Man with rare condition that turns sugar into alcohol transforms into bodybuilding champion

Gregory cut out sugar and is now healthier than ever…
Greg poses as part of a bodybuilding competition.

A man has transformed his body after being diagnosed with a rare condition that turns sugar into alcohol.

Gregory Cole, 58, from New Jersey, US, remembers “feeling love at first bite” after eating his first McDonald’s as a child and soon became hooked on the delicious, fast-food.

However, he soon found himself stuck in a vicious cycle of losing and regaining weight which he followed suit from his mum and sister, who also struggled with dieting.

Greg stands with his shirt off, before his transformation.
Greg recalls being in a vicious dieting cycle (Picture: Jam Press)

At his heaviest, he recalls weighing 19st and feeling like a “failure”.

In 1999, he suffered a ruptured herniated disc – a slipped disc – and had intense pain for a month before visiting a surgeon, who told him he would need to lose weight if he wanted to get better.

Gregory tried to improve his diet and stuck to an intense workout routine, but soon started feeling fatigued and bloated, as well as having brain fog and migraines.

“I thought I was perhaps working out too much and was burning the candle at both ends,” Gregory told Jam Press.

“I had a good diet, but my energy level got worse and one day, I could barely drag myself out of bed.

“My skin turned grey, I had body aches, my rosacea worsened and I was catching colds on a frequent basis – my immunity was compromised.

“I went to my doctor, who told me my blood work was fine, but my vitamin D level was low.

“At the same time, my neighbour told me about the progress she made with her nutritionist, which is when I turned to them for help.”

He was told that he had auto-brewery syndrome – a rare condition where the body turns sugar into alcohol, making you feel drunk – so decided to cut all sugar from his diet.

He said: “I didn’t even eat any fruit – my diet consisted of green vegetables, fish, lamb and nuts.

“[After] a year, I returned to optimal health and the majority of my ailments disappeared.

He cut out sugar for good and hasn’t looked back (Picture: Jam Press)

“My energy returned, the brain fog, achiness and bloating went away and my rosacea was cured.

“For the first time since my teenage years, I felt ecstatic – almost reborn.”

Since his diagnosis, he gave himself the goal to maintain his newly-found health by working out at the gym and losing weight.

Before, he would eat McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as lots of cake, potato chips and bread.

Now, he has egg whites and porridge for breakfast, chicken and vegetables for lunch, with turkey and more vegetables for dinner.

Sometimes, he’ll tuck into a Greek yoghurt for dessert and, for a treat will have blue corn tortilla chips and the occasional vodka martini.

After training on his functional strength and intense weightlifting routines, he soon became interested in bodybuilding and won his first competition in October 2018.

Gregory said: “It was quite a surreal moment and the audience was very supportive [of my journey].

“I knew that any goal I set for myself was achievable and that was the day I crowned myself the ‘reinvention king.’

Greg now, with an Under Armour gym shirt and grey sweatpants.
Due to his condition, he suffered from migraines, rosacea and bloating (Picture: Jam Press)

“I want to inspire other people like me and show that being obese is not a life-long sentence, it is possible to lose weight and keep it off.

“I hope to educate people, not only about diet and exercise, but about how to achieve optimal health.”

Gregory, who co-owns a fragrance company, The Bubble Collection (going on sale in UK in 2023), now poses in his own advertisements and television stints due to his newfound confidence.

Although, he has made some sacrifices along the way to be where he is today.

He added: “In the past, my body represented so many things – the state of my mental health, as well as my physical health.

“I remember the day I weighed myself and I was at my heaviest. I took pictures and said one day, I will have before and after pictures to show the world.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, as we are overweight and unhealthy for reasons beyond our control.

Greg wearing a scarf and jacket outside of the Lourve in the 90s.
Greg says it’s marathon, not a race when dieting (Picture: Jam Press)

“This is a marathon, not a race and it’s important to educate yourself about the quality of the calories consumed.

“Once you cut out sugar, you will see your hunger pains disappear, trust me.

“If I can do it, you can do it.”

Breakfast: Frosted Flakes cereal
Lunch: Burger and fries
Dinner: Pizza
Snacks: Potato chips, cake, pie

Breakfast: Egg whites and oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken with green vegetables
Dinner: Turkey burger, green vegetables
Snacks: Greek yogurt, nuts, protein shake

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