The Flat Belly Diet Review

Editor's Review: 3.8 / 5.0

What You Should Know

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The Flat Belly Diet is a diet book co-authored by Prevention editor-in-chief Elizabeth Vaccariello and nutritionist Cynthia Sass, claiming to flatten the belly and help dieters lose up to 15lbs in one month by following their simple diet plans. The diet plan is not as extreme as other diets, and has less restrictions compared to the South Beach Diet — simply eat a mix of unrefined foods such as whole wheat, organic fruit, nuts, and essentially no meat, along with one “MUFA” (food featuring monounsaturated fat) at each meal. Vaccariello claims that MUFAs are key to diminishing abdomen fat and keeping the stomach lean and unbloated, revealing a slimmer, washboard appearance. Another staple claiming to de-bloat the belly is “sassy water”, water mixed with spices, citrus fruits, and cucumber. Better yet, exercise is optional.

The variety of non-processed, vitamin rich foods is a plus for staying healthy, but some question if the diet — and its high caloric amount (dieters each roughly 1,600 calories per day) — will provide any short term or long term benefits. Furthermore, some are skeptical this can be implemented for long term weight loss. The claimed weight loss is a bit unrealistic given the time frame and the amount eaten per day, but according to Vaccariello, it is realistic and the plan does work, provided you stick with it.

Ingredients

The Flat Belly Diet requires dieters to consume a diet of unprocessed whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dark chocolate, and soybeans. Eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats is also highly encouraged, along with regular consumption of “sassy water”, water mixed with spices, herbs, citrus fruits and cucumber.

Product Features

The Flat Belly Diet requires dieters to eat a mostly vegetarian, unprocessed food diet, with heavy emphasis on MUFAs, Vaccariello’s moniker for foods rich in monounsaturated fats. She regularly recommends dieters include one MUFA with each meal, which includes dark chocolate and nuts. Meals are spread out with four 400 calorie meals, which she says helps regulate appetite while increasing the metabolism — and keeping your pooch from being unfavorably plump. There is evidence showing that eating smaller meals helps increase the metabolism, but as for the story of the overgrowing belly, there really isn’t any concrete evidence available.

The biggest (and most curious) claim Vaccariello makes is that MUFAs help flatten the belly, an undocumented claim she continuously makes throughout her book. No word if that claim is actual fact, but most of the food Vaccariello prescribes contains naturally-based food that does not promote bloating. Most of the food is also low in calories, meaning more food can be eaten without nudging up the caloric intake. Still, she prescribes a large daily caloric allowance for dieters, strange considering the norm is 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day. Evidence backing this up is minimal, but there are numerous testimonials available on The Flat Belly Diet website stating they lost over 10lbs in one month.

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Advantages

  • Includes natural, non-processed foods rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • No exercise is required to complete the program, and does not require dieters to count calories.

Disadvantages

  • There is little evidence showing a focus on monounsaturated fats help de-bloat the stomach.
  • May require dieters to eat a higher caloric amount than is prescribed by most diets.
  • Some of the food items for the diet may be difficult to find in regular grocery stores. (See reader comments.)
  • Must purchase the book and follow the prescribed meal plans, although you are allowed to mix and match meal options.

Conclusion

The Flat Belly Diet comes from the minds of Prevention’s top leading diet experts, but some question if this is more hype than fact. Nevertheless, the naturally-based diet scheme is a plus and the foods involved in the diet won’t cost too much to purchase. We still recommend dieters search for diet plans with a proven track record.

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69 User Reviews about The Flat Belly Diet

  • 1
    Sherrie

    Any substitutions for the grape tomatoes for those of us who have severe allergies to tomatoes?

    [Reply]

  • 2
    sandy

    Can u split the snack. I get hungry at 10:30 and 3. Can i do 200 calories at those times?

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  • 3
    William

    Do I have to buy lactose free milk or can I just use regular skim milk? Does the diet recommend lactose free for a specific reason?

