Are You Eating Enough Calories on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

by Steven Wright

Switching from a conventional Standard American Diet (SAD) to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet causes many challenges, both good and bad. Most of the challenges can’t be planned for, though. Instead, they must be observed and then compensated for during the execution of the SCD diet. One of the major challenges I faced was the difference in calories and satiety between the two diets.

While on the SAD Diet, I Could Eat Until My Belly Hurt

And I also knew that it was going to cause my stomach to grow when I did. It boils down to basic physics; I could easily eat 2,000-4,000 calories (1 large pizza) of processed food in one sitting (holidays, parties, etc). I think most people intuitively know this and save for a few occasions a year where they gorge until near food coma takes over.

I know I strived to train myself to recognize when I was satisfied but not full on the SAD diet. By doing this, I was able to keep my weight mostly under control. So, when I switched to the SCD diet I ate until I felt the same way.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t account for is that when eating whole foods it is generally harder to get the same amount of total calories per volume of food.

For example, when I started the SCD diet, I measured and weighed every calorie to help me understand more about how much I was eating and how it was affecting me. I swore I was eating like a hog but at the end of my first several days on the SCD diet I looked at the numbers and I had only been averaging 1,400 calories a day!

At the time, I was shooting for around 2,100 calories a day so this was WAY too low for my maintenance needs.

Once I saw this, I knew I needed to start to retrain the types and volume of food I ate in each sitting. I was going to have to experiment with my diet by upping the protein and fat content, if I couldn’t handle eating a higher volume.

So, to Answer the Title of This Post…

How do you make sure you’re getting enough calories?

First off, you need to make sure you have a good idea about how many calories you’re getting. Measure, weigh, and record all your meals for at least 2 weeks. Once you have a better understanding of how many calories you are eating, the next question most people ask if they realize they are unintentionally starving themselves is “How do I eat more calories?”

The simple answer is eat, Eat, EAT! That might come off a bit coarse but I think many people need to hear this message. While the SCD diet is a restricted diet in the sense that certain types of foods are prohibited, the amount of legal foods a person can consume is unlimited.

This is a very important idea to grasp, as the volume and ratios of natural food needed to sustain your needs can be vastly different than what you’ve been practicing your entire life. I know it was an eye opener for me when I switched from the SAD diet to the natural SCD diet.

If you find that you’re struggling, like I was, to reach your caloric needs with the volume of food you’re eating, you have several options. First off, focus your attention on fats and protein. Reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables you are eating and up your meat and healthy fat consumption. The second easiest option is to add more meals to your diet. If you’re only eating 3 square meals a day, try adding in a couple snacks throughout the day. If you’re already eating several snacks a day, turn them into whole meals that mimic your big meals.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a trial-by-fire experience. Each person will need to tweak different aspects of the diet based on their past life experiences.

Don’t be afraid to buck conventional wisdom when you switch to eating whole natural foods.

-Steve

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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer February 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm

When I first began the diet, I couldn’t believe how much food I needed to feel full! After the first few weeks, this need leveled off a bit. I’m 5’2″ and weigh 106-108 pounds, so I don’t want to lose any weight. My husband keeps telling me that we’ll start making my SCD yogurt with whole milk instead of 2% so I don’t lose pounds, but I’m just eating more avocados instead. 🙂

Reply

Steven Wright February 18, 2011 at 7:48 am

Hi Jennifer,

It really is a big change when you switch over to natural foods isn’t it! Sometimes I still cannot believe I get to eat so much! I’ve come to like being “full” after each meal!

You should defiantly try making your yogurt with whole milk or even half-and-half, trust me you’ll like the different texture!

Reply

Barb December 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Great to see this post, as we who don’t have weight to lose tend to be in the minority, and finding info on how to gain pounds is sparse! I’m not on SCD per say, but did a slow process of eliminating foods for the past 10 months, losing 20 lbs. Unfortunately, that’s 20lbs underweight for me (I’m 5’6″ and 107lbs now). I lost most of it in the last few months, partly from the autoimmune paleo diet, and partly from increased food intolerances (including FODMAP/SIBO/salicylate issues). I still can only eat a small number of foods, but I’ve finally stabilized and am starting to feel the positive effects of gut healing and reduced inflammation, despite not tolerating bone broth and still eating quinoa. My blood protein levels are very low, so my doc has suggested I eat more protein. Guess it’s time to start weighing stuff so I know how many calories I’m getting! PS: LOVE your podcast – keep up the great work!

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Miia June 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

After realizing I needed a lot more food, I was eating huge amounts of ground meat on each sitting. It was no stopping. I could easily eat something like over 1/2 kg or closer to 1 kg… No I am not tall… I am quite short.

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Vindhya mehrotra August 5, 2015 at 10:39 pm

I have gluten sensitivity…n numerable food intolerances…every post n article is so informative…I get all the answers…u r God sent blessing to millions who are suffering silently around the world…thank u is the least I can say.

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