Book Review – The Obesity Code

When you think about weight loss, do think, well, I’ll just eat XXXX-number of calories and add in exercise.  Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve been contemplating the lack of successful long-term weight loss and maintenance for my clients using the classic calories in “calories out” model?  I know, I’m bucking the “truth.”  Or is it a “myth?”  It is with this stirring in my head that I picked up Dr Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. [1] He is a Toronto-based nephrologist who works with obese patients with kidney dysfunction mainly from diabetes complications.  According to Fung, “Calories are only a single factor in the multifactorial disease that is obesity.  Let’s face the truth.  Low-calorie diets have been tried again and again and again.  They fail every single time.” [2]  If you have ever dieted to lose your love handles, you know this yourself.  But what we do know is that all diets work for a short time.  After all, we do manage to drop weight for a while, before putting it back on without much effort.  Classic yo-you dieting that many of us are more than familiar with.

Have you ever questioned why stubborn weight doesn’t come off with depriving yourself of food AND exercising?  After all, we are told if we expend energy and restrict food (energy) we should lose weight.  But unfortunately, it is not that simple.  Obesity is a multifactorial lifestyle disease.  It is much more than a simple (all be it, logical) formula.  And if “calories in calories out” worked, then we would all be at our ideal weight rather than be one of the many contributions to the obesity epidemic.  “The multifactorial nature of obesity is the crucial missing link.  There is no single cause of obesity.” [3]

Dr Fung explains and addresses the shortcomings and myths of current obesity theory. Then he suggests that a new model of obesity is needed and that model has nothing to do with calories or exercise. Instead, Fung explains that obesity is caused by a body set weight that is too high due to a hormonal imbalance in the body. [4] And that hormonal imbalance involves insulin.[5]

Quotable: “Diet is Batman and exercise is Robin. Diet does 95 percent of the work and deserves all the attention…Exercise is important and healthy, just not equally important.” [6]

Fortunately, he ends his book with a doable solution. Because after all, most people aren’t sure what to do to change their bodies’ insulin resistance to bring about weight loss.  The sixth part of The Obesity Code outlines the guidelines for lasting treatment by addressing the hormone imbalance that is contributing to rising insulin levels in the blood. What does his protocol include?

  • reduce consumption of added sugars (refined sugars)
  • moderate protein
  • add healthy fat
  • add healthy fibre
  • intermittent fasting
  • improve stress management techniques
  • improve sleep hygiene

Other takeaways for me:

“Long-term dieting is futile…Long-term weight loss is really a two-step process…the foods that we eat…[and] meal timing.” [7]  Most dieters know this already, but they’ve been duped by healthcare practitioners to believe that it’s the dieters’ fault they can’t lose weight not the diet.  The failing isn’t ours.  The portion-control calorie-reduction diet is virtually guaranteed to fail.  Eating less does not result in lasting weight loss.” [8]

“Starvation is the involuntary absence of food…Fasting, however, is the voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual, health or other reasons.” [9]  Simply put, you shouldn’t be afraid to skip a meal voluntarily, especially, if you aren’t hungry.  I know that when I choose to not eat because I’m not hungry, I have less bloating, sleep better and feel healthier.

“Fat is the body’s way of storing food energy for the long term; it uses glucose/glycogen in the short term.” [10]  My thoughts: The goal would be to figure out how to use up the short-term energy so you can tap into the fat stores and deplete them.

Dr Fung has already published his next book called The Complete Guide to Fasting (co-written with Jimmy Moore) — expect to see a book review on this book in the near future as I am currently reading it.  Fung’s clinical experience with thousands of patients supports his present belief that reducing insulin levels by changing eating habits works to drop weight and regain health (ridding their bodies of type 2 diabetes).

Are you wanting to learn more about the ketogenic diet and whether it is a good choice for meeting your health goals? Then book your free Discovery Chat with Brenda. How? Email to schedule your chat.


[1] Jason Fung MD, The Obesity Code (Vancouver BC: Greystone, 2016).
[2] Fung, 218.
[3] Fung, 216.
[4] Fung, 72.
[5] Fung, 79.
[6] Fung, 53.
[7] Fung. 235.
[8] Fung, 41.
[9] Fung, 236-237.
[10] Fung, 243.







About Brenda

Brenda loves learning and sharing what she's learning with you. She is a certified keto/carnivore coach with Keto-Adapted (Maria and Craig Emmerich, a certified holistic nutritional consultant (CHNC), and a natural nutrition clinical practitioner (NNCP).