Dr. Mike Keen’s SANE Success Story
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Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. This, friends, I am uniquely excited about this show, because this is a type of episode that I have been dreaming about having for quite some time and finally got just an awesome person to debut this type of show which I hope we’re going to have way more of in the future – that is hearing from people who are on the front lines all around the world going SANE and getting eccentric in real life, real life people and their successes, their struggles and their stories, which is so cool.
I really, again, cannot be any more happy or honored to have this virgin experience be with the great Dr. Mike Keen. Not only because his story is so compelling in terms of sanity but just his experience in decades in this world of health and wellness and then to have all the success that he’s had just makes for a fairytale-like ending. Dr. Mike Keen, welcome, brother!
Mike: Thank you, Jonathan. Happy to be with you this morning, afternoon or evening as it in the United Kingdom.
Jonathan: Excellent. Well, Mike, again, thank you for sharing your time with us, and can we just get started by you have such an amazing background story, help us get to know you as an individual.
Mike: Well, where do you want me to start, Jonathan? You want me to start from when I qualified as a doctor, or you want me start as a medical student before then?
Jonathan: Let’s start with a medical track, so as a medical student up to your current point in life.
Mike: Okay. As a medical student, I started in 1972 at St. Mary’s Hospital at Paddington in London, part of the University in London, and started doing the boring anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, which I found quite boring. I needed a little bit of excitement in my life so I got in touch with a London ambulance service and asked them if I could go out at the back of an ambulance and play doctor as a medical student, and they said, “Yeah, no problem. We’re happy to have you in an ambulance.”
In those days, there wasn’t health and safety issues, and I did that for about seven or eight years, learning about frontline emergency medicine, getting my hands dirty with the ambulance crew, and really learning a lot about emergency medicine. After that, I qualified in 1977, and after I qualified, I used to work in the diet clinics in London, especially in the prestigious Holly Street where all the private doctors work. I did that to earn a little pocket money whilst I was slaving away for 120 hours a week, working for our beloved National Health Service.
The way that diet clinics worked in London in those days was their huge incomes when made not by virtue of their clients’ success but by virtue of their clients’ failure. A paradox but true. The more failures they have, the more repeat consultations and the more repeat consultations, the more money flowed into their coffers. I quickly disengaged myself from that model and decided to go into general practice which certainly wasn’t a money-making concern. As a general practitioner, I started in 1993, and I decided that I was going to try and advise patients how to lose weight sensibly rather than using fad diets.
I thought that the way to go was to longer term rather than shorter term and really started advising them on the use of soluble fiber as a way of filling themselves up and reducing their intake of foods that weren’t doing them any good. In those days, I thought probably the sugars, especially the carbohydrate-laden foods that people were eating. Around that time, the explosion of obesity and Type 2 diabetes really started, and it became very obvious that certainly in general practice we were failing. We were failing in that the advice we were giving just wasn’t working, but nobody really knew the answer, so all sorts of different fad diets we tried, and none of them really were very effective.
I thought that soluble fiber, high protein, low carbohydrate was probably a way to go, and had some successes with patients keeping off 50 pounds for probably three, four, five years but ultimately going back to their old, bad ways of eating. Probably, because they insisted on going on a “diet,” because it didn’t seem normal to be not on a diet and going out and buying diet foods which were very low fat but which contained huge amounts of sugar. As a parallel, whilst I was counseling these unfortunate, very, very obese people, my own weight started to creep up, and I was failing to practice what I preached.
I was looking at short term weight loss without a long term goal in mind, so the long term goal I should have been looking at was eating to live rather than living to eat. I was one of those yo-yo dieters. I’d go up, and I’d go down. I’d go down for a little while, and then I’d go up again. This went on for years and years and years, and I tried all sorts of diets. Jonathan, I tried the starvation diet. I tried the very low calorie diet. I tried Atkin’s. I tried Death gland (??). I tried the Dukan diet. I tried grapefruit diets. I tried oranges. I tried skim milk, multivitamins and iron tablets.
Although they all worked in the short term, long term, I just bounced back and found it more and more difficult every time I tried to lose weight. I believe there’s some scientific basis for that. I decided in April, this April, that I was approaching 60, and I thought with a BMI of over thirty-two, thirty-three, where twenty-five conventionally or maybe lower is supposedly safer, I decided that I really ought to do something, so I started Googling around the internet, yo-yo dieting and sensible eating, and I happened upon your website, The Smarter Science of Slim. The rest is history, which I’m sure you’ll want to talk about.
Jonathan: Yes. Dr. Keen, you’re a very gifted talented orator. I’m just listening with rapt attention to this story, so please continue. So now, take us from April until today.
