Chapter 11: Big Food, More Food, and the Science of Diabesity

Aug 30, 2019

 

Check out a replay of the Facebook LIVE discussion for this chapter HERE

You Will Learn

  • Why snacking won’t make you thin.
  • Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day...for big food companies.
  • Why the message “eat more fruits and vegetables” is misleading for losing weight

 

About Dr. Fung, Author of The Obesity Code and The Diabetes Code

Dr. Jason Fung is a medical doctor, nephrologist by trade, who specializes in kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. He acknowledged that traditional medicine wastes time and resources attempting to treat symptoms of disease, rather than the cause of disease. 

You can purchase The Obesity Code book HERE

 

Overview of the Book

Here is the outline of the book. Today I’m covering Chapter 11 in Part 4. 

Part 1: “The Epidemic,” explores the timeline of the obesity epidemic and the contribution of the patient’s family history. It highlights the underlying causes of obesity. 

Part 2: “The Calorie Deception,” reviews the current caloric theory in depth and highlights the shortcomings of the current understanding of obesity. 

Part 3: “A New Model of Obesity,” describes how hormones are involved in the development of obesity. These chapters explain the central role of insulin in regulating body weight and describe the vitally important role of insulin resistance. 

Part 4: “The Social Phenomenon of Obesity,” dives into childhood obesity and why obesity is associated with poverty. 

Part 5: “What’s Wrong with Our Diet?,” explores the role of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, the three macronutrients, in weight gain. In addition, it examines one of the main culprits in weight gain - fructose - and the effects of artificial sweeteners. 

Part 6: “The Solution,” provides guidelines for lasting treatment of obesity by addressing the hormonal imbalance of high blood insulin through proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management. 

 

Why Snacking Won’t Make You Thin

Have you ever thought about how many marketing dollars are spent trying to convince you to eat more food? Big food companies have gone so far as to invent an entire new category of food. No longer is there just breakfast, lunch, dinner. Now we have entire grocery aisles dedicated to “snack food.” 

Why? Are these foods with bright colorful labels that tout “low calorie,” “low-fat,” “good source of fiber,” “whole grain,” “high protein,” anything but an attempt from big food companies to get us to eat more food?

Don’t get me wrong. I snack. I just don’t snack on processed junk food that will raise my insulin levels. And if you are trying to lose weight, a good rule of thumb is to focus on improving the quality of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eliminate snacking. 

Every time you eat, your insulin levels will rise. The name of the game to lose weight is to lower your insulin. One way to do that? Reduce how many times you eat during the day. Next time you go to grab a snack, ask yourself four questions: 

  1. Am I really hungry or am I just bored or stressed? If yes, do an alternative activity that will actually help with the underlying boredom or stress. 
  2. What did my last meal look like? If it’s 2 PM and you ate a bag of chips for lunch, it’s no wonder you are hungry. Try to plan your meals to include healthy protein, fat, and fiber to keep you feeling full and reduce the tendency to snack. 
  3. Am I hydrated? Chances are you are not. Most people don’t drink enough water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If your urine is clear or light yellow, that is a good sign you are hydrated. If it is more concentrated yellow, drink more water. It will help your body function better and fill your belly so you are less likely to snack. 

 

Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day...for Big Food Companies

We’ve all heard it...breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But when you are trying to lose weight, Dr. Fung argues this may be the most important meal to skip. Personally, I would NOT start with skipping meals (AKA intermittent fasting). Longer periods of fasting has been shown to help with weight loss because it allows your baseline insulin levels to stay lower for a longer amount of time, making your body use the energy (fat stores) you already have available. 

Dr. Fung describes on page 131 the cascade of hormonal events in the morning that wake you up and make you feel ready and energized to go (if you have had a good night’s sleep). On page 132, he argues that “morning hunger is often a behavior learned over decades, starting in childhood.” 

You have probably heard that skipping breakfast will slow down your metabolism. The research does not back this up. Chronic calorie restriction slows your metabolism. This is the problem with the “eat less” approach to weight loss. You chronically eat less, your metabolism slows down, and when you give up on your diet and eat more calories, your metabolism is now slower so you gain the weight right back. 

Like snack food items, breakfast foods have their own aisle in the grocery store. Modern day life of hasty morning often require a quick solution for breakfast. Further, we like our food to last a long time. What lasts longer and is faster and more convenient that processed cereals, granola bars, pancake/waffle mixes, pop-tarts, and pre-packaged drink mixes and oatmeal with loads of added sugar? Pretty much nothing. 

It’s no wonder you want a mid-morning snack if all you are having for breakfast is starch and sugar. I’d encourage you to be more intentional and mindful about what is actually in your food.

Listen to your body. If it doesn’t need breakfast, don’t eat breakfast. My body definitely tells me to eat in the morning so I do. But I don’t eat processed grains, I find alternative quick solutions like a healthy protein smoothie, eggs, or overnight chia pudding that is ready for me in the morning. 

 

Why the Message “Eat More Fruits and Vegetables” is Misleading for Weight Loss (Yes Weight Watchers, I'm Speaking to You) 

If you are on, or have done Weight Watchers, this one may be a difficult mindset to overcome. Fruits and vegetables are “free” with zero points. 

Fruits and vegetables are mainly carbohydrates. There are three main forms of carbohydrates, starch, sugar, and fiber. While it’s true that SOME fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, many of them are better sources of starch and sugar. When you put a blanket statement on a food category and say “eat as much of this as you want”, without considering what else a person is eating, this advice is very misleading. 

Carbohydrates, especially starch and sugar, have the highest insulin response compared to other foods. Fruits and vegetables do contain some fiber which will slow their digestion, eating flour or sugar products is definitely worse for you. 

But if you are still eating your processed, sugar laden instant oatmeal or pancakes with syrup and putting a banana on top because it’s “free” and is supposed to help you lose weight, I’m sorry to say you are being mislead. You are in fact just putting sugar on top of sugar. 

Dr. Fung states on page 134 our advice should be to “replace bread with vegetables,”  not necessarily just “eat more fruits and vegetables.” I’m a big advocate for replacing unhealthy foods in your diet with healthier foods, not necessarily eating more of something just because it’s healthy. Further, I don’t even like the notion of “free” foods like Weight Watchers advocates. 

I think unhealthy mentalities can arise when foods are thought of as “good” or “bad”, especially when the science of what foods are “good” for weight loss is inaccurate and actually stifling your progress. 

 

The Science of Diabesity

Diabetes is a newer term being used to describe obesity and diabetes because they have the same underlying cause - persistently high insulin levels. Further, these conditions increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.

The treatment for both is to lower insulin. Dr. Fung has an entirely separate book called the Diabetes Code. It's excellent if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the cause of, and treatment for type 2 diabetes.

 

Bottom Line

  1. Snacking won’t make you thin. It will raise your insulin levels, especially if you are eating processed and highly refined snacks. 
  2. Your metabolism won’t slow down if you skip breakfast. I advocate eating a healthy breakfast high in protein, fat, and fiber. Skip the refined and processed breakfast aisle in the grocery store. 
  3. Don’t just “eat more fruits and vegetables,” instead, replace unhealthy refined and processed carbohydrate food item in your diet with fruits, vegetables, protein, and fat. Here is an article to give you more ideas about what foods are good sources of fiber. 

 

References

  1. Chapter 11. (2016). In J. Fung, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. Vancouver: Greystone Books. 

 

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