The more I fast and the more I learn about fasting, the more excited I get about it. That’s why I wanted write a fasting book review of Complete Guide to Fasting.
However, somehow, I didn’t discover Dr. Jason Fung on YouTube until 3-4 months ago. He’s the best spokesperson for fasting in general.
I’m still a fan of Brad Pilon and his book Eat Stop Eat, my first real introduction to intermittent fasting, but I’m glad Dr. Fung’s book is now available. It covers a broader scope of scheduled eating and noneating and its benefits.
Dr. Fung is a nephrologist in Toronto, Canada. Since Type II diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease, he has seen many diabetics in his practice. In a sense he practices weight loss medicine just because he is treating so many diabetics.
His YouTube videos shine because he is young, passionate, bright, personable and extremely articulate. He finds clear analogies to make his points. He has a knack for making complex medical processes easy to understand.
He also seems to see reality for most people. He advocates fasting, but also feasting. He points out that when you go to a wedding or party you don’t want to be “that guy” who doesn’t join in the fun.
He clearly explains the connection between the kind of continuous eating many people practice (either just because they can or because they’re following the mainstream advice to eat many meals to avoid getting hunger) — and the current epidemic of obesity.
Which is turning into an epidemic of diabetes.
Plus, he’s pleasantly sarcastic. When he speaks of the usual mainstream medical advice to eat less by eating more often, you can see him rolling his mental eyes.
Jimmy Moore the Co-Author and Other Participants
I’m not sure why the book is structured as it is. The majority of it is Dr. Fung.
Jimmy Moore contributes a long chapter talking about his experiences. Some of them are interesting and, maybe, helpful.
Moore is well-known for advocating people eat a ketogenic diet. That’s one with a low percentage of carbohydrates. That forces your body to burn stored fat in the form of ketones for energy.
Ketogenic diets are a major trend among many nonmainstream health experts online.
Dr. Fung does advocate eating a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. However, he doesn’t seem to go as far as the others. Though I haven’t read his previous book, The Obesity Code, in which he advocates eating HCLF to cure Type II diabetes.
In his videos and this book he takes for granted people are eating normally.
Personally, I haven’t made up my mind about ketogenic diets. It seems so counter-intuitive. Is it really so healthy in the long run? What about its effects on kidneys? Wouldn’t it be better to eat more fruits and vegetables?
I have a lot of unanswered questions.
Also, it would be impractical for me. What vegetable would I make the mainstay of such a diet? What fat?
The book also includes brief paragraphs from other experts. However, I didn’t see the point, myself. Dr. Fung is the best expert.
Also, the book contains recipes. Dr. Fung laughs about it in a recent video. He explained to the publisher that a book of fasting recipes didn’t make sense, but they insisted he include recipes.
Apparently, the publisher was sure that people who buy books to lose weight expect and want recipies — even books about not eating.
Dr. Fung’s Story
According to him, he started out treating diabetics like every other doctor. In their early stages he prescribed the common medicines, especially Metformin. In later stages he prescribed insulin. Then more insulin.
Until they died.
After some years of that, he decided the real problem was not insulin resistance, but excess insulin.
So he tried putting his patients on the low carbohydrate, high fat diet. That does lower people’s insulin because it gets them to burn stored fat instead of sugar.
He found that did help control or reverse diabetes.
But he found many of his patients couldn’t or wouldn’t keep it up.
Many of them wouldn’t change their habitual eating habits. Some of them didn’t understand the bread they loved was one of those carbohydrates their doctor wanted them to stop eating.
Then he discovered fasting.
When You Don’t Eat, Your Body Turns to Burning Stored Body Fat
Plus, it’s food that causes your pancreas to produce insulin.
Therefore, when you don’t eat, it doesn’t produce more insulin.
This allows your current levels to fall.
And when your body’s level of insulin falls, that reduces your insulin resistance.
Dr. Fung explains the interactive relationships in the book. And in his videos, especially the ones about the “two-compartment” model.
Anyway, when insulin resistance goes down far enough, you’re no longer diabetic.
He’s cured diabetics within a month by getting them to fast periodically.
Basal Metabolic Rate is Key to Long Term Weight Loss Success
BMR is why caloric restriction or traditional diet are actually the opposite of intermittent fasting, although many people conflate them.
When you eat often but little (because you practice CR or dieting) through your days, your body adjusts to the new, lower level of calorie intake.
That adjustment means it lowers your BMR so you burn fewer calories just through ordinary living.
However, intermittent fasting doesn’t cause that. When you IF, you go without food periodically, but you also eat filling meals.
Your body’s response to IF is to raise your BMR.
That makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. When you’re not eating, you need energy to go out and kill a woolly mammoth for dinner.
It Could Be More Detailed
One criticism I have of the book is that he writes around the particulars of what he does with his patients.
Someplace (in a video?), he mentions that at his clinic he tells patients how long to fast for, and he monitors and supports them.
It depends on how bad their diabetes is, and other factors of their medical conditions, I assume.
But he can’t reproduce this in a video or book aimed at the world as a whole, so he explains the basics, leaving us to work out the details for ourselves.
And that aspect is sort of disconnected from Jimmy Moore’s story. Moore describes not eating for weeks and even a month at a time. He makes no mention of getting medical support or supervision.
Myself, I’m leery of that. In the 90s, I did several week-long juice fasts. I did all right without any help or supervision. However, I sometimes felt shaky.
And I’ve done one 4-day water fast.
I wouldn’t want to go any longer without some supervision. Maybe if I were younger, as Moore is, I’d take my chances.
And Getting that Supervision is Not Necessarily Cheap or Easy
There are clinics, but not that many.
The most well-known in the United States is Dr. Alan Goldhamer’s True North, but he doesn’t take you, he says in a video, unless you’re a good fit. There are clinics in Europe, especially Germany. I’ve seen references to others that sounded too hippy-dippy rather than medical.
I don’t want to fast as an excuse to go to a New Age resort in some country with poor enforcement of regulations. I’d want real medical tests done daily.
But, even if you have the time and money, why do that unless you have a severe medical problem?
So far as I know (and even this book is not clear on this), it’s possible to get all the benefits of fasting from IF. At least in the long-run.
Weight loss is one benefit, but even after I get down to my ideal weight, I plan to continue for the anti-aging benefits.
Intermittent Fasting Can be Adapted to Every Lifestyle
I once read an article attacking fasting because it was not a real solution to weight loss. The author meant that although it got rid of excess weight, it wouldn’t stop people who overeat from putting it back on.
(As though people who diet the conventional way don’t have a 98% failure rate at keeping weight off in the long run.)
Well, that’s true of long-term noneating. People can’t do 7, 10 or 20+ days of not eating often enough to offset consistent overeating.
However, IF is totally a longterm solution to weight loss and preventing weight gain.
I’ve been doing it for over two years. I started out strictly on Eat Stop Eat’s two 24-hour per week fasts. When my personal schedule and eating became less organized, I stopped being consistent.
Now I mix things up. I often go 16-20 hours without eating. Sometimes I eat too much. I regain some of my lost weight, but I’m still a long way lighter and smaller around the waist than where I started two years ago.
As Dr. Fung says, you can do what you like with this concept. You can schedule it to suit your schedule and your preferences.
However, I Still Long for More Detailed Guidance, so I’m Including That in This Fasting Book Review
Dr. Fung does write up suggestions toward the end of the book, but I still have a lot of questions that, perhaps, only time and more experience and scientific studies will answer.
I guess I was looking for a set schedule or amount of fasting to do based on my health, weight and age.
And, to be fair, even if he had gone into that much detail, my eating patterns are now so disorganized I probably wouldn’t follow what he said.
Dr. Thomas Seyfried says that going without food for 7-10 days once a year protects you from cancer.
I find that hard to believe. Not to discount the value of fasting, but going without food for that length of time once a year means people will overeat and have excess insulin and, probably, other bad habits for 355 days a years.
I find it difficult to believe that going without once a year, even for ten days, is as good as regular, daily or weekly IF.
What Should We Eat While Eating?
This is a question even the IF experts disagree on.
Dr. Fung seems to believe a low carbohydrate, high fat diet is best. But he discovered fasting because he learned many patients couldn’t or wouldn’t follow that.
So, is that how otherwise healthy, nondiabetic patients who do IF (such as myself) should be eating?
His co-author would undoubtedly say so. Dr. Joseph Mercola agrees.
Dr. Goldhamer advocates vegan or, at least, largely plant-based. I forget exactly what he said in a video.
But Brad Pilon says not to get hung up about such scaremongering. IF isn’t a license to eat anything, but he points out that many people have gotten fit and healthy based on totally different diets. There’s no one “right” diet that suits everybody.
IF is apparently so powerful it may make up for a lot of dietary mistakes. I must admit, as someone who does not eat perfectly, that’s another aspect of intermittent fasting I like.
But we may not learn the precise optimal balance for years to come.
Or never, if nanobot medical applications are developed soon enough, allowing us to remain healthy no matter what we eat.
Until then, keep on intermittently fasting.
This book will guide you. That’s my book review.
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