The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, by Dr. Jason Fung

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of your life not being at a weight with which you’re comfortable, Jason Fung has good and bad news.

The bad news is that counting calories doesn’t work. Neither do diet plans. Neither do diet and exercise. Fung maintains that no single idea will help a person reach their dream weight. He claims that far too many studies done on dieting only last a few weeks, others mistake correlation for cause, and several long term studies have shown that a diet will be successful for about six months, after which not only does the weight return but nature will pad you with a bit extra at no charge.

The good news is that this isn’t a problem of willpower, and there is a single concept that can help you design a lifestyle that will help you lose weight over an extended period of time. Fung says that calories in/calories out is nonsense. The only true measure of what is causing an obesity epidemic is hormonal, especially insulin and how it’s managed.

Fung describes his own frustrations with putting diabetic patients on insulin therapy only to watch their weight increase. He also had trouble with one-size-fits-all arguments over whether Atkins or Low-Fat or other plans were best for every individual. He says there are multiple factors that apply to obesity and food is just one. Yes calories have an influence, but so do sleep patterns, heredity, activity levels, and stress among the most important. Just like driving a car. The amount of gas is important, but so are tire pressure, oil levels, and other factors that all contribute to a car operating properly.

Fung’s central theme is to devise an eating plan that is as close to unboxed and unmanufactured as possible, and avoiding the things that will cause a spike in insulin levels. This will usually mean decreasing sugar, which is a combination of both glucose and fructose and the body is only equipped to handle glucose … and not a lot of that. It also means being selective about carbohydrates, with the understanding that 100 grams of carbs from sugar will come from one soft drink while 100 carbs from broccoli would be more than most people could eat.

It’s not that you can’t celebrate with a slice of cake now and then, but saving it for a celebration is important. He’s also adamant that eating six times a day, meals and snacks, are food industry inventions as is a large breakfast. He has even convinced me to give up diet drinks because, even though they’re zero calorie, most of the sweeteners added to drinks will still cause a spike in insulin levels and prolong your misery.

He lines out scientific study to back his arguments, and offers a wide variety of approaches to take. On eating plans he tends toward Paleo or ketogenic. He also is a fan of intermittent fasting, adequate sleep, mindfulness activities, and dozens of other suggestions to contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

It’s wonderful that he takes things down to the cellular level to make his points, explaining what insulin is doing in the cells, as well as cortisol that floods the body when stressed. Easy to read, with a minimum of jargon and a ton of helpful tips.