If your desire to lose weight has become a priority, Dr. Travis Stork wants to help. Co-host of "The Doctors," he noticed that he repeatedly received requests for a flexible weight loss diet that would be effective, fast and easy-to-follow. In an exclusive interview on Dec. 29, Dr. Travis explained to me how he achieved those goals with his new book: "The Doctor's Diet: Dr. Travis Stork's STAT Program to Help You Lose Weight & Restore Your Health" (click for details).
"Food addiction is real and sugar addiction, in particular, is very real," Dr. Travis told me.
For that reason, he's included a quiz in his book to help you understand whether you suffer from this problem.
The good news: "One can overcome the addiction like any other," he says.
And that's precisely part of the STAT phase of the diet: "Help people break their sugar habit and to help them not only reset their palate but also their relationship with food."
Dr. Travis believes that your brain's reward centers can actually be rebooted so that you learn to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods like a juicy fresh peach. The book also includes recipes to guide you away from sugar and processed foods and to whole foods.
As for that universal desire to lose weight fast, Dr. Travis says that's precisely why he called his first phase the STAT phase: In medical language, that term means "immediately."
In addition to jump-starting weight loss, the first phase is designed to reduce your cravings for sugar and high-calorie foods like pizza. As for the debate over artificial sweeteners, Dr. Travis weighs in with these thoughts against them.
"Artificial sweeteners are just another part of our fascination with overly sweet foods," he told me.
And he feels that these fake sugars actually hamper efforts to lose weight and regain health.
"Drinking diet soda, for example, is actually associated with an elevated risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. A number of reputable medical studies have shown that artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking it is consuming real sugar, which in turn causes your body to release insulin and store belly fat," Dr. Travis cautions.
In addition, artificial sweeteners are linked to carb cravings.
"Artificial sweeteners play a part in setting your taste buds up to expect overly sweet foods all the time and therefore, make you crave sweets and simple carbs even more. Cutting them out also helps reset your palate back to a normal state so you can enjoy naturally sweet foods such as fruits," he said.
As part of his diet prescription, he suggests learning to enjoy water or iced tea. To sweeten that morning oatmeal, try a dash of real maple syrup.
After the STAT phase of the plan, you'll expand your food options in the Restore phase while still losing weight. Once you've achieved your goal, Dr. Travis explains details on how to maintain. And yes, exercise counts in all phases. But you don't have to manage a marathon during your first day on his weight loss plan.
"My exercise prescription is really quite simple: move your body for at least 30 minutes a day, consistently, and just try to decrease the amount of time you are sedentary throughout the day. As one gets more fit and loses weight, you will feel so good you'll want to do more activity. THEN you can launch a formal fitness plan that you are drawn to and enjoy," said Dr. Travis.
As for the flexible part of his weight loss program, Dr. Travis has an unusual "prescription" when it comes to diets: Get adventurous. Try different foods and experiment with cooking. Just make sure that those foods are on his approved list.
For example, if you decide to make Greek yogurt part of your breakfast, try jazzing it up with chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Love pizza? Make your own healthy version with whole wheat English muffins topped with low-fat string cheese, mushrooms, green peppers and tomato sauce, then slipped under a broiler until they're bubbling.