Do you long for a slimmer mid-section? A decade-old diet is still popular today because it promises quick weight loss around the middle in only about a month! The Flat Belly Diet was written 10 years ago by Prevention Magazine editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass. The authors say if you follow the plan for 32 days, you can supposedly lose belly fat and drop up to 15 pounds without doing a single sit-up.
The basic foundation of the Flat Belly Diet is to restrict calories and eat monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which reduces belly fat, at every meal, to flatten your stomach and permanently lose belly fat. Foods with MUFAs include olive oil, nuts, seeds, soybeans and avocados.
How the Diet Works
There are two phases to the Flat Belly Diet. The first is a four-day “anti-bloat” phase. It’s intended to be a short, jump-start period to flush out the system, and you’re only allowed to eat very specific foods and drinks. In this part of the diet, you’re only allowed 1,200 calories per day. During this jump-start phase, followers are instructed to avoid:
- processed foods
- high-carb foods, including pasta and bread
- gas-producing foods, such as cabbage, onions and legumes
The second phase consists of a four-week eating plan. In this phase, women increases their calorie intake to 1,600 calories a day. (The Flat Belly Diet for men is similar, but it allows for more calories.) Along with MUFAs, you’re allowed to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but you should avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and carbonated drinks. Dieters are also never supposed to go more than four hours without eating.
Within the diet plan, both phases are broken into three meals, plus a snack, and the book provides shopping lists and sample menus. Followers are also instructed to drink two liters of “sassy water” — which is a concoction of water, ginger root, cucumber, lemon and mint leaves — every day.
Pros and Cons
The Flat Belly Diet’s biggest advantage is the healthful food choices included in the meal plans. Fish is encouraged, while meat and saturated fats are avoided. Plus, monounsaturated fats are healthy for the heart, and the diet could help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Another pro is that the book includes meal-replacement options and recommendations of good choices for eating out.
However, critics note several problems with the diet. For one, monounsaturated fat is not a “silver bullet” for weight loss, and exercise should always be encouraged for a healthy weigh-loss plan. Also, there’s very little scientific evidence that the so-called “sassy water” will jump-start metabolism. And detractors say the diet fails to account for variables such as height, weight, and activity level that may require a higher calorie intake.
The Flat Belly Diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is described as a heart-healthy eating plan to help lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, “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.”