Belly Fat Breakthrough

By Mel Thomassian (RD)

2513-bellyfatbreakthrough.jpgOne huge issue with losing weight is how to target fat loss just in the belly region.

This is a topic which has been getting a fair amount of attention in recent days.

I discussed the Flat Belly Diet For Men only a few weeks ago, and now here’s Belly Fat Breakthrough, by registered dietitian, Karlene Karst,Much of the buzz around this topic of losing belly fat, is the result of a 2009 research paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which demonstrated the benefits of safflower oil for reducing belly fat. Karlene goes into detail on this subject in chapter 8 of her book.

Basically, this research found that 2 teaspoons of high linoleic safflower oil enabled the women in the study to lose 2 to 4 pounds of belly fat. They also gained lean muscle mass, and had lower fasting blood sugar levels.

Promotion of SafSlim?

The safflower oil used in the study is, however, not readily available — enter SafSlim — a “unique patented form of emulsified safflower oil,” now commercially available.

The final chapter of the book is very obviously promoting SafSlim, and I have since discovered that Karlene is affiliated with it. This isn’t mentioned in the book, which irks me slightly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against SafSlim, it’s just that I feel transparency is always a good idea.

Anyway, that aside, I do feel the book offers some very valuable information.

Main Diet Principles

Karlene talks about “belly-safe carbs.” These are whole grains, beans, legumes, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. She also empathizes that refined carbohydrates, like white sugar, white rice, and white pasta, need to be decreased.

The importance of fiber for curbing appetite and reducing absorption of calories is also highlighted. I assume this is based on research by the University of Kiel, Germany, which found that for every gram of fiber we eat, we eliminate 7 calories. That means,

If you are eating the recommended level of 25-38 grams of fiber, you can subtract 175-266 calories from your diet each day. This alone will help you lose 0.5 to 1 pound per week. (Direct quote from book)

The overall macronutrient content of the Belly Fat Breakthrough is 15-20% of calories from protein, 45-50% from fiber-rich carbohydrates, and no more than 25-30% from fat (with the focus on mono and polyunsaturated fats).

Belly Fat Exercise?

The benefits of having a regular exercise program are also highlighted, with emphasis on strength training. The book also includes a circuit training program, with easier versions for beginners, which is a nice touch.

As a whole, the advice contained in this book is pretty sound. I do feel, however, that specifically targeting “belly fat” is a bit hyped. Again, the scientific research is rather scant on diets which lead to loss of belly fat.

I’ve no doubt you will lose belly fat on this diet, but perhaps more because you are restricting calories, making better food choices, and exercising regularly.

Belly Fat Breakthrough is available from Amazon for $10.


  1. Lillian Nelson

    Hi, Earth Fare here in Charlotte has SafSlim for Belly Fat.I have a bottle sitting on my kitchen table I am wondering before I take any of this product what people who have taken it have to say about this product. I was in Earth Fare Sunday was looking for a different product when I met this nice young black lady shopping with her little boy..she told me about the product and that she was using SafSlim for a month..She sLIM PRODUCT WILL HELP ME KEEP THE SCALE TO SAY 124LB. ALL DAY INSTEAD OF WHEN i FIRST WAKE UP. I exercise by walking & indoor bike and doing all my own housework. I am just wondering how safe this product is for all over body system in geeneral?

  2. Joyce

    There are two types of Safflower oil. The monounsaturated which is used for high heat cooking oil. Don’t use that type. You want the polyunsaturated which is high in linoleic acid and is primarily used for salad dressings. Once opened keep it in the refrigerator or else it will become rancid. It is hard to find in grocery stores. Most sell the cooking oil kind. You only need about 1 1/2 tsps per day. Do not exceed 2 tsps because it may cause a stomach ache. If anyone knows what stores sell it please reply. Thanks in advance.

  3. michael

    I am trying to loose weight desperately for a family function. And i need few tips. Currently I am eating lots of salads and fruits. And substituting sugar with this natural sweetener called Natvia. Please give me some more tips.

  4. doc jay

    Dear O,

    We understand you are speaking from your own experience and what it seems to suggest about the underlying human physiology. Still, Lana happens to be correct about how physiology seems to work across the larger human population.

    And bodybuilders work on getting muscles to hypertrophy, which recruits entirely different physiological processes (protein synthesis to constitute myofibrils) than losing fat.

    Still, it is good to discover what works for oneself. It might apply to at least some others with similar genetic predispositions for patterns of fat deposition and metabolization.


  5. O.

    In the article I read last year it said that you could use ordinary grocery store safflower oil. So I argued that it wasn’t like a fad diet.

    At around $5 a bottle it was worth trying since the instructions were to consume a couple of teaspoons a day ( which I could get a lot of serving out of a botttle) or use it as a replacement for the cooking oil I normally use.

  6. Leona M.

    The wisdom of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other whole food as well as controlling the intake of refined foods such as sugars, white breads etc is for me unquestionable. That worked for me when I lost a substantial mount of weight recently. However I do question why that particular brand of safflower oil and not others. Is there something special about that brand that differentiates it form others or makes it more effective? I would like o know.

  7. Judith

    The emulsified* safflower oil is a red herring (and a money maker) in this diet. It is basically a low simple carb, high complex carb diet with exercise. Eat beans, veg and fiber rich foods – where have we heard this before?

    High in linoleic acid – big deal; so are sunflower, corn cotton seed and soybean oil to name a few.

