Obesity – a hormonal disorder

Obesity – a hormonal disorder

Obesity, or having a BMI greater than 30, is becoming a more common health problem over the last few decades with about 40% of adults now dealing with this.  It is also a health problem that is stigmatized and the patient is frequently blamed for.  Everyone knows that if they just ate less and moved more they wouldn’t have this problem. Right? People are stereotyped as lazy and not watching what they eat.  Research shows that there are other things that contribute to patients having problems controlling their weight, besides eating too much. In fact it is common for obese people to eat fewer calories than their thinner friends, Dr. Jason Fung is a kidney doctor who believes that obesity is primarily a hormonal disorder, and not a caloric disorder.

Dr. Fung is the author of several books that have been talked about recently – including the “Obesity Code” and “the Complete Guide to Fasting” and most recently “the Diabetes Code”.  He has a program called Intensive Dietary Management which is available online to provide further support to people who are interested.

Insulin Resistance and increased insulin levels are what Dr. Fung believes has contributed to our obesity epidemic and what makes it harder for people to lose weight the longer they have been obese.

Hormones are molecules that move throughout the body and deliver messages to the target cell.  One of the main hormones involved in obesity is insulin.  Insulin is made in the pancreas and helps the body use energy and store excess energy for a time when it can be used – and thus causes weight gain.  If you decrease the amount of insulin you are exposed to, you can decrease the weight,

How can you decrease insulin levels?

Insulin levels are decreased by

  1. eating foods that don’t raise insulin as much – carbohydrates raising the insulin levels more than proteins or fats.
  2. decreasing levels of the hormone cortisol that increases in response to stress and
  3. decreasing insulin resistance 
  4. decreasing how often you eat. 

How can you treat obesity and reverse diabetes?

So to reverse this epidemic it may help to:

  1. reduce added sugar consumption.  Read labels.
  2. eat whole unprocessed foods.
  3. avoid refined grains like white flour to decrease insulin spikes.
  4. increase consumption of natural fats – healthy fats like avocados, walnuts, virgin olive oil, fatty fish – helps with feeling full by stimulating the fullness hormones peptide yy and cholecystokinin – and fats don’t raise insulin levels as much.
  5. improve stress control and sleep hygiene to decrease the stress hormone cortisol from stimulating insulin.  Try Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, massage and regular exercise to help with this.
  6. increase physical activity to improve insulin sensitivity of tissues.
  7. limit the bodies exposure to insulin by decreasing the frequency of meals. Insulin is released each time we eat so decreasing how frequently we eat decreases how often we are exposed. If cells aren’t as frequently exposed to insulin, then they will be come more sensitive to its effects and less will be produced. And decreased insulin helps with weight loss. 
  8. don’t drink diet soda or artificially sweetened things that increase insulin release even though they don’t contain calories.
  9. increase fiber – to help with digestion and decrease production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Dr. Fung recommends people consult with their physician to see if intermittent fasting is appropriate for them and to do lab work in order to monitor their treatment progress.  There are different protocols that people follow when fasting and it can be used with many different diets – although many people chose to pair it with a Keto diet to decrease exposure to foods that increase insulin levels. 


***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.

Healthy Eating Tips

Healthy Eating Tips

Below is a general Healthy Eating Tips handout I give to some of my patients when they are looking for more moderate suggestions on what to eat.  Choose My Plate is another website that many people like to reference for additional suggestions.   This is a general suggestion list and you should discuss this with your doctor if it is right for you before following it.

Healthy Eating Tips

Easiest way to eat healthy is to follow the plate method.  With this method you 1st fill ½ of your plate with green leafy vegetables, then you may fill the other parts of the plate with ½ of of a healthy carb or starchy vegetable and the other ½ with a protein and then add 2 tablespoons of a healthy fat.  Try to stick to whole unprocessed foods.  If counting carbs aim for 75-100/day – but not more than 30-45g in 1 meal.


Carbs – Look for things with a lower glycemic index.  Ex think quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice.

  • If you are eating pasta try to have it al-dente.
  • Try for varied colors of vegetables and fruits.
  • Fresh and frozen are better than canned. If canned fruit get in water/own juices and if canned vegetable rinse in order to decrease sodium.


Meat/Protein – avoid fried or cheese/cream sauces with main dishes.

  • Leaner beef/pork/chicken/eggs/seafood.
  • Try to have fish 2 x week – sock-eye salmon is healthier than many other kinds.
  • Consider plant proteins too – black/pinto/kidney beans, edamame, tofu, tempeh, hummus are all examples.
  • If having lunchmeat please pick a low sodium variety.

Frozen lunches

  • Amy’s and Kashi are 2 brands that have healthier options.
  • Look for <500mg of sodium, 45g/carbs, and 14-20g of proteins when looking at options.


  • More water.  Many people do well with 6-8 glasses a day – if you have heart failure or have been told to watch intake please discuss quantities.
    • Minimize caffeine intake as this can increase anxiety.
    • Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. No pop.
    • Limit alcohol to 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men (1.5oz spirits/1 beer/1 glass of wine is 1 drink)


  • Make them plant based. Olive oils, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocados…
  • If you are still hungry/hungry before your next meal you may need to increase fat or protein content in diet.

Eating Out

  • Try putting ½ of your dinner in a to-go box before starting eating or split the meal. Plan ahead – look up health info ahead of time.


  • Consider taking a multivitamin daily. Look for one with “USP Verified” label.

Snacking  – Don’t have a carbohydrate without a protein. Ex maybe apple and peanut butter…

Activity – do at least 30 minutes of activity/day. This increases insulin sensitivity and helps with weight loss and decrease blood sugar.

Log Your Food – this gives you a sense of what you are actually eating.  FatSecret and My Fitness Pals are 2 free applications that you can use on your phone.  FatSecret can also allow you to connect your doctor or other health professional so they can see what you are doing.


***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.

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