The Flat Belly Diet

By Jim F

2442-flatbellydiet.jpgThe latest diet frenzy has hit: The Flat Belly Diet – featured recently on Good Morning America.

The diet is written by Prevention magazine’s Editor in Chief Liz Vaccariello (along with Nutrition Editor Cynthia Sass).

What’s It About?

The central premise of the diet is that of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids – MUFA for short. The Flat Belly Diet calls for a MUFA food at every meal.

According to exciting new research, MUFAs can actually help you lose weight, specifically around your middle.

What foods contain MUFAs? Olive oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

The diet also talks about eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and limiting meat intake. In fact it sounds very similar to a traditional Mediterranean diet. The suggested meal plans are set at 1600 Calories per day.

A Flat Belly Without Situps?

The program recommends “optional” exercise such as; 25 minutes brisk walking, or a strength training workout including Lunges, Squats, and Pushup Rows.

Just A Few Gripes

Sadly, there are many things about this diet that seem a little (or a lot) over-exuberant. All the material points to a direct loss of abdominal fat from the diet — this is a very bold claim and there is no apparent evidence to back it up. When body fat is lost it tends to disappear from all over the body.

There are also claims like:

  • Lose up to to 15lbs in 32 days
  • Trim up to 12 inches of fat
  • Tighten, tone and flatten your tummy
  • Look and feel sexier

These are the buzzwords that draw in the crowd. The book costs $31.95 and the online program appears to cost around $15 per month (although there is a 3 month ‘free’ trial available).

The Flat Belly Diet espouses a healthy diet – but it is hardly “Breakthrough Science”. Eating a certain kind of fat is no miracle weight loss cure. However – in all fairness – there is some research (such as this and this study in the British Journal of Nutrition) that demonstrate how replacing saturated fats in the diet with MUFA’s can result in favorable outcomes.

UPDATE: You can (finally) purchase the book for a reasonable price. Available here + free pocket guide.

464 Comments

  1. AlmostABride

    My boyfriend and I started this diet January 8th. We are absolutely loving it! The food doesn’t taste like diet food, it tastes like you are cheating at every meal! We are planning to get married this summer and I know that this diet is an easy and effective way to trim down. I am overweight (started at 238.8 lbs now down to 223.6!) and I thought the diet would leave me feeling hungry (which I often feel as a big girl with most diets) but it absolutely doesn’t! And we are definitely more energized than ever before! Our dog loves our new activities! The four days were a breeze when we just kept our eyes on the prize and you can be happy after a few days the difference you can seriously feel! I definitely recommend using the seasonings they say for the first 4 days! Watch the weight fall of like we are doing!

  2. MrsHutch

    I would like for you to email me the rest of the 7-Day plan if you don’t mind. Do you know the guidelines for the 4 Day Jumpstart Program? If so I would like that as well. How did you do with the 7-Day plan?

  3. allie

    I believe you are supposed to stay away from coffee on the 4-day.

  4. allie

    Kathy,

    If you’re not already, keeping your food journal is important. I did not start journaling until the second week after the 4-day and I was shocked to see I was only eating about 800 calories a day. I thought I was eating too much! I would guess you’re eating too few calories.

    1600 calories a day is recommended in the book. I would try writing down your food choices/calories (it gets much easier after the first few times –since you will know the calorie count of many foods)

    Remember our metabolisms are like camp fires and food is the wood that fuels them. If we don’t add fuel our bodies go into starvation mode and hold on to everything (fat) for dear life.

    I have lost about 10 lbs in a matter of weeks but the inches lost have just blown my mind. I’m down two pant sizes in about three weeks. I’m only weighing once a week b/c I’m in a “club” with 3 gf’s and that’s what we’re sticking too; so tomorrow should be interesting.

    I measured my waist this morning (even though I wasn’t supposed to til sat a.m.) and I have lost 4 inches just in my waist. I’m thrilled and am loving the food choices.

    Hang in there and Good Luck!

  5. mrsbond

    can i please have the 4 day jumpstart emailed to me as well, i am very interested in giving a try and seeing what it is all about. thanks in advance for your help and time!!! have a great day!!

  6. Gwen

    Would you mind sending me the 7 day meal plan? Would greatly be apprecited. Is this the same as the jump start that everyone is asking for? Thanks!!!

  7. K.C.

    I’m new to this website. Have been reading a lot of posts regarding the flat belly diet and the 7 day plan. If anyone has it and would like to share(email)it to me I would very much appreciate it. Despite being near my goal weight I still don’t have a flat stomach and would like to get rid of the extra weight around my midsection. Thanks, again!

  8. Cindy

    From what I understand you can have whatever you want to eat or drink as long as you stick with the rule of 400 calories and 1 MUFA with each meal.

