Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan for Weight Loss? [Podcast Episode #037]
Fasting has become the new "big thing" when it comes to weight-loss. But, will an intermittent fasting diet plan lead to sustainable results?
Even the thought of fasting might be a lot for some people to handle (I know it was scary for me at one time). So, is it necessary? Does the human body really need to go through periods of fasting in order to operate optimally?
My guest today explains why intermittent fasting has become so popular and how you can use it to become healthier and get better weight-loss results.
Make Your Body Work Podcast: Episode #037
- Find More Helpful Resources From Dr. Jason Fung
- BOOK: "The Obesity Code" by Dr. Jason Fung [Get Your Copy Here]
- BOOK "The Metabolic Typing Diet" [Influenced by Weston Price's Work]
- Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks - Take the "10 in 4" Challenge!
Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan for Weight Loss? [Full Text]
Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of Make Your Body Work podcast. This show is all about answering your questions about living a healthier, happier life. I just want to say, again, welcome to the show. Thanks, so much for joining me. Before we get started, thanks again to everyone that has written in this week.
It's getting harder, and harder to choose from all the amazing questions, that I get each week, and deciding which ones are going to turn the next episodes on the podcast. I encourage you to continue to write in, because it just allows this podcast to continue, and I've got material that will be so relevant for you, for a long time to come. Keep those questions coming, because like I said, without you there will be no show.
I want to dive in today. I've got a really great question, a really timely question from Lori, and yeah, let's hear what Lori had to say. Lori wrote in, and she said, "I'm hearing a lot about fasting, and how it can help people lose weight. What's your take, is this a healthy approach?"
Like, I said, this is a timely question, because in the news, in the health world, right now, it's a bit of a controversial topic. This idea of, it's called intermittent fasting. Fasting on a regular basis for the purpose of weight loss, or just overall health. Quite often, I will get articles sent to me, or little newspaper clippings, showing all the benefits, and the research that
On the flip side there's always going to be two sides of a coin, and the other side says, no, it's not sustainable, it can mess with your metabolism, people shouldn't be doing it, and it really can leave sort of confusion out there when you can read both sides of the argument. What are you supposed to do? Is an intermittent fasting diet plan something that you should be incorporating into your regular routine?
Instead of me sharing my opinions on fasting, I've recruited one of the world’s top experts, when comes to the subject. Doctor Jason Fung, has recently written a book called, "The Obesity Code," and it's all about, well it talks about eating healthy, and some of the typical sort of lifestyles changes that we can make to lose weight, but it dives very deeply into hormonal balances, and hormones can impact weight loss, and weight gain.
Without further ado, I would like to welcome Doctor Jason Fung.
Meet Doctor Jason Fung
Dave: Hey, Doctor Fung, thank you, so much for joining us on the podcast, today.
Jason: Thank you.
Dave: I am really excited to have you on, because I actually heard about you
Jason: Sure, Dave. I'm a Nephrologist, that's a kidney specialist, and I wind up treating a lot of type two diabetes. I've been doing this for about fifteen years, now. The funny part about type two diabetes is that most doctors in the healthcare system, in general, really focuses on drugs. What drugs to give, how
Even patients know that. If you lose the weight, then diabetes goes away. Once diabetes goes away, then you don't have to deal with diabetic problems, because you don't have it. In the end, everybody knows it's all about the obesity problem, and that's really how I became super interested in treating the problem of obesity.
A Dietary Solution For A Dietary Problem
That's where I started a clinic called, the Intensive Dietary Management Program, which is really focused on using dietary manipulation to try to deal with the problem of obesity, and type two diabetes, because, again if you think about it for a second, if you have a dietary problem, then you need a dietary solution.
You cannot just start throwing drugs at it, because it's not going to work. It's like bringing a snorkel to a bicycle race. You've just got the wrong idea. The problem was that the dietitians, the doctors, everybody was so focused on one thing, which was calories, calories, calories. We've been obsessed about calories for forty, fifty years. Nobody, kind of really thought much outside of that.
This is the real problem, is that if you don't understand what causes obesity, you cannot treat it. Everybody doesn't think of this problem much because they think they know that what causes obesity is calories. Too many calories, calories in calories out, but it turns out that really that idea is completely false. It's not simply calories because the different types of foods we eat have different metabolic effects on our body.
