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Overeating, Calories, and What Has Worked Best

This is a post for those of us doing SCD with lots of weight to lose (100+ lbs in my case), who have a long and distinguished history of overeating.

In short, if you are someone who is used to overeating, this eating plan will work better if you monitor portions and identify a daily caloric goal below your maintenance calories for your height/weight/gender/activity level. Read below for how I arrived at this conclusion.

After reading 4HB, I was delighted by Tim's instructions to "avoid calorie counting," "make sure you are eating enough," "eat from the allowed foods until you are full." All of these sentences are music to the ears of someone who wants to be given permission to overeat.

I took Tim at his word, and ate until I was full of the allowed foods. I saw moderate progress during my first two months--a week never went by without weight loss or inch loss. However, I was not losing as quickly as I had hoped, so I went looking for answers. (http://4hourpeople.com/question/1313/calories-and-scd-help-please)

Here is what I found out from experimenting: I have to eat calories well below my "maintenance" calorie level (2500 per day for my height/weight/activity level) in order for this diet to move along more quickly. Therefore, in my case, I do have to monitor portions and pay attention to what I am doing and not eat unlimited amounts of the allowed foods. In my case, this means eating around 1750 calories per day, achieved through portion control and limiting cooking fats. This differs from the 2500 calories per day I was consuming while not paying attention to portion size or cooking fats.

"Eat until you are full" means different things to different people. For those of us who are used to overeating all the time, (and I can only really speak for myself) "full" is actually "stuffed to the gills."

So, if you are significantly overweight and not seeing the pounds/inches fly off as quickly as you had hoped, you may be eating too much on a daily basis.

I know for people who do not have the psychological/emotional/biochemical habit of overeating, this post may not make a lot of sense. For you, it is common sense that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less, and that SCD is a specific form of a calorie restricted diet that has the extra "magic" of managing the body's insulinemic response.

A related issue: The feeling of "hunger." This is also quite subjective, and it is something that triggers my urge to eat too often. I have been feeling "hungry" like clockwork between 2 and 2.5 hours after my last meal. I think what I am feeling is not hunger, but the sensation of food passing from my stomach on its way through the intestines. There is a helpful chart here: http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/basics/tran... that shows the time it takes for average meals to move through the stomach into other parts of the digestive system.

Hopefully this is helpful to some other folks. Good luck to everyone on your continuing SCD.


The Best Answer

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Excellent post. This has been exactly my experience with the diet. I've been controlling portions very aggressively in addition to carefully selecting foods. Huge portions of even the right foods definitely retard weight loss for me. I'm losing weight, but am definitely still somewhat hungry after meals.

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The thing I find that is easiest to remember is more protein more greens. The Carb part of SCD is simply there to provide a fullness feeling and I tend to either eat less of them or skip them sometimes. If you are hungry eat more protein or greens or both. Two turkeyburger patties are 70 grams of protein - if I am really hungry I will add in one more, all the greens (I prefer spinach and broc) and a side of refried or black beans. That is a lot of food and not a lot of calories (compaired to fries, buns, pasta etc)..

I think people forget the basic principle of SCD is to keep it simple and stick to it - 6 days a week. You can go crazy on cheat day and that is the light at the end of a small tunnel.


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Thank you for this post! I have about 80 lbs to lose and it's been going slowly for me as well. 1 to 1.5 lbs per week. While I'm happy to be losing any weight at all, it is still frustrating when you see other people losing 5 lbs a week! I've tried just about everything I can think of to speed it up (adding more water, exercise, etc..) but nothing is working. I hadn't thought that I was overeating. So, thanks again! Maybe I can speed it up now!

  • RNTgirl commented Mar 23rd 2011:
    I have 70 pounds to lose and I found this VERY helpful. To me, the best part of the diet is the structure. Because beans/meats/veggies aren't part of my traditional go-to foods for emotional eating, it's teaching me to eat because I'm hungry - SHOCK! ;)
  • danielgfreeman commented Mar 23rd 2011:
    I have about 60 lbs to go to my goal and have seen very minimal results so far(15days in) I have lost 0inches and may a couple of pounds, though in th first 6 days, I lost 7lbs.(water) I have since stopped losing, feel bloated and discouraged.
  • Douglas Sheehan Douglas Sheehan commented Sep 20th 2012:

    I don't think there are a lot of people losing 5 pounds a week consistently. I'm not sure if that is healthy either.


