Everyone wants flat abs. Belly fat is not just an eyesore, but fat around the middle may be dangerous and is the target of the New Abs Diet for Women.
Author and editor-in-chief of Men's Health and Women's Health magazines, David Zinczenko claims to have the formula to burn belly fat and get washboard abs in just six weeks by changing the way you eat and exercise.
Updated with new research, a portion distortion decoder, and tips on using food to boost health, the New Abs Dietfor Women is easier to use and even more effective at melting belly fat than Zinczenko's 2007 book, Abs Diet for Women, he tells WebMD by email.
Diet and exercise work better together than alone. In order to get flat abs, you need both. Half of the book is devoted to strength and interval training exercise diagrams to guide your fitness plan of 20 minutes, three days a week during weeks three to six.
The plan promises up to 12 pounds of belly fat weight loss during the first two weeks of the plan, when exercise is optional, although walking is highly recommended.
Tips throughout the book provide solid and helpful dieting advice. But whether you'll get flat abs is less certain.
"While improvement in the appearance of stomach muscles is possible with a healthful diet and exercise, losing up to 12 pounds of belly fat in two weeks is unrealistic," says weight loss nutritionist Elisa Zied, MS, RD.
The New Abs Diet for Women: What You Can Eat
Front and center on the plan are the 12 power foods featured in the menu plans. These foods are highlighted because they are nutrient-rich, contain protein, calcium, and healthy fats. Portion sizes are prescribed to keep calories in check, even for power foods.
Within the 12 power foods, there are lots of options to add variety and satisfy a wide range of palates.
The New Abs Diet 12 Power Foods – (acronym spells abs diet power)
1. Almonds and Other Nuts eaten with skins intact.
2. Beans and Other Legumes
3. Spinach and Other Green Vegetables
4. Dairy: Fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
5. Instant Oatmeal: Unsweetened, unflavored
7. Turkey and other lean meats. Lean steak, chicken, fish
8. Peanut Butter – All-natural, sugar-free.
9. Olive Oil
10. Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals
11. Extra- Protein powder(Whey)
12. Raspberries and Other Berries
Eat six mini meals a day with an emphasis on protein, prescribed at every meal to keep you feeling satisfied and to repair muscles. Meals are centered on power foods showcased in three weeks of diet plans and recipes. Calories range from 1400-1600 daily.
Drink plenty of water, limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per week, and once weekly you can splurge on a cheat meal and eat anything you like.
What's not on the menu are refined carbs, baked goods, sugar, white rice, pasta, high fructose corn syrup, fried foods, margarine, foods made with partially hydrogenated oils, whole-fat dairy, fatty meats, saturated fat, and trans fats.
The New Abs Diet for Women: How It Works
The No. 1 predictor of weight gain is dieting, Zinczenko says. He advocates six small meals daily to keep the body well fed with healthy food to encourage burning fat while retaining muscle.
Power foods, healthy proteins, and slow-burning carbs -- along with resistance exercise -- is the crucial mix for keeping muscle mass and accelerating fat loss, Zinczenko says.
Though The New Abs Diet for Women claims not to be a diet, it is indeed a diet with a detailed plan. It's not a short-term diet, though -- it's a healthy eating plan that Zinczenko wants women to use for life.
The New Abs Diet for Women: Experts' Views
Eating six small meals per day (with protein at every meal and lots of healthy foods in controlled portions) and regular exercise are the strengths of The New Abs Diet for Women, says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, Georgia State University nutrition professor emeritus.
But Rosenbloom notes certain contradictions throughout the book. "It claims not to be a diet, yet there are menu plans for a diet averaging 1400 calories," she says.
Another contradiction is the promise of building muscle, which requires adequate calories, protein, and strength training. "This will be hard to achieve on menu plans [of] less than 1600 calories and during the first two weeks, when exercise is optional," Rosenbloom says.
Lots of studies are mentioned throughout the book but the lack of detailed references makes it hard to substantiate, Rosenbloom says.
"His promise of pure fat loss is hard to deliver because there is no such thing as a formula that guarantees pure fat loss. Rapid weight loss is more likely to be more water weight than fat loss," Rosenbloom says.
Developing six-pack abs requires very low levels of body fat and strength training. "You can't turn fat into muscle, what you can do is lose fat and build muscle," says Rosenbloom, editor of Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals (due out later this year),
And even if you follow the diet and exercise plan to the letter, there is no guarantee you will achieve flat abs. "Flat abs is dependent on multiple factors, including genetics, your body shape, activity level, and more," Zied says.
The New Abs Diet for Women: Food for Thought
Written in a clever and engaging style, The New Abs Diet for Women is a template for a healthier diet targeted to women who want to grow stronger and get rid of unwanted fat.
It is a sensible, realistic eating plan with an emphasis on nutrient-rich foods, calorie control, and regular fitness. And it's full of helpful tips.
Eating healthy foods six times a day can be a very effective way to manage hunger and cravings. But it is easy to overeat, so you need to carefully control your portions.
Follow the simple guide to strength training, good nutrition, and exercise and you will lose weight and improve muscle strength. But like many other diet books, some of the claims and promises may be exaggerated, overstated, or without research evidence.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.