“ ..the best diet would emphasize whole, unprocessed foods. It would be low in refined carbohydrates high in natural fats with a moderate amount of protein.”
From The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung P86
I really admire the work of Dr. Fung, especially his knowledge of the effects of insulin, and the physiology of obesity and type 2 diabetes, so I was thrilled to interview him about this very subject in 2016. (Watch interview here!)
In his latest book on fasting, Dr. Fung perfectly describes what I call Keto Paleo, aka the therapeutic ketogenic diet I use in my practice. In the book Dr. Fung presents several arguments in favor of fasting as the best solution for obesity, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
Here I would like to present some thoughts on Dr. Fung’s book and opinions on fasting VS using Keto Paleo to achieve the same goals.
In my opinion a combination of fasting and a solid Keto Paleo diet is the best possible solution, not just for metabolic issues like diabetes 2, but for general health and weight loss. Here is why.
Making a point in favor of fasting, Dr Fung states that most low carb diets are too complicated for his patients. He tried to put his patients on ketogenic diets but they were to hard to follow.
I think that any new information needs a time to be assimilated and has a learning curve. But I also believe that with the right guidance anybody can learn how to eat keto not just low carb, within 3 or 4 weeks. I see it happen on a daily basis with my patients!
In my program The Healing Foods Method I teach patients how to successfully implement a Keto Paleo diet in 11 weeks, with a 90% success rate!
Another point Dr. Fung makes is that you can eat whatever you want as long as you fast enough, and you will lower insulin and lose weight
The part about insulin and weight is true, if you fast long enough they will be lower, but what about healing your gut, eliminating food sensitivities and getting the right health building nutrients into your body? How about supporting hormonal health with the right building blocks?
Also, long periods of fasting might be needed to tip the scale when eating a conventional diet, is it doable and sustainable for most people?
If insulin is the problem, but insulin comes from food, you can eliminate the food and reduce the problem, but this concept misses another whole part of the nutrition principles which is nourishing the body.
So if we miss out on the nourishing foods can healing happen just from withdrawing the offenders?
I think it is an incomplete picture. Dr. Fung suggests the use of multivitamins during long periods of fasting, but that option also seems incomplete to me.
Getting your nutrients from foods goes beyond just getting the basic minerals and vitamins. Whole unprocessed foods are alive with enzymes, phytonutrients and complete vitamin complexes. Something we do not find in chemically derived supplements!
The third point in favor of fasting VS eating a (Keto Paleo) diet is that healthy foods are expensive, and most people cannot afford them.
So will your whole family fast? How about children? I think this is not a very realistic point, when seen in the bigger picture. If properly budgeted, a whole family can improve the diet they eat and get the health benefits of it.
If considered for an individual, let’s say a type 2 diabetic who wants to heal the condition. I guess, that if you are not able (or willing) to prioritize healthy keto foods, fasting could be a good option, but this leads me back to the previous point of the missing nutrients in the picture.
In the chapter called Fasting VS Low Carb Diets (P115) Dr. Fung ultimately admits that ketogenic diets have 71% of the benefits of fasting, and that the only difference is the power of the effect, meaning fasting will be effective in the cases when diet is not enough to lower insulin and blood sugars.
So why not use the best of both worlds?
I think that fasting as the only solution is a valid approach when facing extreme cases and patients who do not respond to the diet. (I have seen few cases in my practice!)
For the average insulin resistant person, both overweight and dealing with Type 2 diabetes, I think a combination of fasting and diet would provide a much more doable strategy. Also a strategy which supports a holistic health view and provides the nutrients necessary for health and life itself.
There are many ways to fast, from intermittent to long term, and Dr. Fung does an excellent job in explaining how to do them and for whom they are recommended.
I also use different fasting strategies in my practice, with consideration to adrenal issues and metabolic issues.
My final conclusion is that fasting is an extremely beneficial tool, most effective when used within a whole system of healing, which includes a therapeutic ketogenic diet, aka Keto Paleo!