Low Carb Success Story Kent Altena by Amy Dungan

If you want true inspiration, you need look no further than Kent Altena. A resident of Des Moines, Iowa, Kent is married to his high school sweetheart and they have four beautiful children. He works as an IT architect for a regional insurance company, but spent 9 years in the military before his increasing weight forced him out.


Denial isn’t a river in Egypt

Kent tried to down play his weight issues, but a severe case of sleep apnea, and a cramped flight back from Salt Lake City, refused to be ignored. His sleep apnea was so bad that he was turning blue during the sleep study, and he fell asleep while driving. His blood pressure was too high and diabetes runs in the family. Couple that with a busy lifestyle and Kent knew it was time to make a serious change. “The two events that really drove home the desire were seeing my former Guard friends deployed to Kosovo without me, and an embarrassingly cramped flight home where my size was well impinging on the little old lady’s seat next to me.”

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Eight years later Kent is literally half the man he used to be. In 15 months he’d shed 211 pounds and reached his goal. He’s since rejoined the National Guard and has become a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He’s also an active runner and has completed a number of marathons.

His journey begins with watching his brother lose 75 lbs on the Atkins diet. Kent mocked his brother for 3 months, sure he’d just gain it all back, but in the end decided to give it a shot himself. At 429 pounds, he had a task that would seem insurmountable to even the most determined dieter, but Kent knew it was worth the effort. Besides getting below his goal of 225, Kent also lost all the heart risk factors. His blood pressure dropped to 100/60, his cholesterol dropped nearly 50 points, and his triglycerides were down by half. He gained energy that he says he’s never had before, even passing his Army fitness test with number similar to what he had at 18 in basic training. “In short, by body is no longer holding me back from being a dad, husband, or active in my community.”


Wading through the bull

This wasn’t Kent’s first diet rodeo. He told me he’s started and failed at most diets, short of going vegetarian, including calorie counting, exercising more, and trying a low fat diet. He was ready to consider weight loss surgery, but he decided to give it one last try with the low carb diet.

Kent has been at goal for almost 7 years now and is still following the maintenance phase of Atkins. He eats roughly 30-50 net carbs per day, including berries, fruits and additional veggies. He exercises 5-6 days a week and is currently training for another marathon.


Paying it Forward

“After seeing the benefits I received from a low carb lifestyle, I wanted to help others achieve the success.” This led Kent to administrating a large low carb support forum, www.AtkinsDietBulletinboard.com, and eventually making his popular YouTube videos. “I was honored in 2011 to be asked to co-author the Low Carb-ing Among Friends cookbook, which has been a great success since it’s release.” If you’ve seen any of Kent’s cooking videos, you’ll certainly understand why Kent was asked to participate. He has some mad cooking skills.

Advice Kent would share to those considering the low carb lifestyle:

    • Read the book and follow the plan, as written, for at least one month. By then you’ll have a good understanding of the plan and how your body reacts to it. “Too many times I have seen beginning dieters try to do what they think is Atkins, or low carb, and end up consuming stuff they should not be.
    • Eat real food as much as possible. Low carb niche products may not always be available. “One of my problems when first starting – I would depend on niche products, which invariably would leave the market soon after and then I was lost.” One of his goals with the cookbook was to use mostly products that were readily available.


He Walks the Walk

“Consistency and inertia are key. I found it easier to be consistent with following a low carb plan than always worrying about what to eat today or struggling with cravings.” That can be a hard lesson, as I too well know, but it’s certainly something we should all remember.

When he began this journey, he found inspiration through some long term Atkins followers on the bulletin board, www.AtkinsDietBulletinboard.com. “…one in particular had Rheumatoid Arthritis. She would consistently go to the pool and get exercise – aqua aerobics. I knew if she could get her exercise in, that I had no excuse for mine.”

Kent’s brother is his other hero. “If he had not started the diet first and lost weight, I would definitely not have been as successful. I always had the goal of matching what he had done and achieving the same weight loss. He blazed a trail for me all the way down.” Kent’s fans owe his brother a debt of gratitude as well, since Kent himself has been the needed inspiration for many to succeed.

Kent plans to continue his creativity in the kitchen and develop new recipes. He also intends to keep proving the nay-sayers wrong by keeping the weight off and showing that you can keep the weight off for a lifetime.


Good Eats

One of Kent’s favorite recipes is the Mock Danish. “A simply easy snack that remains a consistent part of my diet.”

Mock Danish

    • 1 oz cream cheese, softened (30g)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp flax meal, golden preferred (15ml)
    • liquid sucralose to equal 1 tsp Splenda granular (5 ml)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract,(2 ml)


    • 1 tbsp butter (15 ml)
    • 1/2 tsp Splenda granular (2 ml)
    • 1/8 tsp cinnamon (0.5 ml)

Add cream cheese to microwave-safe bowl. Soften cream cheese in microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Add egg, flax meal, sucralose and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix ingredients together, and scrape down the edges of the bowl. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until the center is set.

To prepare the topping, add butter, splenda and cinnamon to microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 15 seconds to melt butter. Mix ingredients together and pour over the Danish.

Nutrition info:

    • 1 serving
    • calories: 327
    • protein: 12.2 g
    • fat: 28.7
    • fiber: 5.2
    • net carbs: 1.7

Be sure to check out Kent’s fantastic YouTube series at http://youtube.com/bowulf.

Also check out the Atkins Diet Bulletin Board at www.AtkinsDietBulletinboard.com.

© 2012 by CarbSmart.com. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.

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