“Keto has been the easiest and simplest lifestyle change”
Like for so many others, Ryan’s weight struggles started with his puberty growth spurt. But it wasn’t until he was in his 20s that he actually started trying to lose the excessive weight.
After a few failed attempts where his weight came right back, he somehow realized that the “eat less, move more” mantra didn’t work for him. And apparently, by turning the conventional advice on its head he finally reached success:
Please tell us your story: Who are you and where are you from? Why did you start keto? In other words, what’s the story?
My name is Ryan, I am 31 years old, and I live in Canada.
When I was a kid, I was known as the “scrawny, little kid”. I was always skinny, always thin and always full of energy. It wasn’t until I was about 16, that I grew into my body. I went from 5’2″ (157 cm) to 6’5″ (188 cm) overnight, it seemed. That height also came with an appetite. By the time I was 20, I was clocking around 300 pounds (136 kg). That was probably due to the booze, the junk food, the partying and the overall never being active.
In my early 20s, I started to realize that I was not healthy so I took it upon myself to start my first of many diets. Most of which always counted calories heavily, stayed away from fat, lots of carbs and high protein. Although it worked, I DID drop down to 195 pounds (88 kg), again, back to skinny boy) but that did NOT last. Once I got back into the chips, poor dieting and partying it just… all came back on. Two years after I lost it all, I gained it ALL back, lost it again with exercise and counting calories, only to gain it all back three years later. THUS began my keto journey on September 8th of 2018, at 289 pounds (131 kg). Today, I can happily say my scale now says 229 lbs (104 kg), and still going down, baby!
This isn’t a diet, it’s a simple lifestyle change that ANYONE can do, seriously. Keto simply feels “right”. Like I mentioned, I have done so much dieting in my day for it to only feel too hard and just not right. Keto has been the easiest and simplest lifestyle change hands down for me. I have NO wish to ever go off it, and I have no need to ever think of doing that. I feel amazing, I am more alert, have amazing energy and am just overall happy with life! Side note: I really have to put an emphasis on the energy part… I have NEVER had so much energy on a diet.
What did you personally do in your first ten days of keto?
I knew I was going to start keto around the time I did, I just didn’t know when. So I chose September 8th, three days after my 31st birthday. Why? I love a good challenge. Always have, always will. I rarely ever give up on something I want. So, I chose September 8th as my first day, and the reason why was because I was having a huge “weekend” birthday celebration at a cabin on that day. I knew that I would be surrounded by beer I could not drink, cake I could not eat, food I could not taste. It was going to be a challenge… but like I said, I love a good challenge. I knew that if I could get through THAT weekend without giving into the sugar overload, I’d be fine.
That weekend I did NOT have any cake, I did not eat any chips, I did not drink any beer. I proved to myself that I was strong enough to with stand any challenge coming my way when it comes to cutting out sugars/carbs. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself because the reward is so worth it everyone.
Do you count and track macros strictly?
Yes and no. My system is rather easy, but that’s because I eat the same meals every day. I am the least pickiest eater ever.So when it came to keto, I knew that my food choices were quite simply going to be amazing. I’ve been on diets where you couldn’t eat burgers/meats/cheese/high-fat foods – it was seriously the worst. I wouldn’t recommend it.
That being said, I knew that going into this I wanted to:
- Make sure I do it right
- As inexpensive as humanly possible, because sustainability was going to be part of my success here
Cue in: Costco.
I found that Costco sold basically everything I needed to sustain a successful keto diet. I’ll go over what I typically eat in a day on keto: I have two lean burger patties with a tablespoon of avacado mayo on top, which makes this meal up to 700 calories.
MACRO BREAK DOWN: The two burgers: 34 grams of fat, 42 grams of protein. Avocado mayo: 20 grams of fat. Total: Comes to a total of 54 g of fat, and 42 g of protein.
On the side, I have one cup of frozen broccoli/cauliflower blend with ¼ cup of cheddar on top, two slices of bacon, 1 tablespoon of butter and 100 g of frozen avocado, nuke it all up and that comes to about 530 calories.
MACRO BREAK DOWN: ¼ cup of cheddar: 12 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein. Two slices of bacon: 6 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein. 1 tbsp butter: 11 grams of fat. 100 grams of avocado: 11 grams fat. Total: Comes to 40 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein and 4 carbs.
The total for the whole meal: 94 grams of fat, 57 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbs or 1,230 calories.
