How a High Fat Ketogenic Diet Saved My Life by Jeff Cyr


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!



82 thoughts on “How a High Fat Ketogenic Diet Saved My Life by Jeff Cyr

  1. What an amazing story! And how sad that most doctors are completely clueless when it comes to diseases like that. Auto-immune diseases are a complete mystery for conventional medicine. Every time I read about one, under causes you always find “causes are unknown but an infection is suspected”, and under treatment always “there is no treatment as of right now”, and yet, time and time again I find stories from real people who have cured themselves or at least significantly improved their health through LCHF or ketogenic diet.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Jeff, How are you doing these days? I need to treat myself for Primary biliary cholangitis. They are finalizing the diagnosis, but I have most of the symptoms and AMA and ALP markers, so I’m not really holding my breathe on a nondiagnosis. I am only 55, and have been Keto for the last 5 years or so trying to ‘cure’ whatever was wrong with me that they couldn’t diagnose. It has greatly helped, but the last year I’ve done more paleo to gain weight because keto really takes the pounds off. However, I seem to be more symptomatic off keto. I was wondering if you could contact me and tell me all the things you add to your regiment besides Keto. I would really appreciate it. Heidi.


  2. Incredible story. Jeff, the mental toughness that you mustered to push through your dificulties and come out on the other side really is inspiring.

    Thanks for this post, Esmee and Jeff.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great story Jeff, l have known you for a long a I knew the health issues you were having. Glad you did a 360 and you are doing better. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dr. Ede for your kind words. Dr. Rosedale is the one that got everything started for me. The first article I read from his site was Insulin and its metabolic effects. After that I was hooked!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an inspiring story. Good for Jeff for using his analytical skills to save his life. His story illustrates for me, more and more, that medicine and pharma are seemingly in cahoots to keep the money pouring in. Whether by design or by accident, who knows. Thanks to Jeff for sharing and for Esmee for posting. May his story (and others that Esmee includes on her website) induce others to question conventional dietary/medical/medicinal/nutritional “wisdom.” The Standard American Diet truly is sad. Continued good health to Jeff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff,
    This is Scott Briggs.As you know I’ve been over-weight all my life and now I’m a Diabetic, I take 2 Metformin daily @1000MG each. I knew that diet would help guild me in the right direction buit really, I had no idea it was so important. I just read your story and I am very Inspired with the results you got…I also know that your analytical skills for this medical stuiff is beyond what I can do. I will study the problem but I would like to talk with you…If possible, get me on FB to starty and I can give you my #….I hope that ‘s OK…
    Again…Thank You
    Scott Briggs


  6. this is so inspirational. congratulatios on such an impressive weight loss and regaining-of-health journey. i am just starting the ketogenic diet this week, and already feel more clear-headed and have dropped several pounds of water weight. what types of low-carb foods do you consume besides lean meat? thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story, veryvery encouraging! Esmee, my daughter, has been dealing with my weight issues for many years and I thank her for her patience and encouragement with me and now with 1000’s of other folks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Jeff, I never tire of reading your posts. This one is especially awe-inspiring! Not many people could overcome the adversities you have had to. Very impressive! I am so thankful that you are alive and have taken back your health and that you are committed to helping others achieve lasting health. Kudos to you Jeff!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. love reading your story….the only pity is that,usually, only people who are really interested in cutting carbs, will read to the end! It is like preaching to the converted!!


  12. Amazing. I was on the ketogenic diet about 12 years ago but gradually slipped off it. I need to get back onto it. Reading stories like yours helps build up my motivation to get back there.


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  14. Hello Jeff. what a wonderfull insight into food ihave been given today by a lady whom i met.
    She like you has many health issues but is now managing them without medication of which she could not manage life without before. Selina has been following the keytogenic diet much like yourself, and attributes her now well being to it.
    It has inspired me also as i have already had back surgery, suffer daily with pain and am at the moment on more medication than i wish to be or ever want to be in the future.
    So thanks for sharing your life experince it may just be what i need to help me turn things around for myself.


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  16. hi Jeff, great work, reading your piece has really given me hope, i suffer with the same liver problem, and have been working on my diet,on and off for the last 2 years but slowly becoming more disciplined. Iv had the same uninspirational talk from my liver doctor about potentially needing a transplant or worse in the not to distant future.

    May i ask 2 questions?