  9. Selah117

    I am still feeling hungry AFTER the jumpstart program! Anyone still having this issue? It usually happens between after lunch and dinner time. The worst time is when I get home from work I am so starving that I have difficulty controlling myself. I have my snack a couple of hrs before I leave work. I get home about 7:30 – 8:30pm.

    Anyone have any suggestions?
    Are there certain foods that are filling? I’m sorry but sometimes the MUFA’s are not filling. Usually in the evening I struggle. I may need an additional appetite suppresent. 🙁

  10. Di-Awn

    I’m on Day 8. I love eating like this! The yellow book is out where I can access it easily. I took the title book cover off and the book is bright sunshine yellow. Then I graffiti’d my goals, motivating quotes, and that I am doing this for “me”. It’s very colorful now and personalized. I even put matching yellow tabs on pages to mark recipes, charts, journals. It’s become my eating journal, cookbook and motivator. This book is my new best friend.

    I cruised through the 4 days… no problem. The food was not bad. Day one was the hardest. Not having coffee left me with a headache for 2 days but day 3&4 were clear. I was lazy and didn’t make the sassy water every night. I just added water to the batch when it ran low. But I drank it for 4 days. Super yummy and refreshing. It’s pretty too in a clear water pitcher. Because I’m busy and like to take shortcuts, I ate the same breakfast for all 4 mornings.
    1 cup of rice crispies
    1 cup of lt plain organic soy milk (I can’t drink milk)
    1/4 cup of roasted unsalted sunflower seeds (1/8 of it went into my rice crispies… it’s now my favorite!
    1/2 cup of homemade no sugar added applesauce (1/8 of seeds went into that…. another favorite!
    glass of sassy water – and that’s what I ate for breakfast all 4 days. End of 4 days I lost 5 lbs. SOOO worth it because I felt awesome!!

    Lunches were almost too big. The smoothies are the BEST!!! I love the taste of the flaxseed oil. It’s nutty.

    Now I’m on day 8 of my 32 days. I LOVE the recipes!! Sometimes there’s just too much food so I don’t finish all the calories. This is not a bad thing because I love wine and I don’t have to give it up. The calories I don’t eat, I add to my wine allowance. I get to drink wine everyday. In 8 days I lost 2 lbs. I have to believe that these are actually fat lbs (= 8 sticks of butter) and not water weight. I do see my body shrinking.

    I’ve been on diets before and the 5 lbs of water weight doesn’t surprise me. I don’t have problems losing that. It’s the fat weight that doesn’t come off and if it does it’s very slow. 2 lbs in 8 days is really great for me.

    As skeptical as I was and not wanting to get on the scale this morning in fear of another disappointing diet, I was pleasantly surprised.

    For someone who loves to eat and eats a lot, all the time….I’m amazed at how little food my body actually needs in order to function with great energy. I’m definitely gaining some new eating habits and I can see this as a good lifestyle choice.

    Di-Awn

  11. solsken

    I completed day 4 yesterday and am on day 5. I lost 7 pounds! My original weight was 168 and this am I am 161. I am ecstatic! I know alot of this is water weight, but I feel so happy to get rid of the bloat and have my clothes fit alittle better. I know have 35 pounds to lose to go back to my 125 fighting weight of my 20s. (I am 47) I have really not been hungry. (ALTHOUGH THE FIRST 2 DAYS WERE TOUGH GETTING OUT OF THE PATTERN OF EATING ALL THE TIME)

    I have alot of the food leftover so, folks worried about the initial cost should realize that the initial shopping list was designed to give some variety. I have a lot left. I know long term, I will spend less on food as I won’t be buying soda, coffee and all those expensive processed foods.

    I cannot use skim milk in my cereal, it is just too watery and yucky for me, so I used 1%. I used skim milk in the shakes and had them at night for a snack after dinner.

    I am ready to start making those yummy recipes for the next 4 weeks. I am a working mom and was able to make my family their dinner along with mine pretty easily. I also made the chicken ahead along with rice, so I could just reheat or use for lunch.

    I will keep posting here until I find a group to join for free as I really don’t think I want to spend the money for the website, but it is cheaper than jenny craig, ww or lots others, ultimately, so I might join to find a community to do this with.

    I am thrilled I found this diet and very hopeful that I can for once, finally, maintain a healthy diet and weight.

  12. Rebecca

    I ordered my book online and am still waiting for it to get here in the mail. I want to start the 4 days this monday. Can you send me what it entails in case I don’t get my book by then?

  13. kelly

    can you drink coffee after you completed the 4 day anti-bloat part of the program?

  14. solsken

    I am on day 3 of the diet. I struggled the first 2 days without coffee, but feel better today.

    I am using Ms. Dash on the chicken and talapia and it tastes pretty good, along with a touch of lemon juice.

