‘Going strict keto with IF really helped me’

Meet Carlos. He started a strict keto diet with intermittent fasting in September 2020 and has now lost 50 pounds (23 kilos) and also reversed his diabetes, got off all medications, and no longer has swollen legs.

He now swims 45 minutes three times a week and regularly walks four miles with friends.

Everything has improved,” he says.

Carlo’s story has been edited for clarity.

What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
My name is Carlos, I’m 62 and I live in Staten Island, NY.

How did you discover keto or low carb?
I first heard about the Atkins’ diet in the 1970s, but I seriously started to implement low carb in my life from the day I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in January 2014.

I started a strict keto diet with intermittent fasting in September 2020.

What were you eating before making this lifestyle change?
Even when I was eating a low-carb diet, I was not strict at all. While I ate no sugar or flour, I ate too much food all the time. Going strict keto with IF really helped me.

What does a typical day of eating and/or fasting look like for you now?
I now eat one keto meal a day. When I started in September 2020 I did 16:8 and my eating window was from 12 noon to 8 pm. Then I began to shorten that window. Now I might eat between 2 to 3 pm, or 4 to 5 pm. It depends on the day.

Sometimes I use GreenChef, the meal service that sends you the ingredients and you prepare the food. It was great because I learn to cook keto, partially thanks to that service.

On other occasions I search the web for recipes or use Diet Doctor recipes: my favorite is “stuffed peppers with ground beef and cheese”.

Lately, I allow myself chicken bone broth at other times. Sometimes I have a drink at night. I consider I am in maintenance stage.

In what ways has your health improved?
Everything. I lost 50 pounds. The swelling in my legs is gone.

I was on metformin from 2014 to 2016 and was able to get off it with a low-carb diet but by June 2020 my Hb1Ac was climbing and the doctor said I would have to soon go back on it. My A1C has now dropped from 6.1 to 4.8, normal levels.

Have you made any mistakes on your journey (which you’ve learned from)?
Yes. Since I am eating one daily meal, I still sometimes eat more than I need to.

I think about going 23 hours without eating anything and I am afraid of too many hours without eating. So I grab some extra food that I don’t really need. It is still a challenge and I have good and bad days.

Do you think exercise is necessary for success on low carb?
Yes. Not so much for weight loss, but for general well-being.

I swim 45 minutes a day and sometimes I walk with a group of people for about 4 miles. It gives me the feeling that I can achieve those goals and it is an extra incentive to stay keto and keep my weight down.

What are your top three tips for people starting low carb?

  1. Follow your blood tests. If your numbers are good, don’t listen to friends and family, even doctors, who try to convince you that you should stop your keto lifestyle.
  2. Do you need to cheat? Cheat with the intermittent fasting, not with keto. Keto and intermittent fasting are two challenges at the same time. So I prefer to eat or drink something keto at the wrong time. I don’t include in my mind the chance to cheat on keto at all. Sugar and flour are out of my league. It is not even a possibility.
  3. Avoid ALWAYS, 100 PERCENT refined sugar, flour, and pasta. Think about them as if you have allergies. It is simple: there are a few things in life that are not for you.

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