Is the Fitness Industry Cracking the Obesity Code?

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Is the Fitness Industry Cracking The Obesity Code?

The Obesity Code book review is perhaps one of the most important episode we’ve done. At the least it’s a most important topic. We’ve not cracked this code or solved this problem yet. We’re all still unraveling factors that contribute. As fitness professionals we’re key in supporting individuals with obesity.


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The Book:

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian doctor expert on intermittent fasting and low carb for treating people with type 2 diabetes.

Six parts of the Obesity Code:

Part 1 of the Obesity Code, “The Epidemic,” explores the timeline of the obesity epidemic and the contribution of the patient’s family history, and shows how both shed light on the underlying causes.

Part 2, “The Calorie Deception,” reviews the current caloric theory in depth, including exercise and overfeeding studies. The shortcomings of the current understanding of obesity are highlighted.

Part 3, “A New Model of Obesity,” introduces the hormonal theory of obesity, a robust explanation of obesity as a medical problem. These chapters explain the central role of insulin in regulating body weight and describe the vitally important role of insulin resistance.

The Second Half of the Book

Part 4, “The Social Phenomenon of Obesity,” considers how hormonal obesity theory explains some of the associations of obesity. Why is obesity associated with poverty? What can we do about childhood obesity?

Part 5, “What’s Wrong with Our Diet?,” explores the role of fat, protein and carbohydrates, the three macronutrients, in weight gain. In addition, we examine 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. Dietary guidelines for reducing insulin levels include reducing added sugar and refined grains, keeping protein consumption moderate, and adding healthy fat and fiber.

Added points:

Intermittent fasting is an effective way to treat insulin resistance without incurring the negative effects of calorie reduction diets.

Stress management and sleep improvement can reduce cortisol levels and control insulin.

Three main topics for discussion of this book:

  • Proteins – whey/animal/dairy
  • Fructose
  • Carbohydrates + fat (or sweet fat)

Proteins– especially dairy can stimulate insulin significantly

  • Whey protein can raise insulin even higher than whole wheat bread
  • Increasing plant-based proteins can decrease the insulin response
  • But not completely eliminating…because of the satiety solution to weight control
  • Increased insulin promotes weight gain
  • Increased satiety suppresses it
  • (hormones secreted by protein consumption)

It’s Not “All Animal Protein is Bad”

When you talk only about increased meat consumption you talk about a large number of people reporting… often in a poor economic division of the population you find consumption of poor quality meat to be frequent.

So depending on you and your awareness studies may not reflect your personal risk at all.

Conflicting Information

The insulin spiking effects aside, dairy and meat had differing effects on weight gain though in some studies:

Dairy didn’t cause part because it’s hard to over consume cheese or milk or yogurt (according to Fung) and easier to do so with meat.


It’s “fattening carbohydrates” consumed with fat = sweet fat in the presence of cortisol that combines with insulin.

Vinegar and fiber add protective features.

Processed foods period should be avoided. It’s not the calories or even the amount as much as the processing of the foods we eat.

What I liked about The Obesity Code:

Dr Jason Fung is stating the facts. He’s citing the research. He isn’t advocating for one perfect solution. He isn’t beginning with an argument or persuasive speech wanting the reader to buy into his plan.

It’s validating some of the news you hear and debunking the simplicity of calories alone without consciously addressing the quality of food. It looks at the relationship between hormones influenced by food and the result of fat storage.

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The simple message in The Obesity Code:

  • Simply … unprocess your diet. Stop eating out of boxes and plastic wrapped foods. Start eating more vegetables, more plant based protein, more fibrous foods.
  • Use animal protein and fruits more sparingly and get the highest quality of them.
  • Avoid fructose, particularly sweet fat.
  • Manage your stress, and make sleep hygiene a priority for insulin and cortisol control.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, not just for every fitness professional, for every student, and every client. This is a great book club read at your gym. If you want to create more community I highly suggest reading it and bringing people together. Do a panel with local university professors, nutritionists, and obesity experts.

What’s up next in the book review?

The Trillion Dollar Coach

You might also like past book reviews:

How to Get, Hire, and Train a Growth Mindset

Great By Choice, Does It Describe Your Career?

Two Must-read Books For Fitness Trainers

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