Overweight? Diabetic or pre-diabetic?

I used to read Jason Fung's blog religiously, but somehow I dropped off his mailing list and missed the fact that he wrote a book.

'The Obesity Code' is the most coherent and readable explanation of the mechanisms by which we gain weight, and in some cases develop Type 2 Diabetes I have come across. I think it is brilliant!

It does raise some interesting questions about the mechanism by which we hypos gain weight, and whether there is anything that those of us who find it impossible to lose could do to prevent, or at least minimise the effects of our disease with diet.

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  • Does it offer solutions that are achievable and realistic?

  • Yes indeed! His ultimate solution is, in a nutshell, to go back to eating the way we did fifty years ago - before processed food, snacks and sugar in everything. But its definitely worth reading the book.

    He has written a second book on Fasting, because that is the ultimate way to lose weight, and reset insulin levels/resistance. So far I haven't quite decided to go that far, and am just eating LCHF. I suspect I could lose the 10-15 kilos I would like to get rid of in a year or so if I just stuck to that, but I doubt if I would, so am looking for a quicker fix. But in the long term the only way to stay slim is to keep insulin levels down.

  • What is LCHF? If it's low calorie then how is that achievable with high fat since fat is so calorific? Or have I misunderstood?

  • How long you should fast according to him?

  • I haven't read the book, which may be an omission given that I am considering doing it. But I seem to remember from his lectures that he said that even 100+ days fast won't do any harm. Most people do up to 21 days. But we are talking about people who have more than a Ruthi to lose - and have worked up to it. You get a certain high from fasting, and it seems that some folk get hooked on that high, and are reluctant to eat!!

    I have to say I struggled to get to 3pm today (it was accidental, I have been eating a late brunch, but not deliberately going any later, but apparently it gets easier after day two!!!

    I am considering trying to fast from Tuesday night to Thursday evening. I have an evening class on Wednesday, and often go to eat at college before class in order to get a parking space. So no-one would notice I wasn't eating. And himself is out all day anyway....

    And before anyone jumps in saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the research doesn't bear that out, apparently. What the research shows is that the longer you leave between eating the lower your insulin resistance. My current short term goal is to get to one meal a day.

  • Low carb, high fat. NOT low calorie. Low calorie diets reset the metabolism at a lower level, and that tends to remain that way long after the low cal diet. I will admit I am finding it quite difficult to replace the calories from carbs with fat! But I am getting there!

    And Ketogenic is low enough in carbs (around 20grams a day) to force the body to burn its fat stores, producing ketones. The Atkins diet is ketogenic.

    But the trouble with Atkins or any other short term diet is that if you go back to eating 'normally' (ie lots of calories from sugar, and snacking all the time) you'll go back to being fat. However, LCHF/keto/fasting offers the possibility of resetting your body set weight to a healthier level, so that you then, if you eat sensibly, don't have to consciously control what you eat all the time.

    I say again. Its worth reading the book. But if you are feeling poor read his blog at intensivedietarymanagement.com. It will take a while to read, and the information isn't as well organised as the book, but it is pretty well all there. Its just that when I started reading the book all the information is presented more coherently, and although I knew most of the facts the lightbulb came on at full strength.

  • Ruthi It's been 2 or 3 years since I re-read my copy of Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution, but I'm sure he doesn't refer to it as a short term diet and does emphasise that it is for life. There's even an Atkins for Life book available. Or have I misunderstood what you have said?

  • The problem with Atkins is he allows unlimited protein. Protein stimulates insulin production, and hence weight gain. A keto diet(at least according to Dr Dung) is moderate in protein and high in fats, because fat is the least insulinogenic.

    I'm on day two of keto, didn't sleep well, but otherwise it went smoothly.

  • If that's the case, how can so many people have successfully lost weight from following Atkins? I don't eat unlimited protein since the diet stops you from getting hungry.

  • And, if I'm not mistaken, the Atkins diet is ketogenic anyway.

