Four Simple Steps to a Healthier and Leaner Life

lowerbloodsugar

Many are jumping from diet to diet in pursuit of a thin and healthy body. Over the past eight years, GI (low-glycemic) and then LCHF, have been the most popular methods in Sweden. However, during the past few weeks intermittent fasting in the form of 5:2 (eat just 5-600 calories two days a week) has become hysterically popular.

The reason is likely that all three methods work. Furthermore, they work in a similar way.

The figure above is from a recent and worth-reading post by science writer Ann Fernholm:

You’ll Become Less Sweet with the 5:2 Diet (Google translated from Swedish).

Lifestyle for Weight Regulation and Health

The figure above shows how all versions of a low-carb diet (for example a low glycemic load diet, LCHF, Atkins or Paleo) will lower blood sugar and the fat storing hormone insulin. And so does intermittent fasting, such as 5:2 or 16:8. And so do exercise and adequate amounts of sleep and relaxation (by hormonal influence).

In other words, a low-carb diet, intermittent fasting, good sleep and exercise create a synergistic effect – for optimal weight and good health.

However, diet is by far the biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to weight.

The Opposite

What about the opposite of this? A lifestyle that creates the worst conditions for maintaining a good weight and health?

This means living a lifestyle that most people in our modern society live today:

Lifestyle for Obesity and Disease

highbloodsugar

The figure above is also from Fernholm’s blog post, but I modified (improved) it a little.

What’s the best way to become fat and sick? There are four pieces of this puzzle.

  1. Eat a diet full of bad carbs and sugar (this includes all wheat flour foods – such as bread and pasta – which turns into glucose already in the stomach). Looking for low-fat products may facilitate weight gain (fat storing) as they often contain extra sugar/starch
  2. Make sure to eat at least every three hours (a sick piece of advice)
  3. Keep a continuously high stress level and sleep too little
  4. Don’t exercise

Conclusion

Follow the advice in the green figure to become thinner and healthier. Or choose the red ones for the opposite effect.

Which one of the green puzzle pieces is hardest for you to do?

More

Would You Like to Become Smarter, Healthier and Leaner by Putting in Less Effort?

Lose Weight by Reducing Stress

Does Exercise Promote Weight Loss?

LCHF for Beginners

How to Lose Weight

30 Comments

  1. Barb
    I think the hardest part for me is sleep. I need to learn to shut down the TV. I have been working on that piece of the puzzle and have found that getting adequate sleep plus IF have made all the difference for me. I am using Brad Pilon's "Eat Stop Eat" method, which I think equates to the 5:2 plan.
  2. Ramona Denton
    Intermittent Fasting has been one of the most useful tools I have ever employed to improve my health! Thanks for posting this!
    Reply: #3
  3. Paul
    Me too. But it was already practiced in ancient Greece. Why do we have to reinvent the wheel so many times, in so many aspects of our lives,?. Will our kind ever get wise?, I don't think so.
  4. Dr. Jason Fung
    Insulin is the main driver of obesity, but insulin is also the main cause of diabetes. Insulin causes insulin resistance which is synonymous with diabetes. As Insulin causes both obesity and diabetes, it is often called diabesity. This suggests the fascinating prospect that treatments to lower insulin will cure diabetes, and in fact, all those treatments (exercise, low carb diet, intermittent fasting, sleep - not so much) can cure diabetes.

    With regards to fasting and diabetes, I read with absolute fascination Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book Anti-fragile in which this former options trader lays out why fasting will cure diabetes and guess what? He's absolutely right! I have been treating type 2 diabetes with intermittent fasting for over a year with 90+% response rates.

    Reply: #6
  5. Anne - lovinglchf.wordpress.com
    According to the research I have read, the IF can give women quite a bit of trouble with the hormonal balance. Tjek this out by Stefani Ruper: http://www.paleoforwomen.com/shattering-the-myth-of-fasting-for-women... or this site: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/a-bad-combination-for-women-intermitte... and this: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-fasting/

    The Bulletproof Coffee makes me feel great, and it makes my hormones in balance! I love it! It tastes like a creamy latte.

