The Flat Belly Diet

The creators of the Flat Belly Diet claim that dieters can lose up to 15 pounds in just 32 days—no crunches required! First created by the editor and chief of Prevention magazine, Liz Vaccariello along with nutrition director Cynthia Sass MPH, RD, the Flat Belly Diet promises followers a flat stomach by reducing bloat and trimming belly fat.

The Promise

The Flat Belly Diet is basically a calorie-controlled, Mediterranean style diet that encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and lean meats.  The creators claim that monounsaturated fats, like the ones found in olive oil, avocados and other plant-based foods, target fat that collects around the body’s midsection.

Plan Basics

The plan starts out with a 4 day anti-bloat diet that restricts calories to 1200 to 1400 per day and includes a special drink called “Sassy” water, made up of ginger, cucumber, lemon, and spearmint. The idea it to kick-start the diet, reduce water-retention and get participants motivated.  After the 4-day jump start, dieters move onto a more sustainable 1600-calorie (adaptable) a day diet. During these 28-days, individuals eat 4-meals of 400-calories each, which are spaced 4-hours apart. Dieters aren’t asked to count calories; rather they are supposed to choose from set breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack “packs.” Each pack includes a heart-healthy dose of monounsaturated fats, which are supposed to increase satisfaction and reduce belly fat. Each meal is set to contain a balance of lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains.

The Good Stuff

The basic premise of the Flat Belly Diet is sound: Reduce calorie intake, eat whole grains and plant-based foods, limit fatty animal products like cheese and red meat, and exercise (which the creators say is optional).  Health experts have long been touting the benefits of a Mediterranean style diet that encourages people to enjoy heart-healthy fats (such as monounsaturated fats). The food options, although limited to certain “packs,” are varied and offer vegetarians and those with food allergies plenty of options. Additionally, because the Belly Fat Diet doesn’t totally eliminate any one food group, dieters can easily make these changes permanent without feeling deprived.

Things to Think About

Dieters who follow this plan are bound to lose weight, although 15 pounds in 32 days seems to be an unrealistic promise for the long-term. More likely some of the weight that is lost is water weight, which cannot be maintained for extended periods of time.  Additionally, because the diet is based around set “packs,” individuals who want to go it alone without the book or the website may find it hard to follow. Lastly, although the diet itself may work, the claim that monounsaturated fats specifically target belly-fat is just not supported by contemporary research. Although your waist is sure to shrink whenever you lose weight, the myth that we can spot reduce has long been debunked by health researchers.

Is it Worth Trying?

Even if the Belly Fat Diet won’t make sure that every pound you lose comes off those love-handles, it does provide participants with a healthy, balanced diet that is sure to peel off the pounds. Foods high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to protect the heart and to reduce unhealthy LDL cholesterol. So if you’re looking for a new diet or always wanted to try Mediterranean style eating, this may be the plan for you.

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