For many years, I received bad advice on nutrition and exercise from someone I trusted, and I followed it. The end result was metabolic syndrome, although I was fortunate to not develop other diseases that stem from hyperinsulinemia.
I’ve read dozens of books on the matter, trying to find a solution that wasn’t extreme and that could be sustainable. Nothing worked, and it wasn’t for lack of discipline. I knew there was a problem because of the symptoms, but none of the information I had access to got to the root of the issue.
Late last year I came across a video from a Toronto-based nephrologist, Dr. Jason Fung. It was a half-hour talk on metabolism, describing the body not as a bank account (which the calories in/calories out model proposes), but rather as a chemistry lab, wherein metabolic issues come down to hormonal imbalances triggered by diet, exercise and other factors.
So I picked up his book, The Obesity Code, and it was a revelation: most everything I had learned—especially the bad advice—wasn’t only incorrect and loosely founded, it was producing the opposite effects. What’s more, the science Fung presents goes against the grain of what most people are taught, in the U.S. at least. Here are five based assumptions he debunks:
1. Calories in and calories out are independent of each other.
2. Basal metabolic rate is stable.
3. We exert conscious control over calories in.
4. Fat stores are essentially unregulated.
5. A calorie is a calorie.
To understand why each of those statements is false, you have to understand the physiology and processes that regulate metabolism. Fung provides that information in a logical, easy-to-follow way, and he provides links to clinical trials at the end of each chapter, in case you want to investigate the sources. It’s not only informative, it’s approachable and at times funny, and gives practical solutions to correct metabolic syndrome—something Fung reportedly does in his clinical practice with a high degree of consistency.