Just a few weeks later, at her first checkup in ages, Traci Howard weighed 315.4 pounds, her blood pressure sky-high. “The skin tags on your neck are a red flag that you have blood-sugar issues,” Dr. Mark said. “We’ll run tests, but for now, let’s change how you eat.” He went over the basics of a “keto” diet, explaining it lowers dangerous and fattening high blood sugar. Ignoring her doubts, Traci promised, “I’ll commit 100 percent.”
So Traci went home and hit the internet. She learned that her genes and starch-heavy diet had likely left her with cells so damaged, they could barely get energy from carbs. Most of what she ate became fat. “No wonder I’m so heavy,” she thought. A keto diet would train her body to fuel itself with fat instead of sugar. “It can’t hurt to try,” she thought.
To support her mom on the first day of her new diet, Traci’s daughter Lauren made a cheesy keto chicken casserole. “Delicious,” raved Traci, who by then had been put on medications for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lauren also made “fat bombs,” high-fat, low-carb candy that kills hunger for hours. Traci sailed through day one. The next day, she had eggs and avocado for breakfast and headed to work. Lunch was a cheeseburger with no bun.
Feeling a little run-down, she did a Google search and found her body might need extra electrolytes; she got them from salted nuts and bone broth, which lifted her energy nicely. After nine days, she stepped on the scale. She was down 15 pounds!
In eight weeks, Traci was taken off meds, her diabetes already gone. And after decades obsessed with food, she now rarely thought about it. When it came time to take a long-planned cruise, she ate her fill of prime rib and buttery lobster at the ship’s restaurants. “Did I backslide?” she wondered. Not at all. She actually shed 11 more pounds! It’s amazing how easy this is now that I’ve figured out what my body needs, she marveled to herself.
Around the same time, a new concern came to her: “I could finally get to a healthy weight, but since I’m past menopause, will I have loose skin?” Again, she turned to the internet. Everyone seemed to say that a protein called collagen was key to prevent sagging.
She began taking a supplement and making sure she got lots of collagen-rich foods like poultry and meat. “I could see my skin getting better right away, and my hair got better too,” she recalls.
“Eventually I stopped the supplements and just got collagen from my diet. I wasn’t eating keto breads, bars or junk. I was eating steak, shrimp, and natural protein.” As she refined her plan, the pounds disappeared faster than ever — 29 pounds in 24 days, deep into her journey. She shed 75, 100, 150 pounds. Today, Traci, 55, is a whopping 191 pounds lighter.
“Everyone says there’s no hope after menopause, but keto can literally turn back the hands of time. My friend who’s 66 lost 17 pounds in three weeks,” Traci shares. “As for me, my blood sugar has dropped from 580 to 82. I haven’t been sick once since starting keto two years ago. I don’t even get headaches. With all the collagen I get, I don’t need surgery on my skin. I’m healthier than I was at 18!”
Go keto, and your body will forgive everything you’ve done to it over the years, she says, adding: “Age doesn’t matter at all!”
Traci’s Collagen-Boosted Plan
To get slim like Traci, use a keto diet (about 70 percent of calories from fat, 25 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs; free apps like CarbManager.com make tracking easy). To amp up collagen levels, experts suggest incorporating bone broth, chicken and an optional 10 to 15-gram supplement daily. To further rev your collagen production, get plenty of vitamin C (from lemon, peppers and tomato), plus copper and zinc (from beef, nuts and seeds). Always get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Breakfast — Crack eggs into pitted avocado halves; bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit to desired doneness, about 20 minutes. Enjoy with nitrate-free bacon and sliced tomato.
Lunch — Simmer cooked chicken, zucchini noodles, assorted low-carb veggies, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs/spices to taste in chicken bone broth.
Dinner — Grill steak and enjoy with herbed butter and low-starch vegetables (such as peppers and asparagus) roasted with olive oil.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.