Editor’s note: Jeff is not 100% Zero Carb. He does eat 10-15 grams of carbs per day from cucumber, radish, and spinach. He also consumes coconut oil which most Zero Carb practioners do not do because it it from a plant. Jeff’s diet is 85% fat from meat, butter, and coconut oil. He eats only 75 grams of protein per day. In spite of these differences from a standard Zero Carb diet, I felt his story was too inspiring not to share. May it reach those who most need to hear it.
In Jeff’s words…
I realize some of you here have already seen these pictures of me and have read my story before. My only intend in re-writing this short story on what a ketogenic diet has done for me is to maybe give hope to some of you out there that may think there is no way out of your current situation. To maybe show you that no matter how bleak your situation may seem right now that there is a way out. I realize that following a ketogenic diet may seem a bit extreme to some of you. Some of you may be here to try and find out more information on what exactly is a ketogenic diet and what can it really do for you. Hopefully once you have read this short story some of you may be willing to give this a try. And who knows some of you may even save your own lives the way I have saved mine.
I firmly believe I was born with a pre-disposition to insulin resistance. I was always overweight as a child and at the age of 17 I weighed 345 pounds. We were always taught to eat a high carb based diet and to never eat fat or cholesterol. I went on many diets during a 30 year span I must have lost 100-130 pounds on at least six different occasions always regaining all what I had lost and a little bit more. Those of you that have seen pictures of Butter-Bob Briggs on his website were he has a picture of himself with no shirt on at his biggest size this is also a picture of me. Only difference is I was like that at the age of 17. I wore size 48 waist pants and 3xxl shirts.
I am going to start this story back in October of 1997. I was rushed to a hospital in southern Maine where I found out that they had to preform an emergency surgery on my lower back. I was diagnosed with severe lumbar spinal stenosis. The neurosurgeon had to preform what is called a laminectomy and fusion of the lumbar area(low-back) L-3 L-4 L-5 L-6 with titanium rods and screws. I had been in pain from my lower back for a very long time, for the last year before the surgery, I could barely walk but I had to keep on working as I had no health insurance. I found out after that buy waiting so long for the surgery that I had done a lot of permanent nerve damage from the waist down.
Fast forward to May of 2001. From an injury that happened at work I had to have what is called a cervical neck fusion. I had ruptured 3 disks in my neck area C-4 C-5 C-6 so the same neurosurgeon performed a cervical neck fusion with bone marrow in place of the disks and fused with a titanium plate and screws. And then in January of 2004 came the final blow. From another injury at work I needed another back surgery. This time it was the mid-back(thorasic) The same neurosurgeon performed a laminectomy and fusion of T-11 T-12 with titanium rods and screws. After this final surgery I was declared permanently and totally disabled by the Doctors and the workers compensation board. I was 44 years old.
Then in April of 2005 I had to go in for hernia surgery. They had to do routine blood work before the surgery This is when I got the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. I had a fasting blood sugar of 300 and an A1C of 12.0. The doctor put me on metformin and avandia and blood pressure medication and proceeded to tell me “Welcome to the club you’ll probably have to be put on insulin in a few years. And yes he also send me to a diabetes nutritionist who fed me the typical high-carb diet whole grains fruits etc.
After my first back surgery back in 1997 I was put on pain medication. After time I was prescribed more hard core drugs eventually ending up on oral morphine in high doses. Also from all these different surgeries and fusions i was left with not very much mobility. I weighed 330 pounds and pretty much was confined to a lazy boy recliner 24-7. I was not able to lay in a bed to sleep. I had to sleep in my chair. I had to walk with a cane or a walker only very short distances. If I went to any store I had to use the motorized handicap chairs. This was especially humiliating the stares you get from people as you drive buy them in your motorized cart. This pitiful life went on like this for a while but change was coming.
In November of 2008 is when when my life started slowly to turn around. I had felt sorry for myself long enough it was time for something different. The first thing I did was to quit smoking cold turkey. I started smoking at the age of 16 and the last 10 years I had been smoking 3 packs a day. After 2 months had gone by I stopped oral Morphine cold turkey without consulting my pain management doctor. The withdrawals you hear people speak of from heroin are the same with oral morphine. These withdrawals lasted 3-4 weeks. Then in April of 2009 I started riding a recumbent stationary bike at the gym. I went on another diet and started slowly losing weight. In the span of 14 months I went from 330# to 167#. Thats a total weight loss of 163 lbs.
