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The Obesity Code - Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss (Book 1) Paperback – March 1, 2016
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FROM NEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLING AUTHOR DR. JASON FUNG: The landmark book that is helping thousands of people lose weight and heal from disease.
Harness the power of intermittent fasting for lasting weight loss, health, and longevity.
Understand the science of weight gain and insulin resistance.
Stop suffering and ditch calorie counting, yoyo diets, and excessive exercise for good.
Have you been diagnosed with obesity or type 2 diabetes, or told you by your doctor to lose weight? In this book, you will discover that likely everything you’ve been told about how to lose weight is wrong. Weight gain is driven by hormones―in everyone―and only by understanding the effects of insulin and insulin resistance can we achieve lasting weight loss and even work to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and obesity naturally.
In this highly readable and provocative book, Dr. Jason Fung, long considered the founder of intermittent fasting, sets out an original theory of obesity and weight gain. He shares five basic steps to controlling your insulin for better health. And he explains how to use intermittent fasting to break the cycle of insulin resistance and reach a healthy and healed body―for good.
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—Jimmy Moore, author, Keto Clarity and Cholesterol Clarity
“Not only full of insights but also surprisingly funny. Read it to understand why the world became fat, how to reverse the epidemic—and how to stay thin yourself.”
—Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, Founder of Dietdoctor.com
“Dr. Jason Fung’s explanation of insulin resistance and the accompanying insulin model of obesity is original, brilliant and game changing.”
—Zoë Harcombe, Obesity researcher, author of The Harcrombe Diet
“A fantastic book that exposes some of the world's most pervasive myths about obesity and weight management. A must read for anyone interested in the science of diet.”
—Kris Gunnars, nutrition researcher
“In The Obesity Code, Dr. Jason Fung triumphs in explaining the core underlying causes of obesity and manages to simplify it in a way that anybody can understand. If more doctors and people were able to understand these causes and implement Dr. Fung's actionable advice then we would be able to start reversing the obesity epidemic tomorrow.”
—Sam Feltham, USA Today World Fitness Elite Trainer of the Year
About the Author
Dr. Jason Fung is a New York Times-bestselling author whose books include The Obesity Code, The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code Cookbook, The PCOS Plan, Life in the Fasting Lane, and The Complete Guide to Fasting (co-authored with Jimmy Moore). Dr. Fung completed medical school at the University of Toronto and a fellowship in nephrology at the University of California. Dr. Fung is also the co-founder of The Fasting Method, a program to help people lose weight and reverse Type 2 Diabetes naturally with fasting. He lives in Toronto.
Timothy Noakes is Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town, a marathon runner, and the author of the bestseller The Lore of Running. After discovering research supporting a high fat, low carb diet as the healthiest option for many people, he started the Noakes Foundation in 2012, and has dedicated his life to opening people's eyes to the myth of low-fat eating and the nutritional and environmental crisis it has led us to.
- Publisher : Greystone Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771641258
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771641258
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For one, Fung gives us a narrative to show that doctors were making the claim that too many carbs led to obesity as early as the 19th Century, but these claims were eclipsed by the non-scientific Eat Low Fat, Watch Your Calories Diet, which Fung shows does not work. No amount of willpower can fulfill the expectations of a low-fat, low-calorie diet because carbohydrates high on the Glycemic Index stimulate insulin and high insulin results in two horrible things: fat storage and constant hunger.
Fung makes it very clear that lowering one's insulin mostly by eliminating all processed sugar and carbs and eating in their place whole foods one can control one's appetite, which goes off the tracks when one eats breads, waffles, pancakes, pasta, etc. This research is also supported by Dr. Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance.
The book does not offer extensive prescriptions for daily amount of carbs or detailed menu plans, so I read some other books on achieving a state of ketosis for weight loss, and what I find is that the prescribed carbs per day tends to differ. For strict "orthodox" ketogenic, low-carb champions, such as Amy Ramos, author of The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners, the amount is usually a mere 20-50 for the "first phase" followed by a maintenance level between 75-100 grams. However, some authors, such as Michael Matthews, author of Bigger, Leaner, and Stronger, say one can eat as many as 150 "good" carbs a day, or even more for some. By good carbs, I am referring to carbs from whole foods, not processed flour and sugar. Some authors, such as Amy Ramos, will say you can't eat quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans, or legumes of any kind, but other authors, such as Michael Matthews, are less dogmatic on this point.
From reading The Obesity Code, I would suggest one experiment to find the right carb threshold and correct mix of ingredients since Dr. Fung, Dr. Lustig, and others seem to differ on this point.
Additionally, I'd say one should experiment with the sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, and legumes. If one isn't making weight loss goals with these ingredients, then take them off one by one.
