I started following a Ketogenic Way of Eating on May 15th, 2016. At that time, I was 49 years old, 6 feet tall, and weighed 372 pounds.
I have followed a strict Keto diet since then - just over 8 months. As of January 28th, 2017 I am 50 years old, 275 pounds and continuing to lose weight.
My Keto Story:
I’ve been overweight pretty much my entire life. As a child, my parents gave me food as a comfort. Later on in life, I began to use food as a coping mechanism. When I graduated high school I was 6 feet tall and weighed 275 pounds.
Over the course of the next 20 years, my weight gradually increased. At the age of 28 and 320 pounds, I started working at a desk job that would keep me sedentary 5 days a week. I began experiencing lower back pain and spasms which were aggravated by inactivity. I was a sugar junkie and began a sordid affair with “Little Debbie”, consuming at least one or two Nutty Bars, Swiss Rolls, or other cheap sugar bomb pastries daily. Working right near downtown, it was easy to “forget” to bring a healthy lunch to work and instead grab a fast food burger, Chinese buffet, pizza, etc. I was quickly becoming addicted to food, specifically cheap processed carbs, and was constantly chasing my next sugar rush.
February 2004, my weight peaked at an all-time high of 405 pounds. At that time, I began considering bariatric surgery. I felt like I was completely out of control of my weight. I sought out referrals to various bariatric programs and finally found one that my insurance would accept. However, in order to qualify for having the procedure done laparoscopically, I needed to bring my weight from 405 down to 360. I was put on a liquid diet for about 8 weeks - basically protein shakes and nothing else - and put on an intensive walking regimen to quickly drop the weight. It was miserable, but I managed to drop the necessary 45 pounds.
I had a proximal Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on October 21st, 2005. About 6 incisions were made at different areas of my torso. Various scopes were inserted to observe the procedure, along with the necessary surgical tools. The surgeon used a small portion of my stomach to create a new “pouch” stomach, then, bypassing the duodenum, attached the new pouch directly to the small intestine. The remainder of my stomach was left attached to the duodenum, which was then routed back into my digestive system below the pouch.
After the surgery, my weight loss was immediate and significant. I went from 360 to 275 pounds in one year. I was concentrating on eating “protein forward”, which my Doctor said would maintain my muscle mass and deliver the most concentrated nutrition. I was also told to take a multivitamin daily for the rest of my life, since my digestive system could no longer fully absorb the nutrients from the foods I was eating. It was also recommended that I should not consume alcohol. During this time, my stomach “pouch” was so small - about the size of an egg - that I could not physically consume any more than a scant handful of food every few hours. This prohibited me from binging on sugar, and my addiction shifted from food to alcohol and cigarettes.
After the initial one year of weight loss, in late 2006 my weight started to creep back up. I was drinking a lot of calories in the form of beer, and started sneaking more and more sugar and starch into my diet. By the Summer of 2009 I was back up to 350 pounds, tired all the time, suffering from worsening back pain, angry and frustrated that I had not kept the weight off.
September 2009, I stopped drinking cold turkey, but I was smoking at least a pack of cigarettes daily.
July 1st, 2011, I quit smoking (ask my wife how THAT went). I continued to pile on weight.
March 2013, three discs in my lower back ruptured while I was lifting a crate at work. This eventually led to a diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease. I began having twice-yearly Radio Frequency Ablation therapy to deaden the nerves in that area of my spine. This kept my pain under control. It is a minimally-invasive procedure but it’s painful - several LONG needles are inserted into my back using ultrasound guidance.
In the Spring of 2016, my wife and I were looking at different diet plans to try to lose weight and improve our overall health. My blood pressure was 170/95, I was constantly in pain, and got winded easily just from climbing a flight of stairs. My family history of diabetes was creeping up on me, and I knew that I was going to cut my life short if I didn’t figure something out.
