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Video: Your ‘Prescription’ for a flatter stomach

  1. Transcript of: Your ‘Prescription’ for a flatter stomach

    ANN CURRY, co-host: This morning on GET FIT TODAY , losing that dangerous belly fat for good. Dr. Travis Stork is a practicing ER physician and the host of " The Doctors ." His new book is called " The Lean Belly Prescription " to help you lose fat around the middle without feeling like you're on a diet. Travis , good morning to you.

    Dr. TRAVIS STORK (Author, "The Lean Belly Prescription"): Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

    CURRY: Yeah. As an ER physician then, you have a sense probably pretty often how dangerous belly fat can be.

    Dr. STORK: So I have a little surprise for you here.

    CURRY: I noticed something was under the napkin.

    Dr. STORK: This is not what we're going to eat.

    CURRY: Oh!

    Dr. STORK: This fat. This is an alien invader inside of so many of our bodies here in America .

    CURRY: Uh-huh .

    Dr. STORK: And as an ER doctor, people don't think about fat in the terms that I do. Fat leads to diabetes, heart disease, many cancers. It's not just about, oh, I don't like the way I look in my bikini and that's why I wrote "The Lean Belly Prescription" because it affects our health and it affects the way we feel about ourselves.

    CURRY: So if somebody comes in, for example, having faced, for example, a car accident, they're less likely to recover as easily if they have a lot of fat around their middle?

    Dr. STORK: It's so very true. But what's really important for people to realize is that belly fat is the most dangerous kind of fat, but what if I told you it's the easiest fat to lose and...

    CURRY: OK.

    Dr. STORK: And that's what "The Lean Belly Prescription" is all about, is how to lose it without losing your mind.

    CURRY: You're going to have to convince me because I don't believe it's the easiest fat to lose.

    Dr. STORK: I know.

    CURRY: OK. Let's talk about breakfast . We've got two kinds of breakfast and one of the ideas that you have in the book is you really should choose high protein .

    Dr. STORK: Well, what you need for breakfast . Let me ask you, would you prefer to eat this for breakfast or the bagel with the orange juice?

    CURRY: I probably would eat this without the bacon .

    Dr. STORK: Well, let me tell you. Bacon and eggs for breakfast is OK, because you've got protein that's going to fill you up throughout the day. Believe it or not , there's fewer calories in this than in these two items.

    CURRY: Really?

    Dr. STORK: So -- and really the focus again. So when we talk about lean bellies, everyone thinks that fat is what makes us fat. But think about 20 years ago, we went low-fat, we went fat-free. Everything on the shelves was fat-free and what happened? We've gained more weight as a nation. And so "The Lean Belly Prescription," this is about incorporating good fats, lean proteins and good carbs.

    CURRY: Yeah, but this is not a good fat, dude, right? Bacon is not a good fat.

    Dr. STORK: Well, but see this is where people need to realize that -- do you know that a slice of bacon -- and I don't eat bacon every breakfast . But some people are going to insist on eating their bacon . But a slice of bacon , maybe a quarter of the calories of what you're going to find in a bagel.

    CURRY: I see, I see, so it's the calories.

    Dr. STORK: And there's protein in it.

    CURRY: Right.

    Dr. STORK: Yes, there's some fats in it, but the way our bodies process it, you can lose 10, 15 pounds in four weeks.

    CURRY: And this is a carb monster.

    Dr. STORK: That's all carbs, yeah.

    CURRY: OK. And this is sugar. Basically, bottom line, sugar.

    Dr. STORK: So all sugar vs. proteins for breakfast , fill you up throughout the day. And this is the thing, Ann , most people don't believe this. This is why I wrote "The Lean Belly Prescription" because diets don't work. What happens when you go on a diet, you lose muscle mass, you lose weight , 90-plus percent of people put it back on because they're depriving themselves of the things they love. "The Lean Body Prescription," this is about eating foods you love and losing weight while doing it.

    CURRY: But not pop.

    Dr. STORK: Well, this is...

    CURRY: Soda.

    Dr. STORK: If you love soda. Do you like soda?

    CURRY: No.

    Dr. STORK: And I have to confess, I grew up in the Midwest , I used to drink soda every day.

    CURRY: Yep.