One point that Fung makes that is in contradiction with a lot of nutritional advice I've heard over the decades is that snacking is usually a bad thing because we are constantly stimulating our insulin. Fung observes that the low-carb craze of 2004 sank, not because low-carb diets don't work, but because the snack industry got involved and created all sorts of low-carb snacks, including chips, protein bars, and other snack foods, and this constant snacking kept people's insulin at a high level and brought in too many calories.
Fung seriously examines the benefits of long durations between meals and encourages eating only 3 meals a day, and even fasting every now and then. However, he is not dogmatic. He points out that if one must snack, one must be careful to focus on whole foods and not processed "snack foods."
By focusing on the role of insulin and showing that "being fat makes you fat" because a fat person is in a constant state of high insulin and high appetite state, Fung has made me very mindful of the carbs I put into my body. Highly recommended.
I've been following The Obesity Code, eliminating sugar, gluten, potatoes, and rice, for the last 6 months, and I have lost 50 pounds. My neuropathy burning pain in my left foot is 100% gone. I'm a believer in this book, and I will be adhering to it for life.
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2019
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On the book itself, I'd say it was a fascinating and compelling read. Fung clearly explains quite complicated physiological mechanisms and provides evidence that I found very convincing (with one exception). 18 months on, the bits that have stuck are not the complicated issues but simply:
1 My body, and especially my liver, needs a regular rest from eating and from the constant blood insulin levels that frequent eating produces.
2 I'm probably stuck with whatever level of insulin resistance (and consequent stored fat) that developed through my adult life (I'm over 60) but I can help prevent further damage.
3 I shouldn't feel hungry when I fast intermittently (This was the life changer for me because I found it's true!).
4 Try to avoid discussing your intermittent diet regime with family and friends. They will simply go on and on with the usual uniformed diet rubbish that I used to believe myself.
The one exception in terms of evidence, was the value of cider vinegar. I wasn't convinced by Fung's evidence, so I haven't tried it.
So, how has the book changed my life? I haven't lost much weight but nor have I really tried to. I have lost about 6 pounds over 18 months but importantly this is against a history of putting on a pound or 2 every year. What I have done is put 'breakfast' back to 7pm or later every day. I only consume water or black coffee/tea up to that time. And the magic part is that I don't feel hungry even when sitting with others who are eating scrumptious meals. So, it doesn't require any willpower! If it did, I couldn't have sustained it. I still feel amazed and empowered every day when I realise that I haven't eaten for 19-21 hours and I don't feel hungry. As Fung points out its easy and its free!
In May this this year my diet was put to a pretty tough test. I cycled the North Coast 500 over 9 days. This is a challenging and hilly route, averaging about 57 miles/day. I didn't expect to stick to my fasting regime but over 15,00 miles of training in 11 weeks before the trip (60-85 mile days) I discovered that it was not a problem! I added calorie-free electrolyte replacement to my water bottles and never experienced dips in energy due to low blood sugar. With that now behind me I am as confident as I can be that I won't need or want to change my eating pattern in future.
This book gave me a basis for trying something that flew in the face of a received wisdom that had me trapped in a cycle of eating and craving, which seems to be the common experience of almost everyone I know. I would strongly recommend it as a serious contribution to better understanding of the effects of diet on insulin release and the effects of excessive insulin release on long-term health.
Basically, his diet can be summarised as follows:
1) Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugar/sweeteners like the plague (this is the most important rule of all – if you do nothing else, do this one thing).
2) Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish, fibre and whole grains (so wholemeal, not white, processed bread, pasta and rice).
3) Eat fat and protein – it’s fine, they won’t make you fat.
4) Choose unprocessed home cooked meals over processed microwave ready meals if you can (to avoid the added salt, sugar etc).
5) Feast (Eat) for 12 hours and Fast (Sleep) for 12 hours. Don’t eat outside of a 12-hour window per 24-hour cycle. Cut it down to 10 hours if you can.
6) Don’t snack – stick to three meals a day (within the 12-hour ‘eating’ window) so your insulin/blood sugar levels have a chance to recover.
7) Don’t worry about eating breakfast – if you’re not hungry first thing, skip it (if you do eat, don’t eat sugary cereals or pastries).
8) Fast a couple of times a week to lower/reset your insulin/blood sugar levels.
9) Get at least 7-9 hours’ sleep at the same time each night to avoid sleep deprivation raising your cortisol (stress) levels.
10) Vinegar (acetic acid) seems to help lower blood sugar/insulin levels (although this is a recent discovery, so there is no long term, only short term, data to support this).
11) Don’t worry about exercise – it only accounts for 5% of weight loss.
12) Don’t beat yourself up too much over your lack of self-control - 70% of the tendency to obesity is inherited – just try and make the most of the 30% you have control over.
