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Starting 4HB tomorrow, want to start working out too. Help!

As TF recommends, I really looked through the book in sections more than as a whole, but I still have some burning questions about what my workout needs to look like. I don't want to overexert myself and not be able to productively work out for a while, so I need the help of someone who knows what they're talking about. I have 60 lbs to lose. Should I just start out with "The Kiwi's Complete A/B Workout" on page 169 or should I do something more simple? Also, do I only need to work out twice a week, Monday and Friday, or do I need to work out M, W, and F? Please help!!

  • Madison Perry commented Jun 25th 2013:

    I've been working out MWF for a week doing the Fleur's workout and have gained back all 10 lbs I lost... Does this mean that I just need to stick to dieting or should I continue exercising and dieting together and see how that goes after a few weeks? To put things into perspective I weighed 188 lbs. at the start of this and now weight 188 lbs. again after dropping to 178! Please let me know what your experience is because this was not covered very much in the book and I'm pretty confused. Again, I'd like to be a low body day percentage and lose about 60 lbs from my start weight. Please let me know what your thoughts are!! Thanks.


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Depends on a lot of things. The health benefits of exercise are acknowledged and proven. And adding workouts can have a dramatic effect on your weight loss journey (positive or negative). But as many have found on this forum, it can slow weight loss (or stop it in some cases). The best way to approach working out is to add what you enjoy doing. Do not add anything because you think you have to. Add exercise because you enjoy doing it.

Strength training: This is a must, IMHO. If you do nothing as you drop weight and inches, you will lose fat and muscle and most people don't want to lose muscle. You only want to lose fat. I would be very, very unhappy if I lost 60 lbs and 10 lbs of that was muscle. Muscle is much, much harder to replace. Strength training can be as simple as kettlebell swings or advanced as powerlifting. Both are effective. You pick what you like to do and do that. If you are new to strength training, you can actually add a small amount of muscle while losing fat. Once you get past these "newbie gains", you will find that your strength and muscle mass will plateau while you continue to lose weight. That's ok. You will be maintaining your muscle mass. For you, add whatever strength training you like at whatever frequency you enjoy.

Cardio: This is where you can help or really hurt your progress. SCD is a low calorie diet without having to track calories. No matter what anyone says, you only lose weight by eating less than you burn. The wonderful aspect of SCD is it effects both sides of the equation. It's very hard to eat too many calories on SCD (although it is possible). That's why Tim says don't count calories. I agree with that. And the food composition of SCD revs up the calorie burning engine and improves your calorie burning efficiency. The net result is that SCD effects both the intake and burn sides of the weight loss equation simultaneously. You eat fewer calories and you burn them more efficiently.

Adding cardio can increase your calories burned. This could accelerate your weight loss. It did for me when I first started cardio. After I lost my first 20 lbs with no exercise, I added walking for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. And I enjoyed doing it. A great time to zone out and watch a rerun of The Big Bang Theory or Mythbusters. And my weight loss continued at a blistering pace. I saw the benefits of adding some cardio, so I added more. And I was getting in better shape so I upped the intensity. I still enjoyed it (for stress relief) and I thought it would make me lose weight even faster. Then something strange happened. My weight loss began to slow. So I worked out more. Then my weight loss stopped, so I worked out even more. I actually started gaining weight at one point and I was working out every day for at least an hour. What the heck? Turns out, I had mucked that equation up pretty bad. The intake side of the calorie equation is completely under your control. The burn side is much, much more complicated. My body responded to the increase in activity and freaked out. It thought I was starving so it did what it felt necessary to preserve my body fat: it slowed my metabolism down. The more I worked out, the more my body fought me by slowing my metabolism waaayyy down. The body loves its fat. It's there for a reason. And it will do everything within its power to preserve it. Why do you think it's so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it? The other negative effect of all that working out was stress. Not the kind of stress you and I feel at work or home, but Central Nervous System (CNS) stress. Working out a lot causes a lot of CNS stress. The body reacts by producing cortisol to manage that stress. Cortisol causes inflammation. And inflammation is one of the key things that SCD is meant to manage. So effectively, I was completely negating the benefits of SCD and causing my body to shut down. But that's what the government tells us, right? Eat less and exercise more: that's the key to weight loss. To an extent. You have to manage that in vs. out equation within a reasonable range to keep your body from doing something drastic.