Mike: Okay, will do. I come from a pedigree of evidence-based science. My dad, professor Harry Keen, who died in April was the consummate evidence-based lifestyle doctor. He was a professor in metabolic medicine, and his life was a journey of double-blind, crossover placebo trials. Anything that wasn’t evidence-based, he had no track with, so I guess by osmosis, I assimilated some of what he was about and looked at your evidence and looked at your data and looked at all the research that you’ve done and decided “Well, hey, this is probably worth a go.”
I don’t have to pay huge amounts of money for rubber cranky diet foods from any specific website to get delivered to my door, steaming away, full of sugar, low fat, so I thought “Yeah, let’s go for it.” I got your book, and I started reading your book, and the first thing that struck me were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter of your first book. What warmed the cockles of my heart was two of your chapters were prefaced by quotes from my father. That rocketed you up in my estimation, because if you had done that much research and you’d found his work, then you must be one of the good guys, not one of the bad guys.
Given that foundation, I thought “Yeah, I’ll go for it.” My weight was over eighteen stone in English money. In your money, that’s 252 pounds. That is appalling. My BMI was 32, and I just didn’t feel well. By the way, from 2005 to 2010, I’d actually got ME, myalgic encephalomyalgia (??), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I spent four of those years in bed, hardly able to walk, unable to lift a plate. I was so weak. I couldn’t eat, because I felt so sick and ill with it, and I had actually lost four stone in weight. Four stone is 56 pounds in as many weeks or months.
I was pretty unwell. Most of what I lost was muscle, unfortunately. When I saw the doctor in the hospital when they were trying to make a diagnosis, I was described as ‘emaciated’, something that I never thought I would be described as. Fortunately, after five or six years of a lot of very intensive psychological input and starting some very basic rudimentary exercise, come 2011, I began to recover, and that was when my weight started to creep up, because all of a sudden, I discovered I could eat again, and so boy, did I eat.
Fast forward to April, May, so I thought “Okay, I’m going to eat more. I’m going to eat SANEly. I’m going to have an abundance of good, high-quality caloric food that I enjoy. I’m not really going to suffer.” I tried to convince myself of that and off I went. I also started reading about nuts, and I read about almonds. I read about the fact that although almonds had eight calories each that I could eat them by the handful and not put on huge amounts of weight. This I really wasn’t sure of, but I thought I’d give it a go, because I like almonds. I like nuts.
I started eating 4,000 calories extra a month, and the naysayers are not going to like this, Jonathan. They’re not going to like this at all. But I should have been putting on twenty or thirty pounds over the course of eight to ten months with that sort of increased caloric intake. I didn’t. I lost weight. I lost weight on your SANE eating plan, and I also lost weight increasing my calorie input using almonds. Almonds stopped me from craving food. They stopped me from craving carbohydrate. They satisfied my oral sensations that I needed to eat. They also stopped me hunting at night.
I was in (??) a hunter and about 9:30 or 10:00 at night, I used to go to the kitchen, open every cupboard and look for some carbohydrate. Look for something with a high sugar content, some chocolate, something with sugar. I have to admit sometimes I’d even have a spoonful or two spoonfuls of sugar to satisfy these awful cravings. You’ll be happy to hear that since April, they have totally been extinguished, and that was a habit of a lifetime which has gone, I’m very, very happy to say. As well as doing your SANE sanity stuff, I also started very gently in the gym, and I started with fifteen minutes on a static bicycle.
Basically, over the course of the last six to eight months, I’ve lost forty-eight pounds. That’s well over three stone in UK money. I’m now at the low limit of body fat for a 59-year-old, and I’m proud to say that my body muscle is at the upper limit of normal for a 59-year-old. The other interesting factor is my resting pulse which was ninety has come down to fifty-four beats a minute. That fifty-four, the lower pulse rates, an independent prognostic indicator of cardiovascular disease, so hopefully, that will stand me in good stead for the future.
The exercises I’m doing after reading your book are high-intensity interval training, whereby I’ll cycle on a static cycle at the highest resistance that I can tolerate for thirty seconds and then have a rest period while I’m cycling at a much, much lower resistance, and then I’ll probably do that again two or three times in the course of session. The sessions are much shorter than they used to be because I’m finding that I’m utilizing the same number of calories in a much shorter time so on a bicycle I’m doing about 200 calories’ worth of work in about 40-45 minutes. I’m combining that with your ideas on asymmetric muscle work building up the Type 2B myofibrils, the muscle fibers.
I’m doing much heavier weights than I used to do, but I’m doing a resistance rather than repetition exercise program whereby I’m lifting about the heaviest I can lift, and I’m just relaxing down as far as I can, and then I’m doing that again but only four or five times. I’m not worrying about repetitions. Yeah, things are working really well. I’m also beginning to spread the word in the United Kingdom, you’ll be pleased to hear, so now, you might want to ask me some questions about that. I better stop talking and let you talk, Jonathan, because you’re very good at that.
