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Book Review: The Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass

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Diets are not my thing. I’m a picky eater with some dietary restrictions, and most diets out there are heavy with foods that I either can’t stomach or don’t like. This makes sticking to these diets hard. Add to that my own concerns about the healthfulness of restricting certain foods and eating more of others, and you’ve got a recipe for a Grade-A skeptic and the perfect person to review The Flat Belly Diet by Prevention magazine Editor-in-Chief, Liz Vaccariello, and nutritionist Cynthia Sass, right?

It seems there are a million ideas and plans out there to help people lose weight. While most are backed up with scientific evidence and logical theories as to why they contribute to slenderizing your body, choosing one that you can live with can be a challenge. When I first heard about this diet book that specifically targets belly fat, I thought, “Sure it can,” in my usual sarcastic inner monologue. Then I found out who developed the diet and the studies behind it, and thought it was at least worth investigating further.

The idea is simple. You reduce calories and add a serving of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) to every meal. These include nuts (peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, etc.), healthy oils, avocados, dark chocolate, and other foods that are not usually recommended for most other diet programs. These work together in small servings with other foods to keep you full and energized throughout the day. The plan is designed so you eat every four hours, totaling four meals at 400 calories apiece.

The inclusion of MUFAs at every meal is what helps facilitate the removal of belly fat. This fatty acid has been shown to help prevent the accumulation of fat in this area and aid in removing what is already there. This, coupled with the overall decrease in calories, makes this plan very logical to my skeptic’s mindset.

The book itself is on par with most other diet books out there. The first part introduces the reason the diet was created, why it’s important to target this area, and then how the diet works in both scientific and layman’s terms. There are great explanations about the dangers of belly fat, how MUFAs work and all sorts of other tidbits about how the mind and body work together in the weight loss journey.

The second part tells you about the plan itself, which comes in two steps: a 4-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart, and a 28-day plan. The first step is to get you motivated and get some weight off immediately. The second step is to condition you to approaching food in a different way and adapting your daily habits to follow the plan for life. This is supported with a whole array of recipes and ideas, not to mention a daily journal to help you through the first month.

I must say I’m not happy about the anti-bloat jumpstart. It includes many foods that I do not like and I don’t really feel it’s necessary for the rest of the plan to work. That said, someone with broader appetites would likely love it. The rest of the plan is very flexible. The book gives you directions and recipes for quick single-serving meals. This is a big plus for someone like me who is always in a time crunch. It also has recipes that can be made and served to the whole family. There is a lot of information and support for most lifestyles and tastes – even mine.

The third part of the book is really supplemental. Though the dustcover advertises that you can get a flat belly without a single crunch, the book includes an exercise section to help maximize the effects of your efforts. There is also a guide to how to take what you do in your first month on the diet and translate it into long-term maintenance. Throughout the whole book, you’ll find success stories, tips, and motivational tools to help you stick with the plan.

I’ve just started following the plan, so I’m not so sure about its effectiveness. At the very least, the decrease in calories should yield some results. The book itself is a good read and offers a lot of good information. I think this plan is good for those who have been dissatisfied with most other diets out there, especially since there is a lot of variety in what you can and can’t do and the fact that it’s very simple to follow. Plus, it’s a great way to add more healthy food choices into your daily meals. The Flat Belly Diet is definitely worth a read.

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About Robin Kavanagh

  • sidder

    a good a tip is to eat small meals of 300 calories each 3 to 5 times a day.