My second meal, two big chicken/turkey sausages that are 21 grams of protein each, and 2 tablespoons of avocado mayo with it. Both sausages: 12 g of fat, 42 grams of protein, 2 carbs. Avocado mayo: 20 grams of fat. Total: 32 g of fat, 42 g protein, 2 g carbs. Comes to about 520 calories.
Then my last meal, is just a low carb vanilla protein shake with a spoonful of plain, non-sweetened yogurt and some flavored 0-calorie caramel sweetener. Comes to about 200 calories and another 40 g of protein and 2 g of carbs.
So, with that in mind….
Total for the day: Calories: 1950. Fat: 126 grams of fat. Protein: 139 grams of protein.
I ate all of the above, every day, for the last nine months. Sometimes I use sugar-free BBQ sauces or mustard instead of mayo. Other times I’ll use a low-carb bun, just to mix things up or for my protein shake at the end of the day I’ll toss in 30 ml of whipping cream as a treat. But that being said, 95% of the time, I am eating the same thing daily. Again, I am not picky, so that makes it simple and easy for me to do.
And that is also why I don’t need to track my macros, because technically, it’s already done for me.
I also consume lots of half-salt. Half salt has almost every electrolyte in it. It has sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. I probably consume 5,000-10,000 mg of sodium a day. May seem like a lot, but my results below will surprise you…
How has your life changed since going keto?
My whole life before keto, I suffered from severe heart palpitations. From when I was a kid all the way to adulthood, and unfortunately they happened for hours a day. I had EKG tests and chest x-rays done every few years to see if there was something wrong with my heart but there was nothing abnormal. Doctors assume it was caffeine related and diagnosed me with a severe caffeine sensitivity about 5-6 years ago (trust me, this story is going somewhere).
Now, I work the midnight shift. So having to cut coffee cold turkey was hard but I had to for my health. The heart palpitations were down by about 40%, thankfully! They still happened but not as often (maybe for 1-2 hours a day) so although stopping the caffeine helped, it didn’t heal the issue and I grew more concerned since it didn’t stop.
Before I started keto, I made sure that I was going in for routine blood checks/check up with my doctor, just in case. I got my blood work done for cholesterol before I started keto and as well as every other vitamin/mineral that you could test for. Although I was healthy, there was room for improvement, but I wanted a baseline to see how things went. My blood pressure was a concern though as it was always sitting around 140/90 or higher. The doctor basically told me to cut all salt out of my diet.
My resting heart rate was too high as well. The doctor said that this could cause my blood pressure to be high too. My resting heart rate was between 70-90 BPM even just laying down. I tested this every day for the past year before going to bed and during the day to keep track of it.
My blood glucose/sugar levels were also high when fasted, at around 5.6-5.8 mmol/L (101-104 mg/dl) range. This was confirmed by my own glucose monitors, and as well as a professional blood test. With diabetes running through my whole family… probably a sign of pre-diabetes.
I also had very stiff joints in the morning. I could barely walk without my feet feeling like cinder-blocks. And PFS in my knee which caused so many issues going up and down stairs to the point where I had to be concerned about whether there was an elevator or escalator, because I couldn’t go up and down stairs without insane pain.
So, I start keto… and what happened?
My heart palpitations are almost non-existent! I have had my heart palpitate three times on keto for about 10 seconds and I believe it was because of an electrolyte imbalance. I 100000000000% believe the heart palpitations were caused by sugar. I thought that my heart may have been over working since I was so overweight, but even when I was thin I had heart palpitations so… it’s pretty obvious the carbs were doing something to me.
Also my blood work came back better than before. My cholesterol is so good that my doctor didn’t believe my meal plan. He said it was the best cholesterol test he had ever seen in any patient. He said, and I quote “From these results I would assume you were eating air”. I told him I was eating 2 pieces of bacon a day, 14 burgers a week, lots of butter, avocado, whipping cream, cheese, and he didn’t believe me. I almost didn’t believe it either. “Science” and prior studies dictate my cholesterol should be terrible.
Cholesterol blood results: Triglyceride: 0.78; HDL Cholesterol: 1.16; LDL Cholesterol: 1.38; NON-HDL-Cholesterol: 1.81.
My blood pressure is now 115/65 give or take a few points here and there, daily. I have a blood pressure machine in my house and that is daily results, and that is with consuming 5000-10000 mg of sodium a day! But I thought sodium was the enemy? Hmmmmmm…
My resting heart rate dropped almost 40%! My resting heart rate sits anywhere between 48-60 BPM which is amazing! Means my heart is working WAY less.
