Jun
28
2021
by
Tobe Brockner
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Book Review: The Obesity Code

I got the call on February 25, 2021. It was the nurse from my doctor’s office and she had the results of my blood test. 

“I’m sorry to inform you that you have a formal diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. The doctor would like to see you as soon as you can come in to go over what this means and next steps.”

These words hit me like a physical blow. I remember just sitting there feeling like someone had punched me in the gut and I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t exactly know what all a diagnosis such as this entailed, but I knew it was bad. I managed to respond to the nurse and we set an appointment for the very next Monday, the soonest he could get me in.

On March 1st, I went to his office. That morning when I awoke, I stepped on the scale for the first time in years. It read 231lbs. I was stunned. I knew I was fat, but I had no idea I was that fat.

Sitting in that office, my wife in tow, the doctor explained my diagnosis and what I could expect. 

“Diabetes such as yours is caused by insulin resistance. In effect, your body produces insulin to help facilitate the processing of sugars that you consume which are found in carbohydrates of all kinds. Normal insulin production will act as a ‘key’ that unlocks this process, but with Type II diabetics your body has become resistant to this process. It has to keep producing more and more insulin as it becomes more and more resistant. The way to combat this is through medication, diet, and exercise,” he explained.

“Ok, so what do I do then?” I asked.

“I am going to start you on a medication called Metformin, and you need to eat fewer carbohydrates and get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day,” he answered.

That was the extent of his advice. Take this pill, eat better, and move more. It sounded simple enough, but wasn’t very helpful. To be fair, his training didn’t extend to the prevention of this disease, only the cure of it. And it certainly didn’t extend to specific dietary and exercise advice…it focused only on the medication side of things.

Ok, so it was in my hands. I decided right then do whatever it took to manage and reverse this disease if possible. I was literally eating myself to death and I needed change.

I am an avid reader so I began looking for books that would help me understand what I was facing and give me practical advice on how to fight it.

My wife Kirsten said she had a friend whose brother-in-law was recently diagnosed with Type II diabetes and that he found a book called The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung to be helpful. So, over to Amazon I went and found the book…but I also saw that he wrote another book as a precursor to The Diabetes Code called The Obesity Code.

I purchased both. I figured I needed the first book to get a good understanding of his philosophy on weight gain and then I could attack my specific diagnosis. After all, getting fat was what got me here in the first place. I wanted to attack the root of my problem, not just the result of it.

The Obesity Code (this is a link to Amazon and will open in a new window)

Dr. Fung’s basic premise is that weight gain (and weight loss for that matter) is a directly tied to your hormones, specifically insulin. There are many other hormonal factors at play, but insulin production (or more accurately, insulin resistance) is the main culprit when trying to manage your weight.

obesity_code_book

Manage your insulin production and you manage your weight. That is an oversimplification of course, but if that was all you got from the book you’d be well on your way to losing weight.

His recommendation is to focus on what you eat and when you eat. 

What You Eat

Carbohydrates are the mortal enemy for diabetics. Eating too many carbs too often will cause an insulin response in your body every time they are consumed. If you do this for long enough, then your body begins to lose its effectiveness in processing the resulting sugar that is produced as a by-product of carb consumption. Over time, this chronic consumption of sugars causes your pancreas to go into overdrive, producing more and more insulin to effectively process these sugars. 

This in turn creates a whole host of other issues. Your body’s other hormones are activated to try and help with this sugar processing, including cortisol and adrenaline among others.

Over time, these sugars are not processed efficiently and have to go somewhere. The body begins storing them as fat cells around your other organs. As these fat stores build, they wreak havoc on the organs they are affecting.

Dr. Fung is a nephrologist by training (a kidney specialist) and would see patients with failing kidneys come into his office who were also Type II diabetics with startling regularity. The over production of insulin and resultant sugar-to-fat process was literally killing his patients from the inside out.

He recommends a low-carb, high fat diet as a prescription and offers very compelling medical research into the safety and effectiveness of this strategy. 

I know that for me personally, this was a great way to eat well, feel full, and lose weight. I keep my carbohydrate consumption below 50 grams per day on average.

When You Eat

The second half of his formula is when you eat. You manage this through intermittent fasting. 

Intermittent fasting is simply eating during a specific window of time. When I first started, my window was an 8-hour block between 11am and 7pm. I would typically eat 2-3 times during that 8-hour window and ‘fast’ for the other 16 hours between 7pm and 11am.

Dr. Fung’s position is that every time you eat, your body produces an insulin response. By limiting the number of insulin responses, you are more effectively able to control your weight.

For me, this made a lot of sense and was backed up by reams of research in the book. 

Over time, I began shrinking my eating window from 8 hours to 4 hours to one hour, until now, I typically only eat one meal a day (OMAD as it’s called by practitioners) and the results have been nothing short of spectacular.

Further, because I am eating a high fat diet, I feel satiated and full through my fasting period. There are times when I get hungry (particularly late at night), but it isn’t overwhelmingly hard.

A lot of people have asked me if I think this type of lifestyle is sustainable, and I feel that it is. I don’t really feel deprived at all and am not starving myself. Plus, only having to worry about prepping and cooking one meal a day has been a huge benefit. It is so much easier than, say, eating 5-6 small meals per day (which is typical advice from the health and fitness gurus).

Recommendation

In short, I found The Obesity Code to be extremely helpful on my journey to not only lose weight, but to also completely reverse my diabetes. In a 6-week follow up to the doctor, my A1C level went from 7.4 to 5.9, in essence, going from ‘diabetic’ to ‘non-diabetic’. 

If you are struggling with your weight, or have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I would highly recommend picking up both The Obesity Code and The Diabetes Code and give them a read. (Those links will take you to Amazon and will open in a new window)

I think you will find them as useful as I have.

Tobe Brockner

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