  • The Atkins diet is ketogenic, but apparently people plateau around 6 months, and regain all the weight in time. I suspect the real problem with Atkins might be that there wasn't at that time a real understanding of the mechanisms of weight gain. There is still a long way to go in that regard, but there is a great deal better understanding now.

    Mind you, I think most people regain the weight because they just go back to their bad old ways. And because calorie reduction tends to reduce metabolism long term. I really, really want my metabolism to stay OK.

    I'm hoping that I can go back to 'normal' but minus the sugar and snacks at the end of it. I don't have a huge amount of weight to lose (10-15 kilos) but I know that will only get worse if I don't change.

  • Apparently? Where do you get that information from?

    There must be something really strange about me then ;) because I've lost weight and kept it off. And without reducing calories either.

    This way of eating is a way of life now. It stands to reason that if you go back to your old way of eating you will regain what you lost. Unless perhaps you spend every waking hour exercising.

  • You are the happy exception to the rule then. My info was all in the Jason Fung book (or his blog which I have been reading for a while). But you'll be amazed how many people do go back to where they were before. And how much slimming clubs and programmes seem to be about finding artificial ways to maintain habits like snacking and drinking which, when you go back to 'normal' food will just pile the pounds back on.

    So Jason Fung's approach is all about reducing insulin response in order to reduce or eliminate insulin resistance. Since protein raises insulin nearly as much as carbohydrates do, he suggests limiting protein to about 0.6g/kilo of target weight. It equates to around 50grams of protein for the average person, which is an 8 oz steak!! I suspect its no co-incidence that dietary guidelines of the war and post war period suggested just that amount of protein!

    If you limit protein and carbs, the only other source of calories is fat. And happily fat produces virtually no insulin response. So Fung's diet is higher in fat than Atkins, and lower in protein. There is a definite limit to how much protein you can eat, because it has a high satiety factor so both are ketogenic, and I think the only difference is that if Fung's theory is right, then you should reduce insulin resistance a bit quicker with his scheme than with Atkins.

    Now all this follows from his model of insulin as the driver of fat deposits in the cells. I buy that, its the best model of fat and sugar metabolism we have at the moment. But he freely admits that all the research available only accounts for about 30% of the insulin release drivers that we know about. It is quite possible that among the 70% as yet undiscovered, there might be a much neater and easier model of insulin management.

    The other part of the insulin resistance picture is the liver, of course. That is where fructose (half the sugar molecule) comes in. Only the liver can process fructose, and once processed it stores the resulting fat in the liver. We all need a little fat in the liver because it is more easily converted into energy than cell fat, so is used by the liver after all its available glycogen is used up. But too much fat clogs up the liver and hampers its work.

  • Ruthi, have you ever read Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution? He said much the same thing, about 40 years ago, long before all these other experts came along and jumped on the bandwagon.

    I'm far from being the exception!

  • I did read it when it came out, and no, I don't remember it in detail, or very much at all, if I am honest. Fung is quoting lots of research from the last 20 years, so its not going to be the same.

    From what I remember, Atkins basically rehashed the Banting diet, but it wasn't backed up with much in the way of good quality research. (I like research, and tend to latch onto it!) And he didn't describe weight gain in insulin terms, did he? Or explain clearly what was going on in metabolic syndrome? As a result I didn't understand exactly how damaging my already established sugar habit was doing to my organs. I thought it would just make me fat, not fat and unhealthy!

    There is nothing to argue about. Both diets have the same approach and outcomes.

  • Chapter 12 of my copy of the book is titled The Sorrows of Hypoglycemia and the Perils of Diabetes, wherein Dr Atkins talks about insulin resistance.

    I've got 12 pages of research references at the end of the book too.

    If you like research, try John Briffa and Zoe Harcombe.

    And I'm not arguing :D

  • I am no specialist on Atkins, but I have tried low carb high fat diets in the past, and I notice I cannot eat unlimited amounts of protein. I personally find protein more filling than carbs and even more filling than fat...

  • I agree, but its the whole insulin thing that makes unlimited protein less than ideal.

  • That's what I find too, anna69 :) I can only eat so much protein before I'm satisfied.

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