Besides doing Body for Life almost 7 years ago I’ve never stuck to a diet plan for longer than a week, and that was only before a photo shoot or tropical vacation. I’ve dabbled in Suzanne Sommers, South Beach, and even a little Atkins but all of them pretty much left me tired and hungry. I was intrigued by the Flat Belly Diet when I saw the women behind the plan on Rachel Ray. The diet claims to get rid of belly fat by sticking to a 1,600-calorie diet where you eat a mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) with every meal:
This breakthrough diet from the editors of Prevention magazine was made for health-conscious women who have tried virtually everything to eliminate harmful belly fat – it offers a proven, science-based solution combining a cutting-edge nutrition plan with expert motivational tips and advice.
I could write a whole page on the ins and outs of the Flat Belly Diet but to save time and space I’ll let you read a little bit about it here or you can watch this great interview with Cynthia Sass, nutrition director at Prevention, who talks about the science behind the diet. (I’ve actually heard it’s similar to the Mediterranean diet since MUFAs include foods like nuts, healthy oils, olives, avocados.)
I tried out the 4-day jump start plan and that probably wasn’t the best way for me to test out this diet. To be honest, I’m really not at a need-to-diet stage, so the 4-day jump start (1,200 calories a day) just wasn’t quite enough for me. Though the planned breakfast meals usually did a great job of filling me up (note: I think the 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds on day 1 is a typo—that’s almost 400 calories right there), lunch left me hungry and grumpy by the mid afternoon snack. I was really grumpy by dinner time the first day, but I had missed the planned midday fruit smoothie, so I’m sure that was part of the problem. I really should have just started in on the 1,600-calorie plan and tried out the yummy sounding—and more substantial (i.e. filling)—meals you can eat once you’re off the jump-start phase. I’m talking apple-almond oatmeal, avocado-tomato herbed breakfast tacos, Mediterranean wraps, and pork with Szechaun vegetables. I will say the Flat Belly Diet has taught—or rather, reminded—me about portion control and how many more vegetables I should be eating (think Healthy Habits Plate for adults) and water I should be drinking. Considering I drink more water than I ever did before and eat more fruits and veggies, the Flat Belly Diet was a success. And the success stories (see photo above) online are pretty cool too.
What I really liked about this book was all the health and nutritional information in the first couple chapters. I am big on learning about the science behind foods and their impact on the body and this book had a lot of great info, and after reading I am convinced MUFAs are an important way to manage weight—s long as you’re watching your portion sizes. (I could eat a whole avocado but probably shouldn’t.) Bottom line, if you’re looking to lose weight find a diet that works for you. If you prefer protein shakes and bars, do it. If you like suggested and scheduled meals, then go for it. As long as you’re eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of your body you’ll eventually have your own flat belly. And by “flat” I don’t mean size-0-America’s-Next-Top-Model flat. I mean healthy, perfect-for-you flat. I love this excerpt from the book:
Be kind to your belly. No matter how flat or round, jiggly or rock-hard—it’s yours, and it’s powerful. It’s probably the center of some of your most profound memories. Think about it…the laughter you’ve shared, the romantic dinners you’ve had, the butterflies you’ve felt, the children you may have carried. All these set up house in—yes—your belly. And for that, it deserves your respect. Your appreciation. And more than a little love and kindness…even when you’re struggling to button your jeans.