Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States and unfortunately, losing weight is no easy task. It should come as no surprise, then, that many individuals turn to specialty diets in an attempt to slim down. Those who are considering the Flat Belly Diet should familiarize themselves with its ins and outs before incorporating it into their lifestyle.
Developed by Prevention magazine editor Liz Vaccariello and Registered Dietitian Cynthia Sass, the Flat Belly Diet is designed to promote up to 15 pounds of weight loss in as few as 32 days. Flat Belly Diet creators also claim that those who follow this eating style can expect to achieve decreases in abdominal fat stores.
The Diet at a Glance
According to US World and News Reports, the Flat Belly Diet is modeled after a Mediterranean eating style and stresses the importance of eating monounsaturated fats.
The Flat Belly Diet is composed of two components:
- A four-day, 1200-calorie-per-day "anti-bloat" program
- A four-week, 1600-calorie-per-day "core" program
In The Flat Belly Diet, Vaccariello and Sass tout the importance of drinking plenty of fluids to filter toxins from the body and promote increases in metabolism and fat burn. While any type of fluid is better than none, Vaccariello and Sass encourage the consumption of "sassy water," which is water that has been enhanced with cucumbers, ginger, lemon and mint. For optimal results, aim for at least two liters of sassy water each day, recommend Vaccariello and Sass.
In addition to maintaining adequate hydration, individuals start the Flat Belly Diet by excluding certain foods from their meals. WebMD notes that during the "anti-bloat" program dieters are prohibited from eating:
- Processed foods
- Carbohydrates - like bread, pasta, and rice
- Foods that may increase gas production - like broccoli, beans, and onions
- Chewing gum
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcohol, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and acidic fruit juices
After completing the "anti-bloat" program, dieters can move on to the "core" program of the Flat Belly Diet. During this part of the program, MedicineNet notes that dieters are instructed to eat 400 calories every four hours, for a total of 1600 calories per day. Each of these four meals should include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and must include a serving of monounsaturated fat, note Vaccariello and Sass, including:
- Fatty fish
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
In addition to incorporating healthy fats into each meal, those who follow the Flat Belly Diet are encouraged to cut saturated fats - which have been linked to the development of heart disease - from their diet. Aim for no more than four grams of saturated fat per meal for optimal results when it comes to the Flat Belly Diet, notes US News and World Reports.
Does It Work?
Research commissioned by Prevention magazine suggests that the Flat Belly Diet may prove helpful when it comes to promoting weight loss and decreases in abdominal fat, notes US News and World Report. The research showed an average weight loss and abdominal fat loss of eight pounds and two inches, respectively, when following the Flat Belly Diet. It is important to note, however, that the study group only included nine women, which may be too small of a sample size to suggest significance.
Laura Benedict of MLive - who lost six pounds when following the Flat Belly Diet - found the diet monotonous and was grateful when the 32-day program was complete. According to Benedict, the diet " works as well as any other low-calorie, well-balanced diet when supplemented with exercise."
Similarly, Katherine Zeratsky, Registered Dietitian, of the Mayo Clinic notes that while weight loss may be achieved while following the Flat Belly Diet, focusing on a specific nutritional component - like monounsaturated fats - may not be sustainable when it comes to achieving long-term weight loss. Instead, aim for a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of different types of foods, recommends Zeratsky.
Try It or Toss It
When it comes to weight loss, there is no "magic pill." And while the Flat Belly Diet does appear to be nutritionally, sound, it does not provide significantly greater benefit than a balanced, nutritious, low-calorie diet. Those who are thinking about embracing this eating style should incorporate exercise into their lifestyle to maximize their results.