Home » Preventative Medicine » THE FAST TRACK


I have studied diabetes for years…all primary care doctors have…but only recently have I been exposed to a concept that can really make a difference in the care of diabetics. One of my Signature MD patients sent me a link to Dr Jason Fung …a doctor with a “new” approach to treating type 2 diabetes. Immediately , I saw the rightness of the idea. There have been multiple new drugs in the past several years but they just increase our medication choices…they don’t have a meaningful impact on changing the lives of diabetics. When you become a diabetic you go on one med….after a bit you go on a second med..eventually many people go on an injectable agent…all the while monitoring their sugars , blood pressure and cholesterol levels routinely. We are treating the sugar number but not the underlying problem which is that your insulin levels are too high.

 diabetes-528678_1920 I am talking now about the very common type 2 diabetes not the uncommon type 1 diabetes where they don’t make enough insulin. So, most diabetics have insulin resistance and high insulin levels. High insulin levels prevent you from burning fat , High insulin levels cause weight gain. High insulin levels keep your belly fat growing. High insulin causes salt retention and therefore raises blood pressure. So, high insulin levels bad. Now the current diabetic teaching is low carb, frequent small meals etc…Not bad advice but no­where near the best advice for treating high insulin levels. To treat diabetes and prediabetes effectively you must get the insulin level lower. Turns out that this is possible and doesn’t require any strange new meds , treatments or therapies.

Ok, how much extra time in your day do you need for this new treatment? How much money will it cost? How many choices will you have to make each day? Special equipment? Extra doctor or professional visits? The short answers are that it frees you from too many choices. It will save you time. It will save you money. No special meetings or equipment needed. Do I have your interest piqued yet? Well, I amcup-791948_1920 talking about intermittent fasting. Fasting lowers your insulin level back to normal. This allows you to start mobilizing the fat in your body. Fasting reverses all the metabolic processes that insulin resistance causes.

There are many many types of fasts…I have gently recommended the 5:2 diet for years….5 days a week you eat healthy…2 days a week you take in only 500 calories or less. This is simple, basic and reasonable. I recommend doing the two days in a row for best results but you can vary the schedule to suit you. The intermittent fast recommended by Dr Jason Fung involves skipping breakfast and lunch every day and only taking in calories from 6­10 pm at night. Yes, this flies in the face of all the recommendations that you should eat a big breakfast and or have 5 small meals a day. If you follow that advice you will keep spiking your insulin and weight loss will be much harder. This advice certainly has not made a dent in our diabetic problem or obesity problem. With intermittent fasting you don’t have to make a decision as to what to eat for breakfast or how to manage eating lunch on the road etc… You don’t have to spend extra time in the gym, buy special scales or tubs, or learn anything new about calories, fats, protein etc. The first few times are psychologically daunting but almost UNIVERSALLY people that do the intermittent fasting FEEL BETTER. More energy. More mental focus. Less stomach issues. As the doctor said on one of the many videos I reviewed for this issue, you can do the test of 1. That is , try it for yourself ..you be the judge. You don’t have to ask anyone else what happened to them or how they feel. You can try fasting for yourself and see for yourself and feel for yourself the benefits. “Oh I could never fast….it’s just too hard !” Really? A billion people fast for Ramadan, Hindus , Buddhists, and old fashioned Catholics all have experience with fasting.

Jason-Fung-Introduction-400x225I am not going to give you the play by play because it really is just that simple…black coffee and water only until 6 pm. Eat healthy or not for 4 hours then no food after 10 pm . There are many variations on the Internet. Start with Dr Fung on youtube and off you will go. By the way…this is not really some new fad or trend. Fasting has been around as long as we have. When people tell me that it’s impossible to do I refer them to the TV show..Naked and Afraid ..where strangers are put together in the wilderness for 21 days to survive. The vast majority of them never find anything to really eat and that has not prevented anyone from completing the challenge. They might get sick from drinking contaminated water but no one quit due to lack of calories.

You don’t have to need to lose weight, you don’t have to be a diabetic, you just have to want to feel better. If you are a diabetic on lots of meds it would be prudent to check with your doctor about which meds to cut back etc. Your doctor should be sympathetic to your efforts even if he is not familiar with fasting. If he can’t be bothered perhaps it’s time to upgrade your medical care. When I mentioned fasting to one of my colleagues he opined that he thought the idea made sense but that we couldn’t get people to go along with it. I have more faith in you than that.! Did I mention that people who do fast say they feel physically and mentally better!

Let me close with a few quotes about fasting so you know it’s not just me ! “Humans live on one­quarter of what they eat; on the other three­quarters lives their doctor.” Egyptian pyramid inscription, 3800 B.C. “Fasting is the greatest remedy­­ the physician within.” Philippus Paracelsus, one of the three fathers of Western medicine “Instead of using medicine, better fast today.” Plutarch, a Greek biographer and moralist “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.” Benjamin Franklin

Until next month…get well stay well…

Dr. Barry