5 Easy Ways to Add Calories to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet

A commonly held fear for those following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is not being able to get enough calories to gain/maintain weight on the diet. I never thought it would be a problem for me, but I was surprised after starting the diet to learn how much I needed to eat.

My goal was never to gain, rather to just make sure I was getting proper amount of calories to maintain my current body weight. While I think it is very important that you understand what your specific daily/weekly calorie total should be that subject is beyond the scope of this post.

Instead, I want to offer some simple to implement strategies to help the person who is looking for an extra bump in calories to maintain their current weight or gain some back.

Number 1: Stop buying the leanest cuts of meat and neurotically trimming off all the fat. In my past, I used to be a Fat-phobe tricked into avoiding the most flavorful cuts of meat by mainstream marketing. That’s until I realized that saturated fat is my friend and that anything mother nature produces is going to be better for my body than manmade fats. I’m looking at you corn and canola oil! Now, I eat bacon, beef and pork almost exclusively. Fat is needed for proper digestion more than fiber and is more calorie-dense than protein or carbohydrates (9cals per gram vs 4cals per gram).

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Number 2: Increase your butter or Ghee intake. With approximately 100 calories per tablespoon, liberally adding these products to every meal is a great choice to overcome a calorie deficit. They are great sources of good quality fats and the best part is they make every type of dish better! So slather on that butter!

Number 3: Drink your Oils. More specifically, I recommend supplementing with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil if you’re short on your calorie intake for the day. Or if you’re like me I don’t need the calories but love the health benefits and add it to every dish I can. At around 120 calories per tablespoon, coconut oil packs a mean calorie addition. Olive oil is another good source.

Number 4: Add Coconut milk to everything! Coconut milk is almost entirely made of good saturated fats that help digestion. With

Avocados are a great snack!

every cup adding at least 300 calories (a whole can is usually 700+) to each dish, this is an easy one to work into your daily smoothie, stir-fry, omelet, frittata or soup.

Number 5: An Avocado a day keeps the weight loss at bay! Avocados have a delightfully nutty, smooth texture and can be added to just about any dish. With an average-sized avocado containing approximately 300 calories, they make a great snack or are a breeze to add to your eggs, burgers or salads.

These are just some sample ideas of simple ways to add more calories to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is inherently more nutritious and balanced than the average SAD diet. The best part of the diet is it can be tailored to anyone’s individual allergies, calorie requirements or tastes.

– Steve

Steven Wright

About 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 HealthyGut.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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32 thoughts on “5 Easy Ways to Add Calories to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet

  1. Avatar

    I’m looking for something SCD legal to replace Boost Breeze for my son. He is in desperate need of added calories, but we are starting (started Monday 12/11) SCD. Please help! Thanks loads!!

    • Avatar

      Hi Dawn – At this point early on in the diet, we’d suggest sticking to the suggested foods and just eating more of them. WHen you get that figured out (at least somewhat!_ you can move on to the shakes Steve talks about in the article. Make sure he’s on enzymes, which will actually help him digest and absorb what he is eating.

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    I am a 125 pound female and I need 2500 calories a day. I have SIBO and I do the cronometer because I’m skinny and it is hard to make sure I get enough calories. My cronometer says 20grams of Saturated fat a day is MAX. How many grams of saturated fat would you say is safe? I can’t find average grams of fat per day specifically saturated anywhere online. Also, how many oz of meat per day is safe? I can’t figure out how to get enough calories!! I’m allergic to avocado and coconut! I don’t eat poultry – only game meats like elk and yak and also sardines. Thanks

  3. Avatar

    I understand these suggestions, but as I’m in Phase 2 of the diet, is it wise to add some of these, and what is the best protocol for reintroducing them? I’m losing far too much weight and I’ve already added butter and fattier meats. Based on my size, activity level and desired weight I need to consume 2000+ calories and find it impossible to do with the foods I’m currently able to consume – even with the added fats. I’ve adjusted my workouts and stopped all cardio to preserve muscle and weight, but I know the caloric deficit I’ve been in is the bigger issue. I feel much better digestively, but I’m hoping to avoid the kind of weight loss that would result in my muscles cannIbalizing themselves. Feeling frustrated.

    • Avatar

      Hi Tammy – thanks so much for reaching out to us.

      You’re right that if you haven’t introduced some of these foods yet, you won’t want to add them in this way. If you’re just in Phase 2, these might not all work for you yet.

      Weight loss on the SCD is really challenging, especially if you like to workout or are really active. However, at only Phase 2 of the diet, it might be better to scale way back on your exercise and focus instead on only gentle activity like walking, yoga, easy bike rides until you’ve expanded your diet more.

      Our Meal Plans start at Phase 1 and tell you exactly what to eat and how much to get at least 2,000 calories per day, as well – you can check them out here: https://healthygut.com/meal-plans/

      In the end though – we think your weight will balance out as you stick with the diet and add in more foods slowly. If you try and force weight gain by eating too much or too many foods too soon, you’ll only set yourself back further. Healing is a journey that requires patience. This might be your boy’s way of telling you it needs time to rest and heal.