If you have a dietary problem, what you need is a dietary solution.
If you have refined carbohydrates, say cookies, and you have salad, or olive oil, or whatever, they have different effects, when you eat them. They are not the same at all. We can measure those effects, it's very easy, we've known that
The False "Calorie is a Calorie" Idea
When you think about these sort of "a calorie is a calorie" idea, what you get is this crazy, crazy ideas, like, well, you can eat this plate of cookies, or you can eat this salad, with grilled salmon, and they'll be equally fattening because they have the same number of calories.
Dave: Which is something, that has been really proposed by, I don't mean to slam Weight Watchers, but that is the whole premise behind Weight Watchers, is that you are getting points, based on the calories in certain foods, and what those foods are, maybe, don't necessarily matter as much as the total points.
Jason: Yeah. Weight Watchers is interesting because they actually do vary their points, based on, I am not sure, I'm sure it's proprietary, but there are differences, actually. I'm not that familiar with it because I've never done Weight Watchers myself, but I do know people who have done it and, for example, a few years ago, as kind of controversial, they were going to take away all points for fruits, or something.
Jason: With the idea, that certain foods are more points than others, which actually reflects a little bit of that idea, that certain foods are actually more fattening than others. Of course, everybody knows this as true. If you can eat sugar, it's more fattening, than if you eat broccoli. They can be equal number of calories, but one is fattening, and one is not. That's the whole premise.
That is what I talk about in the book, as why this kind of calorie idea is completely false, and kind of laying out where the logical traps are, so that you don't get caught in them, and then exploring what really causes obesity, which is that it is really essentially hormonal, not a caloric imbalance. Because hormones control everything in our bodies.
They tell us how to grow, puberty, they tell us how much metabolism they control, basically everything in our body. Our body weight is the same. We all assume that it's completely unregulated. Our body weight is completely unregulated. No system in the body is completely unregulated. We have very powerful systems to tell us when we should eat, and when we should not eat.
That's the whole idea, and the thing is we have to really get back to kind of understanding what causes it. If we understand that the
Dave: In your book, your book is called, for the listeners, The Obesity Code, and in the show notes for this episode, I'll link directly out to it. For again, for any listeners if you go to makeyourbodywork.com/37, because this is the 37th episode, you can see a link directly to Doctor Fung's book, The Obesity Code. Can you explain a little bit about how insulin and cortisol work together, or work in hand to control weight?
How Insulin and Cortisol Work
Jason: Yeah. Insulin is the main hormone that's involved when we eat. When we eat, insulin goes up, and that tells our body to store some of that food energy, as sugar, which is glycogen, and fat. That's normal.
If you eat a big meal, then you store some of that energy in your body as sugar and fat. Now, when you don't eat, or when you fast, then what happens is that insulin levels fall, and then it tells our body to pull some of that food energy back out, and this is a completely normal situation.
If you have a situation, where insulin level is abnormally high, then our bodies are going to store fat. That's because that's its normal job. It's just that we have too much of it. Cortisol is a little bit more complicated, and it's known as the stress hormone, but the mechanism is slightly different, but it also releases a lot of glucose and may play a role in raising insulin, in the long term.
The idea is that it really is a hormonal imbalance, it's not that the insulin is, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with insulin it's just that the disease is too much insulin, therefore we have to figure out how we're going to reduce it. Certain foods, for example, stimulate insulin a lot, and certain foods don't stimulate it barely at all.
Therefore, if you're trying to reduce the insulin, you want to eat less food that stimulates a lot of insulin. Those are the refined carbohydrates, sugars, refined grains, flour, and I think people kind of know this already. You're not supposed to eat white sugar, and white bread, and that kind of thing, if you want to try to lose weight. People have started to get back to this idea. Back ten years ago, of course, everybody...
When fasting, your body is not starving. It simply uses energy your body already stored away.
Dietary Fat: The Least Fattening Food?
Dave: It was all of the low-fat foods, ten years ago, or maybe even more processed foods than we eat now.
Jason: Exactly. The whole thing about dietary fat is you see, especially from about fifteen years ago, the entire landscape has changed. Because, back then it was all about low fat, low fat, low fat. Now, we see people talking about healthy fats. Turns out that dietary fat is one of the foods of the three major macro-nutrients, and of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, it actually stimulates insulin the least.
