The Thinsulin Program

The Breakthrough Solution to Help You Lose Weight and Stay Thin


By Charles Nguyen, MD

By Tu Nguyen, MD

By Mary Ann Marshall

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Chances are if you've picked up this book, you've wrestled with your weight. Maybe you've tried a number of fad diets, with any number of methods—many of which lay the blame on eating too much food that's high in fat and sugar. But here's the truth: No single factor causes obesity. Being overweight involves genetics, physiology, and behavior—and the one thing that's missing from most diet plans is a clear plan for addressing psychological factors to change the way we think about food.

In The Thinsulin® Program, psychiatrist Charles T. Nguyen and bariatric internist Tu Song-Anh Nguyen identify the real culprits behind obesity—and share their proven, science-based, two-stage plan for weight loss. First, the Active Phase shows you how to gain control of and lower your insulin levels through food choices, enabling dramatic weight loss. Next, the Passive Phase helps you to adopt a new way of thinking about food, focusing on insulin rather than calories, to develop the skills to keep excess weight off for good. The Thinsulin® Program offers a medical breakthrough by uniquely harnessing the synergy between the working of your body and the power of your mind to manage your weight. The program gives you the skills to change your thinking permanently so that you find longstanding success on your weight-
loss journey.

Not only will you achieve unparalleled success in weight loss, The Thinsulin® Program also offers powerful health benefits, such as reversing the onset of arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Think thin, think Thinsulin—and get ready for long-term health and wellness.




Chapter 1


The rate of obesity in the United States continues to increase at a disconcerting pace. It’s estimated that more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight (33 percent) or obese (35.7 percent), equating to 78.1 million Americans. To put this in perspective, we have more overweight and obese Americans than the entire population of France (64.8 million). Since 1980, overweight and obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled to approximately 17 percent. (Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25 and 30, and obese is defined as a BMI over 30.)

At the same time, the stigma of obesity is stronger today than it was forty years ago. An astonishing study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University assessed people’s attitudes toward obesity. Rather than be overweight, 4 percent would rather be blind, and 5 percent would rather lose a limb. Between 15 and 30 percent also said they would rather be depressed, become an alcoholic, give up the possibility of having children, and walk away from their marriage than be obese. Nearly half said they would rather give up a year of their lives than be fat.

For many years, obese people have been treated unfairly, and obesity has been viewed as a result of consistently poor lifestyle choices. But recent evidence now implicates hormonal and metabolic processes in the development and progression of obesity. In 2009, Dr. Louis Aronne, an internationally recognized expert in the field, published that obesity meets all the criteria for a medical disease, including a known cause, recognized signs and symptoms, and a range of structural changes. Obesity is caused by many different factors, involving genetics, physiology, and behavior. In 2011, for the first time in medical history, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) declared obesity as a disease state.

Two years later, the nation’s largest medical association, the American Medical Association (AMA), adopted a policy that recognizes obesity as a disease requiring a range of medical interventions. At the AMA House of Delegates 2013, they passed Resolution 420, stating that, “The ramifications of obesity warrant a paradigm shift in the way the medical community tackles this complicated issue.”

Yes, there must be a sea change when it comes to weight loss. To say the current way isn’t working is more than an understatement. How many times have you heard doctors tell patients to “eat less and exercise more”? If only it was that simple, we would be a thin nation! We would also have fewer life-threatening diseases—cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes—that are related to obesity.

Each year, approximately forty-five million Americans go on a diet and spend nearly $33 billion on commercial weight-loss programs and products. Too many promise miracles, but ultimately fail to deliver. While a small subset of people may benefit from them, there are many, many more who don’t achieve long-term weight loss. Multiple research studies have shown that 95 to 98 percent of people who lose weight gain it back within five years. Only 2 to 5 percent succeed in keeping off their weight. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that, in any given year, the average obese woman and man have about a 1 in 124 and 1 in 200 chance, respectively, of returning back to a normal weight.

Some consumers opt for the next pill, product, or gimmick that promises easy weight loss without dieting or exercise. These are the ones who are most often disappointed when they don’t lose what they think is the “right” amount of weight or any weight at all, leading to devastating blows to their self-esteem. With repeated failures, they continue to choose methods that are either unproven or over-hyped. They believe they have very few choices.

