jason fung low carb md

The Benefits of Fasting, Why Diabetics Shouldn’t Take Insulin, & Dispelling the Calorie Myth | Jason Fung on the Low Carb MD Podcast

Check out the Low Carb MD Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • A calorie is not a calorie—the calories you get from a cookie evoke a completely different response than the calories you obtain a piece of meat
  • Dr. Jason Fung has a different viewpoint than most when it comes to diabetes treatment; most notably, type 2 diabetics shouldn’t take insulin
  • “There are a huge number of potentially life-changing benefits that you get from fasting” – Jason Fung


Dispelling the Calorie Myth

  • Jason’s point of view: a calorie is not a calorie (i.e., a calorie from salmon is not = a calorie from soda—the body responds differently to each)
    • (In other words, weight loss doesn’t depend on the calories in/calories out model—the idea that, for someone to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you consume)
    • But he didn’t always believe this: “If you have your head stuck in the whole calorie paradigm, it’s really hard to come out of it”
  • “In all of human physiology, there’s nothing that responds to calories. The body responds to carbohydrates; it responds to glucose; there are responses to fructose; it responds to insulin; it responds to leptin. There are all these other molecules that are important in human philology; calories aren’t one of them. The calories you get from a cookie evoke a completely different response than the calories you get from other things.” Jason Fung

Diabetics Shouldn’t Take Insulin

  • Jason has a bit of a controversial view when it comes to treating diabetes: doctors shouldn’t be giving type 2 diabetics insulin—it only makes the problem worse
    • “If you have someone on no insulin and someone on 100 units of insulin, the person who’s on 100 units is going to do much, much worse than the person who fasted and got off that insulin. I’m 100% sure that’s true.”Jason Fung
  • Many doctors think: insulin is good & all diabetics need to do is get their blood sugar down
    • Jason’s view: insulin is terrible & the problem isn’t blood sugar—it’s whole-body sugar

The Many Benefits of Fasting

  • ~5 years ago, everyone thought prolonged fasting was insane (but not Jason)
  • “There are a huge number of potentially life-changing benefits that you get from fasting” Jason Fung
  • Dementia, cancer, obesity, diabetics, hypertension—these all improve with a time-restricted eating/fasting protocol
  • When you go without eating for long enough, your body switches from running on glucose to burning body fat for fuel (AKA “metabolic switching”)
  • Excessive energy intake increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke—periodic fasting reduces this risk
  • Intermittent fasting has been shown to enhance GABA, a neurotransmitter which prevents seizures

Many Doctors Lack Adequate Nutrition Training

  • “One of the things you and I know as doctors—and a lot of the public doesn’t know—is how little training doctors get in nutrition” – Jason Fung
    • Jason spent 9 years getting his medical degree, “and almost none of it was spent talking about nutrition or weight loss”
      • This is a problem. Weight loss/nutrition influences just about every health outcome, but instead, doctors take the “let’s just prescribe a medication” route.
  • Speaking on the issue: “It’s really on us to do better [as doctors] because people deserve it—they don’t deserve to get type 2 diabetes; they don’t deserve to have heart attacks and strokes.” – Jason Fung

Science Requires Disagreement to Progress

  • “Science requires there to be disagreement. If we all just said, ‘Okay, the current state of knowledge is the way it is, and we’re not going to question it,’ how is science going to advance? You can only advance by demolishing the old faulty belief and establishing a new one.” – Jason Fung
    • Remember: we used to believe toast with margarine was a healthy breakfast—this belief had to be destroyed for a new one to take its place
  • Digging deeper: if someone doesn’t agree with your nutrition beliefs, that’s okay! Everyone is entitled to their own diet choices—all we can do is focus on the evidence.
    • However, one thing’s for sure: stop trying to convince others to adopt your same diet beliefs. If someone has their mind made up, why engage them?

On the Conflicts of Interest in Medicine

  • “If a doctor’s getting paid half a million dollars a year to study and say why drug X is super good, they’re going to believe it” – Jason Fung
  • “If we say it’s okay for a drug company to pay $400k to this doctor, why don’t we say it’s okay for this mafia mobster to pay a judge $400k? … Why is it not okay for someone to bribe a policeman?”Jason Fung
    • In literally EVERY other field besides medicine, accepting money to express a specific point of view is frowned upon

How does Jason find peace?

  • By scratching his intellectual curiosity & thinking about nutrition topics from different perspectives; for example:
    • Going against the grain (the calories in/calories out paradigm) and instead, educating folks on how different types of calories affect the body
    • Having a contrary opinion related to insulin & diabetes treatment

Your Second Life

  • “When you’re young, you have to make money … But then, as you get older … you get this second life. After you get past a certain point—your kids are older, you’ve made your money, and you don’t have to worry about your mortgage, now what are you going to do with your life? If all you have is your money, then you’re one of the poorest guys I know.” Jason Fung
    • One piece of advice that will never steer you wrong during this period: helping others will lend you significant satisfaction

Additional Notes

  • You have to run for ~45 minutes to burn off a can of Coca Cola
  • “If you look at learning new material, it’s actually not nearly as hard as unlearning material. Once something’s ingrained in you, it’s hard to get out.” Jason Fung
  • “Everyone thinks research is about getting some rats or humans and putting them in a trial. Everybody poo-poos the actual thinking. There’s a lot of studies out there; you can solve a lot if you think about them the right way. Look at Einstein; he didn’t run a lot of experiments—he just thought about stuff.” – Jason Fung
  • Jason loves playing Sudoku & fishing with his kids (but he never eats the fish—he lets them go)
  • The more sensitive your body is to insulin, on average, the healthier you’ll be
  • Jason just bought a snowmobile 
  • “It’s honestly the most interesting story in medicine—the paradigm of cancer & what causes it. It’s completely different from what I learned in medical school.” – Jason Fung
    • Jason adds: cancer is NOT a genetic disease; it’s an evolutionary disease
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