How Mike broke free from food addiction with a keto diet
Mike always had weight issues, largely because he was drawn to food in an unhealthy way. As a child, he would eat on the sly or distract his parents in order to sneak food. Once he was old enough to handle money, he’d spend it all on food.At age 10, Mike weighed over 200 pounds (91 kilos) and was put on his first diet. From that point on, he tried many different diets and his weight swung dramatically up and down. “I’m very good at losing weight, but I’m also great at putting it right back on,” Mike said.
In the early 2000s, Mike’s weight hit an all-time high of 540 pounds (245 kilos). After yo-yoing for a decade, he went on the paleo diet and lost a significant amount of weight. In just two years, he went from 540 to 210 pounds (245 to 95 kilos).
But he had to white-knuckle his way through intense cravings every day. And when he finally fell off the wagon, he fell hard. Once he gave in to the siren call of his food addiction, he went back up to 480 pounds (218 kilos) in just six months.
What Mike ate before keto“I fell into a life of living to eat,” Mike explains. “I didn’t let any craving go unsatisfied.”
He ate fast food for breakfast: sandwiches, donuts, and coffee with sugar. Although he brought a home-cooked lunch to his work as an office manager, he would also go to Burger King for a second lunch.
After work, he’d drive to Wendy’s and order four or five cheeseburgers, and when he came home, he would have foods like lasagna, pasta, roast chicken, and vegetables. Then he’d eat snacks and desserts for the rest of the evening until he went to bed.
That’s a lot of food. A few years later, Mike’s keto coach Jonathan Shane asked him to calculate the amount he was eating at the time. “I stopped counting when it hit 25,000 calories per day,” Mike said.
Starting the keto diet
In 2017, Mike’s parents became the legal guardians of two infant twin girls. Mike had given up on losing weight by then and had accepted that he would probably die soon. But his father reached out to him and said “I need you to live.” That became his wake-up call.
Keto was the big diet trend around that time. “When you’ve done all of the diets out there, you keep track of the hot words,” Mike said. Mike bought two books about keto, Keto Clarity and Fitness Confidential, and started reading.
He also found Diet Doctor and the keto for beginner’s guide. “The graphical elements make it very easy to understand what you eat on a keto diet,” Mike said.While reading Keto Clarity, he read that keto can give you freedom from cravings and severe hunger. “I realized that that was the missing piece. Losing weight had always been a fight up until that point,” Mike said.
This was the turning point for Mike — and this was when he decided to throw out the carbs and dive into keto.
What happened when Mike went ketoAlmost immediately some fantastic changes occurred. Mike started losing weight rapidly and his symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar disappeared. His energy levels soared and, for the first time, he felt fully satisfied.
“It was like a light switch. I realized that the way I ate before was driving my uncontrollable hunger,” Mike said.
In the winter of that same year, Mike was hospitalized with pneumonia. He became extremely sick but survived. The event forced him — for the first time in years — to see a doctor. Up until then, he avoided doctors since they typically tried to make him change his diet.
The doctor said that if Mike hadn’t been working on his health, pneumonia would have killed him. “Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s saving your life,” the doctor said to Mike.
While in the hospital, Mike also learned that he’d had a heart attack in the past without knowing it. This made Mike realize the importance of sticking with keto.
How keto helps manage Mike’s food addiction
Today, Mike weighs about 205 pounds (93 kilos), so he’s down 335 pounds (152 kilos) from his highest weight.
To go along with his improved quality of life, he’s also experienced a renewed sense of confidence, as well as, heightened energy levels. Thanks to his new approach to life, Mike even received a promotion at work and is now a marketing coordinator.
His results with keto are truly remarkable!
Even still, whenever Mike posts anything related to his keto journey on Twitter, some people respond that he could have gotten the same results with calorie counting.
To this, Mike’s response is that these naysayers don’t fully understand what his life was like before keto nor do they get what it’s like to be in the grips of full-blown food addiction.Keto is the only diet that has relieved him of raging physical cravings, while also allowing him to work on the emotional side of addiction. He’s certain that he wouldn’t have been able to achieve what he’s done without keto.
“It’s the difference between fighting cravings 90% of the day, or 10% of the day,” Mike said.
Still, recovery is a bumpy road. In the summer of 2017, Mike decided to go “off-plan” too soon. He ate carb-rich foods and ended up falling off the wagon for a month.
But, for the first time in his life, Mike managed to get back on track after that detour of a month — whereas, in the past, one mistake would have triggered years of unhealthy eating.
Over the three years that Mike’s been eating keto, he’s improved his physical health and worked on his relationship with food. And so, when he turned 46 in 2019, he was able to enjoy a sugary treat without triggering a relapse. Instead, he simply went back to keto the next day.
“I definitely don’t do it all the time. But it’s amazing that just three years ago one such treat would cause intense cravings and binging,” Mike said.
Mike’s keto lifestyleMike eats very low carb — between 15 to 20 grams of total carbs a day — which mostly come from vegetables. He adheres to the common keto practice of eating high fat, which has helped to relieve his addictive approach to eating.
Mike usually starts his day with coffee with added butter and collagen. Then, he eats one or two meals later in the day. His first meal is usually eggs and bacon with mushrooms.
Mike’s second meal is often ground beef, steak, or pork, with added homemade mayo or compound butter and a few vegetables.
Here are a few of Mike’s favorite Diet Doctor recipes:
Mike also tried the carnivore diet for one month. He found it satisfied him physically but not mentally. So, he went back to eating vegetables.
Mike has also experimented with longer fasts but feels best when he fasts just 18 hours per day.
Mike lost the last 100 pounds (45 kilos) with the help of his keto coach. They experimented with different macros by cutting out high-calorie foods, such as nut butter and keto treats, and lowering his carb level until they found Mike’s sweet spot of about 15 grams per day.
Even though Mike doesn’t think exercise is essential for weight loss, he thinks it’s important for health.
When he started keto he could barely walk for five minutes, but as he lost weight and became healthier, he started moving more. These days, he lifts weights and does cardio five days a week.
Mike’s top tips for people starting keto
- Choose an approach to eating keto. With experts recommending so many different ways to eat keto, it can stop you from getting started. Choose a routine that you think will work for you and don’t worry about whether it’s perfect. Start now and improve as you go.
- Be consistent. Tell yourself to eat keto just for one day, and then repeat. The days will add up fast. If your first thought when starting is “When can I have a cheat meal?”, you have the wrong mindset.
- Tweak what you’re doing. Since challenges are unavoidable, be ready to tweak what you’re doing. Many are looking for an exact formula, but it doesn’t work that way since we’re all different. People who succeed with keto are honest with themselves and willing to find out what works for them.
Learn more about Mike
Wow! What an incredible journey. Thanks for sharing your story with us Mike. I hope your experience inspires others who have “tried everything,” or who struggle with food addiction. As you have shown, keto may be the right answer for many of them. Thanks again!
/ Dr. Bret Scher