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    Anonymous

    Lactose free milk helps because of less bloating than regular milk

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  • 4
    mercy

    My thanks go to Dr. Mark Hill When I first opted for this spell, I did not expect much from it, until when I saw so many testimonies on internet I manage to apply for a spell on Dr Mark Hill spell temple, at first I was not having that believe that he can solve my situation and this time things was getting waste every day, my problem increases my weight every day I can’t move from one place to another I was like living amount the dead. To my greatest surprise after every thing DR Mark Hill ask me to do e.g. sending my picture and other things, after some weeks I was noticing some changes in my body system every morning, until my body return to the normal position. And I we stop publishing his testimony, if you need his help Email markhilltemple@gmail.com

    [Reply]

  • 5
    Amy

    I am 5’3″, started at 129 pounds and wanted to lose around 5 pounds. It is hard for me to lose weight and would expect to lose one pound a week on a very strict 1100 – 1200 calorie a week diet. In 7 days I lost 4.9 pounds. I wasn’t hungry either. My husband went on the diet, weighed himself at day 5 and lost almost 4 pounds. We stayed pretty true to the plan but didn’t give up coffee altogether!

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  • 6
    sharon

    I live in South Africa. I love this diet to bits. I eat in my two tea breaks at work. I don’t know another person using this diet. I’ve been on it a year now. Its a way of life. It’ a great diet! I LOVE how it’s changed my eating h
    abits.

    [Reply]

  • 7
    glenda wright

    please dont tell me flat belly works if it doesent. I just spent 50.00 on diet products that dont work. I am only fat around the middle. I( use to be 22″ now I am 30|I want to lose 5″

    [Reply]

  • 8
    ruth

    2 questions -
    1 Are you to continue drinking the Sassy water after the 4-day diet?
    2 I usually take vitamin C, Cod liver oil, Calcium, Glucosamine, and a multi-vitamin supplement. Can I or should I continue with these during the diet?

    [Reply]

  • 9
    Laurel

    I, too, need vegetarian substitutions for the chicken in the Jump Start portion of the diet. Is tofu a good substitution? I do eat seafood and fish, so how about salmon and shrimp. I get that we are trying to avoid foods that cause any bloating, but I don’t know if tofu and seafood/fish causes bloating. HELP! I am really, really ready to get started.

    [Reply]

  • 10
    sony

    i am a 21 yr grl.i am healthy not fatty.i hv a nice messuremenr of my body.but little worried about my tummy.my belly is 30″ & i wana decrease dat.d problem is m staying in india & dont know where to find this book.& because of i am student i wana know how much it costs? & plz dnt forget to mention the name of this book.

    [Reply]

  • 11
    Tammy

    I have been eating the foods recommended in the Flat Belly Diet for about a month now. Have incorporated nuts (mostly almonds, natural Smart Balance peanut butter), olives, olive oil, avocado (I’m a guacamole junkie) and dark chocolate into my diet and eat at least two of these a day. I am forty years old and my stomach is as flat as it was when I was 18! Grant it I’m very active and exercise 3-5 times a week but the recommended foods in the diet have definitely made a difference in my abs – more toned and taut, less bloated, waist is about an inch smaller and my complexion is amazing. Highly recommend trying the diet or at least incorporating these foods into your diet.

    [Reply]

    Alyssa

    Hi Tammy, I am on day 2 of the jump start diet. I am over weight for being 17. I want to lose 20 lbs by march 31st this year, is this a good stable diet?

    [Reply]

  • 12
    SP11

    I need something to substitute milk… no lactose free milk either… any recommendations???

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    Sebastion

    Soy milk is a good alternative to milk.

    It is very tasty and fits into this diet.

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    Charity

    You can try almond milk. I prefer Blue Diamond to the Silk brand. Also, Lactaid, although it is lactose free, is not too bad. It’s pretty thick so the 2% was pretty good. Soy is good, but I personally do not like the taste.

    [Reply]

  • 13
    Helen Hooker

    still waiting for my book.All else is well,lost 5lb. in two weeks.

    [Reply]

  • 14
    Marcia

    I just started the jumpstart program. I have been full and not able to eat all the food, will this affect my results?

