Omaha, Nebraska – Age 61
Peggy says she is “living proof that a ketogenic diet works” and has seen nearly everyone in her family “reverse health problems” using this nutritional approach. Peggy herself was on the verge of diabetes in 1999 after years of following a low-calorie, low-fat diet, and she watched her sister gain weight and develop type 2 diabetes despite doing what she thought were all the right things.
“I spent my adult life dieting according to the prevailing wisdom in order to avoid the horror of the fate that befell my grandfather and father in their later years, when they eventually died from complications from severe insulin resistance,” she said.
After watching her sister suffer with digestive issues, energy swings, brain fog, and an inability to lose weight without starving, Peggy began researching an alternative to the diet advice she had been given her entire life. She came across the work of Dr. Robert Atkins and considers him a hero for “leading me to an understanding that the crux of all of my family health problems was insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance.” Interestingly, her brother also discovered the low-carb, high-fat diet at the same time, and it helped him overcome chronic fatigue syndrome.
Switching to a whole foods–based ketogenic diet helped Peggy resolve gastrointestinal issues, brain fog, and blood sugar dysregulation while maintaining a healthy weight for well over a decade. Her partner, a seventy-two-year-old retired family physician named Dr. Ken Peters, supported Peggy’s efforts but continued to eat the Standard American Diet up until 2011, when he noticed he couldn’t get rid of some “stubborn belly fat” that no longer responded to cutting calories and exercising more. He shed about thirty pounds in three months by eating low-carb, but he tried going back to carb-loading prior to the Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska. He “hit the wall” and had no energy, and he realized he needed to do more.
That’s when he started listening to what Peggy was sharing about the exercise performance benefits that come from being in ketosis, which she learned about from Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek’s book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. He started eating a ketogenic diet and “is now a total convert.”
“The best side effect of our ketogenic lifestyle is the enhancement we have seen in our athletic pursuits, which we consider almost miraculous,” Peggy said.
Consuming more fat in the form of egg yolks and pork belly, as well as putting butter and coconut oil in their coffee (a concept known as “Bulletproof Coffee” that was popularized by online health entrepreneur and Paleo podcaster Dave Asprey), both Peggy and her partner have been able to enjoy multiple long-distance bicycle rides with plenty of energy and without any carbohydrate-based snacks to fuel their exercise. In fact, she was amazed by how much energy they had after the rides and the lack of muscle soreness that would typically follow a long-distance ride. And they’re no spring chickens, either, which makes this accomplishment all the more astonishing.
“We are sixty-one and seventy-two, respectively; neither of us has seen a physician for a medical problem in years; and we take no medications for chronic disease,” Peggy explained. “We are naturally so excited to share this with everyone we can because we want everyone who is suffering from following the conventional advice to eat low-fat, low-calorie diets to experience what we have. And we have the science to back it up!”
Lafayette, Louisiana – Age 40
Dane’s ketogenic success story involves a tremendous triple-digit weight loss but also, perhaps more important, an incredible turnaround in a rare disease he has been living with his entire life. In January 2013, at the age of thirty-nine, he weighed in at 293 pounds, and he knew that something needed to be done so he would be around for his little girl. At the same time, he was dealing with McArdle disease, an extremely rare metabolic condition. Also known as glycogen storage disease type V, this condition prevents the muscles from tapping into glycogen stores for energy. This leads to severe fatigue, muscle cramping, and the onset of muscle soreness with virtually any activity. It’s a very painful condition, and in Dane it also led to degeneration in his vertebrae that required neck surgery.
In February 2013, Dane set a goal for himself to get down to 250 pounds. After failing to see any success after one month of eating healthier by conventional nutritional standards (a low-fat, high-carb, calorie-restricted diet), a friend in the medical field suggested that he try a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic approach. The results were nearly instantaneous: as he switched from rice and bread to steak and bacon, the weight began pouring off of him. Plus, Dane’s energy started to increase, and he even began exercising, even though McArdle disease used to make it too excruciating. After just ten months, he had lost a total of 110 pounds. But, more importantly, Dane was able to partially resolve the muscle pain and weakness from McArdle disease.
“Being ketogenic has helped me deal with McArdle disease because now my muscles are fueled through the fat I am eating in my diet,” he explained.
These days, Dane eats what he describes as a very low-carb, high-fat, Paleo diet filled with real foods like those our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. The radical changes he’s seen in his life simply by implementing the principles of ketosis into his diet have made his story compelling to everyone he meets.
“Ketosis has had a tremendous impact on my life, and everyone I know asks me about it and listens intently to what I have to say,” Dane said. “My friends and family all say what a great example I am [of] how to do things the right way and have been extremely impressed by my results.”
As the crowning achievement in this ketogenic diet success story, Dane ran a half marathon in January 2014. This is the same guy who not that long ago couldn’t run fifty feet, who had major neck surgery and the pain associated with it, and who has a chronic disease that for years caused muscle pain no matter how many muscle relaxers and pain medications he took. For Dane, running a half marathon was a bona fide miracle.
“To think that I am able to run in half marathons now when most other people with McArdle disease can’t even fathom running [at all] is just mind-blowing to me,” Dane remarked.
Indianapolis, Indiana – Age 19
As a sixteen-year-old, Adam first learned about low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diets from a renegade health teacher who shared that saturated fat is not harmful to your health. That is what got Adam interested in looking at a ketogenic diet as a way to become optimally healthy.
“A lot of the information my health teacher was sharing with me was shocking and hard to believe,” he said. “So I ended up doing my own investigation into what he was saying to see if there was any truth to it.”
Adam researched low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diets and “became convinced” enough to try it for himself beginning in February 2012. Interestingly, his family was less than enthusiastic about his foray into ketosis.
“They thought I was nuts,” he shared. “My parents would take me to see doctors and complain about all the butter and animal fats I was eating in my diet. The doctors would try to tell me not to go too extreme and to find balance in my diet.”
Refusing to get sucked in by the negative energy from his family and doctor, Adam stuck with his ketogenic diet and began seeing some incredible changes in his life. He lost weight, was able to stop taking Adderall for his ADHD, had steady energy all day long, was no longer dealing with bouts of depression, and had a much better general state of well being. Even after experiencing these remarkable improvements in his health, Adam said he continued to be “ridiculed” by his family for being on a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet.
“My brother calls me a sissy because I refuse to eat grains or sugars,” Adam said. “It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but I still hear my family talk about how my diet is artery-clogging and heart-stopping whenever I add butter to whatever I’m eating or eat the fat my family cuts off their meat.”
The phenomenal results he has seen from being on a ketogenic diet have motivated Adam to study to become a registered dietitian and perhaps a medical doctor to help spread the word about low-carb, high-fat diets to the people with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity who need them the most.