The Obesity Code Review

Obesity CodeObesity Culprit

Are we genetically inclined for obesity? According to Dr. Jason Fung we are at least 70% genetically inclined. That does not mean we can’t fight the obesity. Dr. Fung explains that this recent inclination towards genetic obesity can be controlled if we go back to previous thoughts of eating.

In his book “The Obesity Code” Dr. Fung dismisses the current thought of eat low fat or low cholesterol, instead encourages low carbohydrates. He also dismisses the concept of eating less and doing more. He maintains that eating less means using less causing less weight loss. Dr. Fung states that “obesity is a hormonal, not caloric, disorder.”

Dr. Fung spends a good portion of the book disproving the current theory of how to lose weight by counting calories. He points out that we have no control over the way the body uses calories. It can be anything from heat production to stool so decreasing the calories eaten decreases the calories used.

Also, Dr. Fung acknowledges in his book “The Obesity Code” that exercise can have healthy benefits. Though, he insists that increasing exercise will do absolutely nothing to help with obesity. According to Dr. Fung diet fixes obesity better than exercise.

Insulin

Dr. Fung then introduces the concept of a set point. Basically he says our body has a programmed point of weight and that the hormones will adjust to keep our body at that set point. Lowering the amount of calories taken in will result in a lower use of calories, while increasing calories will result in higher metabolism, all to keep the body at its set point. Granted, Dr. Fung mentions that the set point can change with age and eating habits.

Finally Dr Fung introduces his theory that insulin, the hormone that controls the use of blood sugar level, causes weight gain. He uses several studies to show that when insulin increased, weight increased. As well as the opposite that when insulin decreased weight decreased. Dr. Fung says that high, constant insulin increases insulin resistance which increases weight.

Dr Fung shows that cortisol increases weight because cortisol increases insulin. Cortisol is caused by high stress situations and lack of sleep.  The increase of cortisol signals an increase in insulin.

To summarize, high insulin creates more fat resulting in obesity. This obesity can occur in anyone if they have high insulin production for long periods of time. Dr. Fung blames the diet of high carbohydrates and refined sugars as the cause of high insulin.

Obesity Solution

After discounting most diets Dr. Fung agrees that most diets work for a short time, but not as a long term answer. As multi-factored disease, Dr. Fung recommends treating obesity using a combination of techniques. Dr. Fung also points out that what may work for one person will not work for another. The solution to obesity needs to be tailored to the person.

Healthy Eating

Dr. Fung gives five steps in “The Obesity Code” to be done in order to help with obesity. First he says to reduce the consumption of added sugars. Instead of modern desserts, Dr. Fung suggests eating fresh, in season fruit, possibly with whipped cream, a small plate of nut and cheese, 70% dark chocolate, or nuts.  He also recommends watching out for added sugars in processed foods, and to instead eat as much unprocessed food as possible.

Dr. Fung insists that we must stop snacking as that does not give a chance for insulin to get lower. Also, Dr. Fung recommends only eating when hungry, even if that means skipping a meal or two. He also recommends removing all sugary drinks, including lemonade, hot chocolate and alcohol. Instead he says to drink water, sparkling or flavored with lemon, orange, or cucumber slices and coffee, tea or bone broth.

Second, Dr. Fung says to reduce the consumption of refined grains. Normal white flour is highly processed. Highly processed wheat flour is only marginally better. He suggests eating quinoa and chia seeds to reduce consuming refined grains.

Third, he suggests moderating your protein consumption to fall with in 20 to 30 percent of your total. Any more then that adds more fat or carbohydrates which increases insulin higher than needed.  For step four, Dr. Fung says to increase your consumption of natural fats by eating things such as, olive oil, pure butter, nuts, avocados.

Fifth, increase the consumption of protective factors.  These factors are natures way of helping keep insulin low. He recommends eating more of the things that contain fiber like fruits, vegetables and even vinegar.

Intermittent Fasting

Dr. Fung points out that these steps help with eating right, but eating right is only half the battle. Dr. Fung says that in order to lower the body set point of weight, we have to lower the insulin resistance. To lower this resistance we have to have recurrent periods of very low levels of insulin. We do this by fasting.

Dr. Fung says many benefits come from fasting. Anciently, fasting was considered a great medical practice, recommended by many intelligent people. He does mention that eating high amounts of carbohydrates before or after the fast negate any good the fast might have done.  Dr Fung says fasting helps to lower fat without affecting muscle or body function.  According to Dr Fung, “Feasting must be followed by fasting.”  Without the fasting we get weight gain. He recommends fasting for either 24 hours or 36 hours at a time followed by a day of healthy eating. 

Finally, Dr. Fung recommends lowering cortisol by keeping healthy sleeping habits. He also says to reduce stress by doing things like exercise, as movement has shown to lower stress better than watching television. By doing this  multi-step program, Dr. Fung says we will lose weight and keep it off.

Questions

After reading “The Obesity Code” I had one question:

  • How long do I keep doing the diet? Do I keep doing intermittent fast until I’ve lost the weight or continuously?

 I feel like Dr. Fung recommends, though not specifically, to continue the diet until the end of the diet. Then he seems to suggest continuing to eat right and do a period of intermittent fasting after large feasts, like Thanksgiving.

If you have tried this diet, please let me know how it worked for you. Were you able to lose weight and keep it off?