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i totally agree with you on this one. i too have 100 and some change to drop. i found eating a heftier breakfast (over 30g of protein) to help. someone once told me "eat breakfast like a king(queen), lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar. i have found that i prefer not to have 20 g of protein at dinner necessarily. i like to have a gradated protein intake throughout the day. 40-50g at breakfast, a hemp protein shake (w/almond butter, ice, almond milk, spirulina powder, cinnamon and vanilla) for brunch, 30-35g at lunch and around 15g for dinner (usually some sort of soup). if i find myself wanting something between meals i find veggie sticks of some sort (usually carrot,cucumber, or green pepper) are great for idle munching. the act of chewing kind of takes away the zomg i might be hungry too soon issue w/o the calories. when i get the munch i also try to program myself to go for water first, wait a little while and see how i feel because i know a lot of times it's thirsty pretending to be hungry. if i'm hungry after dinner i usually grab for a spoonful of almond butter or a couple bites of cottage cheese at least an hour before i plan to hit the hay.

those of us who previously ate for sport really get some lessons about ourselves and our ideas about the role food plays in life. having lost my food crutches i have to learn new ways to balance on my own. :)

  • messica25 commented Feb 8th 2012:

    "eat breakfast like a king(queen), lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar." ---- I like that!

  • sunnymatilda commented Jul 2nd 2013:

    "eat breakfast like a king(queen), lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar." = AWESOME! I will totally remember this forever. Thanks! :)


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Great post! I do not have 100 lbs to lose, but I have lost 50 over the last several years through different eating and exercise habit. But, I am still a proclaimed "overeater". I like to eat a LOT of food at one time, and I like to eat until I can't eat another bite! And it's never been about eat when I'm hungry or eat until I'm full...I get it, and i actually can even identify with knowing when I'm hungry and when I'm satisfied, but I think it's a mental switch in my head that sometimes I can't turn off (or don't want to). I'm a social eater, so the irony when I'm feeling good is that I want to enjoy it with food.

BUT, I have been able to control it when I pay attention to what I eat and write it down. Bottom line is that it still is calories in, calories burned, for me. What the SCD has done, is allowed me to feel very comfortable after i eat so that the next meal is not what I'm thinking of. I actually am satisfied and not worried about eating more. Goes to show that the right types of food make a big difference. HOWEVER, my brain does occassionally want a big bowl of ice cream...for the mere fact that I know I LOVE it! :)

  • Katyslaughter commented May 5th 2011:
    I eat the exact same, until i cant move (on my cheat days only now) Im also an emotional eater, oddly and when im out having a good time all I wanna do is eat! But ive dropped 50lbs too so as addicted to food as we are we can still do this! :)
  • 4hBod commented Jun 7th 2011:

    You are both my inspiration! I have about 39 pounds to lose and have decided to take aspects of 4HBody and SCD to help me lose the weight. I hope I will learn to treat food as fuel and not a feel-good mechanism! :-)


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That's great advice for many people.

I just wish it worked for me. I'm still trying to get my plan right, since I'm losing very slowly. Though in my case I have a major issue hitting the 1200 calorie mark... Most days I'm much below.


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Another tip for overeating/feeling full I've accidentally found was when experimenting taking 30 minutes to eat a meal I would feel much more full than if I ate at my normal pace (3 minutes easy) the exact same dish and portion (You probably know this but Tim recommends it in the book for preventing glycemic response). I'm now in the routine of eating my breakfast in quarters at the 0,10,20,30 minute marks (I find I have to distract myself by washing dishes or reading something interesting to avoid the temptation to chomp). Ive noticed my portion sizes getting smaller since doing this as I'm much to full towards the end! only my personal experience though...


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I was down in the dumps about the scale not moving, even though I lost 1.5inches last week! Dumb scale. I know, I know, never trust it. Anyway, I am working through the emotional eating aspect, and trying to figure the difference between stuffed and full myself. I also noticed that beans are high in carbs, and another person said they had success reducing beans, and replacing it with other high protein meats. I shall try the same. That and increasing water to 2.5 liters per day, instead of just 2. Glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for the post!