So what did I do? I stopped. I was frustrated that I was working so hard and not losing weight. So I stopped exercising completely. I did stick with SCD. I gained 9 lbs and then lost 9 lbs and then stayed at the same weight for the next 6 months. I was happy with that then. But then I wanted to lose another 20 lbs, so I started back with strength training and moderate cardio and ate less. And I didn't lose a pound.

I finally decided to start tracking my intake side more closely and began calorie counting (yikes!). Turns out it was the key to continued fat loss. I found out I was eating between 1400-1600 cal / day left to my own desires. But I also determined that my estimated daily calorie burn was around 2,900 cal / day. That was a HUGE deficit. The answer? EAT MORE YOU FOOL! So I did. I added 300 calories / day of more SCD food. And then I started losing weight. So I ate even more. Went up to 2,000 cal / day. The weight loss continued. I am now up to 2,300 cal / day and still losing weight. And man, do I feel a LOT better. More energy. Better focus. No dizziness. And my strength is once again increasing.

So what does all this diatribe mean to you? Choose carefully when you decide to add workouts to your SCD regimen. Strength training is always good. Cardio can be good. All within reason.


  • Robert Dempsey commented Jan 29th 2014:

    Thank you for sharing this Tom. This helped me a lot too, as has all of your advice. The irony of eating more SCD foods causing more weight loss to me is amazing. I'm on that trip right now as I start my second month and begin Occam's Protocol exercises. Let the SCD feasting begin!

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If you are trying to lose fat, exercise is not necessary, and for many of us, it actually makes it much harder to lose fat. In my first year on the Slow Carb Diet, I lost 70 pounds without exercising. In the last month, I have added exercise to my routine, and I have gained around 6 pounds, around half muscle, and half fat.

There are numerous health benefits of exercise, but for me, the biggest result was a greatly increased appetite. I still eat the same food, just much more of it, and I can't seem to exercise enough to keep up with my appetite. If I was to limit my intake, my efforts to build muscle would be wasted, so for now I have just accepted that I am in a bulking stage, and when I am done, I will transition back to getting lean, which should be easier with more muscle to help burn away the fat.

Finding the right balance of exercise to keep from losing muscle, while losing fat will be a challenge, but if that is the biggest challenge I face this year, it will be a good year!

  • Madison Perry commented Jun 4th 2013:

    Thank you for the advice! I'm going to hold off on exercise until my weight loss is consistent and I am feeling happier about my body in general.


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Madison, I agree with Tom and Jeff here; they've said some very wise things.

My own experience is that I have lost 85 lbs so far on SCD without one lick of exercise. I'm 55, with a couple of serious health challenges. I pretty much "can't" exercise.

My opinion is that you should not worry at all about exercise in the beginning. Get the food part down first. Otherwise, it is easy for it all to feel like too much change at once, and all too easy to throw in the towel. If you have 60 lbs to lose, you likely are not used to exercising much (I truly do not mean that in any offensive way and hope you do not take it as such). Going in all gung-ho could backfire. As Tom says, if you do anything, make it something you truly enjoy.

  • Madison Perry commented Jun 4th 2013:

    I am not at all offended! I think I'll probably try sticking to the actual diet for at least a few months and then add in exercise once I feel like I have lost enough weight! Thank you for the advice :)


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Pretty much what others said. On my first go-round with SCD in 2011 I lost a lot of weight but couldn't really exercise due to low energy / low blood pressure and all the weird feelings I had as my body transitioned out of it's old state of affairs. When I did finally get the bug to exercise again, I needed carbs, and the whole thing went out the window.

Now I mix both and can do both, but it took a long time to get the balance right. Timing carb intake (within 90 minutes of playing a soccer match for example) makes a big difference, and I still weigh more the morning after a huge game or tournament than the morning of -- all from the carbs I load in (you'd think I'd burn them all and lose weight from hours of running, but there you go).

The good news is that 2-3 days down the line, the weight is back down again, so you have to look at it long term. I weigh myself each day but now have enough data to predict when it will go up or down, and I just accept that it's not a perfectly linear progression.

If you want to work out off the bat though, my advice is jogging. Start with that because it doesn't require any particular carb-loading like a high intensity sport does, nor does it require a lot of protein, etc. As long as you can curb your post-run hunger with SCD compliant food, you should be able to jog during the early days of SCD. Try it and see what happens -- do what works, ditch what doesn't. Just remember, everybody's different, but it you stick with it and modify it to what works for you, good things will take place in time. Good luck!!

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