The Flat Belly Diet plan comes to us from writer Elizabeth Vaccariello and nutritionist Cynthia Sass. The Flat Belly Diet claims you can lose up to 15 pounds in one month by following their plan, and who wouldn’t want that?
Their diet is relatively simple to follow and features unrefined and unprocessed foods, such as:
- Whole wheat grains
- Organic fruit
- Dark chocolate
- No (or very little) meat
- “Sassy Water” – water mixed with spices, cucumber and citrus fruits
- One MUFA at each meal
MUFA means a food that has just one monounsaturated fat. The authors claim that eating a MUFA food at each meal is key to reducing belly fat. It is this that keeps your abdomen lean and reduces bloating, allowing you to maintain (or gain) a washboard stomach. Examples of MUFAs include dark chocolate and nuts.
While this diet offers a variety of foods that are rich in vitamins, and an emphasis on unprocessed foods that are great for staying healthy, there is a high caloric intake on this diet (approximately 1,600 calories per day). The high intake combined with the claims of weight loss of 15 pounds in 30 days makes some sceptical of the diet’s benefits. Another major problem for this diet is the lack of a recommended exercise program. In fact, they tout major weight loss claims all while not exercising. This is usually not sustainable in the long run, and can even be unhealthy.
The requirements of the Flat Belly Diet are for mostly vegetarian, unprocessed foods with a major emphasis on MUFAs (foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats). The diet recommends eating 4 meals daily of 400 calories each, which is geared towards regulating your appetite and increasing your metabolism. This naturally leads to a tight stomach, say the authors. There is some scientific evidence that shows that eating smaller meals will increase your metabolism, but as for cutting down on the fat in specific body parts – that remains to be seen.
There is also the continual claim the MUFAs will help reduce belly fat, but this claim is largely undocumented and unproven. Most of the food recommended in the book is naturally-based and low in calories, yet the author recommends a higher than normal caloric intake (normal is considered to be 1,200 to 1,500 calories). There is little (if any) scientific proof for the advantages of MUFAs, but the company website is littered with testimonials of people claiming to have lost more than 10 pounds in a month.
The Flat Belly Diet comes from two authors with excellent credentials, but there are serious questions about the effectiveness of their claims. The natural food based diet plan is excellent, however, and most of the foods are relatively inexpensive (another plus for the diet), although several may be difficult to find in your typical grocery store. The unsubstantiated claims of the benefits of MUFAs and the lack of an exercise program seem to place this diet in the realm of ‘hype’ and indicate a lack of substance, while the weight loss claims seem to be at odds with the high caloric intake that is recommended on the diet.