Fat Belly Or Flat Belly Cover image

Fat Belly or Flat Belly

You Choose.


• Feel Satisfied — Not Hungry.

• Avoid 10 “Foods” That Bloat.

• Lose Weight And Inches.

• Have A Flat Belly.


Look inside and find out something newly discovered….

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Watch your weight! Researchers at the University of Minnesota ran a study of 1,800 dieting adults.

They found that participants who weighed themselves every day lost an average of 12 pounds over  2 years, while those who only weighed once a week lost only six pounds. Linde, et al. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2005.

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Fat Belly OR Flat Belly?

Believe it or not, now you actually do have a choice. Put aside your reasons for your tummy: runs in the family, baby weight, no will power, no budget for liposuction, or (my personal favorite) “getting older”. Instead, be unreasonable – and go for it! Let the Flat Belly Diet be your guide.

In this new book from Rodale Press, Prevention editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello and co-writer Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, give us a breakthrough 32 day plan for flattening our bellies. And, they promise, “Not a single crunch required”.

Registered dietician Cynthia Sass has developed a belly-shrinking eating plan using the latest research. A dozen individuals tested the plan (including one man). The winner (one of the women) lost 15 pounds during the 32 initiating days of the plan.

There is plenty of food and it is healthy, tasty, and satisfying. Follow the rules – and you’ll never be hungry. In addition, the authors have included helpful mental tricks, tips, and strategies, giving us the means to satisfy our minds as well as our bodies.

Intrigued? Read on….

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The Basic Flat Belly Plan

The way to a flat belly begins with “The Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart”. This is followed by “The Four Week Plan”, for a total of 32 days.

Throughout the program, four meals are eaten each day. There is a grocery list for the first four days and basically no food preparation. (Couldn’t be easier.) For example, every day starts with a breakfast of cereal, milk, sunflower seeds, and fruit. During the jumpstart days, the meals equal 1200 calories daily. (More later.)

During the following 28 days, a number of “Quick-And-Easy” meals are provided. They are equal to 1600 calories a day and they really are quick and easy. (One of my favorites is the Boca Burger lunch.) If you want to cook, 80 special recipes are included.

Lastly, there are Three Golden Rules to eating.

1. Eat four meals daily, 400 calories per meal.

2. Don’t go more than 4 hours without food.

3. Eat MUFAs with every meal.

It works. Now learn why….

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All Our Fat Doesn’t Meet The Eye

Two kinds of fat make up our bellies: Fat we can see and fat we can’t see. The fat we can see is subcutaneous fat. This is the fat which is just beneath (sub) our skin (cutaneous). This fat is all over our bodies. There is even a little on the bottoms of our feet.

We may complain that we have too much, but some subcutaneous fat is necessary to our health. For one thing, it regulates our body temperature. Plus, it offers some protection against impact (bumping into things).

The second type of fat is visceral fat, sometimes called “hidden fat”. Although a little of this fat is needed to cushion our inner organs, because it lies so close to our heart and liver, too much is dangerous to our health. And, it’s difficult to get rid of. In fact, even skinny people can have deadly amounts of visceral fat.

Why deadly? An excess of this kind of body fat increases our risk of disease, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. In a Danish study, researchers showed that visceral fat may have a greater impact on the heart health of older women than overall obesity.

Visceral fat is also indicated in high blood pressure, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation. Fat is living tissue, and visceral fat secretes precursors to a chemical leading to inflammation. Inflammation is highly associated with the development of every chronic disease. No wonder Vaccariello and Sass call it viscious fat.1

What’s the ultimate downside for us? We can diet like crazy, exercise regularly, look mahvelous, and still maintain a risky amount of visceral fat. The Flat Belly Diet gals advise us that the only way to decrease both subcutaneous fat and visceral fat is to Eat The Right FAT.


All Our Fat Doesn’t Meet The Eye


1 The only way to estimate the amount of visceral fat one is carrying is by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI can be used to take a picture of the inside of the abdomen.

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Eat Your MOO-Fahs!

What?!!! Sounds like bad language doesn’t it? Nope. This language is actually bringing good news.

MOO-fahs is the flat belly authors’ nickname for MUFAs, monounsaturated fatty acids. We have been writing about the health benefits of these fatty acids for years. The most famous MUFA-carrier is the olive.

In 2007, groundbreaking information about MUFAs was published in Diabetes Care. Spanish researchers found that a diet rich in MUFAs inhibits the accumulation of weight in the belly.

Paniaqua, et al, looked at three different diets, all containing the same number of calories. The diets were 1) high in saturated fat; 2) high in carbs; and 3) high in MUFAs.

All the participants had both large stomach girth and insulin resistance. The amazing result was that the MUFA diet reduced subcutaneous belly fat and visceral body fat. This result is particularly astonishing in the context of insulin resistance.

Because MUFAs are the only food ever shown to have this effect, they are the centerpiece of the Flat Belly Diet. The use of MUFAs in every meal is what makes this diet unique. It is specifically designed to help us lose belly fat!