Jonathan: Thank you, Dr. Keen. Well, you’re going to give me run for my money. I literally got a little teary-eyed at certain points in your story, because I — this is why we are all here. That’s just an amazing story. Just to paraphrase, Dr. Keen, tell me if this is fair, so here we have the son of a distinguished metabolic researcher who himself – this individual we are talking to, Dr. Mike Keen, spent nearly three to four decades serving as a doctor, assisting others with metabolic problems, has been on the front lines of this industry for decades is now, and I believe this is hopefully okay to share, right on the verge of turning 60…
Mike: That’s all right. I’m proud of it.
Jonathan: You should be, because at that moment is looking and feeling better than you ever have in your adult life.
Mike: In my whole life, Jonathan. It’s very fair to say that I feel utterly energized and coincidentally since I started scientific diet slimming, my Irritable Bowel Syndrome has disappeared, and I had that since the age of nine, so I’ve had that for fifty odd years. It’s gone. Totally gone.
Jonathan: It’s just amazing, Mike, because you are such a great example of this. I’m just bringing this up, because I’ve got a lot of questions about this recently. It’s like “This all sounds great, but I don’t have the time to do it.” Well, it’s amazing, because when — you can speak to this, Dr. Keen, but when you feel as we can hear you feel, you’d be surprised how much more you can get done. It’s like you have more time.
Mike: I think my family think I’m manic, Jonathan, because I’m so different to the way I used to be, but I can’t be manic with a pulse of fifty-four, and I sleep only five or six hours, but that’s plenty for me as I get older. I can exercise until the cows come home although I don’t have to, but I could, because I’m not getting exhausted, so I feel great. I feel wonderful. Thank you for doing all this research and spending ten years of your life teasing all this information out.
Jonathan: Well, my pleasure. Listeners, it’s so amazing the world we live in, right, because we’re here talking with the wonderful Dr. Mike Keen who’s out of the UK, I’m here in Seattle, Washington, and here I’m looking at the text from the original Smarter Science of Slim, and of course, this text also exists in The Calorie Myth, which will be out by the time this podcast airs, and I’m seeing quotes and research from our lovely guest’s father. How cool is that? We’re all connected. That’s just…
Mike: Jonathan, it’s six degrees of separation, man. Let me tell you another thing is that I use Facebook quite a lot, and I used Facebook when I was recovering from my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I develop a group of friends again whereas I’ve been socially phobic after having been a physician for thirty-five years. I found that I couldn’t talk to anybody. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, and this isn’t an advert for Facebook, but Facebook actually changed my life in as much as I developed a circle of friends again. These friends are now coming to me asking about the way I’m losing weight, because I’ve been posting on Facebook as I’ve been doing it.
I’ve actually started seeing them, and I’ve already seen three old friends, most of whom are policemen who I used to work with, senior police officers. They’re now on the road to SANE eating, and the weight loss is incredible. It’s safe. They’re feeling wonderful. Their waist sizes are going down. Their chest sizes are going down. They’re also feeling energized. They’re telling their friends, and their friends are starting to ask me about it, so yeah, we’re getting there, mate.
Jonathan: Well, Mike, I hope this is okay, but I can imagine you’re going to get a lot more friend requests on Facebook after folks hear this, and if that’s okay, I would love to share with folks a little bit of information on how — certainly you have a family and your own obligations but just so they can follow your journey and be inspired by you, like I’m inspired by you. Is there a place where people could stay in touch or track your progress?
Mike: Just Mike Keen. M-I-K-E K-E-E-N, that’s me.
Jonathan: On Facebook.
Mike: On Facebook.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, again, Mike, this is just amazing, folks. You can read more about Mike’s success story on both the SmarterScienceofSlim.com as well as TheCalorieMythBook.com. He’s kind enough to send us some before and after photos as well as to write up a quick summary of what you just heard today, so please do check that out. Dr. Mike Keen, again, this is an absolute pleasure, and it’s got to feel good to not only feel this good but to know that you living this way in a way gives people the permission and the inspiration to feel and look better as well.
Mike: Well, let’s hope that it gives them hope.
Mike: Because if I can change another one person’s life, then it’s worth it for me. Being a doctor’s in my DNA, Jonathan. It’s something that’s never going to go, and it’s something I love to do, and it’s something that I hope I’ll carry on doing, albeit in a non-practicing way, but hey, I can still advise people.
Jonathan: Brilliant. Well, Dr. Keen, again, thank you so much for sharing your time with us today. It’s been an absolute inspiration and pleasure.
Mike: My pleasure, Jonathan. It’s been a pleasure to meet you finally after all this time.
Jonathan: Well, thank you, Mike. Listeners, again, our wonderful guest today is the brilliant Dr. Mike Keen who you can learn more about at his Facebook page, and he is on the front lines just going SANE, getting eccentric and being the change we want to see in the world, so thanks to him. Check him out, and remember, friends, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.