  4. Avatar

    I notice a lot of people say they go dairy free on scd where does that put the yogurt in the mix, I thought the yogurt was the most important part. Do you guys mean you go diary free except for the yogurt?

  5. Avatar

    I’ve been on the SCD for 3 months it has been a true blessing. I have problems when I eat meats with oil such as chicken cooked in a crock pot I guess its the fat. So, should I take the digestive enzymes to absorb the fat because I am so underweight and I’m trying to take in as many calories as possible. I was told to ask about HGH i’m not sure what this is but its suppose to make you gain weight. I’m 5’7 and weigh 105 lbs. The main question I have is when do I start introducing illegal food is it after 6 months or longer. I just found your recipes for gaining weight I hope I can do the rqw eggs. Right now I only take Perppermint Plus and Keybiotics 37.5 Billion Micro, should I be taking something else? Thanks for your help.

  6. Avatar

    Natural Valley Coconut Milk is preservative free, only uses coconut and water…also comes in BPA free can!

    Cost $33 for pack of 12 cans.

    I am about to order a batch from amazon…

    Coconuts are amazing..I wish I had time to crack them open every day…but I dont…so this brand will have to do…

    Raw is always best…you cant beat nature…when you pasteurize…you are going against nature…and you pay for the compromise

  7. Avatar

    Any safe calorie dense carbohydrate recommendations? I have gone through a period of indulging in butter and coconut oil and did successfully gain weight so your advice in that respect is valid. However for 14% of population with the ApoE4 gene high amounts of saturated fat can result in huge cholesterol numbers. While the significance of cholesterol number is heavily debated by the paleo community, they may still represent significant shift from currently accepted healthy reference.

  8. Avatar

    Hi guys, your site is excellent and has been a big help. I’ve been on SCD for Crohn’s for a bit over a year, no cheating, and it’s been extremely helpful. Recently I wanted to start experimenting with new recipes and wanted to try out Red Wine Vinegar for marinading and dressings. I could not find anything that was all natural, but I found something that was almost all natural with the addition of sodium metabisulfite. I see you’ve addressed this issue above, but I’m still a bit concerned as I could not find any info about from BTVC and do not want to consume anything that could aggravate me since I’m on a winning streak. Has this been known to cause problems for some SCDers? I read on an Autism related site that it is a very strong preservative and should be avoided, this is my main concern. Thanks for any advice.


  9. Avatar

    I add coconut oil to my pureed carrots. It tastes great and gave me the idea to add vanilla and eggs and make a carrot custard. I’ll let you know if I try it.

  10. Avatar
    Roxanne Levchik says:

    Thanks. I have BTVC. The book that you are referring to in your comments is it a different one? If so i will buy it. I think your suggestions are right on. i also have to watch high natural sugar items and need to avoid dairy. i will stick with the same food for 4 days and then start adding cautiously and not over do it.
    thank you.

  11. Avatar
    Roxanne Levchik says:

    I have been on this diet since January. I adhered to BTVC and the outcome was excellent. Since then things have gone south. symptoms are back and now i have cut out high sugar fruits and nuts. nutbutters which i was living on. so i’m down to protein, sauteed vegies and melon and berries. and her sandwich rolls. i also can’t go near dairy. so i am evooil girl. so hard i feel like i should go back to the into diet and start with the bone broth. i like your 5 points i never did that sticking with 1 food at a time for 4 days. i will also try the coconut milk and bought the oil will start with that first. also i bought the yogurt machine from lucys kitchen 3 months ago never even opened the box. i’m afraid because of the dairy. i feel like i am sinking. Roxanne

    • Steven Wright
      Steven Wright says:

      @ Roxanne – sounds like you probably should restart from the intro diet and use something like our book to help you navigate back to feeling amazing. That’s why we created it and I know it works! Figure out a plan that makes sense and work it. Don’t just jump from food to food as the ship is sinking.

  12. Avatar

    Both my husband and I had the weight loss problem when I was on SCD. Avocados were definitely one of my go-tos. Also I increased our intake of nuts and nut butters — peanuts, almonds, cashews – they’re all pretty high in calories. Hard cheese was a pretty good source of calories as well.

  13. Avatar

    Hi, the trouble with me is that I’m 30 lbs underweight. 30 year old female.
    I’m only 65 lbs at 5 foot 1. THAT is not healthy in itself. Eating copious amounts of fat starts to make me nauseous…I don’t really have time and ability to make these things from scratch…I’m quite serious.
    A naturopath suggested foods okay would be:
    – oils
    – butter
    – eggs
    – goat cheese or raw cheese
    – yogurt (liberte) or goat or sheep yogurt or “greek goddess”
    – all kinds of meats, fish
    – brown rice, sweet potatoes, veggies, squash, fruits
    – handful of nuts
    – avocados
    – whey protein from excellent source (isolate)

    becoming obsessive drives me NUTS…i can’t do that…and at 60 lbs…if i don’t gain, my doctor will put me in hospital…
    so i’m hoping to just eat normal as i can…i have to make myself eat…but for me to fully ban those yogurts, cheeses, fruits, etc etc…that would make me neurotic…
    i live on my own and just don’t have the energy…
    if they put me in the hospital, they’ll only stuff me with ensure and crap…so surely i can try to get up to a far safer weight first right??