In treating more than thirteen thousand patients at our weight-loss clinics in Southern California, we realize again and again how difficult it is for people to be in this predicament. They want to lose weight, and yet don’t know how to do it successfully. So, they rely on stories they’ve heard, like the close friend who dropped a quick ten pounds on a fad diet; or the sister who dropped two dress sizes by cutting out fat; or the stories on a late-night infomercial for diet pill supplements—willing to follow any diet plan, however misguided, that they believe might work.

But there is a better way. People are hungry for something different. We see it in their eyes when they enter our clinics, and that hunger changes to relief and hope when they hear success stories about the Thinsulin Program.


Christina, a forty-eight-year-old store manager, came to our Lorphen Medical weight-loss clinic in Riverside, California, in 2011 after trying numerous programs without success. She told us that she noticed from day one how different this weight-loss program was. Rather than focusing on reducing caloric intake through replacement shakes, the Thinsulin Program taught Christina to change her thinking, break her bad eating habits, and open her mind to the fact that insulin level is at the core of weight loss. After three months, she lost 49 pounds! She has been able to keep off the weight for the past two years, and believes it’s blue skies ahead. Christina shared, “I never knew in all those years of dieting how simple losing weight really is. I thought it was about weighing food and prepackaged meals and starving. I didn’t know I could eat so often, wherever I wanted, feel so liberated, and lose weight at the same time.”

Our method works because it addresses the root of the problem. In medicine, you can patch up a wound, slow the bleeding, or perform a countless number of stopgap measures to fix a problem temporarily, but without finding the root cause, that problem will continue to occur. Simply put, if you understand the “why” first by learning the concepts of how insulin affects the body, the “how” of weight control is easier.

As you read on, you’ll learn that insulin is the magic hormone that is the key to help you lose weight and inches permanently. When you reduce your caloric intake, you’ll lose weight, but when you lower your insulin level, you’ll burn fat. Thinsulin, a new term that combines three words—think, thin, and insulin—teaches you to think in terms of insulin rather than in terms of calories.

Fernando, twenty-three, is 6 feet tall and weighed 293 pounds with a BMI of 39.7 when he started the Thinsulin Program. He had recently married his high school sweetheart, so he wanted to get back on track toward being healthy again. During his junior year, he had been a muscular 215 pounds, and had played team football as a nose guard. These days, with his hectic work schedule and living off fast food, he’d gained more than 75 pounds four years after graduating from high school.

Within the first week of following the Thinsulin Program, Fernando lost 10 pounds, an amount of weight loss that’s very common. He was amazed to see his weight drop every week, even though he was eating five times per day. He was extremely happy to lose 30 pounds after four weeks without having to starve himself, drink any shakes, or eat any prepackaged meals. He even did it while eating at his usual fast food restaurants, simply by changing the way he thought about food. Instead of counting calories, he thought in terms of insulin, and he chose foods that didn’t spike his insulin level. When he ordered hamburgers, he ate more meat and avoided the buns and fries. He ate more green vegetables, which kept him full while keeping his insulin level low. At Mexican restaurants, instead of eating tamales, he ate chicken fajitas with salsa. “I didn’t think it would be this easy!” he shared excitedly. “I never felt hungry.”

Fernando Before: September 2013, 293 pounds

Fernando After: January 2014, 219 pounds

The Thinsulin Program taught Fernando how to break his old eating habits. He was shocked to see how much fat he was able to lose around his stomach area. His clothes were loose and he could fit into his old jeans again. Feeling motivated, Fernando hit the gym and began to lift weights. He continued to weigh in every two weeks. Eight weeks later, he weighed 242 pounds, losing a total of 51 pounds.

He continued to work out three times a week. Friends, coworkers, and family members noticed how much weight he was losing and began to ask questions. He told them that he was learning about Thinsulin, a two-step program that was teaching him how to lose weight first and then overcome the weight-loss plateau afterward by thinking in terms of insulin and not calories. He had lost weight before, but said, “I have never lost so much fat in my life.” He dropped an additional 11 pounds at the end of three months, weighing in at 231 pounds.

Entering his fourth month on the Thinsulin Program, Fernando continued to lose weight, but not at the same amazing rate as during the first three months. He expected this. He knew that his body was fighting the weight loss as he approached the weight-loss plateau. He was excited to shift gears soon and learn the second step of the program in order to overcome the plateau. As Fernando reflected back on his four-month journey, he noticed that the way he thought about food and his eating habits had changed completely. The Thinsulin Program had given him the knowledge and skills to help him lose weight and keep it off.