    Reply: #11
  6. sten
    I think you are aok with IF curing diabetes, provided no high carb or large meals in between.
    Which means low carb high fat will keep such meals further away than any other regimen, as it also automatically reduces calorie intake.
    The reason IF cures diabetes - and heart disease - is two-step: fasting first empties glycogen stores in liver and muscles, then forces the burning of fat, which would be at least 50% visceral fat, the fat that is strongly correlated with insulin resistance, poor blood sugar control and heart diease....
    If you eat a SAD (standard american diet) between fasting the high carb intake would
    1/ replenish glycogen stores and if too much 2/ even store fat, and/or at create hunger when the blood sugar spike tails off in to a undershoot, often causing immediate failure.

    Simply, real long term benefits of intermittent fasting can not easily be achieved on a SAD.
    The progressive loss of visceral fat could be as powerful a healing agent as the SAD diet is the opposite when it progressively increases plaque deposits.
    Why, because high blood sugar cause inflammation when over 5.0-5.5. Check what NFAT.is.

    Reply: #10
  7. Peggy Holloway
    I really like this. And IF is so easy to do if one is on a ketogenic diet. And no hormone problems, but they may be because I'm post-menopausal. I'm also pretty physically active - can do a century bike ride after an 18-hour IF.
    My son (who was debilitated by "ADHD" as a child) has had very good luck with the bulletproof coffee concept. He makes his with Yerba Matte and has found that it gives him a lot of energy in the morning. He offered some to a hung-over roommate and the friend actually got over his hangover with it. I am too "lazy" to go to the work of getting out the blender, but do well with coffee and cream in the morning, then don't eat again until late morning. I usually only eat twice a day, with an early dinner, then IF until the next day's brunch.
    Reply: #13
  8. Michelle
    I do this!!! (waving frantically!) I combine IF with LCHF and I have managed to lose 22lbs. I have tried LCHF on it's own and it makes me feel great, but I eat too much. When I combine it with IF I eat less naturally and lose the fat.

    Thanks Doc and thanks to all the other bloggers who have helped me to find the right tools for me to lose the fat.

    Michelle

  9. Fabio
    I have been following a low-carb, 5-2 diet, regular sleep and high intensity exercise regime for more than 2 years now and at age of 41 I am healthier, leaner and fitter than ever....thanks Andreas for sharing this.
  10. Dr. Jason Fung
    I agree with everything you said about fasting forcing the burning of fat. However, I believe that the reason that fasting and Low Carb diets can cure diabetes is different. I don't think that obesity causes diabetes because no matter how hard people look, it is impossible to find a satisfactory explanation of how obesity causes diabetes. Removal of fat via liposuction does absolutely nothing to relieve the insulin resistance.

    Instead, I believe that insulin is the cause of both diabetes and obesity. Therefore, the reason these strategies work is that fasting and LCHF both lower insulin levels and therefore reduce both obesity and diabetes simultaneously. That's why this is such a great post by Dr. Eenfeldt. We need more people to spread the word.

    Replies: #14, #15
  11. Daniel Ferreira
    ***work out one day on, one day off, Overhead press, bench, squat, and body weight excersises every day.
    ***fast for 15hrs most days,
    ***read books instead of watch TV. also lower my internet time.
    ***Ride bike (long distances maybe 100km or 60miles)or kayak on weeknds.
    *** shoot bow or guns with friends
    ***some weekends eat whatever i want for 1 day or sometimes 2 days
    ***maintain 11% bodyfat
    ***drink beer on weekend
    ***start again monday
    ***life is good
  12. spareld
    I would have to say sleep. but I love to exercise because it makes me feel good. so why is that in white?
  13. Anne - lovinglchf.wordpress.com
    Hi Peggy