    Dr. STORK: So there are alternatives to soda that are healthy and if you make this alternative, I say in the book you can lose a pound a week, even if you don't many any other changes.

    CURRY: If you can cut out soda and just use an alternative, you can lose a pound a week?

    Dr. STORK: A pound a week.

    CURRY: That is pretty serious.

    Dr. STORK: Absolutely.

    CURRY: And it's specifically going to target your belly .

    Dr. STORK: Belly fat .

    CURRY: OK, now, dairy . You are big on dairy . And dairy is a high-fat food.

    Dr. STORK: Well, dairy , here's the thing about dairy .

    CURRY: It can be a high-fat food.

    Dr. STORK: It's got calcium, it's got good proteins, and so dairy is one of these things where if you eat three servings of dairy a day, it's been proven that you're going to lose weight .

    CURRY: OK.

    Dr. STORK: But again, the key here is you're balancing out good carbs with good fats and lean protein. So look at this pasta.

    CURRY: Hm. Mm-hmm.

    Dr. STORK: Does this look any different to you?

    CURRY: One's wheat pasta and one's not and the wheat pasta's probably better for you because it probably has more protein.

    Dr. STORK: Much better for you.

    CURRY: Yep.

    Dr. STORK: You're going to lose weight if you eat whole grains vs. refined carbs.

    CURRY: Right, right.

    Dr. STORK: And so, the whole key here is if I show you this over here.

    CURRY: OK. This is what we really need to get to and we're running out of time .

    Dr. STORK: All right.

    CURRY: These are basically about eating fats and you've got steak here and you -- this is a very lean steak, olive oil, avocado and walnuts. Now, what's your message here about what fats we can eat?

    Dr. STORK: We're so afraid of fats in our country and we got so afraid of fats that we didn't think we could eat them and still enjoy the foods that we eat.

    CURRY: So all these are good?

    Dr. STORK: So "The Lean Belly Prescription" tells you you can eat your steaks, you can have avocados, nuts. You can even in moderation enjoy a hamburger, be careful with the buns and all the condiments. You can lose weight eating the foods you love and that's what...

    CURRY: Really quickly, because we're completely out of time. Exercise. You say you don't have to exercise. Is that right?

    Dr. STORK: Well, it's about being active.

    CURRY: You should.

    Dr. STORK: So a lean belly , it starts in the kitchen, not in the gym. If you're going to make phone calls today, get up on your feet while you're making those phone calls. There's all these neat little things you can do to incorporate activity. It doesn't...

    CURRY: I see. Incorporate...

    Dr. STORK: ...it doesn't involve a gym.

    CURRY: OK. Incorporate action, being active in your -- including the things that you see on this list. Have some fun outdoors and that will help you out. Thank you so much , Dr. Travis Stork , trying to take care of our bellies.

The Lean Belly
TODAY books
updated 12/13/2010 6:43:41 AM ET 2010-12-13T11:43:41

Excess abdominal fat is a dangerous condition Dr. Travis Stork frequently sees when treating patients in the emergency department. Stork, a practicing physician and host of “The Doctors,” has written "The Lean Belly Prescription: The Fast and Foolproof Diet & Weight-Loss Plan from America’s Top Urgent-Care Doctor,” a guide to help you lose dangerous belly fat for good without feeling like you are on a diet. Read an excerpt.

The Belly Fat Crisis
If you’re carrying extra weight in your abdomen, you’d probably admit that it looks pretty unsightly on the outside. Well, it looks even worse on the inside. I know, because I’ve seen it there.

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Many times, sick or injured patients come under my care soon after they’ve eaten an excessively fatty meal. How do I know? I can literally spot the fat globules that are swimming in their blood, just like an oil slick from a broken drilling platform. More times than not, those globules help explain why these unfortunate folks are in the E.R. in the first place.

Blood-borne fat blobs are like homing pigeons, looking to roost in the body’s fat cells. And unless a famine breaks out, that’s right where they’ll stay. There are serious health implications to that, for both men and women. Men are most likely to pack excess fat around their internal organs, which is known as visceral fat. (Ladies, that can happen to you, too, though you’re more likely to pack it in your legs, arms, and butt. That’s no picnic, either. After menopause, though, you’ll be more likely to gain weight in the gut, too.) You know you have visceral fat if your gut is round and firm, your waist is bigger than your hips, or your Wranglers have a waist size of 40 or higher for men, and 35 or higher for women.