For the first time in his life, he felt confident that he would win his struggle against obesity. At the end of four months, he weighed 219 pounds, representing a total of 74 pounds or a whopping 25.3 percent weight loss (see Figure on page 7). His BMI decreased from 39.7 to 29.7, going from being morbidly obese to overweight.

Put that weight loss in perspective for a moment. Imagine if you lost a quarter of your current weight in four months without having to starve, drink shakes, or eat replacement meals? Would you be happy with that result? As you can see from the pictures, Fernando’s belly fat was reduced tremendously when he took steps to lower his insulin level. Imagine how you would look if you burned off that much belly fat? It is possible with the Thinsulin Program, especially if you’re seeking a solution to the endless cycle of dieting and weight fluctuations.

Insulin is what truly makes other diets like Atkins, Paleo, and South Beach all work behind the scenes. Underneath the hype, if those plans succeed, it’s by lowering your insulin level. But these plans omit something crucial—an important system grounded in research and clinical experience to help you change your thinking, change your eating habits, and ultimately, change your eating behavior. That’s what makes Thinsulin different! This is the missing link that the Thinsulin Program provides. Thinsulin offers a medical breakthrough by uniquely harnessing the working of the body and the power of the mind to manage obesity.


The Thinsulin Program is not another gimmick. It will work for you. The results speak for themselves. At The Obesity Society’s 31st Annual Scientific Meeting Poster Session during ObesityWeek 2013, the Thinsulin Program captured attention by demonstrating a weight loss of 10.8 percent, or 23 pounds, over an average of eighty-six days.

Twenty-three pounds may not seem that significant as you’re reading it now. I want you to stop reading for a moment and pick up a twenty-five-pound dumbbell, a two-year-old child, or a nineteen-inch flat-screen TV. Try carrying it while you’re reading this chapter. You’ll realize fairly quickly how heavy twenty-three pounds actually is. Can you imagine how much lighter and freer you would feel if you lost this much weight?

The significance of a 10.8 percent weight loss cannot be understated. Studies have shown that even modest amounts of weight loss, just five to ten percent of body weight, can result in significant improvements in obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, abnormal menses, infertility, and certain types of cancer.

Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.” After reading this book, you’ll certainly know your mind better, and your body will be recharged and ready to do better. You’ll have the right skills to find long-term success in your ongoing weight-loss journey.

Chapter 2


This journey begins with the power of a simple decision. Today is the day that you choose to be healthy by losing excess weight. When you prepare to lose weight, you might not ponder what it takes to make lifestyle changes over time. Rather, you set goals to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain date. You’ll wake up early to go to the gym. You’ll stay on course by restricting what you eat. You want to get to your goal weight so badly!

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. Getting from point A to point B isn’t always as the crow flies. Possibly, your boss will give you extra work, leaving you without enough time to cook dinner. Or, in your quest to lose weight, life might throw you a curveball in the form of an injury, leaving you unable to exercise for several months, just as you’re starting the Passive Phase. Does that mean you give up? Not at all. This is why you must see weight loss as a journey rather than a destination.

Setting a goal to lose a certain amount of weight is similar to traveling to a certain destination. Once you get to your destination or goal of weight loss, where do you go from there? What do you do next? Do you keep walking the same path? That’s the major problem with dieting and why it leads to so much failure. Too often, negative, all-or-nothing thinking traps people in unrealistic standards of being perfect. The thinking goes, if you mess up once, you might as well give in to your cravings and eat whatever you want. You set the bar so high that it’s impossible to make any significant changes in your eating habits. So you continue doing what you’re most comfortable doing, and revert back to your old ways. The monstrous cycle continues.

If you see weight loss as a journey, one little mistake won’t be so catastrophic. It can serve as a meaningful lesson to enrich your personal growth. You might have your ups and downs, but you’ll learn from these examples to find success down the road. Seeing weight loss as a journey allows you to take the small steps necessary to make the changes in your life. It’s much less intimidating than taking one giant leap.

Jennifer, forty-six, is a successful business owner. She prides herself in working hard and it shows in the success of her home-health business. While she enjoys this success, her inability to lose weight and keep it off represented an unspoken or unconscious failure. This failure weighed on her heavily.

