The Obesity Code: The Upshot

One of my hobbies since like 1990 has been Weight Loss Science. Which leaves me vulnerable to whatever line of thinking is prevalent at the moment (can you say "T Factor Diet"? Covert Bailey, anyone?) How many dry turkey sandwiches did I force myself to eat? Not that I'm knocking 1990s weight loss experts. Far from it; they were using the best science available at the time. We are all looking for the magic bullet and I suspect there is blind-men-with-an-elephant-thing going on-- everyone is getting a little piece of it. Most things seem to work in the short term. Relatively few seem to work in the long term, and they don't seem to be the same things for everyone. That said, I do think Jason Fung is seeing more of the elephant than usual in The Obesity Code. The upshot? Per Dr Fung (a Canadian nephrologist who works with obese Type 2 diabetics):

*Obesity is a hormonal disregulation, not a character flaw (THANK YOU FOR THAT).'
*It isn't as evolutionarily adaptive as people claim. If you are very fat, something is amiss.
*Based on twin studies, 70% of obesity is thought to be genetic (we knew this).
*You are not doomed.
*Hormones, mainly insulin, drive obesity.
*These very fat folk we so see so often these days (ahem-- yes, me) generally have high insulin and insulin resistance, perhaps through too much grazing or eating sweet and processed foods. If you can lower insulin resistance and insulin levels, hunger and satiety hormones will get into line and the fat person will achieve homeostasis at a lower level of body fat.
*Calories count, -ish, but not in the way we're used to thinking of it. Think the Biggest Loser study. Long term calorie restriction results in reduced metabolism. Not to mention frustration and a longing for homemade apple pie with all butter crust.

OK, so we have stated the problem. What's the solution?

*Fasting protects metabolism.  Who knew? I always felt like crap not eating so I assumed, reasonably I think, that it was bad for me. But studies do not seem to show harm from fasting. Unlike long term caloric restriction, it spares metabolism and lean mass. And once you have conditioned your body not to fire insulin at random, you feel okay. Good, even, although I can't address that beyond the weeny 16 hour fasts I have been doing. When 8 of those hours are overnight, and you have cut out snacking for six months (NoS), this is not particularly hard.
*Fasting lowers insulin and insulin resistance. Don't make me look up the citations. It's true.
*Fasting is actually GOOD for you.  All the cool scientist kids in the area of time meal restriction seem to eat 1-2 meals a day, and many of them do 4-5 day fasts at least yearly. These people are not fat and they don't do it for weight loss. They do it because it appears to be protective of health and longevity, apparently partly through autophagy, which is another post or you can Google it. Feel free. It's cool.

So, in short, per The Obesity Code, fasts of various durations have health benefits, don't hurt you, and allow for caloric restriction and fat burning without triggering metabolic slowdown. 

So what am I doing? I have edged my NoS (no sweets, snacking or seconds) into an 8 hour window. I eat breakfast around ten, lunch two-ish and dinner at 6. I try to eat mostly whole foods (definitely not perfect with this) and I avoid most sweets except on the weekends.  I've been swimming/water jogging with the DH about 2-3 times a week, hit Zumba once a week, and I don't worry about it too much otherwise.

Stay tuned :)


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