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Is "starvation mode" real?

How can you gain fat while eating less? Tim's advice is not counting calories, but I've read questions in this forum where people are NOT losing fat and the general advice is 'eat more'. Sometimes is the other way around, and the advice is eating less. So which is it? The reason I believe SCD actually works is the science behind it, even if I haven't been able to maintain this way of eating long enough to see results for myself. But this particular idea makes no sense to me. I've seen people lose weight by counting calories and generally eating less (even if the loss comes from both fat and muscle). So calories do matter to some extent.

Let's say I'm eating at least 1500 calories a day of scd approved food, as my BMR requires, feeling satisfied and energetic; but I'm not losing any fat. What would you recommend? eating less or eating more? I just don't understand the logic behind this.


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This is what I believe: cutting calories leads to weight loss, yes, but it is short term. And it is not all FAT loss, either. Some is muscle. Weight is almost always regained, plus a little more.

I love this video/explanation by Sean Croxton.

If the link does not work, go to youtube and search "Leptin: Fat Loss for Smart People!" by UndergroundWellness.

SCD works because it reorders the hormones involved in appetite, hunger, satiety, and fat usage vs fat storage. Our appetite decreases as time goes on with SCD because of this, and that is vastly different from forcing ourselves to eat smaller portions or to endure frequent hunger.

  • Candela MM commented Nov 14th 2012:

    Thank you gretchenlin, that's exactly the answer I was looking for. The video is great! Everything makes much more sense now.

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I would recommend nit-picking your standard meals. Why don't you provide some details of your specific diet, exercise, and some statistics and we may be able to better help you out. Also, you may be eating exactly what you need to eat but not at the right time. I had a slow down because I kept waiting way too long to eat lunch after breakfast, I reduced the size of my meals and threw in a mini-meal to have 4 meals and it seemed to have worked. At approximately the same amount, outcome way different.

I believe the "eat more" suggestions apply mostly to those with a more active lifestyle, or those employing the exercise parts of 4HB. If you have a completely sedentary lifestyle and arent losing any weight, you might want to eat less, but introducing even just a small amount of exercise will render a much better outcome (increasing your BMR, building muscle to burn fat, etc). As long as the exercise isn't so strenuous for you that you eat cheat foods, you shouldn't cut down on what you eat. For the aforementioned reason, you should ease into an exercise routine if you choose to involve yourself in one. The longer you are on SCD, the more tempered your hunger will be (because it is actually a different kind of hunger than one induced by complex carbs, IIRC this is called toxic hunger). After this happens, the amount of exercise you get will perfectly dictate your hunger. If you eat slow enough at this point (*this is important), your body will feel full when it doesn't need any more nutrients in your blood. This is why Tim says "Eat as much of the approved foods as you want".

Hope this helps, I'll check in again if you want some help with the specifics :)

  • Candela MM commented Nov 14th 2012:

    The timing thing is very interesting. I eat three big meals, breakfast at 10, lunch at 2, a snack at 6 and dinner at 9 (which is kinda late, I know, but that's the standard timing here).

    I do have a sedentary lifestyle. I should add some light exercise. And I definitely have a hard time eating slowly. Thanks for the tips! I'll keep them in mind :)


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It really depends on the individual.

If you aren't eating enough you might not lose weight, so I'd suggest eating more.

If you are eating too much you might not lose weight, so. i'd suggest eating less.

If you are eating too much of a certain SCD food (beans, nuts, bacon) I'd suggest cutting back.

If you aren't eating enough of a certain SCD food (protein, veggies) I'd suggest getting more.

But the only true way to see what you need is to actually stick with it for a few weeks, and then if it's not working provide details as to what you are doing so it can be evaluated.

While counting calories isn't required,some counting is- especially when it comes to protein.

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