Book Review – The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet

By Jason Fung, MD

The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet is Dr. Michael Mosley’s new book and one of the most important books of the year. Why? More than simply a collection of interesting ideas and meal plans, it contains one overriding message of hope. Type 2 Diabetes is a reversible disease!

Let’s back up a bit here. Dr. Mosley studied at New College, Oxford before completing medicine at Royal Free Hospital. After medicine, he joined the BBC as a producer of many science and health related television shows. More recently, he stepped in front of the camera as the on-air personality and presenter.

In 2012, Dr. Michael Mosley was a TOFI. A what? Not tofu, the delicious Asian soy delicacy. TOFI stands for Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside. Dr. Mosley is a medical doctor, BBC journalist, documentary maker, and international best-selling author. And, in his mid-50s, he was a ticking time bomb.

He was not particularly overweight at the time, weighing 187 pounds, standing 5 ft 11 inches with a waist of 36 inches. This gives a body mass index (BMI) of 26.1, which is just barely in the overweight range. By most standard measurements, he was considered just fine. Most people with this syndrome feel just fine, with just a little bit of weight carried around the mid-section from being ‘middle-aged’.

However, BMI is not the best indicator of T2D risk. The waist circumference, a measure of body fat distribution around the trunk is a far better predictor of T2D. During the course of filming, Mosley had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) body scan. His organs were literally swimming in fat. To look at him, you would not have guessed he was fat because most of it was hidden inside his abdomen where it was mainly hidden.

Eighteen months later, during a visit to his GP for an unrelated reason, some routine screening blood tests were done. He was shocked and devastated to learn that he had type 2 diabetes. Dr. Mosley says, “I had assumed I was healthy and suddenly I was discovering I wasn’t, and had to take this visceral fat situation seriously.” This pattern of obesity where most of the fat is carried around the abdomen is called central obesity.

Comparing your waist circumference to your height is a simple measure of central adiposity. Keeping your waist circumference to less than 1/2 of your height leads to the lowest years of life lost according to one study.

In untangling the relationship between obesity and T2D, we need to distinguish between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is that fat that accumulates around the intra-abdominal organs such as the liver. Subcutaneous fat is the fat deposit directly under the skin. Visceral fat can often be detected by an increased waist size, or an increased waist/hip ratio.

For example, approximately 30% of obese adults are metabolically normal (16). Normal weight persons, as defined by Body Mass Index may still show the same metabolic abnormalities as that in obesity.

I first came across Dr. Mosley’s work in 2012, when the episode ‘Eat, Fast, and Live Longer’ aired on the BBC. Luckily, it was also available worldwide on YouTube. There was almost no information on intermittent fasting available anywhere. Nobody took the idea of fasting seriously.

There were some pockets of interest, including Dr. Krista Varady, whom Dr. Mosley interviewed, but over the next few years, interest began to grow. This was quickly followed by his monster worldwide bestselling book ‘The Fast Diet’.

This was an absolutely groundbreaking book in that it introduced the idea of intermittent fasting to a public that had mostly never heard of such a thing. While there were other books and websites that discussed fasting, they had mostly remained in the shadows, never having gained much public attention.

His new book ‘The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet‘ is a similarly groundbreaking book. Following the work of renowned Newcastle diabetes researcher Dr. Roy Taylor, it lays out a simple plan for reversing type 2 diabetes. It discusses much of the science in easy to understand language and then delivers some simple recipes to get you started.

The reason I call this one of the most important books of the year is that it exposes what I call the Biggest Lie of Type 2 Diabetes. This is the idea that T2D is a chronic and progressive disease. This is, after all, what all your doctors, nurses, diabetes educators will tell you. You’ve got T2D, and you’re going to have it for life. Get used to it.

The American Diabetes Association even promotes this message on its website. It’s a ‘fact’. This helps to crush the hopes of patients everywhere. It creates a sense of learned helplessness. The whole point is to take away hope.

Which makes this book so important. The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet demonstrates the very point that Type 2 Diabetes is a curable disease. While everybody shies away from using the C word, this is exactly what we need people to understand. This is not something that we need to live with. Dialysis, blindness, amputation, heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage – these are all preventable. But certainly not with medications alone. It requires a dietary solution.

The simple fact of the matter is this. Type 2 Diabetes is a dietary disease. We must use a dietary solution. Using drugs for a dietary disease is like bringing a snorkel to a bicycle race. Luckily, Dr. Mosley’s book gives us that solution.

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By The Fasting Method

For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.

Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

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