The keto diet: “I feel great”

Updated headshot for Deborah

Deborah

After a visit to her doctor, Deborah found out that her cholesterol levels were not good. In addition, she was 30 lbs (14 kg) overweight and suffered from crippling knee pain. She was told to start taking a statin and to go on a low-fat diet.

As she started researching her health issues, she ended up on Diet Doctor. She read up on the subject and was soon convinced that a keto diet was the way to go. She went back to her doctor and told her that if things hadn’t improved after six months, she’d follow her doctor’s recommendations. This is what happened:

Thank you, Dr. Eenfeldt!

Six months ago, I had my annual visit with my primary care provider of twenty years. My knees hurt, and I was 30 pounds (14 kg) overweight, confirmed by my BMI. My cholesterol was 282 mg/dl, my “bad” cholesterol was high, my “good” cholesterol and triglycerides could have been better, but my calculated VLDL was OK.

For the knee pain, my PCP added “osteoarthritis” to my problem list. For the elevated cholesterol, she recommended exercise and a low-fat diet, a trope which she has sung to me for two decades.

“Fine,” I thought. “But my knee pain is the problem that is bothering me the most. It is not only limiting my ability to exercise, but it is limiting my daily activities. And you, knowing by my report that I am not ready to contemplate knee replacements, have essentially told me to ‘live with it'”.

I know that every pound of excess weight exerts four pounds (2 kg) of pressure on the knees. It seemed to me that my first-line effort to deal with my knee pain should be weight loss. About a week after I saw my doctor, I stumbled across www.dietdoctor.com. I read the scientific studies regarding low-carb, high-fat diets on www.dietdoctor.com and in medical journals. I emailed my doctor and reiterated that what concerned me the most was my limited mobility due to my knee pain. I told her my plan: “I am going to try a ketogenic diet for six months and recheck my lipids at that time. If I lose weight, and my knees stop hurting, but my lipids get worse, I will take a statin.” Her response: “Well, that is an interesting approach.”

Six months into a low-carb, high-fat diet that probably doesn’t quite make it to ketogenic most of the time, I have lost 28 pounds (13 kg). My BMI is normal. I lost 6″ (15 cm) around my waist, and I have gone down four pants sizes. Most importantly, my knee pain is much, much better. I checked my lipids at a free screening offered by a local pharmacy: My total cholesterol, triglycerides, and “bad” cholesterol were all DOWN from six months ago. My “good” cholesterol was UP. I feel great and feel wholly vindicated in my “interesting approach”.

For me, a low-carb, high-fat diet has been easy to follow. I knew I couldn’t face recording carbohydrates after decades of off and on meticulous food record-keeping that calorie in-calorie out dieting entails. I studied the www.dietdoctor.com food charts and recommendations and condensed them into an easy-to-remember plan: 1) No sugars 2) nothing white except for meat, fish, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, and butter (OK, butter in the US is yellow, but close enough); 3) No root vegetables; 4) no legumes; 5) for fruit, only berries without sugar. I don’t like artificial sweeteners, so I do without sweetener of any kind.

Chocolate was my biggest challenge, so I learned to like Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate bars. In www.dietdoctor.com chocolate dessert recipes (Molten Lava Cake with whipped cream is my favorite), I combine equal amounts of Lindt 90% and Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. If I am craving chocolate or need a psychological diversion from low-carb eating, I eat a single square of Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate as a special treat.

I like coffee, it does not give me heartburn or palpitations, and I have the leisure to sleep late and drink multiple cups in the morning. So, instead of breakfast, I enjoy two or three cups of coffee with heavy cream in the morning while I check my email, social media, plan my day, do my household chores, etc. At about 10 or 11, I am hungry enough to eat, so I’ll have a “brunch” of bacon and eggs or smoked salmon or ham, and fresh mozzarella cheese with avocado and maybe some sliced tomato. By then I am tired of coffee, so for a beverage, I have water (still or sparkling) or a glass of unsweetened coconut milk. I am not hungry again until dinner, which I prepare using one of the www.dietdoctor.com recipes or a low-carb adaptation of one of our family favorites.