You would think I was Healthy now, right? I thought I was my doctor even told me I no longer had diabetes! My A1C was 5.9% and this led my doctor to telling me that I no longer had diabetes. At this point I was still clueless! Still clueless that an A1C of 5.9= an average blood sugar of 133. Clueless as to the level of insulin resistance inside of me. Clueless that by following the standard ADA recommendations I would have constant high blood sugar and high insulin levels floating in my blood stream. And also clueless that a weight of 167 was NOT healthy for me. I had lost body fat but during this weight loss journey I also lost a lot of muscle and bone density. Some of you may be wondering muscle and bone density? The short answer to this is when one is not fat-adapted you are still primarily a sugar burner. Problem is being a type 2 insulin resistant diabetic you can`t use glucose very well so your liver ends up taking amino-acids from your muscle and bone to maintain what is called glucose homeostasis.
Then in November of 2011 everything changed in my life you could say everything came crashing down. After a series of blood work -ultrasound-cat scan and finally a liver biopsy I was diagnosed with an auto-immune fatal liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. This liver disease attacks the bile ducts of the liver slowly plugging up the bile ducts where bilirubin and bile can no longer get through. This eventually causes cirrhosis of the liver leading to total liver failure. The only cure would be to get a liver transplant. I was told all this by my liver doctor and told that once diagnosed people live on average 8-10 years. Told there was no medicine nothing could be done. I suppose He was expecting me to go home sit down in my lazy boy and wait to die.
This is when I started doing research on line and one thing led to another. I started with auto- immune diseases this somehow led me to Dr. Ron Rosedale. This for me is what got everything started for me as far as educating myself on what you put in your mouth. How changing the macro-nutrient composition can change everything. I read everything I possibly could find watched every video that I could find online. Then I started researching Dr. Steve Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek. I was so intrigued by this ketogenic diet I had to learn everything I possibly could. This led me to a lot of experts on this subject and I soaked everything up like a sponge. I still continue to learn about the ketogenic diet and its many benefits.
In my former life of employment, I was a machinist-metal fabricator-welder. So the way my mind works I had to learn all the inner workings of the ketogenic diet. How exactly everything broke down step by step in the body. Most of you will not have the interest to know any of this nor would you need to. But because of my health situation it caused me to really dig deep into this subject. I studied the ketogenic diet for one full year before implementing it into my life.
I have to go for blood work every 6 months for my liver. After 6 months my liver function panel started slowly getting better. After one year even better. The doctor said I don`t know what you`re doing but whatever it is keep on doing it. After 2 years all of my blood work for my liver was totally normal. Today after almost 3 years on the ketogenic diet all of my liver function is totally normal. All of my blood work is totally normal. My doctor says he knows I still have the disease because of the results of my liver biopsy. But he also says that if he just goes by the blood work that I no longer have the disease!
Also there are a few more things that a ketogenic diet has done for me
1-After my initial weight loss of 163# I had lost a lot of muscle and bone and was not healthy. Once I was fat-adapted and using fat as my energy source I regained that lost muscle and bone density. Today I weigh 195# and have maintained this weight for over 2 years now.
2- After having been diagnosed type 2 diabetic in April of 2005 and told I would probably need insulin in the near future. Today my fasting blood sugar is 72-83 My A1C is 4.4 which is an average blood sugar of 79. My fasting insulin is 2.2. This is all with no diabetes meds only diet.
3-My cholesterol and triglycerides before ketogenic Trigs-200 HDL-29 LDL-100 My cholesterol and trigs today Trigs-38 HDL-105 LDL-64
4- My pain that I have from all my surgeries is much more manageable with a ketogenic diet. I am still drug free.
5-I still need a cane or walker to walk but I no longer need a handicap motorized cart in stores.
I am still confined pretty much to my lazy boy chair and still cannot lay in a bed to sleep. But I still ride my stationary bike every morning. I am 55 years old but I can honestly say I feel like I was 30 years old. I am full of energy and have very clear thinking. I now feel good about my life for the first time in a long time. I feel that I have many many more years ahead of me! And I truly believe that this is only possible because of the ketogenic diet!
Thank you to everyone that took the time to read!