1. says

    It’s viewable but it doesn’t show up on your blog page. Try adjusting the privacy settings from “anyone with a link” to “everyone”. That’s just my guess.

    Is it one page?

    It’s handy…I’m linking to it!


    • valentinb13 says

      I changed the privacy settings in google docs to public…it should be a page

      thanks for linking to it!

  2. valentinb13 says

    Hopefully it’s working now – the image should be ‘clickable’ – and should open. Sorry for the mistakes!

  3. Karen B. says

    I love this and I could view and print it fine. I’m going to add in my own favorites and make it my own. Thanks a ton!

  4. M K says

    If you can’t see the content on your smart phone, try downloading “Atomic” web browser app. You’ll have to copy/paste the URL into “Atomic” but you can see the table there. iPhone/iPad/Safari all strip out content and functionality but by using Atomic you can see everything. Read about it here:

    It has some other cool features too. I’m a huge fan.

  5. says

    You beat me too it; fantastic!
    I was thinking about this the other day from a different angle. Essentially the da Vinci method meats 4HB.

    For inspiration and practice, da Vinci allegedly would write all the elemental parts as column headers. For a portrait, eyes, ears, mouth eyebrows, nose, etc. Down each column, write a list of descriptors. Nose: pinched, broad, flared, … Then randomly link one item from each column and draw.

    Your matrix does the same for SCD cooking.



  6. says

    Great idea, Brian. I liked it enough to link to this post from my post for today.

    I am curious as to why you did not include all of the proteins that the Paleo Matrix did.

  7. Marci says

    NICE JOB. Thanks for sharing. On my list I “bolded” those items actually mentioned by Tim in the book and under legumes I’ve added garbonzo beans (chick peas). Garbonsz beans are used to make tapenade a great simply roased treat that can be weekly housed in containers at work, in the car, etc… so no chance to back slide – if your hungry grab the tapenade. Thanks again.

  8. Scott says

    I tried 4HB a year ago and had god success but like many I slid back to my old ways.
    I’m going to give it another try but had a question about carb\s required for exercise.
    I’ve been working with a personal trainer on strength and conditioning but find the days when I skip carbs, I have very little in the tank.
    Where am I going to get the carbs in need for endurance?