  • cajeta jg commented May 8th 2011:
    This post resonates with me and I agree w/ what you write about monitoring portions and not using Tim's words as a pass to continue hoarding food. I also eat extremely fast so I can be done w/ a meal before anyone else sits down. Keep us updated!
  • 4hBod commented Jun 7th 2011:

    Fast eater here! I just don't enjoy the meal if I am chewing it several times... It feels too much like a chore! :-)


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Thanks for the post!

I too had a 100 lbs to lose.

I'm down 20 but I've been stalled for two weeks.

I started the first week in January, and lost quickly but now I'm stuck.

I've done low carb portion control before and been very successful but also

very disturbing due to the fact that I lost too much muscle.

I'm trying not to get impatient this time.

I will try cutting down on the portions although I am usually eating 4-6 ounces of protein for lunch and dinner. I have egg whites, spinach and beans for breakfast or a protein shake (30 grams of protein no sugar).



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You're not alone. I had/have the same overeating issues. Two years ago I did a vLCD (~750/day) to lose weight. It worked, I lost 70lbs., but that was because I didn't deviate. IT SUCKED! I was a humongous JERK. That could have been my personality but I like to attribute it to the fact that i was eating in a day what a person eats in a medium meal (my medium anyway).

So with very far left to go I decided to just cut calories, got down to under 1200/day. Should be good right? Wrong! i don't know why, though I think it has to have been the food I ate, I never lost any weight (my DMR was around 3500).

Now I'm on SCD and I've lost like 12 pounds in 3 weeks... I'm stoked (mainly because I can eat regular food). What I am doing about my need to eat 4-5 eggs AND bacon AND beans/salsa? I eat a "normal" (you know what I mean) meal. I then pack the rest up and wait 30 minutes, if I'm still hungry (hell if I even remember I had set it aside) I eat again, and so on. Waiting sucks, but I gotta tell you, it works and it's worth it. Also, it helps to have "regulators" when you eat. I use 2 cups of coffee (black) and I shotgun 16 oz of cold water before I start.

BTW, if you wait 30 minutes after eating a bunch of beans... you will get full.


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Great point!

While I really only have a small amount to lose, I have always been an overeater. If it tastes good, I want to continue to eat it! It probably has something to do with biochemicals (ADD & depression)

I've found so far (24 days) that my weight loss slows if I eat too much - I'm not counting calories, but in terms of sheer volume. Especially if I overdo the legumes. So for me, "normal" portions, and limited second helpings are important. One really good thing I've noticed is I have almost no desire for snacks during the day or in the evening. I used to come home from work and have a big spoonful (or 2 or 3) of peanut butter. Now I'm fine until dinner!

Good luck and thanks!


  • fitorbust commented Mar 16th 2012:

    i'm in the same boat, Lee. While i'm not, by "law", over weight, i do have an overeating issue and can take down A LOT of food. I'm trying to switch my brain from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be lean, fit, and strong. I do feel, however, that limiting my calories somewhat will have a much better effect on my weight/fat loss. limiting the legumes to 1/4 cup beans per meal or 1/2 cup lentils is my current experiment. I'm also working on cutting legumes at dinner all together and adding chia seeds to my meal instead to get that "full" (not stuffed) feeling. I'm striving to get away from that almond butter craving ... one issue at a time, i guess? Best of luck to you! keep us updated on your progress!


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Sometimes I think it really is a question of drinking water before meals to make you feel full.

Overeating was never my problem. My issue was eating the wrong food.

I have not felt hungry at all in the two months I've been on this diet and I've lost 30 pounds. I do have the occasional cravings, but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.


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Hmm... Yeah might have to try this I will keep tabs on the calories for a week just to see.

  • sirspiffy commented Sep 19th 2012:

    So yeah I've tried portion control and it was simply a pain in the ass. I've Here are some things I've discovered and tried.

    I've upped the saturated fats. When I did this I noticed I was less hungry and could get by with one or two meals a day when inactive. My body seemed much better able to regulate itself.

    I still got the compulsion to chew. I did some research and apparently eating crunchy stuff satisfies that need. I used celery and carrots are useful.

    Drinking water first didn't work as well as drinking water after. The slight pain of you stomach stretching a better reminder for me.

    These tricks used up much less willpower for me than pure portion control.

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