If that description fits you, it probably means your body is storing your excess fat like packing peanuts that surround and infiltrate your muscles, heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, and pancreas. But visceral fat doesn’t just lie there, looking ugly. It actively works to harm your body by secreting a number of substances, collectively called adipokines. Adipokines include a hormone called resistin, which leads to high blood sugar and raises your risk of diabetes; angiotensinogen, a compound that raises blood pressure; and interleukin- 6, a chemical associated with arterial inflammation and heart disease.

Visceral fat also messes with another important hormone called adiponectin, which regulates the metabolism of lipids and glucose. The more belly fat you have, the less adiponectin you have, and the lower your metabolism. (And here’s the crazy part: The lower your metabolism, the more belly fat you’ll store. It’s as though belly fat is conspiring to harm you by breeding even more belly fat!) Meanwhile your liver, faced with a high tide of fat globules, feels like it’s swimming in energy. But as it burns that overly abundant energy source, it produces excess cholesterol, which in turn gunks up your arteries in the form of plaque.

Allow that plaque buildup to continue for a decade or more, and that’s when you and I will meet in the E.R.; your increased risks of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes will pay off in an “event.” But just because it’s more business for my shop doesn’t mean I’ll be particularly happy to see you there in that condition.

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The most frustrating part of my job as a doctor is having to treat people who are a long way down a road they never should have taken in the first place. The more belly fat you carry, the greater your risk for any number of health worries. And the greater your health risks, the more you’re going to find your medicine cabinet filled with little brown prescription bottles. In the medical journal BMC Family Practice, I saw a chart showing that people with body mass indexes of 30 or higher took up to twice as many prescription drugs as those whose BMIs were less than 25. In fact, overweight people spend 37 percent more money at the pharmacy each year than people of desirable weight; once you reach the level of obesity, your prescription medical costs are an average of 105 percent higher than those of normal-weight folks! That’s a burden on not just your checkbook, but also your health in general.

I’m not a negative man at heart. I became a doctor to help people, not run them down with lectures about how they’re doing themselves in. So let’s talk about reversing that process. Oftentimes you’ll hear people talk about a vicious cycle — how one negative action leads to another and another. I believe in something I think of as a “virtuous cycle,” and people who decide to lose weight can hop onto it.

Let’s say you follow one of the simplest and most effective weight-loss tricks I know: Swapping sweetened beverages for unsweetened. Each of us takes in an average of 450 calories in sweet drinks every day. Over the course of a week, that adds up to around 3,000 calories.

What a coincidence: it takes 3,500 calories to make a pound of fat.

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So you start weaning yourself off the sweet stuff, and swapping in healthful beverages like peppermint tea, unsweetened ice tea with lemon, or lemon-lime sparkling water. (Three of my favorites, by the way.) Do this for a couple of weeks, and you might notice a little loosening around the waistline of your pants, a little more definition at your jaw line. So far, you’re the only one who’s in on the secret, but it makes you feel pretty good. So now you elect to take a walk at lunch, rather than surfing the internet while eating a sandwich. A couple of coworkers note the flush in your face when you return, and ask if they could go next time, as well.

After a month, your weight loss is visible, and people start commenting, asking you how you did it. Suddenly, you’re an expert. That makes you try a few other healthy tips, like scheduling more activity on weekends, and registering for a dance class on weeknights. When you drop your first ten pounds, you buy some new clothes, and book an active vacation for the summer — camping near the Grand Canyon, on the North Rim. Now the wholesale makeover is on, motivated by the joy in making improvements, and the way you feel as you’re liberated from a layer of fat.

You’ve gone from the vicious cycle to the virtuous one, where one good decision leads to another. You feel better, you look better, and you’re motivated to try even more strategies for lean living. I’ve seen it happen with people close to me, and I’d like to see it happen to you.

When can you start?

Excerpted from “The Lean Belly Prescription: The Fast and Foolproof Diet & Weight-Loss Plan From America’s Top Urgent-Care Doctor” by Travis Stork. Copyright (c) 2010, reprinted with permission from Rodale.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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