It is actually the least fattening of the foods. As before, we always thought, wow if you eat a lot of fat, you're going to get fat. It's not really true, because it doesn't stimulate insulin, and this is the whole idea between the difference between calories because fat is very high in calories, but it really doesn't stimulate insulin a lot. Dietary fat has completely come around.
A lot of the research, we now realize, there's no link between fat, and heart disease, which was the major problem. All the studies, now, show there's no problem, now you get to the point, where olive oil, and avocados really, very, very
You cannot eat that avocado, and now everybody is, you should eat more avocado. The same with nuts, some nuts, like macadamia nuts, very high in fat, and fifteen years ago it was like, oh, my God, you cannot eat those nuts, there's so much fat in there. Now, it's like, oh, you should eat more nuts.
The research really bares that out. We know that people who eat more
Dave: Yeah. It is good to hear you say that, because I know there is confusion out there, with the listeners, and people in general about, does this diet actually work, and everything has such, so cyclical, and so fattish when it comes to weight loss, and what the latest and greatest is, and so it's good to hear it from a scientific perspective, this is how your body actually responds to these types of foods.
Processed vs. Natural Food. How to Make the Right Choices
Jason: Yeah. This is the thing. I actually really hate the latest and greatest sort of thing. I actually think that you should really go to the oldest, kind of the tried and true. Because those are the treatments that have kind of withstood the test of time. Really what we talked about, a lot in the book, is really eating natural foods.
For processed stuff, and processed grains, that comes in boxes. Just eat stuff that's kind of natural, and kind of grows from the ground up, and that includes carbohydrates, unprocessed carbohydrates, and that includes fat, and that includes proteins.
What you don't want to eat is a box of Lucky Charms, or something, because that doesn't really grow out of the earth. You don't have to worry so much if you are eating a lot of natural vegetables, and stuff.
The grains, of course, are different because they are all so highly processed, and the vegetable oils, and yes, they're fats, but they are highly processed fats, trying to avoid those highly processed foods. Grains, for instance, you take a wheat berry, what you do is you strip away all of everything except the carbohydrate.
Where before you had kind of a whole food, which had carbohydrate, it had protein, it had fat, now you take away all that and you only have the carbohydrates, so the balance is completely thrown off.
Your body can't utlize ultra-processed foods. Always chose natural foods.
Our bodies are adapted to
Dave: Yeah. It's interesting. You threw out the example of Lucky Charms, and I think most people would look at a bowl of Lucky Charms, and realize, okay that is not a healthy food.
When you look at some other foods that are marketed as being healthy and I'll use bread as an example, you can see all kinds of loaves of bread on the shelf, that have all kinds of health claims, on them, and an unaware consumer might look at that and think, obviously, hey this says it's low in fat, it says it's high in fiber, it says a source of protein, therefore it must be healthy, but like, you just said, it's ultra-processed.
Jason: Yeah. That's the real problem, is that we get into this thing where people make a lot of health points about different things, whether it's protein, or fat, or carbs, or fiber, or whatever it is, you cannot simply take fiber, and stick it into some processed foods, and write, oh, it's really healthy for you.
In the end, you really have to go with natural foods, and that way you don't really have to worry so much about what your percentage, sometimes people get really hung up with percentage fat, and percentage carbohydrate, and all this sort of stuff.
As long as, you are sticking to natural foods, if you go back and look at traditional societies, for example, you have societies that eat eighty, ninety percent carbohydrates. Okinawans, for instance, eat a lot of sweet potato, and they were some of the healthiest people on earth.
Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jason: This is traditional. Now, of course, they've westernized them, they have kind of gone downhill. You also have people like the Inuit who eat whale blubber, and seal fat, so practically all protein and fat. You go from one extreme to the other, and yet, in both societies, there is virtually no obesity, and no type two diabetes.
That's very interesting, what it tells you, is that you don't really have to focus so closely on these macro-nutrients, but rather, instead processing. One of the points that I make in the book is that really the toxicity lies in the processing, rather than the foods itself.