We first looked at the Nutritarian Diet. Essentially this diet plan is 100% Vegan, meaning no animal products whatsoever. It consists almost entirely of non-starchy vegetables, with an emphasis on dark leafy greens, mushrooms, onions, beans, nuts, seeds, and berries. It disallowed starchy veggies like potatoes and corn, and also nixed all oil, including “healthy” ones like coconut and olive oil. This felt very restrictive, but I was desperate to lose weight and feel better. I tried eating Nutritarian one meal per day, but found it unsatisfying and not “filling” at all. Needless to say, this was clearly not going to be sustainable long-term.
In April, 2016, a friend of mine recommended a book called “Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog” by Grant Petersen. It is a simple primer on the Ketogenic Diet, with easy-to-follow recommendations on how to get started. I had previously had a passing familiarity with the Ketogenic Diet as a treatment for epilepsy in children, but I was not aware that it could be used for weight loss and overall health. I shared the book with my wife, and we both read it cover-to-cover in one day. We went online and researched the science and the practical methods espoused by the author. The science was there, along with hundreds of success stories and forums filled with people who were passionate about the Ketogenic Way of Eating.
On May 15th, 2016, I began eating Keto. My macros were 70% fat, 25% protein, 5% carbs. I tracked every bite of food using the app My Fitness Pal. For the first week, I was cranky as hell and had major carb cravings. However, I was losing weight fast so I committed to eating Keto with zero cheats or slip-ups. Within about two weeks, my energy level was up considerably and my afternoon office “brain fog” was gone. I kept Ketoing on.
On July 14th, after 2 months of faithfully eating Keto, I had my yearly physical. My doctor immediately noticed that I had lost about 40 pounds since my last appointment, and asked what I had done to cause the weight loss. When I told him I was eating Keto, he was familiar with it, but immediately said that he expected my cholesterol levels to be “through the roof” as a result of ingesting “all that fatty meat”. Then he took my blood pressure. It was down significantly to 130/72. All my other vitals were good. When I got my blood test results a few days later, I was surprised to see that all my cholesterol numbers had actually IMPROVED. My LDL was down slightly, from 145 to 142. My overall cholesterol number had gone from 198 to 182. Nothing was “through the roof” except for my joy at getting to eat bacon every day and still lose weight.
From July on, I just continued eating Keto and kept seeing the fat disappear from my body. In September 2016 I was down to 310 pounds. I had to buy smaller pants, and all my T shirts (which had been quite snug before) started to look baggy. Around this time I found the 2 Keto Dudes podcast and quickly got caught up on all the archived episodes. 2KD was a great resource for me because it was hosted by two totally relatable guys who were documenting their own experience turning their health around - and supporting their own findings with scientific research.
I kept Ketoing on through the 2016 holidays with little trouble. I made it a point to bring along AWESOME Keto-friendly foods to family gatherings. This was definitely the first Christmas that I actually LOST weight.
As of right now, I have been Ketoing for just over 8 months.
Here are the effects of 8 months Keto:
Lost 97 pounds
Improved mental clarity
No afternoon sugar crash
Significant improvement of chronic back pain
Able to “keep up” with my teenage daughter
Able to sit on the floor and play with my toddler niece and nephew
Enjoy cooking at home more often
Eat delicious, quality food
At my biggest, my waist size had been 72 inches - yes, I had a 6 foot waistband. Since starting Keto, I have had to punch 5 or 6 new holes in my belt to keep up with my weight loss - my belt now goes one and a half times around my waist. I think it’s time to buy a new belt…
My chronic back pain has improved so much that I have gone without a Radio Frequency Ablation for a full year. I haven’t had a “flare” of back pain since I started Keto, and I’m hoping that my decreasing weight and inflammation will continue to keep my back pain at bay.
Another pleasant “side effect” has been all of my friends and family noticing my weight loss - and then getting to tell them that I pretty much just eat bacon, steak, and cheese. It especially freaks out my sister-in-law when I grab a spoon and take a big scoop out of the butter dish…
I am passionate about Keto and I love to discuss the science behind it with anybody who’ll listen.
By following a Keto WOE, I dropped more weight (95 pounds) in 8 months than I dropped after my gastric bypass surgery (85 pounds) in one year…all while enjoying rich, delicious, nutritious food and eating to satiety.
I plan to stick with Keto for life.