No matter which weight-loss programs she enrolled in, she was unable to keep the weight off. Even if she came close to her goal, she would regain most of it fairly quickly due to the normal stress of raising two children along with running a busy practice. “I thought dieting was starving myself,” Jennifer said. She viewed weight loss as a destination, rather than a journey. Once she made her goal weight, she didn’t know what to do next. She realized she needed to change her way of thinking if she wanted to stop her weight from “yo-yoing” up and down.

In September 2014, Jennifer’s hairstylist told her about Lorphen Medical. At 5′5″ and weighing 193.2 pounds, she was committed to lose weight again. Jennifer realized that this was the right program after the first visit. The concept of insulin made sense to her, especially given her medical background as a registered nurse. She had spent years educating her patients with diabetes on how to eat better. She finally made the connection between insulin and weight loss. Thinking in terms of insulin helped her choose the types of food that would allow her body to burn fat. In addition, she liked the fact that Thinsulin isn’t a diet, but a program that was built upon the principles of biology, psychology, and behavioral therapy to walk her through her journey.

Jennifer Before: September 2014, 193.2 pounds

Jennifer After: August 2015, 139.2 pounds

Now that Jennifer has lost 54 pounds, her self-perception as a failure has turned around completely. In September 2015, she celebrated a year of keeping the weight off. She is happy that her most recent doctor’s visit showed an improvement in her cholesterol and fasting sugar. More important, she feels more confident in herself and it shows in her life.

“Losing weight really opened up a lot of doors,” Jennifer said. “I feel much more confident about myself.”


As with every successful journey, you’ll need to ask yourself why you want to lose weight. Are you doing this just so that you can fit into your swimsuit? Or, do you want to be healthier so that you can enjoy your golden years?

People have different motivations for weight loss. One study showed that dieting driven by health concerns leads to fewer medical problems than dieting driven by motivation to change physical appearance. People with the latter tend to engage in more extreme dieting strategies, including using laxatives, avoiding meals, and excluding food groups.

Still, appearance is a very powerful motivator and can evoke strong emotions, and we’re more likely to be attracted to the physical aspects of weight loss. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be able to fit in jeans without a muffin top spilling over, or, for guys, to feel comfortable taking off your shirt again.

In the end, it’s not so much what the motivation is. It’s your willingness to change that’s the most important factor in this journey.

As you follow the guidelines of the Thinsulin Program, it may be hard initially to go against what you’ve been taught for many years. Comedian W.C. Fields once said, “A dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”

As you embrace your weight-loss journey, you may encounter challenges. Your willingness to change, to swim against the current, will help you resist the temptations and clear the cognitive distortions, or distorted thinking. We’ll go over several common cognitive distortions that you might encounter throughout your journey so that you can be prepared to overcome them.

Myth #1: “I’m on a diet.”

Dieting evokes painful memories of suffering and deprivation. From past experience, you might remember how you need to prepare yourself mentally for a serious round of dieting. You might binge on sweets or carbs before starting on this ordeal. Or you might put it off until after the holidays or birthdays so that you don’t have to suffer too much during times of celebration.

When you’re on a diet, you might typically restrict your caloric intake to the point where your stomach is growling. You fight the hunger pangs by drinking more water, hoping that it will make you feel full. If you do well, you reward yourself, only to feel guilty afterward. You then proceed to punish yourself—and the no-win situation continues.

We need to break this endless loop by changing your thinking. With Thinsulin, you don’t starve yourself. You can eat as much as you want to. Throughout both the Active and Passive Phases, you eat a full five times a day. For lunch and dinner, you must have at least a portion of proteins and a portion of green, leafy vegetables. You can have more if you want, just as long as you’re feeling satisfied and full. You’re not starving with Thinsulin because it isn’t a diet. It’s a program that teaches you to think in terms of insulin.

Kelly, a twenty-four-year-old student, tried the Thinsulin Program after failing several popular diet programs. “I quickly learned how this wasn’t a diet. I can eat as much as I want, unlike before, when I was starving myself (which made me gain even more weight). Overall, I dropped three sizes!”

It’s important for you to avoid using the word diet altogether. When you lose weight during the Active Phase, friends, coworkers, and family members will notice and ask which diet plan you’re on. Tell them you’re not on a diet. If you even utter the word diet, then you’re still unconsciously operating in a diet mentality. You’re only setting yourself up for the whole monstrous cycle of punishment and reward. You must break free of the old way of thinking.

