No more spoonfuls of sugar – The story of father and son who each lost around forty pounds in weight after meeting Mary Poppins.
Author: Tony Drury
Dad (Andrew aged 62) and son (Alex aged 40) run a PC Systems maintenance business. Alex was sorting out my computer when he spotted ‘The Obesity Crisis’ on my desk. He started talking and revealed an extraordinary dietary tale. This is their journey to health and well-being.
Christmas Eve 2017
There was Alex (5.8 and around 187 pounds) and Andrew (similar statistics), family members and step-mum Vivienne. The food was consumed with relish and the drink was flowing. Suddenly, Vivienne’s brothers chided their sister for being ‘pencil thin’. The moment passed but the damage was done.
Late into the evening Andrew and Alex, perhaps shaken by events, visited the NHS website, searched ‘BMI’ and fed in Vivienne’s statistics. The reading was staggering: she was supreme: a woman with a perfect figure. She was immediately christened Mary Poppins which has stayed with her. The tension, however, was greater because Father and Son decided to feed in their own height and weight: both were hovering uncomfortably around the obese mark. Christmas Day arrived and the talk continued. They concluded that they needed to ‘eat less and lose weight’.
The MyFitnessPal App
Alex downloaded the app ‘MyFitnessPal’ and used bar code readings to check calorie content and micro-nutrients. They were consuming around 3,500 calories a day, mostly from food intake as neither drank alcohol. The App recommended they reduce to 1,800 calories daily. This was initially achieved by proactive scanning of food packaging and weighing portions of chips. There was no change to their rather sedentary lifestyles (computer wizards tend to sit at desks).
The pounds fell away and by the end of January 2018 Alex had reduced from 13.5 to 12.3, a loss of sixteen pounds purely by eating less calories: Dad was not far behind. There were few battles with
hunger pains because, as Alex says, “I am motivated by numbers.” After six months Alex had lost another fifteen pounds to weigh in at 11.2 and again Dad was keeping him company.
Time for walkies!
Now it began to go wrong. The pounds stopped falling off and the app recommended fewer calories albeit they were by now around 1,300 a day. Their solution was to take up exercising with morning and evening walks totaling three miles. The morning strides were used to discuss the business day ahead.
By October 2018 Alex weighed in at 10.3. and in December reduced to his lowest reading to achieve his target of 10.2, an overall loss of forty-five pounds. To keep to their new levels, they increased the daily walks to five miles and were absorbing around 1,400 calories daily. But there were unanswered tensions troubling them: “We can’t go on like this” was followed by “how do you come off a diet?”. Alex was concerned with comments from acquaintances that his face looked thin and was he ill? He was now 9.10. Which was when fate crashed down on their side: literally.
A rather large Bulgarian enters the scene
In addition to his growing expertise in computer maintenance Alex was developing an international reputation in the field of SIM Racing which is online motor competition. He travelled to Germany to attend a SIM Racing expowhere he reacquainted with a Bulgarian known as Steffo who had shed the pounds. He explained to Alex that counting the calories was for the birds (however a Bulgarian would say that) and began to talk about eating fats.
The Keto Diet
Alex now entered the world of Ketosis: it is defined thus –
Ketosis is a natural state the body finds itself in when it is using fat as its main fuel. This occurs when following a very low carb ketogenic diet.
The Keto diet is based on an intake of natural fats (90%) with only 10% being carbs (which equates to twenty grams net, daily). It goes against all the conventional dietary wisdom and what about cholesterol?! Alex resisted. Steffo arrived for breakfast the following morning with two Youtube videos wherein doctors and scientists argued the case for the Keto diet. Then Steffo revealed that he followed no diet plan: he just ate fats and lost weight.
Alex returned to the UK and talked to Dad. They researched ketosis exhaustively and found themselves ploughing through the medical and scientific evidence and then coming back to the basic concept: the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy so it burns fat which produces ketones which it uses for fuel.
Alex faced one overriding conundrum: “I could not shake off my belief that the NHS guidelines are genuine.” They decided to start a keto diet regime. The first three days were difficult as their bodies cleansed themselves of residual carbs.
This is an example of a daily schedule:
Fried eggs and bacon (using Olive oil), half an avocado, coffee with cream. Milk is verboten because it contains sugar and carbs. Cream is high in fats.
Two slices of low-carb bread (three grams carbs per slice). Cheese on toast (Cheddar but avoid grated cheeses because flour is used to keep the slices separate). Spread butter obtained from free-range, grass fed cows. Home-made cookie and coffee.
Lasagne (20% fat), tomatoes, mushrooms and spices with a sliced courgette layering, covered with a white Philadelphia sauce and black pepper. A side dish of fresh bean salad.
Cheese cake brownie (using Almond flour, Philadelphia cheese and Erythritol, a sugar substitute). Coffee and cream.
The Keto diet excludes vegetables grown in the ground because they contain natural sugar and carbohydrates. Andrew and Alex do all their own cooking. The above menu represents 2,500 calories but with the Keto diet there is no calorie counting. They started the diet and stopped the daily walks.
I’m a doctor: trust me
Alex was weighing in at 10.3 without a problem and there he stayed. Dad was similarly positioned. But what about their cholesterol? Alex booked to see his doctor (pre-lockdown) who arranged a blood test. Then the phone rang. Alex was called back to the surgery.
The doctor was non-plussed. Not only were his cholesterol readings normal but his blood was pure and especially the Triglyceride level. Triglycerides are the main constituents of body fat. The doctor said he was researching the Keto diet more fully with his diabetic patients in mind.
And now for some romance
Only a computer nerd invites a lovely lady out for dinner and talks about SIM Racing and the Keto diet. On their second date, Alex took Sharon sky-diving. “I wanted to push her boundaries,” he reflects. The already stunning Sharon was hooked by the dietary regime, took up Keto cooking, lost seven pounds in weight and on 1 October 2020, they moved in together.
Since lockdown a few pounds have been added. Cut down on the homemade cookies!
The thoughts of Alex
Our dietitian is a thoughtful man. Here are some of them:
“Diet is about education.”
“On the Keto diet, you never feel hungry.”
“Hunger pains are a result of chemical reactions in the body: give them thirty minutes and they will go away.”
“There are no such thing as big bones.”
“The Keto diet involves the body’s natural process of turning fats into ketones which fuel the body.”
“Avoid glucose (sugar) and carbohydrates.”
“Forget NHS advice. Their research is paid for by their suppliers and is conflicted.”
“The NHS are still in the 1950s.”
“The UK is getting bigger and bigger.”
“I have become less tolerant of people who say they can’t do it.”
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