by David Evans
Angus Barbieri on the left, and me on the right. What we both had in common was weighing 456 pounds. Angus is the fellow who didn’t eat for 382 days subsisting on water, tea, coffee and vitamins. He lost 276 pounds. I’ve lost 150 pounds since my last weigh in on February 19th. Which marks the 6 month anniversary of being on a ketogenic diet. From 456 to 306. I’m a naturally bigger fellow than Angus so my goal weight is 220 pounds. His was 180.
If I look banged up in the photo it is because I was. The photo was taken in the hospital August 18th 2016. I had got tail ended by a semi-tractor trailer two days before waiting to make a left turn. I was trapped in my car and unable to open my door. It was cut off by the fire department and I was taken out after it was determined I could wiggle my toes.
What puzzled the police and the fire department’s first responders was why was my car in the right ditch? Cars making left turns invariably spin left. Mine went hard right? How come? Since the turn I was trying to make was on the inside of a right curve in the road, to be pushed forward or spun to the left would have meant a head-on collision. So I spun to the right but not exactly to the safe side of the road. Why? The truck had jackknifed and the front end of the back trailer was heading for my car’s windshield! Twenty more feet and that would have been it for me.
My brother who came to the scene of the accident, told me it took 8 first responders to put me into the ambulance. I remember only parts of this because I was in and out of consciences. When I got to the hospital I put through a MRI. The operator joyfully said, “You won’t need surgery!” But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. When I tried to get out of bed I fell to the floor. My nerves in my spine had been badly jarred. My right side was particularly affected. I had little of control of my legs. I remember literally dragging my right foot across the floor while being held up by two big orderlies.. So 3 weeks in the hospital and 5 weeks more in a nursing home for physical therapy.
I was 63 years old at the time, but for all intents and purposes I was 93, and old 93. I got to see what life had in store for me if I didn’t start taking care for myself.
It is quite one thing to visit a nursing home. It is quite another thing to live in one. They are very depressing places! And frankly I wondered if I would ever get out? Or is this my eventual future if I do?
In the nursing home I used a walker to get to my bathroom, which had no bath. If I needed cleaning I would be taken to a shower room by wheelchair and hosed down. Usually twice week. In between I got dry bath wipe downs by a caregiver. When going to the dining hall I chose the wheelchair instead of the walker. The dining hall was a couple hundred yards away. Too far for me to walk. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were the highlights of the day. Not that the food was all that great.
My assigned diner mates John and Roy were in their 80s, Maurice was 94. John and Roy didn’t talk much. I don’t remember ever having a conversation with them. John was undergoing chemotherapy and would often rest his head on the table. He hardly touched his food. Maurice was a submariner from the second World War. A spry, talkative, upbeat, likable sort of fellow. The only one of us who walked to the table without the use of an aid. There was Friday night bingo played for candy bars and bags of potato chips. And musical entertainers, usually one guy with a guitar singing “Blowing in the Wind” or other folk ballads by ‘Peter, Paul and Mary’. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
While in the hospital I had extensive tests taken of my heart. Something called a ‘Lexi Scan’ where you are injected with a radioactive fluid, put under stress by a drug and then run through a MRI. I checked out fine. But my doctor said because of my weight and that I had type 2 diabetes this insured me of dying an early death. He stated it more diplomatically of course. The head nurse in the nursing home pretty much said the same thing. She said, ‘Diabetics rarely get past 80.” This added to my depression. I had been staying with my mother. She needed someone to watch over her. Her doctor a cardiologist told her she had 6 months to a year to live. Her aorta valves were shutting down. A depression wave had hit my whole family. This was July of 2012. Now it was late 2016. She had already outlived his prediction by 3 years. Doctors don’t know everything.
When I was a young man in my late 40s I joined a gym. I lost quite a bit of weight by weightlifting and eating “clean.” That was back in the day when we were encouraged to “graze” by eating 6 meals a day. The theory was the metabolism goes up 10% while digesting your food so why not take advantage of this extra burn? Glucose and the resulting insulin rise? Honestly we didn’t even think about that. I did lose weight though, but as most often happens, I gained it back.
Losing weight was different now from losing weight then. I figured it was on account of my age. Mid-60s is not 47 years old. But that wasn’t the reason why I had difficulty in losing weight. It was my diabetes. Having diabetes changes everything in regard to weight loss.
2009 was when I was first diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. The following year I had been ordered to the emergency room by my doctor. My blood glucose levels were so high they could not be measured. The fear was I might go into a diabetic coma. It was at that time I was put on insulin.
I had a client who was a long term diabetic. He told me things the doctors hold back from saying. He said I would need more and more insulin as time went by. Becoming elderly my body’s organs would weaken and eventually the insulin would stop working. Insulin was something I seen at best as a necessary evil.