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What Are The MUFAs?

There are five categories of monounsaturated fatty acids:2

1. Oils

2. Olives

3. Nuts and seeds

4. Avocados

5. Dark chocolate3


Let’s take a look at each category, beginning with oils. Although Vaccariello and Sass list “high-oleic” safflower oil as the richest in MUFAs at 76% , this is not true. Macadamia nut oil is the winner at 80 percent. Possibly because of the high cost of fuel, this product is not as easily available as it was previously. In my experience it is the tastiest plant oil.4

My recommendation is extra virgin olive oil. At 76 percent MUFA, it delivers health benefits not available in other oils. It has antibacterial properties and can even kill H. Pylori, the ulcer-causing bacteria. Its antioxidant capacity helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Plus, it helps reduce inflammation.

Of course, you can go straight to the olive itself, using them as garnish, salad ingredients, in Italian sauces, and in tapenade, the classic chopped olive spread.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are the kings of the MUFAs. Sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans each have their claim to fame.

Sunflower seeds contain a fatty acid that has been shown to protect women against heart disease. Walnuts are high in omega-3s, giving protection against heart disease and inflammation. Unsalted pistachios have been shown to normalize blood pressure during stress. Pecans contain more antioxidant power than any other tree nut.


Avocados are “fat” with nutrition. They contain lutein, the eye protector, and beta-sitosterol, a cholesterol-lowering plant sterol. Put in salads and salsa, they more than double the absorption of carotenoids, antioxidants known to protect against macular degeneration. They are also rich in fiber, vitamin K1, and potassium.

Dark Chocolate

In our Nutrition News “Whole, Fresh, & Lively”, we covered plant-based antioxidants. We introduced the health benefits of chocolate. Just remember, that’s only dark chocolate.

Once you add milk/cream to chocolate, you can subtract the antioxidant benefits. Further, chocolate is fattening. A serving size of Dove dark chocolate (40 grams) contains 210 calories and 13 grams of fat, 8 of which are saturated.

And this is where the MUFAs come in. Some of this saturated fat is in the form of stearic acid.

Stearic acid, an unusual saturated fat, is converted by the liver into the “healthier” monounsaturated fat. And, folks, after an hour of searching online, this is as close as I could come to ascertaining the amount of MUFA in chocolate. Negligible. On a diet that is calorie-based, chocolate is not where I would secure my MUFAs.

What Are The MUFAs?


2 Nutrition News, “The Fats Revealed” is a primer on essential fatty acids. We’re happy to mail or email one to you.

3 We talk about chocolate and its antioxidant capacity in Nutrition News, “Whole, Fresh, and Lively!”.

4 Incidentally, if you choose to purchase safflower oil, be sure it is “high oleic”. If the label does not specify this, your purchase will only contain 13% MUFAs. Also, look for dark bottles or tins when you purchase oils. Exposure to light oxidizes the oil (quickens the rancidity process).


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More About MUFAs

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of MUFAs is the protection from disease that they offer.

Many of the health problems exacerbated by visceral fat have their healthy counterpart in MUFA intake. Does MUFA neutralize visceral fat? As yet, research into MUFAs hasn’t gotten that far. However, when polyunsaturated fat takes the place of saturated fat in the diet, less visceral fat is formed.

Meanwhile, we know that MUFAs protect the heart. The research is so convincing that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH recommends that up to 20 percent of daily calories be in the form of MUFAs.

MUFAs are also healthy for people with diabetes. In a 6-week study at Indiana University, patients with type 2 diabetes were give either a high carb-low fat reducing diet or a high MUFA diet.

Although both groups lost weight, the MUFA eaters had a greater decrease in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and a smaller drop in HDL cholesterol. Amazingly, these benefits were sustained after the group went off their diet.

In addition, MUFAs have been shown to benefit people with Metabolic Syndrome, to lower inflammatory markers, to decrease breast cancer risk, keep our brains healthy, protect us from Alzheimer’s, extend our lifespan, and flatten our bellies.   

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Flat Belly Plan 1-2-3-4, Count The Days

Be sure to weigh in before you begin the “Four Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart”. You will definitely lose weight during these 96 hours. Enjoy it. However, like me, you may be counting the hours. Not because of the 1200 calories per day, the prescribed meals are very satisfying.

However, you won’t be eating anything that makes your belly pooch. This includes salt, excess carbs, bulky raw foods (that’s right no salads!), gassy foods (like beans and broccoli), chewing gum, the sugar alcohols (like xylitol and maltitol), fried foods, spicy foods, carbonated beverages (including carbonated water), alcohol, caffeine, and acidic fruit juice.

There is no give and take around these four days. A shopping list is included as well as special pages outlining each days’ meals and allowing space for journaling. (Required to quell stress and to track your progress). In addition, dropping weight in these four days is a confidence-builder for the remaining 28 days of the program.