Dave: That's interesting. When you’re talking about the different macronutrient makeup, different people groups around the world, sounds like Weston Price, you know, metabolic typing diet, sort of philosophy, that idea that there isn't a one size fits all solution, but it comes back to what you said, going as far back as possible and look at tried and true examples of what can work.
Jason: Exactly. This is the thing that I always think funny about this kind of new super foods. Sometimes somebody comes out with this "oh, you should really eat this dairy or quinoa or whatever", and their fine foods, but we can do fine without them.
It always strikes me as slightly ridiculous that somebody comes out with something like, raspberry keytones, or green coffee, or whatever it is, it's like, okay, in the past five thousand years of human history, you think that we suddenly, like all of us, every single one of the billions of people in the world have missed this food, and you, in 2016, discovered that this food is going to make everything all right.
That's ridiculous. All the foods that are natural can be super foods. People survived on all kinds of diets and did well. Like, that Weston Price, he said, "You can look at all different places in the world, and have different diets, and still do well, what's the common thread? They
What Worked In the Past Still Works Today
That's the whole idea, that's why I like to look at things, my own bias is to look at things that have been done for thousands of years. If they've been done for thousands of years, then it's likely that they're fairly beneficial. Intermittent fasting, is a perfect example, everybody, I was reading this the other day, it's the latest diet craze, and I am thinking, really?
People have been doing fasting for at least five thousand years, minimum. You’re calling it the latest diet craze. Why don't you just call, bowel movements the latest diet craze? That's ridiculous. I think, that you really have to look back at what has worked in the past, and really give them a fair chance.
Why do we think we're so much smarter in 2016, that we figured out that fasting is bad for
Some diets have worked for thousands of years. The past still has a lot to teach us about eating.
The priest is not trying to kill off all his parishioners. They're doing it because intermittent fasting is uniquely and deeply healthy. It's a way to staying well. It's a way to clean your body out of all that junk that you've accumulated over that last year. It's not going to kill you. Because if those religious leaders were going to kill off all the parishioners, then they wouldn't have anybody to lead.
Dave: It's bad for business.
Jason: Exactly. It's ridiculous to call it a diet craze. It's like, wow, that's crazy.
Dave: I am glad you brought that up, because our listener question that I actually wanted to address was from Lori, and she was asking about following an intermittent fasting diet plan, and whether it is a diet craze, it's certainly has been popularized within the last two, three years.
That's what I want to get down to, because in your book you talk about using fasting as a mechanism to balance your hormones. I was wondering if you could talk with that from a practical standpoint. How could people start fasting? Why does it work? What should they be doing?
Fasting To Balance Your Hormones
Jason: This is the thing, fasting is really just the flip side of eating. Whenever you’re not eating you are fasting. Technically, that's all it is. What we’re saying is that you just need to balance eating and fasting, because they are flip sides of each other. If you eat from 7 am, to 7 pm, that's 12 hours of eating, and from 7 pm to 7 am, that's 12 hours of fasting, now they're balance.
If you eat from the minute you get up, to the minute you go to sleep, now you've gotten in the situation where your metabolism is dominated by the feeding phase, which is insulin dominant, and you have very little of the fasting, which is insulin deficient. Basically, you are just giving your body the signal, the insulin, to store fat, all the time. Then, you wonder why you are not losing weight.
It seems kind of obvious, now, doesn't it? If you've been way too far over on the high insulin side, then you need to balance it. The way to do that is to lower it. Fasting is, you don't have to fast, but it's one way of bringing your insulin levels down. It doesn't mean you fast for 40 days and 40 nights.
You can do it for 12 hours, 16 hours, 24 hours, whatever you'd like. There's really no rules on it, and there's nothing unnatural about this situation. It's simply a period of time, where you let body burn off the energy that you have stored away. The energy from last night’s dinner, from yesterday's lunch, you want to burn it off, so you fast, so your body has time to burn it off. That's it.
We Fast All The Time!
Dave: I really like your point about it, not necessarily having to be a set time period, I can remember as a teenager, there being an event, a religious based event, where all these teenagers would get together and fast for twenty-four hours, and raise money for a certain charity.
I remember thinking, there is no way that I could do a fast, and then someone pointed out, well you fast every single night for at least twelve, maybe sixteen hours. It seems so much more surmountable when you realize, I fast all the time.
