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Remembering Kevin Moore

375-Pound South African Uses Low-Carb Diet To Drop 170 Pounds


Deon van der Merwe is a changed man today because of low-carb living

Although you may not hear about very many low-carb weight loss success stories in the media, I’m here to tell you they are happening in the lives of real people every single day all across the globe. Livin’ la vida low-carb has become such a permanent way of life for so many people who finally realize the low-fat lie (it’s a lie because proponents of it claim it is the ONLY way to lose weight and be healthy–HOGWASH!) just wasn’t gonna cut it for them anymore. There had to be something better and more effective that would not just produce weight loss but also a dramatic positive turnaround in health. And they’ve found it in low-carb living.

I’m honored to know quite a few people who have lost extraordinary amounts of weight just like I did following a carbohydrate-restricted lifestyle change, like Kelly Keener, Christine Young, Karen Kimball, Jo Heeley, Kent Altena, Colleen Awalt, Darlene Smith, Shayne Sherbert, Jimmy Dorsett, Mary Smith, Manuel Uribe, Jennette Fulda, Valerie Liberty, and Dr. Kalvin Chinyere who have all experienced HUGE weight loss results thanks to the healthy low-carb way of life. And today I’m honored to share yet another name to add to that ever-growing list and he hails all the way from South Africa. His name is Deon van der Merwe.

Deon began his low-carb journey in December 2007 weighing in at a whopping 375 pounds on his 6’1″ body frame. His body mass index (BMI) at the time was 48.91% which labeled him “morbidly obese.” Realizing he wasn’t getting any younger and the way he was living was as he puts it “literally killing me,” it was time to take action–FAST!

In addition to his weight, Deon was experiencing a myriad of health complications as well, such as heart palpitations, headaches, back pain, sleeplessness, breathlessness, sinusitus, hypertension, and severely out of shape. Looking back on all these health problems, Deon knew he needed to “make a drastic change soon [or] I would not have many more years to live.” But how would he go about losing weight and getting healthy when he’d already tried all the diets before? That’s the golden question we all grapple with before finding low-carb.

For Deon, it was appetite suppressants, fat blockers, carb blockers, low-fat shakes, fat-free diet bars, and so many other weight loss gimmicks that never worked that kept him plagued by his morbid obesity while breaking the bank. He went on the painfully slow and ineffective low-fat diets on the advice of several dietitians, but the minimal portion sizes and disgusting food made it absolutely impossible for him to stay on them for any enduring length of time (boy, can I relate having gone through my own low-fat diet woes in 1999).

He also has been a voracious reader of various diets like the “low glycemic index” ones, but did not experience any improvements in his weight or health. But in 2005, Deon first heard about the Atkins diet and decided to pick up a copy of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. But like most of us who were first learning about livin’ la vida low-carb, the concepts in that book were very difficult to wrap his head around.

“I was very skeptical to start off with because like most people I had been led to believe that fat was bad for you and you should eat less of it and carbs were good for you and would help you to lose weight,” Deon admitted.

When he started on Atkins, Deon weighed just over 300 pounds and he lost a large chunk of weight very quickly–55 pounds in the first five months. Unfortunately, he fell into the trap of thinking that once the weight came off he could go back to his old eating habits. But, as I’ve stated MANY times before, there is no “after” with low-carb living. It’s something you do happily for the rest of your long and healthy life. Deon succumbed to the negative naysayers who made him doubt whether his diet was healthy or not by sharing their well-meaning, but misinformed opinions about it.

“Unfortunately I believed everything they said without question,” he recalled. “I now know that everything they said about the Atkins diet was in fact not true and most of the latest studies have proven that [Dr.] Atkins was in fact correct.”