By avoiding the word diet, you’re removing the deprivation, suffering, and punishment that come along with dieting. Instead, let your friends know that you’re in the Active Phase and you’re lowering your insulin level. They may reply, “Say what? Active Phase? Insulin?”

You go on to say, “My goal is to lower my insulin level so that my body can burn rather than store fat. I’m thinking in terms of insulin, so I’m selecting foods or drinks that won’t increase my insulin level.”

On the Thinsulin Program, you’ll choose foods for yourself, rather than being forced to follow a prescribed meal plan with recipes. When you’re in the Passive Phase, you’ll learn how to reintroduce carbs and sweets into your meals without causing weight gain. Even during this phase, though, it’s still important for you to avoid using the word diet.

Myth #2: “I don’t have time to eat.”

For the first few months, the excitement of a new program will often keep you on track. Over time, you might find that your old ways and thinking will seep back into your life and sabotage your progress. On some days, you find yourself too busy to eat breakfast or lunch because your schedule doesn’t permit you the time to eat. You’re too busy to make sure you fulfill all your responsibilities to everyone else but yourself. But how is that fair? Aren’t you just as important? The answer is yes!

Take a moment and think back to all the times you’ve skipped meals. Ask yourself why? Were you too busy with your children’s activities? Is your job taking away from your time to eat? Do you simply not have the time to eat? We hear this quite often as an excuse to skip meals.

If you continue to neglect yourself and abuse your body by skipping meals and not eating properly, your body will fail one day. Then, it doesn’t matter how much you want to help others—because you won’t be able to physically help them. You have a responsibility to yourself because you’re that important! You’re important enough to give yourself fifteen minutes out of your busy schedule to ensure that you’ll eat your five meals.

We’re not asking for much. It’s not like you’re completely selfish and ignore your other responsibilities. All we’re asking you to do is take fifteen minutes out of your day to plan for what you’re going to eat the next day.

On the Thinsulin Program, you can decide to cook or go to a restaurant. But you must plan. This is no different than anything else you do in life. If you manage a store, do you need to plan ahead of time to be successful? You need to plan to see who’s going to work a certain shift. You plan for your work. You plan for your vacation. You just don’t decide to show up for a camping trip without planning ahead of time. You plan what you’re going to pack, what you’re going to eat, and which freeway you’re taking.

Fifteen minutes. Look at your schedule. Plan how you’re going to fit your meals into your schedule. Make sure you do this throughout the Active and Passive Phases.

So the next time you say, “I don’t have time to eat,” stop and challenge this distortional thinking! You do have time to eat. You simply didn’t leave any time for yourself to plan ahead. Remember, you’re just as important as your job, family, or friends. Your health has to be a priority as well. Please don’t forget this as you go through your journey.

Myth #3: “I’ve been doing well. It’s OK to cheat because this one time won’t matter.”

As you experience the Active Phase, you’ll face many temptations. Unfortunately, it’s not just coming from commercials or billboards encouraging you to indulge in those fries. It’s often coming from the people you love. They might offer you a slice of cake or some homemade lasagna. They might tell you, “Come on. Loosen up a little. Have a bite.” They don’t do it out of spite, they do it out of love because they want you to enjoy life. They don’t quite understand the concept of insulin.


On Sale
Feb 9, 2016
Page Count
288 pages

Charles Nguyen, MD

About the Author

Charles Nguyen, M.D., is the medical director of the Lorphen Medical Weight Loss Clinic. His extensive research, clinical experience, teaching, and training in psychiatry offer a unique perspective to help his patients lose weight. His work on weight issues has appeared in various journals, and he frequently speaks at conferences. He lives in Orange County.

Tu Nguyen, M.D., is the medical director of N.N. Medical, which provides medical management of weight loss with an emphasis on behavior modification. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and has more than 15 years of experience as a bariatric internist. He lives in Orange County.

Mary Ann Marshall is an author, editor and journalist. Marshall has been a regular contributor to Glamour, Ms., Cosmopolitan, and many other magazines. Visit her website at

Learn more about this author

Tu Nguyen, MD

About the Author

Tu Nguyen, M.D., is the medical director of N.N. Medical, which provides medical management of weight loss with an emphasis on behavior modification. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and has more than 15 years of experience as a bariatric internist. He lives in Orange County.

Learn more about this author