Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Product Review: The Lean Belly Prescription

I am not a fan of diets in the popularized sense of that word. Diets don’t work. Once you go “off a diet”, how do you manage your weight? You can’t restrict  your food options or abide by a liquid diet forever. Luckily, Dr. Travis Stork, host of TVs The Doctors, has the same mindset and has written a book with a healthy eating plan – The Lean Belly Prescription (2010).

Before I move on with the remainder of my review, I do want to explicitly note that I am not a nutritionist nor a registered dietician. As a certified personal trainer, I do have nutritional knowledge that allows me to deductively reason if an eating plan is relatively healthy or not. Ok, disclaimer over.

Dr. Stork outlines his own reasons, backed by medical expertise, as to why diets don’t work and why his guidelines are a prescription. His plan is meant to be reasonable enough, and doable enough, that one can make a few key lifestyle changes and reap big health rewards.  The premise of this prescription is for the consumer to choose 3 dietary changes (out of a possible 8) that will lead to better health, more energy, and a host of other benefits. An additional prescription, for those who choose it, is to incorporate one activity (out of 4) into your life so that you can get greater benefits through exercise/movement.

Statistics fanatics will love this book. It is stocked with research backed trivia tidbits. You can’t ignore what science proves and Dr. Stork’s overarching point is that the current average American lifestyle leads to a large waistline (belly fat), which is shown to be a more-than-adequate predictor of poor health and metabolic disease (eg. diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure). Hence, if we make minimally 3 changes to our eating habits, we can reduce our waistlines and aim for better health. A secondary point, no less important, is that we need to reduce how sedentary we are in our daily lives and that the cumulative effects of simply being active in any way (walking the dog, playing with your kids, parking farther away from the entrance to the mall, taking the stairs instead of the elevator) can make a big difference.

For those who need a day-by-day “prescription”, Dr. Stork provides 4 weeks of meal & activity plans, including weekly shopping lists (which are really nice and convenient). Sample workouts are included, with three tiers depending on the reader’s previous exercise experience (none, moderate, expert).

The Lean Belly Prescription is a great book for someone looking for a healthier lifestyle and who wants to make simple changes to their eating habits in order to do so. It is weight loss the healthy way, as it should be since a doctor wrote it! However, any health/fitness guru who keeps up with health news will not find much new information in this book. Granted, the intended audience is someone who has a significant amount of weight to lose, so it achieves it’s goal in educating the majority of the population and hopefully motivating them through raw, scary facts alone to take a good look at their eating and movement habits. Experienced exercisers and/or someone who has already lost a lot of weight (but looking to shed the last 5-10 pounds) are probably already incorporating 3 (or more) of the prescribed changes and may not benefit from this plan.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? 

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