“I don’t have time to be sick,” whispered Denise King, newly discharged from the ER. She’d had a scary heart arrhythmia — doctors said reducing stress would fix the problem, but how much could she slow down? Denise was in Memphis to care for her ailing mom, Veola, 81, and was running a busy consulting business from Veola’s dining table. You can at least relax a little, Denise told herself.
She checked her sleeping mom, then collapsed in front of the TV with a huge bag of M&M’s. Settling in, she suddenly realized the bag was empty. Ugh. I must’ve spilled some, she thought, feeling around the recliner cushion. Nothing. She strained her 299-pound body to the floor, looking under the chair. Nothing. She furrowed her brow. Denise, still on her hands and knees, heard a voice in her head say: You ate all that candy in 60 seconds. You’re out of control, and it has to end. She froze, fairly sure it was the voice of God.
Denise spent the next 11 hours on her laptop, taking in huge amounts of information from websites, studies, doctors’ YouTube posts. For decades, her shape-up efforts had been haphazard. No she was focused. And all signs pointed to the keto diet. Whoa, she thought, reading that keto’s impact on blood sugar could eliminate her intense cravings, shrink her giant appetite and speed fat burning. Curious, Denise began looking up her specif ic issues. It looks like a healthy version of keto will give my body nutrients and micronutrients to help my heart, she realized. Next, she saw keto eases joint pain. Then she read that the strategy might get her off blood-pressure meds she’d taken for 16 years. “That’s it!” she yelled.
“What is?” called Veola from the other room. Denise went to explain to her mom why she was going keto. And later that day, she peered into the fridge to see what keto fixings were on hand…
A 72-hour Turnaround
Denise made her first keto meals with chicken, salad, steak, green beans, olive oil and more. She entered it all in a free tracking app and managed to hit her new daily goals: about 70 percent of her calories from fat — a nutrient with no impact on blood sugar — plus 20 percent from protein and 5 percent from carbs. She left 5 percent wiggle room for unlimited veggies, since they were key to better blood pressure. I want to get seven to 10 servings a day, she reminded herself, adding veggies galore to her grocery list.
Denise kept at it. For about 72 hours, she was tired, hungry, pushing through. Then everything changed. On day four, she sprang out of bed and was supercharged all day. The internet said her body had begun to burn mostly fat for fuel. “It feels amazing!” she said to Veola. There was one hitch: Denise’s appetite was suddenly so low, she couldn’t finish her meals. How would she get enough veggies? Remembering a keto doctor who made smoothies, she created her own version with spinach, berries, and almond milk. The drink was… delicious! And an easy way to get three servings of veggies. Sipping smoothies or green juice most days, her always-achy ankles stopped hurting. After a month, she was down 17 pounds.
“Mom, I’m onto something,” Denise said. “Based on my research, if you try keto too, we can reverse your congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, acid reflux and high cholesterol. What do you think?”
Veola replied, “Baby, I want to live!”
It Works At Every Age
“Denise gave me smoothies, more veggies, and less carbs, but I didn’t notice too much difference,” recalls Veola. At that point, she got winded walking 100 steps from her bed to the kitchen. After 10 days on keto? “I came in, and she was vacuuming!” shares Denise. “Her energy went way up.”
Adds Veola: “My doctors said, ‘Keep up whatever you’re doing.’ They took me off 17 medications. Oh, it was great!” In a year, Veola shed 67 pounds and lost extreme bloat that made her look pregnant. Her heart improved. Reflux is gone. Her liver, cholesterol and blood pressure are normal. As for Denise, she’s off her blood-pressure meds too — and down 164 pounds! She now coaches other keto dieters. “My mom and I can’t get over how great we feel,” says Denise, 57. “This diet saved our lives!”
The Keto Diet Gets Boosted
To keto like Denise and Veola, eat between about noon and 8 pm each day, a timing trick proven to boost results. At each sitting, enjoy nice servings of protein, good fat and nonstarchy veggies. Aim for seven to 10 servings of veggies a day. Carbs in veggies don’t count; limit other carbs to 20 to 30 grams daily. A free app like CarbManager.com makes tracking easy. We’ve got meal ideas to inspire you. Find more recipes at DrBerg.com.
TURBO GREEN DRINK: Blitz 3 cups frozen greens, 1 cup nut milk, 1⁄4 cup berries, 1⁄4 cup keto protein powder, 1 Tbs. MCT oil, stevia to taste.
VEGGIE OMELET: 3-egg omelet with cheese and veggies (such as peppers and onions) prepared in butter. Optional side of bacon.
SALMON + MASH: Salmon and asparagus roasted with olive oil over cauliflower mashed with butter and heavy cream.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.