    • Jordan Reasoner
      Jordan Reasoner says:

      Hi Anon – it seems like most of what your Naturopath recommended is fats and proteins also with a few starches.

      If you’re struggling to digest fats I would highly recommend you try SCD legal digestive enzymes from GI Pro Health here: http://www.giprohealth.com/prozymes.aspx

      It doesn’t take too much time to grab a couple tablespoons of Coconut Oil or an avocado. Or dip all your meat in Olive Oil. That will help the calories dramatically.

      In good health,


  14. Avatar

    Trader Joe’s makes coconut milk with no additives.

    I have a question about Sauerkraut. I understand that it is loaded with good bacteria. At what stage of the diet would you recommend trying it?

    • Jordan Reasoner
      Jordan Reasoner says:

      Hi Karen ~ Sauerkraut can be really tough on people and cause gas and bloating, so respect it. I would say that if you are feeling good give it a shot around Phase 2 or so. But the key is to start with a very small amount (like a tsp) and work your way up. Just try to keep everything else the same so you know how it’s affecting your body. It’s especially good to try it if you can’t do dairy and haven’t been able to start the yogurt. But have respect for the probiotic effect and the impact it can have in increasing stomach acid (which most of us need anyway).


    • Jordan Reasoner
      Jordan Reasoner says:

      Hey Sal,

      I would try and give it a shot in phase 1 or 2. It adds so much valuable calories and anti-microbial properties it’s unreal. Try a tablespoon a day for 2 days and see if there is any change in how you feel.

      It’s pure fats, so the main thing is how you digest fats. If you are struggling to digest fats you probably need to get a digestive enzyme like the ones from giprohealth.com that have lipase, which is what breaks down fats. It’s common for people with inflammation and digestive disease to have insufficient pancreatic function at first, which = a lack of digestive enzyme’s to help you out.

      Let us know how it goes!

      In good health,

  15. Jordan Reasoner
    Jordan Reasoner says:

    Lillea, coconut oil is incredible and those are two really high quality brands… the most important part that it is organic and virgin.

    My one caution with the Canned Tuna is be aware of mercury intake and also make sure that the brand you are eating does not add a broth to the Tuna and is just water plus low salt or no salt.

    Adding coconut oil to it does sound amazing! Thanks for the tip… I will try it soon.

    In good health,

  16. Avatar

    I’m with you on the fat! It truly is healthful, which sadly is counter to what most people have been told. Slowly the truth is coming out in the mainstream, but it will take time.

    I love coconut oil. The brands I like most are Nutiva and Tropical Traditions.

    I like your canned tuna as a snack tip in the book. I add coconut oil to my tuna (I warm the oil first to liquify it before stirring it in) and it tastes fantastic and it’s so filling.

  17. Avatar
    Steven Wright says:

    I’ve never found or read anything by Elaine or any of the other long time users of the SCD diet that says Coconut water is illegal. From all my research as long as your drinking coconut water with the only ingredient being coconut water it will be legal. It’s such a natural replacement for bodily fluids that during WWII it was used as a blood replacement using a straight IV into the vein.

    It is always best to to “make” coconut milk using shredded coconut and water in a food processor. I have found a few brands that use a different preservative called sodium metabisulfite instead of guar gum. I only use it when I don’t have time to make my milk from scratch and from what I can tell it was never deemed legal or illegal by Elaine. However it is an added ingredient in making wine which is legal in small quantities. So therefore I’ve taken the approach that is legal in small quantities.

    Chaokoh, Goya, and Aroy-D make coconut milks that I use, the only places I usually find them are small Asian markets or specialty stores. But they can be purchased off Amazon.

  18. Avatar
    Emily Warner says:

    I was told that coconut water was illegal due to it being from ‘young coconuts’, so it would not be ‘fall off the tree ripe’. Also, what brand of coconut milk can we use find that is legal? … all the ones I have located have guar gum added … I was told native forrest did not use bisphenol-a in the linings, but it, to has guar gum …

  19. Avatar
    Steven Wright says:

    Hello and thanks for stopping by, from all the research I’ve done, the only mention I can find of Elaine talking about coconut milk is the legal/illegal list which does state to try and wait until you’ve been on the diet for 6 months before trying coconut milk.

    I would suggest you wait at least 3 months as I’m sure Elaine had some kind of data to make her recommendation on however, as far as I’m concerned coconut milk is one of the healthiest and best sources of calories available. Start with coconut oil and coconut water and work up to the milk.

  20. Avatar

    Opposites Subtract
    I lost eighty six pounds before needing SCD and was obsessed about not regaining. Ten years later I weigh a bit less, eat without guilt or remorse and find once a healthy weight is obtained SCD seems to magically maintain it.

  21. Avatar

    i hear you on the calories! but, is it safe to add cocount milk to the scd? i thought the whole deal with coconut milk was to avoid it for at least the first 6 months of the diet (raman prasad’s book) or have i missed something?

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