What’s the Flat Belly Diet, and can it help you lose weight?
The Flat Belly Diet is a weight-loss diet from the editors of Prevention magazine. They say that the Flat Belly Diet will help you shed belly fat and lose up to 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) in just 32 days. The creators also say that you don’t have to exercise to achieve these goals but that exercise can boost your results.
The Flat Belly Diet has two phases, a four-day “anti-bloat” phase with specific foods and drinks, and a four-week eating plan during which you eat 1,600 calories a day. The Flat Belly Diet emphasizes eating foods that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are purported to help you lose belly fat. Such foods include olive oil, nuts, seeds, soybeans and avocados. MUFAs are part of every meal on the Flat Belly Diet. The diet also encourages you to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The Flat Belly Diet hasn’t been shown in large clinical trials to work for weight loss better than any balanced, calorie-restricted diet does. You might lose weight on the Flat Belly Diet because it limits total calories and encourages a generally healthy way of eating.
Although a quick fix to your weight problem may sound appealing, the reality is that successful, long-term weight loss requires a lifelong commitment to healthy eating and exercise. Put your energies into eating a balanced, healthy diet instead of focusing on a single component such as MUFAs.
Flat Belly Diet!
What grabs your attention when looking for a diet to follow? Do phrases like no exercise required, fast weight loss, never feel hungry, easy to follow, guaranteed results, and no deprivation required come to mind? Most of the popular fad diets make these promises up front but end up reneging on them once you read the details of the diet. I have read the new diet book Flat Belly Diet! and will give you the pros and cons about this diet along with the facts about what the research says about successful weight loss.
The Flat Belly Diet! program promotes eating a reduced calorie diet that is high in monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in order to flatten your belly with no exercise required. The diet is 32 days long. It states that studies show that this is “just enough time to make any dietary change a lifestyle.” I have not seen any studies stating this fact. Some people may find this to be the case, but the majority of the people whom I have worked with need much longer than 32 days to develop new eating habits. It’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with needing more than 32 days to make changes to your diet.
Yale University Study
In a study led by David Katz, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, nine overweight women (average age 49) followed Cynthia’s Flat Belly Diet eating plan for 28 days. The women agreed to undergo MRI scans and blood work at the start and end of the study.
The results were impressive. In less than one month the following changes were observed (averages for the group):
- Reduction of internal (visceral) belly fat (measured by MRI): 33%
- Pounds lost: 8.4 pounds
- Belly inches lost: 1.6
- Drop in total cholesterol: 21 points
- Decrease in systolic blood pressure: 8.4 points
- Decrease in diastolic blood pressure: 5.4 points
According to Dr. Katz, markers for inflammation (including C-reactive protein), fasting blood glucose and insulin levels also fell.
Eat fat and lose weight. That’s the promise of the Flat Belly Diet.
Now for the fine print: The kind of fat matters. The plan focuses on monounsaturated fats, which you get from olive oil, nuts, and other plant foods.
Authors Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, claim that in 32 days, you can lose up to 15 pounds and drop belly fat by following their plan:
- Eat 400 calories per meal, four times per day (daily total: 1,600).
- Don’t go longer than 4 hours without eating.
- Eat monounsaturated fats at every meal.
What You Can Eat and What You Can’t
First, you target bloating for four days, aiming at consuming 1,200 calories each day. During that time, you can’t add salt to any food and you must avoid:
- Processed foods
- Foods that can make you gassy, like beans, broccoli, and onions
- Carbs like pasta, bananas, and bagels
You must also drink 2 liters of water mixed with ginger root, cucumber, lemon, and mint leaves, which the book calls “sassy water.”
After that, you eat a Mediterranean-style diet for 4 weeks with 1,600 calories per day. The menu includes items like Greek Lemon Chicken and Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake.