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The Flat Belly Diet

The Promise

Eat fat and lose weight. That's the promise of the Flat Belly Diet.

Now for the fine print: The kind of fat matters. The plan focuses on monounsaturated fats, which you get from olive oil, nuts, and other plant foods.

Authors Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, claim that in 32 days, you can lose up to 15 pounds and drop belly fat by following their plan:

  • Eat 400 calories per meal, four times per day (daily total: 1,600).
  • Don’t go longer than 4 hours without eating.
  • Eat monounsaturated fats at every meal.

Does It Work?

Any weight loss plan can help you whittle your waist. But no diet is proven to specifically target that area, and monounsaturated fats don't have any special effect on belly fat.

It's likely that if you do lose 15 pounds in 32 days, you're mostly losing water weight, which you may regain. Losing 1-2 pounds per week will take you longer to reach your goal, but you're losing actual fat.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

First, you target bloating for four days. During that time, you can't add salt to any food and you must avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Foods that can make you gassy, like beans, broccoli, and onions
  • Carbs like pasta, bananas, and bagels

You must also drink 2 liters of water mixed with ginger root, cucumber, lemon, and mint leaves, which the book calls "sassy water."

After that, you eat a Mediterranean-style diet for 4 weeks with 1,600 calories per day. The menu includes items like Greek Lemon Chicken and Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake.

Level of Effort: Medium

The diet loosens up a little after 4 days. You'll still need to eat often and include monounsaturated fats, and hit the calorie mark precisely every day.

Limitations: The first 4 days are very restrictive. After that, you must eat 400 calories every 4 hours and include monounsaturated fats with every meal. A busy or unpredictable schedule can make this challenging.

Cooking and shopping: The diet includes recipes, ideas for snacks, and tips for ordering fast food. 

Packaged foods or meals? Certain brands of food are recommended, but not required.

In-person meetings? No.

Exercise: It's not required. But the book includes a “flat belly workout” to support the diet.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: The plan suggests substitutions that work for these diets.

Low-salt diet: You're not supposed to add salt to anything you cook. You still need to check the label on other foods to see how much sodium they have.

Low-fat diet: This is not a low-fat diet, but the type of fat is heart-healthy. You eat monounsaturated fats at every meal, and you need to watch your portion sizes so you don't get too many calories.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: None except your groceries. Olive oil, nuts, and avocados may add to your bill. You could save by cutting back on other foods that the diet doesn't emphasize. 

Support: You do this diet on your own.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on December 04, 2013

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