So it looks like it’s a combination of:
-The Paleolithic Diet (whole grains, fish, fruit, vegetables etc)
-The Atkins Diet (low carbs/high fat)
- Michael Mosely’s 5:2 diet (‘Fasting Diet’)
- Professor John Yudkin’s 1972 book ‘Pure, White and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us’
Versions of these have been around for a while, in some cases decades, and they keep being rediscovered every few years. (The Low Carb/High Fat diet was ‘invented’ by Dr Banting in 1862 and a version of the Paleolithic Diet dates back to John Harvey Kellogg in the 1890s).
The Insulin-Resistance Theory
What is new however – and why this book is so interesting - is Dr Chung’s ‘insulin resistance theory’ which is evidence-based using over a hundred years of reliable research and which he goes through and explains in great detail over six parts and 18 chapters. Every assertion he makes has a reference note and there are 32pp of medical references at the back. This adds some credibility to what he is saying.
Dr Chung’s insight/argument is that obesity is a hormonal problem, not a calorific one, so cutting down on calories never works because it simply slows down your metabolism. Weight is controlled by the hormone insulin which promotes the absorption of glucose (blood sugar) from the blood into the body to use as energy that keeps us functioning. Most glucose gets used up straight away, but any excess is stored as fat.
Obese people have far too much insulin sloshing around in their system all the time, which leads to insulin resistance where the amount of insulin in their bodies is set at a permanently high level like a faulty thermostat. They should therefore aim to keep their glucose/insulin levels low at all times with no high ‘spikes’. Carbohydrates and sugar (in its various forms) increase insulin more than most things that we consume, so cutting down on these two items has the biggest, most immediate, benefit.
Most of the book is taken up with a detailed explanation of this and ‘The Solution’ part is only 19pp at the very end. I have to admit there were times when, as I was reading through, I was tempted just to skip to the ‘Solution’ bit and ask ‘So, what’s the big secret then?’, but persevering is worthwhile because his explanations back up his conclusions.
Dr Chung isn’t a ‘diet doctor’ as such and his original interest in weight loss came from treating patients with kidney failure. He is a Canadian kidney specialist and he realised that many of his patients’ kidney failure had been caused by type 2 diabetes and that the diabetes had been caused, in turn, by obesity. This was what led him to look closely at all the research on dieting that had been carried out over the last century or so to try and work out what worked, what didn’t and why. He makes it all sound very reasonable, but of course changing how you eat and then sticking to it for most of the time is always the most difficult part!
I purchased the book as a thank you to Dr Fung, and also I wanted to delve deeper into his theories. I did pick up a few extra details that I may have missed from the lectures and now the needle is moving even quicker south. I was about to give up on myself and just accept that i am just a 15 stone person. I no longer have to do that and Dr Fung gave me back hope after so many years despair. I can now see my proper shape emerging in the mirror and I fully expect I shall be at my optimal weight by christmas.
Thank you Dr Fung. You are quite literally a saviour.
I have recommended this book to others who are also seeing remarkable results. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. After a lifetime of dieting, i have an extensive collection of diet books. Many have worked for a short time, but are not sustainable. Fung's method IS.. My bookshelf will be cleared of the redundant ones and time now to learn new things rather than always looking for the next diet.
My GP actually recommended this book when I went to see if we could adjust my migraine meds as I felt they were contributing to my inability to lose weight.
I've been practicing 18:6 for the last week (with a single 24 hour fast towards the end of the week) and during my eating periods I've avoided sugar and refined carbs as much as possible (but no-one could say I'm being strictly paleo or keto - my carbs are at about 50%, fat 30% and protein 20%) and I've lost an amazing 7.2lb in that week!
Plus, I feel amazing and my osteoarthritis symptoms have improved hugely. My skin is glowing and I feel calmer, more centred. I did have one nasty 36 hour migraine in the middle of the week but I toughed it out with codeine and loads of water and it didn't let it pull me off the schedule.
For me, not snacking is a revelation - I nibbled constantly on "healthy" ricecakes, fruit, diet sodas. I had no idea this was killing my ability to lose weight! Now I'm eating butter, roast chicken (with the skin on), cheese, sirloin steak and even an Indian takeaway and really enjoying my meals - and I still lost over half a stone!
I feel liberated by intermittent fasting and that food doesn't exert the same control it once did. I can't wait to see how much my health and weight will have changed in 6 months time!
Update: I'm 25 days in now and have lost 16lb! I feel like Dr Fung has given me back my love of food - it's no longer a constant battle. My macro ratio is now at about 25% carbs, 20% protein and 55% fat - the lower carbs pretty much happened naturally as I seem to want them less now. I'm also regularly doing 24 hour fasts - a minimum of twice a week. I've had takeaways every single weekend whilst doing this (and I don't go for "healthier" options - chips, nan, battered onion rings are on my menu!) and still had incredible weight loss. I can't recommend this book/way of life enough!