    We make our bulletproof coffee with a handheld milk frother and it works like a charme! The blender is too much trouble in the morning in our family woth small children ;-)

  14. sten
    Hello Jason,
    Agree that there is no strong connection total obesity-diabetes. The connection visceral fat -diabetes-2 is however strong. Is any diabetic-2 without excess visceral fat (CT-scan) known ? Visceral fat is in turn best connected to waist circumference, but not to subcutaneous fat, clear from other studies, checked with CT-scan.
    See http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7504/1363 for waist-insulin resistance correlation.

    Regarding that visceral fat could be the cause of insulin resistance, it is based on professor Roy Taylor's intervention trials purposely reducing visceral fat by means of a short starvation diet. He measured VF before and after with CT scan and saw reductions of VF cover over pancreas with 25% . Of course the diabetes-2 could have been cured by some other effect, for instance by reduced liver fat through the diet. Liver fat often(?) goes hand in hand with visceral fat: Liver making triglycerides of excess carbs causes fatty liver (Not only for ducks and geese..., fois gras), and some(?) visceral fat at the same time. Knowing that visceral fat causes hormonal upsets it is near but not conclusive that VF is the culprit.

    When you mention liposuction, was visceral fat around organs like heart and pancreas removed then? If yes, VF is not the culprit but something happening at the same time VF is reduced by means of a quick near starvation diet.

    The actual mechanism becomes of pure academic value if professor Taylor's trials can be repeated as the solution to diabetes 2 is then available.

  15. sten
    In my case I cured CVD (angina) with strict low carb high fat diet.The symptoms went after 6 weeks and I have since remained symptom free for 1.5 years. Weight dropped 7 kgs initially, but then stagnated and I had hoped for another 10 kgs loss to reach 82kgs.
    Then recently I started to check my blood sugar (BS) in mornings and found that it could go up over 6 , even 6.8 if I had not exercised day before or had 2 glass wines. With exercise or wine it was always below 5, sometimes even 3.9.
    The same for a friend who has been a diabetes-2 for over 10 years.
    This told me that the regulating organ, the pancreas may well be dysfunctional orget distorted readings as it produces glucagon to stimulate the liver to produce BS when it is already too high! That is one reason why I lean towards Taylor's theory that the pancreas is embedded "too deep" in VF.
    Another organ that possibly also could become less powerful by VF is the heart: My resting heart rate (RHR) was 60 all my life until after I got CVD and it measured 80 !
    RHR is also correlated to insulin resistance or waist measure. (The higher the less health.)
    My RHR now dropped from 77 to 68 during 11 days intermittent fasting (23:1) !
    If the heart becomes "wrapped" in excessive VF reducing effective stroke length the RHR then would need to rise to maintain same hourly flow.
    If that explains rising RHR it would then be a very simple indicator of general health.
    Reply: #16
  16. Dr Jason Fung
    Hi Sten - I think we are on the same page here. The only difference is almost a matter of semantics. Some believe that

    insulin --> visceral fat --> insulin resistance (diabetes).

    I think that the link from visceral fat to diabetes is very tenuous. I think the link goes like this

    insulin --> visceral fat
    insulin --> insulin resistance (diabetes)

    In either case, since 'starvation' (fasting) or LCHF reduces insulin, either hypothesis is true. In both cases, VF is tightly linked to diabetes as well. For instance, in this study:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8422777
    type 2 diabetes patients were tightly controlled in their blood sugars. Over 6 months they went from 0 to 100 units/day of insulin. What happened? they gained weight, but also their insulin resistance went up. Again, both hypotheses may be true, but I think that there is a direct link from insulin to insulin resistance. In other words, insulin causes insulin resistance, or insulin causes diabetes.

    Why is this distinction important? Because we currently treat diabetic patients with insulin! So we are treating hyperinsulinemic patients with insulin - that will make the sugars better, but the diabetes worse. And I think this effect does not require the intervening step of visceral fat.

