Medical weight loss

Solved: UW Health experts help Craig answer a 30-year mystery

Craig Wilkinson before and after being part of the UW Health Metabolic Weight Management Program
Craig before (left) and after being part of the UW Health Metabolic Weight Management Program

Craig Wilkinson had been stumped for about 30 years. Why, he wondered, was he gaining 7 to 10 pounds a year for 15 straight years?

For about the first 35 years of his life, his weight was ideal. Back in high school, Craig weighed 125 pounds as a varsity wrestler. By age 30, he weighed in the 140s, gradually increasing to the 160s. Suddenly, with each passing year, the pounds inexplicably kept coming. By the time he was in his early 50s, he had eclipsed 300 pounds but had no idea why.

“For years, I’ve been mindful of my meal portions, exercised, and walked 4 miles a day,” Craig said. “I’ve never had diabetes. My blood pressure and cholesterol were slightly elevated but not enough to require medication. Doctor after doctor could not figure out why I kept gaining.”

Encouraged by his wife, Kathleen, a UW Health physician assistant, Craig looked into the Metabolic Weight Management program and figured, “What do I have to lose?” except the extra weight.

After starting in November 2022, he lost 25 pounds just in the first month. Since then, he has lost an average of four pounds a month and is down nearly 50 pounds altogether.

“The biggest change I made was lowering my carb consumption to 50 to 100 grams a day, which is standard for people on a low-carb diet,” Craig said. “That’s not a lot of carbs, but because I get lots of protein from beef, chicken, pork or tuna, I feel highly satisfied without resorting to carbs. My breakfast used to include cereal or oatmeal, but now I start the day with a hard-boiled egg and a protein shake.”

Craig loves feeling more energetic. He also enjoyed trying on five pair of dress pants from his closet for Easter before he found a pair that didn’t fall to the floor.

One of the most helpful features of the Metabolic Weight Management Program, Craig said, is learning how the body metabolizes food.

“They helped me understand that carbs essentially are a roadblock for weight loss, especially as we get older because we burn carbs at a slower pace as we age,” Craig said. “The metabolic process is like a triage system in which the body looks for carbs to burn before turning to other energy sources like protein or fat. Carbs quickly get turned into sugar, so you get a quick spurt of energy, but that soon crashes and you feel hungry again. Protein keeps you feeling full longer, so you naturally eat less.”