It is also a motivator for continuing the “Jumpstart”. Don’t do it. One can lose weight on 1200 calories a day. BUT, there are three drawbacks:

1) it is almost impossible to get the nutrients you need on so few calories;

2) you won’t just lose fat, you’ll lose muscle tissue; and

3) your metabolism will slow to accommodate to your body taking in so few calories.

Using the 4-day after a holiday or vacation over-eat is one thing. Using it to lose weight works against you. You’ll be less healthy, have less muscle to keep your metabolism up and your body strong, and once your metabolism adapts to fewer calories, losing weight becomes more difficult.

Exult in the loss of bloat you’ll experience and move on.

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Count Your Calories

Following the Jumpstart, for the next 4 weeks, you’ll be eating using these rules: less than 400 calories per meal (four meals); no more than 4 hours between meals; MUFAs with every meal. The 1600 calories (based on the average woman) are plenty to maintain your nutritional status and still lose weight.

Although tasty recipes are provided, using the many nonrecipe suggestions for breakfast, lunches, dinners, and snacks (also 400 calories) make it easy for a woman on the run.

These meals are also varied, tasty, and ingenious. You are free to switch them around, having your snack for breakfast or your dinner for lunch, etc. Check online for  vegetarian options and guidance for men who might like to follow the diet. (The one man panelist loved it.) Go to www.flatbellydiet.com.

In the book, you’ll read about the psychological advantages of journaling while changing your eating habits. There are daily pages you can use to stay on track during the 28 days. And, there is advice for using this healthy way of eating through time.

When you go online, you’ll find flat belly variations all over the web. You’ll also find professionals critiquing the book. The most frequent criticism I found was, “Most women would lose weight on 1600 calories per day”.

To me, this misses the point. MUFAs have been shown to help us lose visceral fat, and flatten our bellies because of it. No other diet to date has this particular emphasis.

However, the book is loaded with hyperbole. The Spanish research (only one study) is used endlessly. It’s obvious Rodale and the authors are interested in selling lots of books. But then, if it works when other methods haven’t, you will be your healthy and svelte best. Plus, you’ll have a means to maintain it for the rest of your life. Seems like a lot of book for about $25.00.

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“Not A Single Crunch Required”

Maybe not, but if you can breathe, you’d better include some exercise with your flat belly diet. Every test panelist lost fat and inches around their middles. Those who exercised lost more and lost it faster.

The authors write, “Those who added daily exercise lost, on average, 70 percent more body weight [It. Ed.] and 25 percent more inches than the nonexercisers.”

The end of the book includes a companion workout plan. The criteria was to create a program most women would find enjoyable and doable within their already busy and demanding lives…and, no crunches. The do-at-home workout includes cardio, strength training, and core exercises to tone and tighten the mid-section. Again, there are journal pages to track your progress.

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Kick Off Your Flat Belly Journey
With A Cleanse

Intestinal problems are the second high highest cause of hospital admissions. More than 70 million Americans suffer from digestive diseases. Are you
one of them? If so, before you begin your flat belly routine, you may want to heal that gut feeling.

Whether you suffer from embarrassing gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, GERD or disruptive and disabling irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, obesity, or even headaches, Ann Louise Gittleman serves up the answers in
The Gut Flush Plan.*

When I spoke with Ann Louise about her new book, she commented, “In this book I get back to the basics, helping people to achieve complete colon health. We’ve forgotten that this is one of the fundamental building blocks of healing.”

When I asked her what set The Gut Flush apart, she said, “I’ve taken special care to design the core of the Gut Flush Plan to help anyone – no matter their
age, physical condition, or sex – to have optimum digestive health in 21 days.”

Ann Louise is the Queen of Colon Health. This book is a terrific primer on gut health with straight forward advice that can get you well. The program is based on three steps: 1) fortify; 2) flush; 3) feed.

It includes the use of three “miracle helpers”: hydrochloric acid; probiotics; and digestive enzymes. Walk away from antacids and put your bowels on the right
track to health.

A word about Ann Louise Gittleman, fats, and flat bellies…. Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 30 books. Several years ago, she hit the Big Time when
she redefined weight loss with her revolutionary Fat Flush Plan.

However, in 1989 with Beyond Pritikin, Ann
Louise Gittleman became the first nutritionist in America to steer us away from “fat free” and to champion the need to put oils rich in essential fatty acids into our diets. Ten years later, she published Eat Fat, Lose Weight. In that book, Ann Louise
taught us that we boost our fat-burning potential by increasing our intake of “good” fats and oils, promoting fish and flax oils, olive oil, and food enriched with avocado.
*Avery, 2008, $22.9

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A Closing Word From Siri

I am enjoying the flat belly diet plan. It’s easy and I’m never hungry. The only downside for me is that I sometimes forget to time my meals well for the day.

This is a problem when I don’t eat until 10am in the morning. Otherwise, I have to admit it is the only diet that I have ever found that is fun. I’m a stand that you’ll lose weight and have a good time too.