Jason: Exactly. Even our word, breakfast, if the meal that breaks your fast, which means you have to fast, it's just a part of everyday life, because you can't break your fast if you haven't fasted. What it means intrinsically is that has to be part of everyday life. Whether it's just 12 hours, if you don't eat from 12, the night before to 7, that's twelve hours of fasting right there.
Dave: Maybe you can give, and I know people will, listeners are going to be thinking, well, tell me exactly what I need to do in order to start incorporating an official intermittent fasting diet plan into my life, and it sounds like from our conversation that there is no one size fits all, but...For someone who wants to start to extend their fasting period, what would you suggest? Should they do it on a weekly basis? Should they do it every couple days? How much should they extend that fasting period by?
Top Intermittent Fasting Diet Plans You Can Follow
Jason: Yeah. There are different regimens, for example, one popular regimen would be to have 16 hours of fasting balance with 8 hours of eating. That would mean eating, for example, from 11 am to 7 pm, and fasting the rest of the time.
Dave: That being on an ongoing basis, everyday just living life like that?
Jason: Yeah. You can do that every day. Now, you could extend that, and do a 24 hour fast, so basically you go from dinner, and then skip breakfast and lunch, and go to dinner again, and you might not need to do that every day, although some people do.
You might do it say, twice a week, for
Watching out for different side effects, but if you stick to the twenty-four hours, which most people find very doable, especially on a work day, we have this whole phobia of skipping breakfast, it's just ridiculous, because again, most people are not that hungry in the morning. If you look at studies of circadian rhythms the lowest point in hunger that you will ever have is about 8 am.
This is the point where people say, oh, you need to shove something in your mouth, right now. It's like, okay, but if you are not hungry, shoving something in your mouth is not like a winning strategy for weight loss. Okay. Isn't that like bloody obvious? Not to most people, and many dietitians, many conventional advice givers, they say, yeah, shove something in your mouth.
I don't care if you’re not hungry. The problem is that it really goes against what your own body is telling you, your own body is saying that, you know, you are not hungry, you don't need to eat buddy. Yet, you go ahead and you eat something. You don't have to worry about
The Starvation Mode Myth
This whole thing about starvation mode, and so on, that actually doesn't happen during fasting. What's mildly ironic about this whole myth about starvation mode...starvation mode is the idea that your metabolism will start to shut down, and therefore you’re not going to burn as many calories.
It's easier to regain that weight. The funny part is, when you just cut calories, you cut a certain amount of calories every day; that is exactly what happens, your body does go into starvation mode.
When you fast, it actually doesn't, because your body
If you never, not have anything to eat, that is if you are eating all the time, your body has no reason to go into its fat stores, why would it? It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't. Then, you just keep burning food energy, and then you wonder why you cannot lose weight.
Dave: Okay. I really like that you've shown the difference between going into starvation mode by eating a reduced calorie diet, perpetually, versus following an intermittent fasting diet plan and reducing your calories a day a week, or two days a week.
I know that is something that is hard for people to get over in their minds, they think of it as, that whole starvation mode that we've heard about so much in the media and think, I cannot fast, because my metabolism will shut down, and you’re definitively saying, that is not true.
Jason: Yeah. That is not true. The studies kind of bare that out. You can look at a study, for example, four days of continuous fasting, and measure your metabolical rate at the beginning, and at the end of those four days, and what's funny is that at the end of those four days, your metabolic rate is about thirteen percent higher than when you started.
Jason: Your body is not shutting down, it's actually revving up. This makes sense if you're a cave man, and you have nothing to eat, and you start shutting down you are never going to find anything to eat. Because you have no energy.
Instead, what the body does is it switches fuel sources, and then it gives you extra energy to go out and find something to eat. Because if you are so weak, you are as weak as a kitten, then you are just going to curl up, you are just going to die, because that is a vicious cycle.
You get weaker you won't find food, then you get even weaker, you are definitely not finding food. That's a
Dave: It's interesting, that's a great, great way to look at it, and anyone that has practiced fasting before experientially will know that that is true, maybe that first meal or the second meal of the day, when you are used to eating habitually, you might feel a little bit hungry but I would argue that that's even more of a psychological construct than a physiological one, and then after that, once you get through that, generally, there is plenty of energy.