    Are you familiar with the Dr Berkson (ala/selenium/milk thistle) protocol? that iv read many people with same/similar problems take. And would you mind sharing your liver alt/ast/asp blood test results at their worst? Was you able to get them completely back in the normal range.



  17. I’ve managed to go from 520lbs to 360lbs in 2 years utilizing the keto diet. I really let things get out of hand and I know a lot of people out there feel the same way. I usually take in less than 35G of carbs per day now but I’ve become stagnant in my weight loss lately so I’m going to have to drop the carbs further and increase the cardio exercise now. I’ve added weight lifting to the regiment in the last 2 months which may also be affecting the scale results as well because I am putting muscle on quickly with the high protein\high fat diet. For anyone morbidly obese this is really the only realistic lifestyle change that will allow you to lose weight and keep it off. The only other option at this point is the invasive surgeries. The keto diet has a triple positive affect. You are avoiding carbohydrates which will add fat to your body if you are not highly active. Your appetite is suppressed. Try eating 4 eggs for breakfast and 4 sausage links for a week. You won’t be hungry until the early afternoon especially if you drink a good amount of water throughout the day. Lastly, a high protein diet can help you build muscle more quickly if you lift. The more muscle you have on your body, the more energy (calories) you burn throughout each day.


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  19. Dear Jeff,
    I too suffer from PSC and I am wondering if Keto would reverse it or at least help? My ALP is over 600 and i have some fatigue. Any help or guidance? Thank you


        • Normal range for blood ALP is 20-140 units per liter. In your situation of PSC, your bile ducts of the liver must have some restriction of flow, this is one of the reasons that your ALP is so elevated, over 600. Your bilirubin has to be very high also.

          A damaged liver can heal itself, as long as it does not have too much permanent scarring, fibrous of the liver cells.

Here would be my recommendations today for one that is trying to cure any liver disease.

1- You have to eat adequate protein from meat/fish/eggs…I also use whey protein powder..

2- If you like vegetables, and can tolerate them. I would eat some low carb fibrous veggies.

          3- Do not eat or drink any refined fast acting carbohydrate.

          4- I would use 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily. Coconut oil contains specific saturated fatty acids that are cable of healing liver injury.

          5- I would use milk thistle.


        • The liver is an organ that has the ability to regenerate, and rebuild itself. It takes 500-550 days for damaged liver cells to completely repair themselves. If an alcoholic has a fatty liver from excess alcohol consumption, if he does not have too much damage, he can stop drinking and rebuild the damaged liver cells. If he has cirrhosis of the liver, too much fibrous of the liver, too much permanent totally dead liver cells, he will not be able to rebuild these fibrous scarred cells. PSC would be the same thing. It depends how much permanent totally dead liver cells one has. I was very lucky. My liver disease was caught in the early stages.


          • Hi Jeff,
            Thank you for the detailed reply! how is your PSC/Liver as of today? I am too in the early stages, it was picked up by biopsy, slight inflammation and minor scarring. I guess i am just hoping The Keto diet can help slow progression as i have read so many people’s accounts of the diet helping with their autoimmunes illness, many thanks!


          • I was picked up by elevated liver enzymes, Ultrasound of the liver, CT of the liver, biopsy of the liver, MRI of the bile ducts of the liver.

            All of my liver enzymes are perfectly normal, I go for blood work every 6-12 months. I am very fortunate because my Latest MRI of the liver bile ducts shows normal. It appears that I have put this auto-immune liver disease in remission.


          • That is fantastic news. so all in all the keto diet has been a life saver for you? I need to try it at least for myself to see if it helps


  20. Hi again Jeff,

    I am feeling better on this way of eating now, meat, eggs, fibrous veg, more energy and overall well being. 2 questions, how do you feel about intermittent fasting? and do you ever indulge in ‘bad’ foods that contain carbs, even on special occasions?
    many thanks


    • Hi there- I think that intermittent fasting plays a huge role in our health. I primarily eat one meal per day. I personally do not indulge in “bad carbs”. I have not eaten any form of refined carbohydrate since November of 2012.


  21. I am so happy for you. Thank you for sharing! You may have saved my 11 year old nieces life!
    May I share this on my facebook page?


  22. I know I’m late to the party but just wanted to say bravo! I’m looking forward to a keto blessed life now myself. The weight is melting off and I’m feeling good. Now to quit smoking at age 59.


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