    I can understand the naysayers, but finding what works for you is what this is all about. It is too early to determine if this will work for me, as I ultimately have to learn (and be disciplined) to eat better. I am a carb addict and it is killing my energy, mood and causing me to overeat.

    The shakes are filling and I chose to have them at night instead of the afternoon. I am also eating a few prunes when I get a craving.

    Yesterday on day 2 I was NOT hungry at night. That is amazing.

    I am hopeful that this will work for me. I have the book, but have not decided if it is really worth the money for the online support. But if I really have luck with this I might.

    My goal is 42 pounds.

    I wish you all luck!

  15. Maureen

    My daughter (17) and I started te FBD two weeks ago, The first four days we were very hungry and I was very moody and had a bad, bad headache. She lost 5 lbs and I lost four the first four days. So far she has lost 6 lb and I have lost 8 lbs. The brand names listed in the diet are hard to find were we live so I go to Trader Joes and ad-lib. My gallbladder symptoms have gone away and I have so mch energy. We both have said it has been easier then we thought to switch to whole grain, low fat diet and will stick following the basic idea of this, which is a healty diet similair to that in Greece.

  16. Krista

    Hi everyone!
    I just wanted to post my experience. I do recognize that this diet isn’t for everyone, but it sure is for me. I have been a vegetarian for 19 years and did not do the jump start. My mom has done the diet faithfully to the letter since July and has lost 40 pounds in 6 months. I was mostly annoyed by this because she talked about it non-stop and kept pushing me to try it. But, she went from a size 16 to a size 4 and that is hard to ignore (she actually is in the prevention magazine Feb issue for the diet-also annoying to hear about everyday, but I am proud of her).

    I had weight gain from multiple pregnancies and miscarriages last year and wasn’t emotionally ready to start a diet, but I did start adding the MUFAs to my meals. I really liked that and felt better (and lost 5 pounds!!!!). So week by week, I added more of the principles into my diet and since the end of October, I have lost 31 pounds. I was a size 14 and now I can wear my 8s again. I know that some people don’t like the food options, but I love them. I have adjusted my eating habits and I know that this is just how I will eat from now on. I feel healthier and I have a lot more energy!

    Because of our results, 5 of our family members and several friends are trying it and most of them are doing really well.

    (for the person talking about cholesterol problems, my mom was told she needed to go on medicine for high cholesterol, but tried this diet first and now her cholesterol in in the good range and she doesn’t have to take anything for it)

  17. Amanda

    Please send me the 7 day plan as well. I’d like to try it before I buy the book. Thanks!

  18. Laura

    what is the jump start? I am doing the 7 day plan from the magazine, but don’t want to buy the book yet. Also, what about achohol intake? Can I still have a glass of wine in the evening??

  19. cindy

    Can I drink wine on this diet? I usually have 1 or 2 glasses a day.

  20. Dr. J

    Stacia,

    You might want to look at Dean Ornish’s books and diet variations. I think they would give you the results you are looking for. Usually, it’s better to do some modifications of diets, like with Ornish, increase the fat a little, then be real rigid about them. They will work better in the long run that way.

  21. Stacia

    I’ve been trying to find a decent diet that can help me lose weight while still being a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Is this diet possible for me? I don’t mind bland food. I’ve tried Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, E-diets, Medifast, Nutrisystem, you name it. None of these have reasonable vegetarian diets that are inexpensive or repetitive (I was rotating between two dinners on Jenny Craig until I couldn’t look at their pasta anymore).

    I’m almost to the point of just doing a vegan diet and banning all processed food, which is difficult, but cheaper and more effective than other diets.

    Is this diet just the same as the others? Expensive and repetitive?

  22. picasa

    what exactly do you do on the 4 day jumpstart??

  23. Laura

    I like tea with honey. What can I substitute to comp for calories?

  24. renae

    My husband and I started this right before Thanksgiving. The 4 day jumpstart took some willpower…Kind of bland, and I was hungry. But I lost about 5 lbs the first week and could fit into my prepregnancy pants a lot better. (I’m not really overweight, I’m actually well within a healthy weight range, …I only needed to lose about 12 lbs which is mainly around my mid-section.) I’ve lost about 7 lbs to date because I “enjoyed” lots of holiday foods.

    We didn’t stick to the diet wholeheartedly during the holiday season, so my weight loss has stagnated, but my hubby and I feel so much healthier! He has always had irritable bowel problems, and since starting the Flat Belly 2 months ago, he has not had a single bout of bowel pain. (It used to happen every week or two). Obviously, this diet isn’t a miracle diet…you still need to exercise and be aware of your calorie intake…but it is definitely a healthy lifestyle change that has been easy for us to follow. We feel terrific!

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