Height: 6’0” (1.8 m)
Highest Weight: 260 lbs (118 kg)
Current Weight: 150-155 lbs (68-71 kg)
As Brian Wiley recalls, when he was about nine years old, he went from being a lean child to a heavy one.
“I remained pretty overweight up until my freshman year of high school, when I had a growth spurt, got involved in sports, and leaned out,” Brian says. “But once I hit my twenties, I started to slowly start getting bigger again.”
He attributes the weight gain to a combination of factors, including working a lot, frequent consumption of fast food, and being busy with his wife and first child.
“It crept up on me. I didn’t keep track of my weight at all. I realized I had put on some weight but didn’t really think much about it because I was young and healthy. But when I’d order food in a restaurant, the server would say, “And what do you want, big guy?’ And I’d never heard anyone call me that before,” he says.
At around 30 years old, he went out and purchased a scale in order to find out just how much he’d gained.
“I thought I’d be maybe 200 pounds (91 kg) or so, but when I stepped on the scale, I was shocked to see the number 250,” Brian remembers. “I’d been about 160-170 pounds (73-77 kg) in high school, and I just couldn’t believe I’d put on so much weight. That was pretty much a wake-up call.”
At first, Brian figured he could take the weight off by just being more active again. However, working out at the gym only led to about a five-pound loss. Although disappointed that his efforts hadn’t produced the kind of results he’d hoped for, he realized that exercising definitely made him feel better.
“Then I tried a number of different things to lose weight, including Weight Watchers. But their point system didn’t work at all for me, because I’d just use all my points on junk. I had some success cutting calories to 1200-1500 per day but then would regain all the weight really fast once I started eating more.”
Finding low carb
But everything changed in December of 2008, when his wife showed him a handout with basic low-carb guidelines and asked him what he thought about this approach.
“After looking over all of the foods allowed, I thought, I could do that. So we decided that we’d both start the diet on New Year’s Day.”
Although he felt good following the low-carb diet and was happy to be losing weight, he wanted more information about carb restriction, along with more concrete guidelines about how to move forward. So he purchased two Atkins books, began following the protocol, and never looked back.
“I started low carb on January 1, 2009, and by January of 2010, I had lost 100 pounds (45 kg), which I’ve kept off ever since,” he says.
Although he’s maintained his weight loss relatively easily for more than seven years, a few months ago he began noticing some undesirable changes in body composition.
“I think it was due to working out less because I was really busy with our kitchen remodel, along with eating higher-fat keto. When I did an experiment where I increased my protein intake, ate more fish and leaner cuts of meat, scaled back my fat intake a bit and avoided most dairy, I got noticeably leaner and more defined, even thought I still didn’t have time to work out. I shared pictures of my experiment on social media,” he adds.
Brian has since added dairy back into his diet but is sticking with higher-protein intake for now. His carb intake varies from day to day and may even be zero carb if his only option is hamburger patties or other types of meat. Although he doesn’t track his food, he estimates that he eats about 20-50 grams of net carb most of the time.
A typical day of eating for Brian
Breakfast (10:30-11:00 am):
Coffee with half and half and a small amount of stevia/erythritol blend
Omelet made with 2-3 eggs, bacon or sausage, and spinach
30-45 grams macadamia nuts or almonds
Lunch (1:00-2:00 pm):
Hamburger patty with cheese, salad
Dinner (5:00 pm):
Large portion of meat, chicken, or fish with vegetables or salad, avocado or guacamole
In addition, he occasionally has a homemade low-carb dessert, such as a Danish pastry made with Fat Head pizza dough or a low-carb cheesecake topped with heavy cream and a few sliced strawberries. He also has nut butters, berries, and slightly higher carb vegetables like Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, etc.
Brian says that he truly enjoys his low-carb lifestyle, even though at times he’s the only member of his family following it.
“My wife lost 60 pounds (27 kg) with Atkins and has gone on and off the diet over the years. She’s back on it now. I haven’t been able to get the kids on board, although they seem to be naturally slim for some reason. But I’ll be low carb for life,” he says, confidently. “I just really like eating this way. And if there’s anything that would tempt me, I can make a low carb version of it.”
Other than brief periods where circumstances have prevented him from working out, Brian has continued going to the gym several times a week for many years.
“I do mainly weights but very little cardio. I’m usually there for an hour and a half. I go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I walk on the treadmill for a mile and then move on to strength training with heavy weights. I’ll do upper and lower body and ab work on Monday, the same routine in reverse on Wednesday, and lift to exhaustion on Friday,” he says. “Unfortunately, due to the kitchen remodel, I haven’t been to the gym all summer, but I’m planning on going back very soon.”
These are Brian’s tips for successfully maintaining major weight loss forever:
- If you start to regain weight or your body composition changes, experiment and tweak your diet until you find what works. It doesn’t have to be drastic and should be something you can maintain long term. Jumping from one extreme dietary change to another can actually backfire.
- Don’t give in to peer pressure or temptation. You have the right to say “no” to people who encourage you to indulge in high-carb treats, even if their intentions are good.
- Stick to low carb at all times. “I know some people that have lost weight with low carb and regained it, and then decided to go back to low carb to lose the weight again. But they found it much slower and harder to lose on low carb the second time around,” Brian warns.*
Comment from Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt
Congratulations Brian on your impressive long-term success!
*/ I found the finishing comment that low carb can be harder the second time interesting. It’s something that people sometimes experience, but it’s hard to say how common it may be. Here’s my two cents on what can cause it:
- Weight loss often gets harder with age, so if a long time has passed it may be harder to reach the same weight. This is an especially common challenge for women after 40, due to relatively rapid hormonal changes, but it also affects men as they age.
- People may have more experience on low carb the second time, which is not only a good thing. If people know how to snack on low carb, or have desserts, or “low-carb” bread, or enjoy nuts and cheese, these are all things that can slow down weight loss. Sometimes, ignorance can be a benefit!