Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Doctor’s Diet

Book Review

The Doctor's Diet
By Travis Stork, MD
Bird Street Books, Inc. (2013)
Reviewed by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD


The Doctor's Diet claims to be a flexible and workable diet plan that will help readers lose weight, restore health, prevent disease and ultimately add years to their lives. Travis Stork explains the potentially fatal health risks associated with an unhealthy diet and the specific food groups that can act as medicines to attain immediate results.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The Doctor's Diet is divided into three component plans: STAT, RESTORE and MAINTAIN. Readers are advised to go back and forth between STAT and RESTORE for 14 days each until the reader achieves the desired weight loss, and then transition to the MAINTAIN plan.
The STAT plan allows only "fat-burning fruits" (apples, berries and grapefruit) twice per day — one with breakfast and one with your snack. Meals comprise one protein and one fruit or "anytime vegetable." There are "flextime foods" that are allowed, which consist of one healthy fat, one whole grain and one "high-density vegetable." With guidelines around each of these descriptions, readers can build their own menu or use one that is provided. Portion sizes are also provided.
The RESTORE plan is similar to STAT, but allows more fruit, an additional fat and whole grain, and one added snack with a protein and "anytime vegetable." The RESTORE plan also allows two alcoholic beverages per week.
Comparable to RESTORE, the MAINTAIN plan includes additional foods based on metabolism and activity levels such as healthy fats, "carb-flex foods" including whole grains, "high density vegetables," "anytime vegetables" and fruits.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

  • The Doctor's Diet emphasizes eating whole foods with a variety of food choices. Stork is an advocate of all food groups, and emphasizes this throughout the book.
  • The MAINTAIN plan appears to be the most appropriate plan for most people.
  • The STAT and RESTORE plans are low-calorie with a low-carbohydrate regimen (as low as 90 grams per day). This will promote fast weight loss, but it will be difficult to maintain.
  • The MAINTAIN plan is a good general guideline but does not go into specific recommendations for individuals. There are many unanswered questions for maintaining this weight loss.
  • There is little mention or guidance for exercise as a way to maintain proper energy balance, which is the other half of the energy equation.
  • Stork uses his own customized food lingo, such as "fat burning fruits," "high-density vegetables" and "carb-flex foods." These are not standardized terms and can be confusing to readers.
  • The plan makes unsubstantiated claims that the STAT plan will do things such as breaking "your addiction to sugar, simple carbohydrates and junk food."

Bottom Line

The Doctor's Diet does a great job promoting a variety of whole foods, which is the core to an overall healthful eating plan. However, the first two phases are too low in calories to minimize excessive muscle loss. This can lead to long-term issues with weight regain and overall weight management. The MAINTAIN plan seems the most reasonable for both weight loss and weight maintenance, although more guidance should be provided based on activity level. Any diet regimen that does not emphasize regular physical activity excludes the other half of the energy equation when it comes to weight management.

~Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014

Quinoa May Prove to be Gluten Free

Quinoa is a nutritious seed from South America. A recent study has confirmed that people with celiac disease who include quinoa in their gluten free diets can do so safely. Nineteen participants were asked to consume 50 grams (1.8 oz.) daily for 6 weeks as a part of their gluten free diet. They received a series of  tests and kept a symptom diary, all of which confirmed that eating the quinoa did not worsen the disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that effects food absorption and is triggered by consuming wheat, rye, and barley.
The authors of the study agree that though the research is promising, further studies are needed to learn the long-term effects of quinoa on the gluten free diet.
~Am. Journal of Gastroenterology,  2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cranberry Juice and Blood Pressure

Low calorie cranberry juice now appears to have a modest effect on blood pressure, according to reports from the American Heart Association. Cranberries contain a broad array of natural plant flavinoids that have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and various cancers, as well as helping to keep UTI's at bay. Researchers also made it known that the low calorie version had the most significant results in the studies because the sugars in the sweetened juices are counter-productive to hypertension and heart health.
 ~ Tufts University, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

To "Nuke," or Not to "Nuke"?

Are foods cooked in the microwave safe and nutritious? According to Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, Professor of Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University, foods cooked in a microwave oven actually keep more of their vitamins and minerals because microwaves can cook food more quickly and without adding water or fat. At worst, microwave cooking reduces nutrient levels in food no more than conventional cooking.
As far as dangerous byproducts occurring during the cooking process, this is also an urban legend. Microwaves cause water molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. Foods high in water content, such as fresh vegetables, can be cooked more quickly than other foods. The microwave energy is changed to heat as it is absorbed by the food and does not make the food "radioactive" or contaminated.
Microwave ovens should not be used in home canning, because they do not produce or maintain temps. high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Which is also why frozen foods and leftovers need to be thoroughly heated to make sure raw foods are cooked and pathogens are destroyed.
The main concern these days involve the containers used for microwave cooking. Some plastics can be toxic, while others can melt from the high temps. given off by the food. Metals will reflect the electromagnectic waves and damage the appliance, and possibly cause a fire. Use glass containers such as Pyrex, wax paper, paper plates, or items labeled "Microwave safe." Always use products according to the manufacturers' directions.
~ Tufts University, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pop Smart

Snacks tend to constitute a "fourth meal" these days. Additional calories mean additional pounds, so the term "healthy snacking" tends to be an oxymoron. Always remember to budget your munchies into your daily caloric intake and make smart snack choices. Do-it-yourself snacks are usually the better choice, especially when it comes to popcorn. Even with close reading of the Nutrition Facts labels on the microwave popcorn packages, the plain DIY popcorn is still only 124 calories and 0.2g. fat per serving (about 2 T. of un-popped kernels). The average "butter" style microwave popcorn yields 180 calories and 2.5 g. saturated fat. To add buttery flavor to the DIY popcorn, add a little butter-flavored olive oil cooking spray and and a pinch of salt.