Monday, April 4, 2016

just another rendition of same ol' same ol'

I've been reading Jason Fung's new book, "The Obesity Code" -- respected sources have reviewed it, and i hoped to find some new insights although one critique observed that most of the material covered is already available on his website.

For about the first third of the book, i tended to agree, but soon i started seeing some disturbing patterns.  I'm now 55% in -- and on the next-to-last chapter, not including appendices -- and my nebulous discontent has developed a distinct form.

For one thing, in speaking about weight regain after ANY diet, Fung resuscitates the old tired "weight setpoint" hypothesis.  Granted, one seems to regain up to and slightly beyond one's original weight, if one is not damned careful to avoid weight-gain at all.  Does this hypothesis otherwise have any legs to stand on -- does it "prove" there's a setpoint in any way whatsoever?  NO.  Nobody has ever revealed any mechanism legitimizing this concept, except a postulation that it might have something to do with leptin.  I call BS until there's actually DATA provided -- he's merely begging the question.

He lies about the second wave of Atkins being a low-fat version of low-carb -- flat-out LIES.  There is not only NO advocacy of lean meats in it, the "New Diet Revolution" is where we learn about fat-fasting!  If Fung is merely confusing Atkins with some other brand that DID recommend combining LF with LC, it just makes him careless and sloppy -- not likely to make me have a lot of faith in his judgement.

In an early part of the book, he comes to the 21st-century conclusion that "calorie restriction as primary" (with his trademark acronym CRaP) is not a valid construct.  Too many studies exist which make it clear that stand-alone "calories" are not as significant as the source of those calories.  But when he comes to talk about various plans for weight-loss, Fung criticizes the "eat more ___" advice by saying, "To put it simply, you cannot eat more to weigh less, even if the food you’re eating more of is as healthy as vegetables."  Sorry, Jason:  you can't have it both ways when it comes to "calories counting."

Nor can you decry observational studies when it comes to "their" hypothesis but consider them perfectly valid when they support YOURS.  This is a pet peeve of mine which has damaged my respect for nutrition-writers before now.  Have this tattooed on the foreheads of everyone who cites population studies -- observations provide HINTS, not proofs.  And for good measure, tattoo on their arms "healthy-user bias skews all observational studies."

I've still got a couple of chapters to go before i finish this book, and also the appendices to look over. If i actually LEARN something in the "What to Eat" and "When to Eat" sections, i'll let you know, but i'm braced for disappointment.  At least i don't feel obliged to read through the recipe section for food ideas that might appeal to us ... cuz there aren't any.


  1. He trademarked the word CRaP?? Medifast is a low fat, lower carb, very low calorie plan. It worked for me to use my fat as fuel and transition off the SAD. But I had to switch to real foods to get away from fake processed food and artificial junk. It was only a step in the process.

    Thanks for your review. I'm waiting for a Kindle sale in 1-2 years where I can spend a $1 or 2 to read about it.

    1. Not literally trade-marked, but he seems to have coined the term ... which i find pretty clever, actually. :-) There's certainly no doubt that Medifast's combo LCLF works, as you plainly proved, but his point was that "the new updated Atkins" of around Y2K was a low-fat version. Fung writes: "By the late 1990s, as the “new” low-carbohydrate approach fused with the prevailing low-fat religion, the Atkins diet v2.0 was born—a low-carb, low-fat and high-protein approach. Where the original Atkins diet was high in fat, this new bastard diet was high in protein. Most high-protein foods also tend to high fat too. But this new approach called for lots of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and egg-white omelets. Once you tired of that, there were protein bars and shakes. A high-protein diet made many worry about potential kidney damage."

      I started out LCing with "The New Diet Revolution" but procured a copy of the original version afterward -- the biggest difference i remember between them is the reliance on mainstream diet products (like diet puddings, etc) in the earlier book, and on his lines of supplements in the later one. Also, his original induction menu was meat and salad, and in the later book he opened up for other non-starchy vegetables.

      Could be, Fung never did read Atkins himself, but listened to other people or magazine articles which THOUGHT they understood what the diet was about but were wrong.... Whatever the case, i think your plan to pick up a bargain copy later is wise, or maybe through the used-book trade, or to borrow it from the library. ;-)