Diet 101: Flat Belly Diet

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145151020

Close-up of fresh avocados on wooden surface

Photo by: Jacob Wackerhausen/Thinkstock

Jacob Wackerhausen/Thinkstock

Seems like everyone has been asking me about ways to lose belly fat lately. Is the Flat Belly Diet the way? And which foods does the diet recommend? Find out.

Overview

From the editors of Prevention magazine, the Flat Belly Diet claims that followers can lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days. Researched in part by a registered dietitian (always a good thing), the plan focuses on taking in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) from foods like oils, nuts and seeds, olives, avocado and dark chocolate. The author promises that dieters will want to follow this type of eating for the long haul.

The Plan

This 32-day plan includes a "Four Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart" followed by a 4-week program. The jump start banishes caffeine and most sources of sodium from the diet to help promote a loss of water weight. The four-day meal plan is made up of low-fat foods, a minimal amount of starchy carbs and lots of lean protein and fruits and vegetables. Dieters must also guzzle "Sassy Water," a concoction of water flavored with ginger, lemon, cucumber and mint created by contributing dietitian Cynthia Sass.

The four-week plan aims for a 1600-calorie per day plan made up of three, 400-calorie meals, plus a 400-calorie "snack pack" to work on throughout the day. Numerous options for breakfast, lunches and dinners are given for dieters to choose from, all of which include a dose of MUFA. Recipes are also included.

Exercise is encouraged but not a must on this diet. Chapter 10 includes an exercise plan designed by a Prevention staffer. The regimen highlights a one-month walking program, plus basic strength training and core exercises using light weights.

The Costs

The book retails for $15.99. For an additional $27, you can purchase the Flat Belly Cookbook or the Flat Belly Family Cookbook. Money aside, there's a lot of information for dieters to wrap their brains around to truly grasp the concept behind this diet.

The Good
•    Overall, a well-rounded program
•    The plan involves proper education about nutrition
•    Promotes cooking but also includes options for dining out
•    Simple exercise is encouraged
The Not-So Good

•    Meal prep and shopping for multiple ingredients may be too much for some

•    1600 calories might leave some people hungry

•    Hydration is always good, but not sure all that Sassy Water is necessary

•    MUFAs are healthy fats but not necessarily the key to successful weight loss

Bottom Line: The Flat Belly Diet is a sound diet plan, but as with any "plan," there are plenty of rules to remember and follow. Dieters must be prepared to do their homework before getting started.

Tell Us: Have you tried Flat Belly?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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