    If you look at it this way, you see that the key to the treatment of diabetes is to lower insulin (which is too high). Either fasting or LCHF will work.

  17. Carlos
  18. VKOOL
    Thank you for this post. I have gained much knowledge after reading this writing from you. I will try to control my habits and live better. I have realized that I should give up some bad habits I have.
  19. Maggie
    I am continually excited by reading the success stories of people losing weight and gaining health with the LCHF diet. I so so wish I had a success story, also! Unfortunately, I have not lost any weight doing this, and instead have managed to put on about 5 pounds in the last 6 months or so. I put cream in my coffee, eat lots of meats and eggs and butter, and get leafy greens and other green vegetables fairly often. (I also eat -- love! -- cheese, and I'm wondering if there is a problem with that....) In looking for more guidance on the LCHF, I've been scouring all the happy stories here for specific meals but haven't seen anything to perhaps point out what I might be doing wrong. Is there any possibility that my thyroid isn't working correctly and that no matter how much fat and low carb food I eat I can't lose weight? Just hoping for some answers.
    Reply: #20
  20. Ana
    Hi Maggie.
    Perhaps you could try this for 30 days?
    http://www.whole9life.com/2013/08/the-whole30-program/
    I've found it very effective. I suspect dairy can be problematic.
  21. Maggie
    Ana, thanks so much! I'll check that out.
  22. Alien
    I think many women have little weight loss success on LCHF. I think the dairy and high fat eating are the issue. Decrease the ft a little and up the protein instead. Have a look at Optimal Ketogenic Living (OKL) on Facebook to explain all of this. It makes no sense to consume BPC or extra fat when we are trying to lose fat. Use your body fat instead. Eat enough fat to satiate but not overdo it. I was stuck on the same weight for a year with LCHF until I found OKL. Make sure you take VitD3 and magnesium supplements.
  23. Monday
    HI guys is really interesting reading all these experiences, however mine is a different story... Iam losing so much weight ... of about 10kg in the one year or so.... iam diabeteic for 13 years living on oral diabetic drugs... but I have been having high blood glucose of above 16 almost always... throught that period . My diabetic control base on blood surgar levels I will say is poor.. Kindly assist me with a comprehensive regime of the IF and intesive dietary management of DR JASON FUNG.
    Thank you while awaiting your kind response in this regards
    Reply: #24
  24. Zepp
    First of all.. are you sure its type 2.. losing weight on high blood sugar is typical for type 1?

    And a investigation in Kronoberg Sweden found it was easy to get the wrong diagnose.

    "Incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults and children in Kronoberg, Sweden"

    http://www.diabetesresearchclinicalpractice.com/article/S0168-8227(08)00334-3/abstract

    But heres the food regime;

    http://www.fitintegrity.com/uploads/9/5/1/6/9516119/no_sugar_no_starc...

    If you get that adapted to LCHF you often only eats twice a day, that IF or 16:8!

    If you get able to use stored fat for long periods you can have 1 meal 1-2 days a week.

    But I still think you have to get a better diagnosis?

    Some people have problems whit Incretine hormons to.

