A Review of implementing The Obesity Code by Dr Jason Fung
Discovering the Obesity Code
This book, by Dr Jason Fung, was an Audible recommendation. At that time, I was in the middle of my “recommended” healthy weight range I have never been overweight.
However, for the past 8 months, I have been killing myself to lose a few kilograms, with zero success. I am also a sucker for all things health-related.
The statement about insulin caught my attention and I thought, what the hey, I can always return it if it’s rubbish.
Was it a good listen?
Too good. It was hard for me to put this audiobook away. I found myself wanting to gorge on its contents.
It distinctly challenged my alleged understanding of fat loss. So much so that that I felt as though my near-religious beliefs were under siege.
The book caused me to wonder if I understand a thing about the biology of my body. I have grown a little paranoid that what I “knew” to be certain is simply a product of brainwashing.
For example, Dr Fung makes an incredibly strong argument for why a reduction in caloric intake can cause weight gain and drastically lower the metabolism permanently.
Unravelling the calorie fabric woven into my mind has been difficult and, some months later, I am still not there. I’m rather shocked at how resistant I am to letting go of the caloric intake approach – keeping in mind it is just an approach.
Another idea that has fallen victim to Dr Jason Fung’s logic is snacking, whether it be an apple or a handful of nuts. A stark contrast to having been bathed in the idea that eating every 2 hours increases the metabolism and missing a meal slows the metabolism which in turn, causes the body to store more fat at the next meal.
This idea that eating constantly to prevent fat gain really does seem absurd thanks to Dr Fung and I am left feeling foolish for having succumbed to its nonsense.
The book promotes fasting and this topic is covered near the very end. I appreciated this approach and to be clear, it is not a book about fasting. It covers a number of things such as artificial sweeteners, fats, wheat products, metabolism and the myth about burning muscle whilst reserving fat.
The book reads as an effort to share knowledge, challenge the modern understanding of and genuinely help people.
Dr Fungs approaches obesity with such dignity. A refreshing and unique change from blaming and shaming.
So I decided to test Dr Fung’s approach on my everyday life.
Applying the obesity code
I found it surprisingly difficult to find food products without added sugars, sweeteners or wheat. This has meant more time to complete a grocery shop, reading hundreds of labels and cooking most of my food from scratch.
Take cream for example. I was shocked to find only a single product in my supermarket was 100% cream. All other cream products included additives and other ingredients.
There is not a fleck of foodie in my DNA. I eat what I believe to be healthy food to fuel my body, the end. Cooking and cleaning the aftermath is torture and I would rather scoop my eyeballs out with a teaspoon than watch a cooking show.
There is no worshipping at the food alter for me…although I still heart Jamie Oliver.
Well, that was all Until…fasting. Suddenly I was churning out culinary masterpieces – or so it seems some 24 foodless hours later. Either way, I was initially grateful to find food enjoyable as opposed to a burden.
However, I have grown impatient with having to be creative with meals so as not to become sick of certain foods such as fatty meats. I have quickly grown to resent spending a large chunk of each evening after work looking up recipes and making everything from scratch.
Intermittent Fasting Jason Fung style
I didn’t bother with gradually increasing the duration of my fasts. I’m far too impatient and just want to get on with re-setting my body set weight. No time to waste courting it.
I have been completing between 2 and 3 24 hr fasts a week and the remainder of the week I complete 20 hours fasts.
The first 2 24hr fasts were incredibly difficult. I experienced headaches, weakness and was unable to think at all. To resolve this I began drinking high-quality salt in green tea or hot water during the fasting period and quite suddenly, I was able to function again.
I also made a bone broth as recommended by Dr Fung however, found this to be far more hassle than its worth.
What are the good bits?
- Fasting has drastically accelerated the visual improvements in my body as a result of my workouts. I have seen the same results after just one week as I used to see after a month
- Losing 4kg of fat in 8 weeks
- The workout-fasting combo has reduced my cellulite
- Feeling fox hot again in a pair of jeans
- I love the freedom that comes with not having to accommodate eating constantly
- Eating fewer meals means saving money and time on fewer grocery shops
- Eating whipped cream for the first time in 15 years makes it all worth it
- Learning how much I love whipped cream. Allot!
- Doing away with the shame of not being able to lose weight
- Discovering the power of my will
- I am really looking forward to creating a new body set weight
- Learning what hunger really feels like
If you are fasting, I recommend working out first thing in the morning as you will feel less affected by the fasting at this time. It also means you will be working out in a fasted state which requires your body to convert fat into energy…allegedly.
What are the bad bits?
- The fat loss is much slower than I had fantasised
- I lost 1 kg (2.2 pounds) a week in the first two weeks and not gram more until the 7th and 8th weeks where I lost a further 1 kg a week. That’s it! No cheats!
- The slow fat loss between weeks 2 and 7 was very disheartening and I asked myself many times “what’s the point”
- By week 4 I had grown completely occupied with losing body fat, weighing myself naked every morning to get the most accurate measurement
- I was unable to do a legitimate workout until about week 3 of the intermittent fasting and resolved to walk 5-6 km a day to compensate
- Trying to exercise in the evening of a 24 hr fast is nearly impossible and I have to wait until I have eaten and the food has settled
- I find myself fantasising about eating fruit and the sound of someone eating an apple makes my mouth water
- Vivid fantasies where I cram cake, biscuits and ice cream into my face hole started around week 8
- People around me connect through food. Fasting has caused a slight disconnect
- Being unable to enjoy any of the delicious food made available at work on a daily basis is very unfun. Especially when the boss brings in fresh home scones and cream
- Growing very tired of the regular discomfort of hunger
- Black coffee – yuck!
As the name suggests, the book’s focus is obesity. As I am in the middle of my healthy weight range, it is not clear how my current body fat percentage effects, if at all, the approach taken by Dr Fung. Could this be the reason I only lost 2 kg in the first 6 weeks?
Alternatively, my minimal weight loss could be due to the sugars in the fruit I was eating at meal times during the first 6 weeks.
The Obesity Code advocates eating whole fruit. However, the drdoctor.com website, to which Dr Fung is a contributor, appears to promote Keto and minimal fruit consumption.
Consequently, my confusion around fruit and fat loss here is a definite con.
I did catch a cold around the time I started the fast and my cough kept me awake for about 2 weeks. As sleep deprivation can hinder weight loss, I’m certain this didn’t help.
However, I am still left with the most pressing question of all – is a slice of cake redeemed if it’s immediately followed by a 20 hour fast?
Which leads me to worry about the impending holiday season, destroying all of my hard work. I’m not a glutenous eater however, I don’t have the courage to leave a trail of mild wounds and rejected dishes prepared by the in-laws in my honour, you know, in the spirit of Christmas.