So after great effort and little results in weight loss, I gave up. My guess I am typical in this regard to the 99% who try to lose weight by calorie restriction and exercise. About that time I became negligent is taking my medication and my insulin. After all death is just a few years away no matter what we do. Stupid thinking I know. But perhaps getting off the medication wasn’t so stupid after all?
Once and a while I would check my blood sugar levels. Anything under 200 seemed acceptable. My rules. Since I don’t have a sweet tooth and don’t mind eating my morning eggs and bacon without toast, my fasting glucose numbers dropped. I was in the mid-100s. Eat anything, up into the 200s. About 3-4 hours later, below 200.
What had also dropped was my weight. I had gotten on a scale, something I loath to do. After a year of “neglecting my health” I had lost 80 pounds. But the weight loss stalled after that. A year went by and my weight was still in the high 300s. I seemed to have plateaued. Also what else was stuck, and was not moving down was my diabetes. Still in the mid-one hundreds. And depending on what I eat, could go into the 300s.
It was about that time I discovered the ketogenic diet. I tried it and almost immediately noticed improvements. See my records below. Announcing this to some online friends a friend told me about this site. It seemed only logical that health was directly tied to life extension. Is it possible to add another 20 healthy years to our lives? Maybe 30? So I’ve become health researcher and experimenter on myself.
My next thing on my ‘to get’ list is broccoli seeds and a sprouter. Sulforaphane from the sprouts and the proper preparation of it is next. I also take curcumin, milk thistle and dandelion root for my liver and kidneys. I notice the redness and swelling in my feet have gone away. Berberine, B3, B1, D3-K2, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc and the potassium is on the way. It is hard to get enough in my vegetables. I figure I got years of damage to repair. I also go to a gym and lift weights. I feel better after taxing my muscles.
Day 1) Sunday August 19th First day of being on a ketogenic diet.
10:35 AM: 154 Fasting glucose level
12:31 PM: 166
1:01 PM: 147
1:31 PM: 149
2:01 PM: 157
2:41 PM: 156
6:05 PM: 148
( I ate eggs, bacon, ham and some vegetables that day )
Day 190) Sunday February 24, 2019
Glucose and ketone levels at 27 weeks of being on a Ketogenic diet:
6:40 AM: 72 ~ 1.7/1.7
11:20 AM: 67 ~ 2.7
12:45 PM: 63 ~ 1.3
My guess my A1c numbers are going to look great! Like those of a healthy teenager! I can’t wait to show them to my doctor, the one who told me diabetes was a “progressive disease” and was incurable.
When I reach my goal weight and do my medical test, I will post the results here, and my before and after photos. I thought of delaying this article until then, but I decided it might be a help to someone now.
As an added note: The first thing I noted after a few weeks on the ketogenic diet was how much more energy I had! It wasn’t because I had lost so much additional weight. Being diabetic I was dragging even with weight loss. I could hardly move or motivate myself. I felt tired all the time. After Keto kicked in it felt like my body engine was supercharged! I would find myself cleaning the house at all times of the night and day. Preparing my meals without any effort. Actually wanting too! I remember going to the store and feeling like I wanted to run down the street! I was taking large fast strides! Before I walked like an old man in his 90s. An old man with a bent handle cane taking short slow steps.
The other thing I noticed after I lost so much weight was how people stopped staring at me. I used to get little children age 3 or so stare at me and point me out to their parents. I had a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. He told me, without my prompting, that he noticed how people payed me no mind. I just looked like a normal overweight guy. My goal is look athletic and years younger than my age. I turn 66 this May.
If there is one thought I would like to leave you with is this. Did you know that high levels of insulin in your blood prevents fat loss? To keep from having high levels of insulin you need to take care of your insulin resistance first. Otherwise you will not be able to lose the amount of weight you want. You might say, “But I don’t have an insulin resistance problem. My fasting blood sugars are perfect.” Your blood glucose numbers might look perfect because your pancreas is creating several times the levels of insulin a truly non-diabetic person does. This high rate of insulin production masks the problem of growing insulin resistance. I had a real nice level of 80 (60-90 is considered excellent) yet 4 years later I was being admitted to the emergency room because of my dangerously high glucose levels. What the doctors don’t do is check your insulin levels. You can be heading for diabetes and not know it! Being chubby and not being able to lose weight is a sign that that may be the case. If you struggle with weight loss then you might consider treating it like a diabetic problem. A low carb, high fat, medium protein (Keto) diet might be for you. By keeping your carbs low you are keeping your insulin low. Only then is it possible to have real weight loss.