Flat Belly…and eating chocolates?

This sounds just too good to be true. A cure for belly fat! Weight loss of up to 15 pounds in 32 days, without performing a single crunch! Hard to believe? But then, it is always important to keep an open mind…you never know. This is what all the fuss around the Flat Belly Diet is about….

The Flat Belly Diet has been one of the top selling diet books this year. It was written by Liz Vaccariello, editor in chief of Prevention, along with Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, nutrition director at Prevention. The main focus area of this book is well chosen. Who doesn’t want a flat stomach?

The Flat Belly diet is in essence nothing other than a calorie controlled Mediterranean style diet, which has long been known to provide health benefits. So what made it so successful?

Firstly marketing, marketing, marketing and more marketing.

Secondly, it provides an easy and practical recipe for following a Mediterranean style diet.

Thirdly, it jumped on the bandwagon for including monounsaturated fat acid into the diet, referring to it simply as MUFA. You can even have dark chocolate while on this diet since it counts as a MUFA!

There is even some scientific backing for the claims that the introduction of MUFAs into a diet targets the waistline specifically when it comes to losing weight. A study by the name of “Monounsaturated Fat Rich Diet Prevents Central Body Fat distribution and Decreases Postprandial Adiponectin Expression Induced by a Carbohydrate Rich Diet in Insulin Resistant Subjects” was published in Diabetes Care on March 23 2007 by JA Paniagua et al. According to this study a diet rich in MUFAs may help reduce abdominal fat. It must be noted that more research will be required to corroborate these findings.

The basic Flat Belly Diet program limits dieters to 4 by 400 calorie meals per day. Safe to say, most people will actually lose weight on a 1,600-calorie per day plan. Every meal must be accompanied by at least one MUFA. Not only does this directly assist with the reduction of your waistline, but it also makes the food taste better, and keeps you satisfied for longer. According to the Flat Belly Diet MUFAs can be divided into 5 groups; namely nuts, oils and seeds, olives, avocados and dark chocolate.

The emphasis of this Mediterranean style diet (besides the MUFAs) is predictably on wholesome, unrefined foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, lean protein, and very little red meat (once a month). Interestingly, the diet yet again links in with many of the other popular diets of today, in that it highlights the impact of refined carbohydrates and sugars on people’s waistlines. Many Flat belly Dieters find that just by cutting out drinking soda, chewing gum and refined carbs in general, they already lose weight.

The program consists of an initial 4 day anti-bloat jumpstart program followed by the 28 day Flat Belly Diet. The jumpstart program (1,200- to 1400-calorie) is designed to reduce bloating and ensure that dieters have the right mindset before they start the Flat Belly diet. During the jump-start, dieters drink 2 liters of daily “Sassy water,” a blend of water, herbs, spices, citrus and cucumber. Dieters reported that they generally felt less sluggish than normal during trials and also indicated that they found themselves to be less bloated and less constipated when drinking the Sassy water.

As is the case with most other programs, the Flat Belly Diet offers dieters a well developed web site, allowing them to track their progress, compare notes with others on the plan, and also provide them with online support to address any questions or concerns. The online program allows for the customization of members’ calorie needs based on age, height, current and ideal weight, sex and activity level. Although the diet does not require participants to exercise, it does encourage it in the interest of better weight loss and health results. An entire chapter is devoted to the flat belly workout with diagrams of exercises, walking plans, and a 28-day workout plan.

It is also important to remember that losing weight is not all about looking and feeling better, although that motivation very often dominates the thoughts of many overweight people. The most important reason for losing weight is to improve your health in general. Fat around your midriff increase your risk of cardiovascular and other diseases more than the extra weight you may carry around on your hips and thighs. Two types of fat have been identified around the midriff area namely subcutaneous fat (visible beneath your skin) and visceral fat (not visible and packed tightly around your organs). Having a little bit of fat to protect your body and organs is important, but too much fat leads to disease. MUFAs help your body to regulate the fat it stores for protection and future use.

During the course of our research we have come across some experts warning that there may be statements in this book that are not 100% supported on a scientific level. The problem really is that there are just so many variables involved in the weight loss / weight gain equation that nobody really knows exactly how it all works.  Until more research is done, the best we can all do, is to investigate each lifestyle on its own merit and see how it works for us. Most of the experts agreed that the Flat Belly Diet in itself is a healthy and sustainable way of losing weight.

The Flat Belly Diet web site contains the following claim about results obtained by dieters using this program. “ The results from the Flat Belly Diet test panel are compelling. Ten women and one man (all 40+ years of age) participated for 32 days. The volunteers were divided into a diet only group and diet and exercise group. The diet and exercise group lost an average of 5.5% of total body weight, 8.5 total inches, 2.6 belly inches and 10.9 pounds. The diet only group lost an average of 4% of total body weight, 6.75 total inches, 1.6 belly inches and 6.1 pounds. The greatest weight loss for a female tester over the course of the four-week portion of the Flat Belly Diet was 15 pounds (7% of body weight), 10 total inches and 3.5 belly inches. The male tester lost 13.5 pounds (6.5% of body weight), 11.25 total inches and 3 belly inches.”

A word of caution, “losing 15 pounds in 32 days” probably include substantial water loss. You may find that when you do decide to try this diet out, despite claims of huge losses, you still only lose at a rate of approximately 1-2 pounds per week.  To get back to a statement made earlier, it is a calorie-controlled, Mediterranean-style diet plan meaning you will lose weight (all over and not necessarily just around the midsection) safely and effectively.

Still, if that means you can have your dark chocolate and lose the weight – why not?

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3 Responses to “Flat Belly…and eating chocolates?”

  • I love the Flat Belly Diet. Have only been on it for a week, but I’ve already lost 2kgs and I feel soooo much better. No trace of a bloated stomach any more. Just a little bit of a spare tube that is slowly melting away. And the bonus is that I find this diet super easy to stick to. And the best thing – I can even have a little piece of chocolate every day.

  • I was extremely doubtful when I decided to try this diet, but was desperate. I have a baby that is two year old now, and somehow I just never managed to lose the fat around my tummy. To make matters worse – I was always bloated. Today, I can happily say that that awful tummy is slowly shrinking – I have lost 2 inches around my waist already, and I feel great.

  • Love the diet and love the review! First time I find a healthy diet that helped me lose weight while actually enjoying myself!

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