From 352 to 164 pounds: success story from low-carb conference

November 28, 2018 | Katherine Adams

Like millions of Americans, 59-year-old design engineer Jim Caldwell struggled with his weight. Although he’d tried to make changes, nothing worked for long. Inspired in part by some YouTube videos by Webster-based cardiologist Nadir Ali, Caldwell learned how a low-carb, high-fat diet could improve his health and was able to complete a successful weight-loss journey. He flew from his home in Chicago to attend University of Houston-Clear Lake’s recent Low Carb Houston Conference, held Oct. 25-27, to learn more about nutrition and to share his weight-loss success with others.

“I attended a similar conference in Breckenridge, Colo., last year and told my weight loss story to the audience. Dr. Ali heard my talk,” Caldwell said. “I followed him on Twitter and he reached out to me. He told me that I should come to the conference in Houston and share my story. I’ve turned out to be a big fan of Dr. Ali.”

The Low Carb Houston conference, presented by UH-Clear Lake’s Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute, addressed the influence of poor nutrition on chronic disease while focusing on research evidence and clinical experience supporting the success of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat lifestyle to improve health. Over 20 health, medical and nutrition professionals from all over the world spoke to more than 220 attendees.

Caldwell said that in August 2016, he weighed 352 pounds and simply wasn’t taking care of himself. “I had poor eating habits and I lived in denial,” he said. “I ate all the high-carb, sugary foods and I couldn’t stop. I’d make a concerted effort to get in control, but I just didn’t have the tools. I wasn’t successful, so I would abandon my effort and go back into denial. Nothing I tried worked.”

He decided he couldn’t live with his weight any longer, so he went on a fast. “I thought, I’ll try not to eat for one day,” he said. “I ended up having nothing but water and black coffee for two weeks. My mind cleared and I was losing weight. The long fast might not be something that everyone can do, but for my body, it was like a purge and a reset. It set me up for success.”

Caldwell added that the book, “The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss,” by Jason Fung, was a key to his success. “It changed everything and it made so much sense to me,” he said. “I learned that intermittent fasting should be a regular part of my life. It was the missing ingredient: eat less often and have a narrower time span of eating during the day.”

When he got off his fast, Caldwell said he decided to eat one big meal a day and stick to “real” food. “Nothing from a box or a can, just fresh food,” he said. “It was like flipping a switch. I lost weight steadily.”

He said that he’d lost 90 percent of the weight in 13 months. “I wasn’t following any plan, just eating once a day and no junk,” he said. “It was just a common sense plan. After that long fast, eating once a day was no problem.”

He added walking and running to his health regimen, and it helped build his fitness level. “Now I weigh 164 pounds,” he said. “I lost over half my body weight since I’ve been eating this way.”

He attended the conference, he said, to share his weight-loss success story and to learn more about nutrition and health. “I have a great interest in the science behind the nutrition,” he said. “It motivated me to find out why it was so easy to lose. Why isn’t this conventional wisdom? The stuff about ‘eat less, exercise more’ doesn’t work.”

He learned about insulin resistance and its role as the root of nearly all chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, joint pain and Alzheimer’s. “Science proves that, and those facts are not well known,” he said. “The solution to so many of these chronic diseases is to eat fewer carbs and sugars, not take more pills. If people ate this way, they wouldn’t require all the pills. Insulin resistance drives all these problems.”

For more information about UH-Clear Lake’s Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute, visit www.uhcl.edu/exercise-nutritional-health-institute/about.