Dining out is relatively simple: I have grilled meat or fish and double vegetables instead of the offered starch plus vegetables. If the only option is burgers, I ask for one without the bun or remove the bun when the burger is served. At first, I had to ask the server to take away the table bread; now I just ignore it. I also make it a point to eat a zero-carb snack before I dine out so that the table bread is less tempting. I have never been much of an evening snack eater, but I do enjoy a glass or two of white wine in the evening. Lately, though, I enjoy that less (I have found that I feel its adverse effects much more now, and much more quickly) and will skip that in favor of sparkling water or homemade eggnog (pasteurized eggs, heavy cream, water, and no sugar or artificial sweetener).

My current dilemma is what to do now that I have achieved my goals of weight loss and decreased knee pain. I am concerned that if I get even a little bit liberal with my carbs, I will reactivate some triggers that will derail a sustained low-carb high-fat lifestyle. For now, I plan to continue eating as I have been for the past six months and reassess if my weight gets too low. That, for sure, would be a problem that would be a joy to tackle!

Thank you, Dr. Eenfeldt and team. Now would the rest of you medical practitioners and dieticians please get with the program?

Deborah

Comment

Thank you for sharing, Deborah – and congratulations on your health improvements!

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PS

Do you have a success story you want to share on this blog? Send it (photos appreciated) to andreas@dietdoctor.com, and please let me know if it’s OK to publish your photo and name or if you’d rather remain anonymous.

It would also be greatly appreciated if you shared what you eat in a typical day, whether you fast etc.

8 Comments

  1. MARIANNE
    Wowwwww,, your initial dilemma sounds like me. I have been doing the keto diet for 4 and 1/2 Weeks and have not lost weight or inches but I do feel great. I'm going to continue but I also need to lose 30 lb. I've watched every video on this site and now your story will keep me motivated . I'm struggling but I'll keep trying. I can't stand the thought of my doctor looking at me like he did when I said I was doing high-fat low-carb so hopefully the levels will be good. I also have knee pain which should improve If I ever get rid of these pounds. Thank you for sharing.
  2. Caroline
    Marianne, I have found in order to lose weight on lchf, I need to keep my carbs to 20 total carbs or lower a day. Also moderate protein, as in meat servings about the size of the palm of your hand. I use a carb counting app that helps me keep track. Just a suggestion if you are not already doing so. Good luck.
    Reply: #4
  3. Debra
    Deborah, great comment! I love this way of life.....been keto for exactly one year. If you are concerned about losing too much weight either increase your protein a tiny bit or increase the salad size (cucumbers, lettuce etc). I will never go back to high carbs as the benefits outweigh the negatives. Way to go on the bread issue...that was my weakness. Now I do not even miss it.
  4. MARIANNE
    Thank You Caroline. I must admit I was fishing for help.
  5. WarblingLisa
    Deborah, how wonderful for you!! Congratulations on your success. I know what you mean about the bread basket. Went to an Italian restaurant a couple of days ago with a good (non-Keto eating) friend. As she chowed down on the bread sticks, I happily ate my Chicken Piccata with grilled zucchini. It honestly didn't bother me at all that she ate pasta and bread. I love how I feel eating Keto and how effortless it was to sit in my chair and get up from the table. I have very little joint pain considering I still have well over 100 lbs to lose. My friend struggles daily with major joint pain. I wish she would join me on this adventure, but I don't nag her as I know she has to come to that decision on her own. Best wishes for your continued success with Keto eating!
  6. Belinda
    You left us hanging...did you go back to your doctor? What was her reaction? I love the simplicity of your easy-to-remember plan. Thanks for a very inspiring story Deborah!
  7. TeeDee
    Great share, Deborah! Thank you and all the best. :)
  8. Brenda
    That’s awesome!
    I am happy to have started this way of eating, I also have energy and less pain which is something I have prayed for, for so many years!
    I miss PB sandwiches

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