    *Emulsified in this case just means an oil in water suspension. Like mayonnnaise. (Mayo uses egg yolk as an emulsifier to keep the emulsion stable)

    The second ingredient is xylitol which is the sweetener in sugarless gum (and very poisonous to dogs so don’t let your dog near this product).

    The third ingredient is glycerin (sometimes spelled with an “e” at the end, also known glycerol). This is used as a filler, sweetener and an emulsifier.

    The rest of the ingredients are mainly thickeners or preservatives of some kind (including antioxidants to stop the oil going rancid).

    Bottom line: Buyer beware (caveat emptor) and why a science education is worthwhile.


    I think the key to any successful weight loss plan is to reduce the refined sugars and the Stress. These both are slow killers. This book and many others talk about these facts but not always with the emphasis they deserve. I did enjoy your review.

  9. O.

    I only know what worked for me.

    I’m not sure I understand what you are saying.

    So lets say you have bra overhang and a big stomach…are you just supposed to do general exercises that don’t target those specific areas and hope that it just changes or your genetic make predispostion chages it?

    A body builder workes on their arms, and guess what, they get big muscular arms.

  10. Lana

    How can you disagree with basic human physiology? I suggest you have a gander at a recent exercise physiology textbook.

  11. O.

    I haven’t read all of that. But the article I read said to use regular grocery store safflower oil or pills from the vitamin store.

  12. O.

    I tend to disagree. In fact I practically have a DDD bra size. I usually buy my shirts bigger than my pants.

    And when I was on crutches after a knee injury in college I hardly went anywhere because my upper body strength needed for the crutches was so bad.

    It’s hard for me to get anything going above the waist.

    It think the spot reducing myth is centered around people who do that only and not along with cardio.

  13. Lana

    Where you lose body fat is genetically predetermined. A muscle does not “own” the fat that surrounds it. People can lose weight in different parts of their body first, but that is genetics. You, for example, probably lose weight in your upper body first, followed by the rest of your body. For me the first place I lose weight is my chest (I start wearing smaller bras) then my waist, then my hips and thighs. The first place I gain it back is my butt, hips, and thighs (chest last).
    That is awesome that you followed a healthy diet and exercised and lost body fat. You can believe in spot reduction all you want. Doing 600 abdominal crunches a day will not give you a six pack.

  14. Melanie Thomassian R.D.

    I’m not sure why, actually. Karlene just points out that you can’t get the particular safflower oil which they specifically used in the study on the shelf. She doesn’t explain the difference, if there was any :-/

  15. O.

    I do believe in spot reducing.

    In 2009 I signed up for Jenny Craig. I figured if I pay the money I should follow what they say to do, not just eat their food.

    They told me to do 2 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio per week. When I was on my own I just did 3 days of cardio a week.

    The results were so much better with me doing exercises to strengthen my upper body.

    I had bought a purse with a little strap that was supposed to be worn under the armpit. I couldn’t get it to fit comfortably but I kept the purse. A few months later my “bra hangover” was gone and I could carry the purse under my arm with no problems.

    There are people who lose 20 pounds and you can hardly tell. Then their are people who lose 20 pounds and they go down 2 dress sizes. I think the spot strengthening ( along with total body cardio) is the difference.

  16. Spectra

    Any diet that promotes eating a lot of fiber, a lot of fruits and vegetables, doing moderate exercise, and eating fewer carbs is going to make you lose weight. That being said, I think this book is sort of just a vehicle to sell their brand of safflower oil. I’m curious as to why any brand of safflower oil wouldn’t work for reducing belly fat.

  17. Lana

    Oh my goodness. When will people realize you cannot spot reduce? Your body sheds fat in layers from all over your body. Can you imagine if you only lost the fat around your middle yet kept all the fat on you butt, thighs, and arms, and chest?? It would look very funny I think.
    This book seems like it has some good advice from reading your review. That title is crap though. I guess they just want it to sell.

  18. O.

    I started a discussion about this last January when I found out about it from a womans magazine. It kind of sparked a big argument over whether the oil really worked or not.

    I thought the oil worked in conjunction with me doing ad exercises. But I am no longer taking the oil I suppose just out of laziness.

    I am continuing to work on reducing the “stress belly” I aquired over the years but through exercise only and no supplements other than occasional use of a stress suplement.

    My main thing is not having to get on the floor to do crunches. So I have been checking out different ab exercises that can be done sitting or standing.

    I purchased a set of DVDs in 2009 called Core Rhythyms that uses ballroom dance elemements in an aerobics routine that works the abs. I bought the whole set because that is how is was packaged for the infomercial, only later did I find out on their website that you could purchase individual DVDs.

    I only ended up feeling comfortable with 1 of the DVD’s. It was nice not to have to lay on the floor but some of the dance moves were complicated. Also there is a tendency to concentrate of moving arms and legs and loose track of what you are suppose to be doing for your ab muscles.

    In January of this year I bought another infomercial product called Perfect Sit Up. I saved a couple of dollars purchasing it at Wal Mart. It appealed to me because you could use it sitting in a chair or laying on the ground in the sit up position.

    I felt my abs burning and I think I’m getting flatter. Best of all, because I can do it quickly sitting in a chair, even not feeling well wouldn’t stop me from doing a session. At $97 it wasn’t cheap for something that resembles a boogie board, but again I like the fact that I can easily do the exercise sitting up.