On the A-List

Dr. Fred Pescatore’s new book, The A-List Diet, is a roadmap to doing low-carb right—and transforming your health

Fred Pescatore, MD, (shown here) abandoned conventional medicine after working with Dr. Robert Atkins.

Fred Pescatore, MD abandoned conventional medicine after working with Dr. Robert Atkins.Fred Pescatore was the last doctor in the world you’d expect to be a low-carb guru. “I hated medicine,” he says. “I truly hated my residency. I hated the fact that people just went to the hospital to get sick and die. All I was doing was writing prescriptions. I had no time to talk to patients.”

This is back in the era when patients were passive, and doctors were considered infallible. The doctor designed the treatment, prescribed the medication, and the patient followed orders. Pescatore hated it.

That all changed when, fresh out of residency, he took his first job … with Dr. Robert Atkins. Yes, that Atkins. “I was just waiting for my California medical license to come through, so I thought “‘OK, I’ll do this for a while until I get my first real job,’” Pescatore recalls. “I didn’t even know that much about who he was and what he was about.”

Pescatore began to read The New Diet Revolution, the book that introduced the very low-carb Atkins diet to the world. “It all started to make sense,” he says. “But what really convinced me was the results—people started to get well. They not only lost weight, but their diabetes went away, their metabolic syndrome went away, their triglyceride levels went down, their HDL went up, and their blood pressure got lower. People just got healthier, and it was strictly a matter of changing how they ate.”

“You can put two people on a low-carbohydrate diet, and A will do well and B will not. Why? There’s got to be a metabolic reason why that happens.”

One thing Pescatore loved about the Atkins Center was the way that patients actively participated in their own healthcare. “They wanted to manage their illnesses, not just take a pill,” he says. “They wanted to change their life, and they wanted to take charge. That experience changed my life.”

Pescatore became the Associate Medical Director of the Atkins Center in New York, and has never looked back. Soon after, he wrote what I personally think is one of the best books ever written on feeding children—Feed Your Kids Well. Shortly after Atkins died in 2003, he published the wildly popular New York Times best-seller, The Hamptons Diet. And he’s been preaching his particular spin on the gospel of low-carb ever since.

The A-List Diet book.Now he’s back on everybody’s radar with a new book that puts a completely different twist on low-carb eating—it’s called The A-List Diet, and despite a title that seems almost
pre-designed to hit the New York Times best-seller list, the book is filled with innovative tweaks that can make low-carb eating work for anyone, even people for whom it has not worked before. “You can put two people on a low-carbohydrate diet,” he explains, “and A will do well and B will not. Why? There’s got to be a metabolic reason why that happens, and that’s what I was looking for.”

Enter The A-List Diet. “My goal has always been that I want you to buy a diet book and then never have to read it again. I want you to forget it,” he says.

A central tenant of Pescatore’s current work—and one of the five “secrets” of low-carb dieting discussed at length in The A-List Diet—is amino acid supplementation.  “Amino acid science was my ‘aha’ moment,” says Pescatore. ”It shows you why men and women lose weight differently on low-carb, and why people at certain times in their lives need different amino acids.” Pescatore is particularly fond of supplementing with a group of three amino acids known as the branched-chain aminos. “They really build up your metabolism,” he says, explaining that they increase fat-free mass, make you leaner, and help get rid of the stubborn, visceral belly fat that’s the most dangerous of all the fat on our body.

Other secrets of Pescatore’s book include daily protein boosts that help you get all the right levels of amino acids. The protein boosts also calm inflammation, which Pescatore believes is a cornerstone of every degenerative disease and a major promoter of weight gain and weight loss resistance. “Inflammation prevents your body from metabolizing food correctly,” Pescatore says. It also makes it difficult to regulate levels of important hormones that themselves have a huge effect on weight and weight loss.

“Inflammation prevents your body from metabolizing food correctly,” says Pescatore. “It also makes it difficult to regulate levels of important hormones that have a huge
effect on weight.”

This doctor-turned-bestselling-book author is also a big fan of alkalizing the body, though he scoffs at the notion that you need expensive water filters and alkaline waters to accomplish that. “There’s so many little things you can do that are so much better for you than this crazy stuff,” he says. “Having a green drink alkalizes you immediately!”

Pescatore is a real example of what the best practitioners of functional medicine have to offer, regardless of whether they’re MDs, NDs, chiropractors, osteopaths, or nutritionists. He is holistic in the best and truest sense of the word. He doesn’t dictate to patients, he collaborates with them. A knowledgeable nutritionist, he is aware of the power of nutrition to transform health. Instead of “follow me,” he says, ‘Walk with me.” He defines his purpose as empowerment. That makes him the very definition of a true guru.