Jason: There is actually a lot. Because, again if you think about it, people are worried about this as well, their worried like "oh, I'm not going to have any energy". Think about this for a second, think about the last time you had a giant Thanksgiving meal, immediately after, were you super energetic, or were you in a food coma lying on the couch watching football?
Jason: You didn't have any energy because all that blood is going down and digesting your food. Now, on the other hand, think about when you see somebody really hunger for something, you are hungry for power, you're hungry for this.
Does that mean you're lying on the couch in the fetal position? I don't think so. When you're hungry for something, it means you're hyped up, and ready to go. When you fast, your body is not shutting down at all. You’re poised and ready for action.
Make Your Body Work Takeaway
Dave: Those analogies, fantastic. So clear. Doctor Fung, I feel like we could probably talk about a million different topics, when it comes to weight loss, and fasting, and this show we try and be poignant, and give the listener a real strong point of action, that they can do today.
What would you say, I call this your Make Your Body Work Takeaway, what would you say for someone who's looking to lose weight, based on your research, based on your book, what could they start doing today, that will have the biggest impact?
Jason: I would say, that you could easily start by introducing a 16-hour fasting period, 3, 4, 5 times a week. It just means that you kind of restrict your eating
A simple thing that you can do, which affects your hormones by giving your body a chance to kind of go into that kind of fasting mode, to go into that kind of insulin low state, if you want to do even better, you could do 24 hours of fasting, maybe two to three times a week. Again, it's a very simple thing to do.
Keep in mind, of course, the first two weeks that you do it, it'll kind of suck. Your body is not used to it, and you are going to have problems, with maybe hunger, and that kind of thing, headaches sometimes pop up...
But again, you have to give yourself a bit of time, and then let your body get used to it, and then decide if it's right for you, and if it's not right, if you are not feeling well, then you stop, but that's something simple that you can try immediately, no matter what diet you are on.
Whether you think that you want to be a vegan. Whether you want to be a carnivore. Whether you don't eat this, or don't eat that. It doesn't matter. If you're fasting, you're fasting, you don't eat anything.
You can still drink water, and tea, green tea, herbal tea, coffee, that kind of thing. Stay hydrated, but that's something very simple that you could do right away, and see how your body reacts.
Dave: Love it. It's super practical, and like you said, you can try that, you can start, today. Try it listeners. Try a sixteen hour fast, today. Give it a couple of days, see how your body reacts, and then you can modify from there. Now, Doctor Fung, your book, The Obesity Code, I know listeners are going to be interested in checking it out, where's the best place that they could find it?
Jason: Yeah. You can find it at Amazon, and in most bookstores will have it. It just kind of released a few weeks ago, so not every bookstore will have it, but amazon.com, amazon.ca, will have The Obesity Code. The other thing, for more information, if you could go to my website, which is www.intensivedietarymanagement.com, that's the program that we run, the Intensive Dietary Management Program, that's the website, intensivedietarymanagement.com, and we have a weekly blog. There's links to all of our videos.
Dave: Perfect. Doctor Fung, thanks again, for taking the time to spend with us today, and just share some of your wisdom. I really, really appreciate it.
Jason: Thank you.
Dave: Thanks again Doctor Fung for joining us today, and thanks so much for shedding some light on this controversial topic of intermittent fasting. Is it something that we can start to apply? Yes! The answer is very clear from the research and from the book that you have written and thanks for sharing some very practical ways that we can start to experiment with that in our life, starting today.
I would also like to say, thanks to you, the listener, again, without you there would be no show. Thanks, so much for writing in. Thanks for sharing your lives. Sharing your stories with me. I always look forward to hearing from you, so feel free to write, anytime, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're struggling with weight management and you'd like to lose some weight, and it's just not coming off, I'd love to work with you. In fact, my program called the 10in4 Challenge incorporates intermittent fasting, and just like Doctor Fung suggests, we start to work it into your life in a gradual process, one that's manageable and one that's going to really help your results. If you're interested in working with me, feel free to check out, 10in4.com. Again, that's one, zero, IN, four dot com. 10in4.com, check with the 10in4 challenge, and if you have any questions, feel free to be in touch. I would love to work with you. That's it. Thanks again, for joining me, can't wait to see you here, again, next week.