My keto transformation

One of the reasons I started living the ketogenic lifestyle, was because I was tired and ashamed of the textbook picture of medication-induced gynecomastia that my chest had morphed into since being diagnosed with heart disease. Believing the changing shape of my chest to be hormonally caused, I spent a lot of time reading about hormones, and found the science and data on the effects of hormonal imbalances and how they can affect the progression of heart disease, disturbing. Even more disturbing, was seeing/witnessing this progression in real time using my own physiology. Being a pretty heavy guy before my heart failure diagnosis, (6’2” 240#), I carried a solid/strong, upright chest with only a moderate amount of flab on it. However, in the years following that heart failure diagnosis, the ratio of muscle to flab drastically upended, most of the muscle being replaced with toxic visceral/subcutaneous adipose tissue. Some of the heart medication I had been taking actually listed fatty breast tissue in the handouts as a possible side effect. I believe those medications, along with physical inactivity brought about by a failing heart had set the up the perfect hormonal storm. I needed to stop it… Or at least slow it down.

Fatty/flabby male breast tissue and fatty abdominal tissue is a sure sign of metabolic/hormonal problems and is not just a sign of normal aging like so many men my age want to believe. For someone like myself who has been diagnosed with heart failure, shedding any fat is one of the biggest things within our personal power to do, that will result in better chances of a long and healthy life…

Interestingly, 5 years of rigorously following a plant-based diet did not produce favorable results in this area despite all the anecdotal data I had read saying otherwise. I did, in fact, lose a ton of weight after switching to a plant-based diet. In fact. I lost over 100 pounds, going from 280 pounds at my heaviest, (this was what I maxed out at while being conventionally treated for heart disease with 13 medications by the doctor), all the way down to 169 pounds. But guess what…? That abdominal fat didn’t budge an inch, so at the end of that weight loss journey, I ended up a 169 pound “skinny fat” weakling that still had the breasts of a girl. I worked out with a personal trainer for the better part of a year at one point, working in the gym really hard, but fought for every small gain made. I did get stronger, but nowhere near my pre-heart attack strength levels and the toxic fat remained.

During that 5-year plant-based diet experiment I also got very busy getting some cardio in. According to mainstream dogma at the time, if I ran far enough, I would lose that toxic abdominal/breast fat no matter my diet. So, I got busy and made running my life.  At first, I couldn’t even get through a mile without stopping to rest, but I was determined to stick with it, and in a matter of a few years I had worked my way up to running 26.2 miles, even stepping up to the 50K distance on rugged/steep trails a few times. I ran every chance I had and even went as far as hiring a running coach and nutritionist to see my goals through, but despite running well over 1000 miles a year throughout a five year period along with eating only so-called healthy plant food choices, the fat not only remained, it was getting worst.

Thankfully for me, throughout that time following a plant-based diet, I never stopped researching/reading about other heart-healthy lifestyles, and the keto science that was slowly emerging onto the scene had my attention, but it wasn’t until I had been following an organic whole foods plant-based diet for the better part of 5 years, before I decided enough was enough and followed suit to see if keto would work for me. So after 5 years of following a plant-based diet, I took the keto plunge… From a low-fat high carb diet, to a high-fat low carb diet, I got busy changing my life again…

1.5 years have passed since making my keto transition. The results speak for themselves and are nothing short of astonishing, surpassing anything I previously would have even thought remotely possible for this well used 52-year-old body and the results just keep coming. At the start of keto, I weighed 210 pounds, and wore a 34-inch waist pant snuggly. One look at my chest at that point and gynecomastia would have come to mind. My chest contained breasts that were saggy/pointy and frankly probably should have been in a bra at that point. My overall body composition despite all the running and plant food, was slowly becoming that of a marshmallow. Within a few months of switching to a keto diet all that started to change… Slowly at first, but accelerating as I went along, to the point of where I am today, and the results keep rolling in.

Today I need a belt to keep my size 32-inch pants from revealing any “plumbers crack” despite the fact my weight has increased to 215. The amount of physical strength I have gained this past year is incredible and nowhere is this more evident than my work in construction, or in the gym. At this point, my strength is at its highest level in this lifetime. Those once embarrassing saggy/flabby breasts no longer resemble that of a woman, and the dangerous/toxic fat around my midsection has regressed to the level it was in my 20’s, as it continues melting away leaving a hard lean body composition in its place.

While my body has been changing to a much harder composition, my mind has gone from a semi-depressed state living in a perpetual fog, to one that’s highly focused with the brightest of clarity.  Positive emotions sometimes bordering on euphoric is now my brain’s default, completely replacing the anxiety and depression that once completely consumed me.  A plant-based diet did not have this effect on my mental health. In no time during my life have I experienced mental sharpness/clarity/focus like what I am experiencing today on keto. At this point, depression and anxiety are just bad memories. Keto is better then any of the anti-depressants I was once prescribed.

So many good things have happened since I took the keto plunge. I will be writing about more realized benefits soon, so stay tuned, but before signing off, let me leave you with one more keto benefit I am enjoying… NO HUNGER… That’s right… No longer hungry/hangry if I miss a meal. Going all day without eating is now very easy… No crash or bad cravings required. Just steady focus and energy that remains constant throughout a busy day. The benefits of intermittent fasting are numerous and discussed in-depth throughout the scientific literature.  Intermittent fasting feels easy and natural when in ketosis. Who wouldn’t like to eat less and workout less, while gaining a harder, more muscular body composition without being hungry/hangry or tired…? Keto makes it easy…

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3 thoughts on “My keto transformation

  1. Would you give me a sample of what you eat in a day on a ketogenic diet? Do you try to stick with fatty fish vs. Rib eye steak and bacon, pure olive oil vs. Butter, do you get all your carbs from veggies vs. A occasional of Ezekiel bread as long as it fits with your macros? How do you track your macros? My sister and I learned we have a genetically very high LPa. Mine 484 nmols with a CAC score of 42
    My sister’s LPa was 374 with a CAC score of 490. She just had 6 stents put in for 90-99% blockages in her RCA LAD and Circumflex arteries. We were both put on Statins 3 months ago, but recently stopped out of fear. Her liver enzymes were high
    Mine were right in the middle of the range
    My sister began a virtually fat free WFPB diet after her diagnosis. Neither of us had heart symptoms or events. Trying to navigate these murky waters. Your story is impressive
    Appreciate any guidance you can provide
    Thanks.
    Carolyn Zanoni

    1. I mix it up and pretty much eat everything you mentioned above, except bread/grains. I do not count macros or calories at this point, However, getting started I did count, and I used “my fitness pal”, an app available for free that you can google up, to track macros. After doing this for a while, I no longer find need to track macros. I do occasionally check my ketone level, and so far, have had zero issues remaining in ketosis even though I count nothing. Good luck to you and your sister. You are doing the right thing. Keep asking questions, keep educating yourselves. Believe no one, but instead, research what they are saying enough to decide for yourself. It seems a little overwhelming navigating through it at first but keep at it and it gets easier. Highly recommend you pick up some books on statins if your having trouble deciding what to do in that regard… “Lipitor the theif of memory” is a great book on the subject, as is the “Great Cholesterol Con”… The first book, was written by a NASA flight surgeon.

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