By the time he decided to give it another go with livin’ la vida low-carb in December 2007, Deon had ballooned all the way up to 375 pounds and decided to tweak it a bit to fit his personal taste. In fact, this time around he invited the rest of his family to join him in his efforts. In fact, they made it into a competition of sorts to see who could lose the highest percentage of body weight over a 7-month period and the winner would receive a prize of $500. That’s some incentive and can be quite the motivator to be successful (I was a contestant on an afternoon talk radio show in 2004 and ended up winning that contest thanks to the Atkins diet).

At the end of the seven months, Deon had racked up an impressive weight loss–170 pounds or 45.45% of his starting weight. WOW! Needless to say, he obliterated his competition who all did well losing weight, too. Between the five of them, they lost in excess of 400 pounds in just seven months and that’s something they can all be proud of. The reality of losing such a lifechanging amount of weight is hard for Deon to comprehend sometimes.

“It is difficult to explain just how much this has changed my life and that of my family,” he stated. “I have never been as healthy or fit as I am right now. I walk between 7 and 10 kilometers (4-6 miles) every morning. I have none of the health problems I had before.”

These days he’s sticking with his low-carb lifestyle and has adjusted to the proper portion sizes for his new body. Looking amazing and feeling fabulous at 198 pounds nowadays, Deon was eager to share the good news of his dramatic transformation with the world. So he recently set up a low-carb web site called Low-Carb S.A. (South Africa) to inspire the people of his country to get educated about how low-carb could change their life, too. When you lose as much weight as Deon has, you can’t keep this secret to yourself. You really do want to share it with everyone you can (maybe he can reach out to this frustrated obese man from his native country to offer him hope and motivation to do it, too)!

Deon believes the people of South Africa would LOVE the low-carb lifestyle if they’d try it.

“Hopefully more people will be able to experience the benefits of a low-carb diet as I and my family have done,” he shared. “I believe this is the perfect diet for South Africans because we love our meat. The latest research has proven that a low-carb diet is not only safer than a high-carb diet but is also almost twice as effective.”

He is referring to that New England Journal of Medicine study out of Israel last summer that compared the Atkins diet with the Mediterranean and Ornish low-fat diets. Atkins low-carb outperformed all the others not just in weight loss, but in health improvements, too. The tide is truly turning in the direction of low-carb as more and more research supports the results we are seeing in people like Deon van der Merwe. And it’s certainly difficult to argue with his success.

After all that weight loss he experienced, Deon proudly wears a medium shirt size–a far cry from the 5XL shirts he used to wear! And his pants size dropped from a tight-fitting 48 down to a 34 that requires a belt to hold them up now. He even lost a full shoe size in his feet from the weight loss, too! But the greatest part of this story is Deon got his life back. He no longer has to worry about whether tomorrow he takes his final breath because of his obesity. Never again will he have to concern himself with feeling trapped inside the body of a fat man because he has overcome. And if he could do it and I could do it, then there’s no reason why YOU couldn’t do it, too! Let Deon’s story inspire you to start livin’ la vida low-carb TODAY!

Bookmark Deon’s fantastic low-carb web site, check out his sample diet menus, and even ask him a question. I’m sure he’d LOVE to hear from you and would welcome your congratulatory e-mails by writing to him at deon@lowcarbsa.co.za. And if you live in South Africa, then take Deon’s Great Diet Challenge for a chance to win 1 million RAND, or about $100,000! Whoa, if that doesn’t get you excited about the low-carb lifestyle, then I don’t know what would.

  • Jimmy, thanks so much for writing about Deon. His story is truly inspirational (as is yours) and just another awesome testament to “livin la vida low carb”.

  • I am originally from South Africa too, as is my darling husband. We emigrated to Canada when we were newly married (22 and 23 respectively) and spent the next almost 30 years in the cold, white North. Now we are living in the tropics (actually, we eloped (long story), so our whereabouts are not for broadcast).

    I saw this man from South Africa somewhere else (maybe on a new blog link you gave us, Jimmy). It’s incredible when people are able to lose so much weight and keep it off. It never ceases to amaze me! Low-carbing is a lifesaver for many people.