My blood sugars dropped to 4.8 mmol/L (86.4 mg/dl). So if I was “pre-diabetic” then I completely 100% healed it with diet alone.
My stiff joints have completely vanished. My PFS in my knee is basically gone at this point and I can RUN again! Going up and down stairs doesn’t hurt anymore! Inflammation is 0! And waking up is a breeeeeze when your feet don’t feel like someone broke them…
Other fun things that have changed on keto: I can put on my socks with my feet on the ground since my gut isn’t too big anymore. I am seeing my veins in my arms, and my CHEST is almost bigger than my GUT!
Rarely get headaches, and if I do it’s because I didn’t have enough sodium, so I just drink some water with salt and it goes away quickly (haven’t had a headache in months though).
My energy levels are so even throughout the day, rather than going high, then low and needing a nap asap. When I do sleep, my sleep is so amazing and deep.My memory retention, mind clarity and overall focus is insanely better.
Again, as mentioned above I am saving tons of money! Since I am eating higher-fat meals that means I spend way less money on high-carb meals. High-fat meals fill you up and keep you satiated for longer.
Have you ever encountered a plateau? If so, how did you get over it?
Not until recently did I hit a plateau where I didn’t lose any weight for around two months. I fixed it by being active though. I started running (which I still can’t believe I can run again) basically 3-5 times a week for about 20-30 minutes a day. That REALLY helped me lose weight. I also monitor my ketones too, and my ketones have never been higher since I have incorporated running in my daily routine. It has helped so much that for the last 2 months I have been stuck at 238 lbs (108 kg). 1 month of running mixed with KETO, and I am now 228 lbs (103 kg).
What is your WHY (your drive/motivation) to keep on track and stay focused?
My girlfriend and my health. I always try to be the best person I can be, and I cannot be the best person when I don’t feel like the best person. Losing the weight, maintaining a healthy diet and being active meant that I was being the best “me” I could be. The best me for myself and for her.
What is your favorite keto recipe?
I don’t really have a favorite keto recipe per se because again, I mostly eat the same stuff everyday. But I do have a favorite keto “cheat” meal. There’s a local pizzeria that makes a keto pizza that is a crust 100% made of cheddar cheese with low-carb sauce (don’t forget to add the meats/bacon!). It’s amazingly good, doesn’t spike my blood glucose and I find that after I eat it I actually LOSE weight the next day or two! So yeah, I can still eat pizza (better pizza now) and lose weight. I see this as an absolute win!
Finally, What advice would you give someone who is just starting out on keto?
On keto HIGHER FAT is a good thing, but its not the end all for keto. You still have to eat enough protein for your body (not too much) and as little carbs as humanly possible. What most people think when they hear keto is “Eat nothing but bacon, drink nothing but butter” but really you still have to count calories and watch the macros (fat intake, protein intake and carb intake), otherwise you might consume too much.
Another thing I have learnt is that although I lost almost all my weight with JUST diet alone, working out helped speed the process when I hit plateaus. I also noticed my BLOOD ketones almost DOUBLED on days where I worked out… That’s a PLUS in my books!
Also, if you are one for “sweeteners” make sure you are not sensitive to them. If you are sensitive to sweeteners you WILL spike your blood sugar and keto is all about controlling your blood glucose! Best way to see if you are sensitive is to get a blood glucose monitor, test your blood FASTED, see what you get. Once you have the results, consume the sweetener (for example, diet soda) and drink it. After 60-90 minutes, test your blood sugar again. If your blood glucose is the same or a couple points off here and there, then you are good! But if it goes up quite a bit then AVOID that sweetener at all costs! I do these tests with sugar free candies to make sure I am not going to kick myself out of ketosis! Otherwise, your best bet is to steer clear of sweeteners!
And also, if you get overwhelmed by macros, do what I did, count the macros for your meals and write it down. And just see if that meal fits in your daily limitations.
Thanks for sharing your story, Ryan!
Congratulations on your success. I particularly like how you keep it simple and make it work for you. I also appreciate the message of making sure you get enough protein. Sometimes that can get lost in the “eat more fat” message. Plus it sounds like you made an impression on your doctor. Maybe you helped him see a new way to help his patients. Great work!
/ Dr. Bret Scher, MD
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