  25. Lenore Nieters
    Reply to Maggie, comment 19
    Hi Maggie,
    I'm not a nutritionist & learn everything I know through research & personal study. I thought it might help to know that Dr. Atkins, first well-known low carb advocate said, in one of his books, that if you weren't losing weight on a truly low-carb diet, it is most likely because your body has not switched from burning carbs to burning fats. He said some people are more resistant to this switch & need to drastically increase their intake of fat as their main source of calories until their body kicks in & begins burning fat for a while. After your body has fully switched to burning fat for a while you can begin to add some low carb foods back into your diet.
    Have you ever used ketone testing sticks to see if you are burning fat? You can buy them at most places that sell diabetic supplies. Eating almost no carbs at all usually puts your body in a state of ketosis, which just means a state of burning fat instead of carbs. You can learn more about this by googling 'keto' or 'ketogenic' diet. (Do not confuse this with diabetic ketoacidosis; they are not at all the same; burning ketones is very natural & safe).
    Check it out. It might be the answer you're looking for
  26. michael
    hello im michael and im quite worried and very emotional. yesterday i accompanied my mom to the hosp to have her self checked. we asked to go through Random blood sugar testing andbthe result is 16mmol/L then the next day did a fasting Blood sugar test which resulted to 12mmol/L. her hba1c is at 9.7%. and i am worried and too emotional. I am very much interested mr. fung with your theory and please help me save my mom from being stolen by diabetes. my knoledge is insufficient on how to do fasting properly. if in case ill follow high fat low carb, will it further cause further problem with her cholesterol level of 7.23mmol/L with the hdl of 1.40mmol/L and LDL of 5.14? please help me. she is the only reason why i live and working hard. this is out first time in having her checked. I beg you please help me. ?

    michael garcia
    Filipino
    28yrs

  27. Susan
    Michael, Everything you need to know to help your mom is available with a little searaching.

    Here is a TED talk by Dr. Sarah Hallberg (obesity specialist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ

    Dr. William Davis (cardiologist) has a blog: http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/

    Dr. Fung talks about the two lies of diabetes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcLoaVNQ3rc

    I get a lot of recipes from the Wheat Belly blog; I bought the book and the cookbook. I also get a lot of recipes from Low Carb Zen: https://www.lowcarbzen.com/

    The “rules”

    No GPS: No grains, no potatoes and no sugar.
    No low fat or diet anything.
    Eat real food (usually does not come in a box.)
    Don’t eat anything you don’t like.
    Drink lots of water

    Have a craving for sugar? Eat fat. Feeling hungry between meals? Eat fat. Craving bread? Eat fat.

    Of course, I make things more difficult because I don’t consume artificial sweeteners. I use Stevia and xylitol.

    My favorite snack:
    Chocolate Pudding
    4 oz cream cheese
    5 tbsp sour cream
    5 tbsp whipping cream
    5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    5 tbsp xylitol
    Blend in blender. Add more sweetener and cocoa to taste. If it gets too thick, add more sour cream.
    I leave it in the refrigerator and just eat a spoonful when I want something sweet or chocolaty.

    Elana’s Pantry is also a good source for recipes but some of them call for agave syrup or some flours that are high on the glycemic index. I delete those and make substitutions. http://elanaspantry.com/

  28. Rita
    Hello,
    First of all I would like to give a HUGE THANK YOU!!! To Andreas and Dr. Jason Fung for all the amazing information that has been put on the website. It really has answered a lot of questions I had during my weight loss efforts.

    I am now just starting intermittent fasting 16:8 and I have just one question :

    Is it just as effective for women as it is for men as I have read some articles that it may not be very effective for women???
    Please help

    Thank you in advance

  29. Margaret
    I am one of the not obese type 2s. 5'5" 130 lbs. 59 year old female. Diagnosed 3 months ago with a1c of 12.8 fasting BG 261. On Metformin. Initially followed the dietary advice from ADA. Sugar was still too high to please me although "within" guidelines. Went on a low carb diet the past month and sugar is generally in the 80's to under 120 after eating, but generally in the low 100's (under 110) upon waking. Want to get off meds and break the cycle. What fasting regimen do you recommend? Most worried about why sugar is higher in morning many times than it is after eating dinner.
    Reply: #30
  30. Bjarte Bakke Team Diet Doctor
    Margaret, check this out: http://www.dietdoctor.com/lose-weight-using-intermittent-fasting

    If you want more information on fasting, I highly recommend Dr. Fung's video course on the membership site. You can try the membership for free for 30 days: http://www.dietdoctor.com/new-member

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