    [Reply]

  • 15
    Lia

    I prepare meals for my husband 4 children from ages 10, 11, 20, 24 and myself. I am noticing that I can make a family meal from the Men’s Program to feed the family but I cannot seem to find a way for my program to fit into theirs. The end result is that I am so tired by the time I make their meal that I do not want to eat anything by the time it comes around to my meal. I know this is not good because I need to eat. Please advise how perhaps I can take his meal to curtail mine? Other wise I am only eating about 600 to 800 calories per day and I know I am going to CRASH! Thanks,
    Lia

    [Reply]

    Corrina

    One thing you could do is prepare your food on a day you have off, and then freeze it. This way, you only have to cook one meal a day and you can just heat yours up. :) hope i could help

    [Reply]

    kebo

    The book, “Well Fed” by Melissa Joulwan saved me, especially her hot plates ideas. Fantastic!

    [Reply]

  • 16
    manjula Garg

    please give the vegetarian options in place of meat. I am a vegetarian who eats dairy and egg, but no meat and seafood.

    [Reply]

    meghan

    I am also a vegetarian. I replace the meat portions with veggie burgers, smart choice deli meats (made from all protein and no meat found near the tofu) and also morning star vegetarian alternatives. Make sure when you make the veggie burgers you dont use bread, its just as good plain and has many less calories.

    [Reply]

  • 17
    karen

    The diet seems low on fruit portions .. cantaloupe is never mentioned as an option. Has anyone tried cantaloupe ? And does it matter?

    [Reply]

    lisa

    The jumpstart doesnt have cantaloupe and i havent really looked at teh rest of the meals. I am just trying to get through the jumpstart!

    [Reply]

  • 18
    sonia chaccour

    the food and the progrm diet on flat belly diet

    [Reply]

  • 19
    Karee

    OK, Day #1-Chaos at work. . .missed breakfast. .went right on to lunch. . what now??? I know I shouldn’t skip meals.

    [Reply]

  • 20
    Karee

    As for another question, I see it says the sunflower seeds are without the shell and yes, I found them, unsalted in the produce section at Wal-mart

    [Reply]

  • 21
    Karee

    So with that line of thinking. . .how about decaf coffee and soda?

    [Reply]

  • 22
    NancyLee

    I’m curious: why grape tomatoes and not (say) sweet 100′s? Or why crimini mushrooms instead of other mush.? Does it really matter?

    [Reply]

  • 23
    Helga

    My husband and I have been on this diet for 27 days and think it’s a great diet. (We are 59 & 57) He has lost 12 and I 7 lbs. We don’t stick to it 100%. We drink coffee every day, eat out once a week (no huge portions) have wine or soda about once a week. We see it more as a jumpstart to a healthier life style the mediterranian way than a way to lose weight fast. This diet is also supposed to target that dangerous visceral belly fat. We hope this diet continues to work for us. So far we love it.

    [Reply]

  • 24
    karee

    I haven’t read the book yet, but from scanning it, I don’t see anyting about coffee, diet soda etc?

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    Suzanne

    Thats right, no coffee or soda. Basically no caffiene. I thought the first few days would be unbearable but I got through and lost 12.5 lbs in the first month. From 187.5 down to 175. I do have a cup of green tea occasionally. I was reading another book by Jillian Michaels and she explains that caffiene stimulates cortisol production which supports belly fat. I cant tell you how much my stomach has gone down. My jeans are not much looser but my shirts are and my rolls are almost gone. I have also noticed the weight loss in my face. Im a huge advocate of this diet.

    [Reply]

  • 25
    samanths rank

    other then sassy water,what other drinks are OK to use with this diet?

    [Reply]

    karee

    read an analysis of this diet on one of the medical websites. It had alot of good things to say about it. One interesting thing is that the “no soda, no coffee, no gum” rule has no research basis. With that in mind I have not completely cut them from my diet. I drink about as much coffee as ever and have really cut my soda intake and all but one cup of coffee is decaf. (about 2-3 mugs/day) I just finshed my 4 day starter and lost 4.5#. I’m happy with the loss and happy I didn’t have to give up my coffee.

    [Reply]

    Chtristine

    I just got done with the 4 day plan and actually gained 2 pounds. The food caused me to get constipated even though I was drinking 2 litres of Sassy water

    [Reply]

    Carmel

    Hi, Never heard of Sassy Water. I am Australia (husband American) No WalMart or Coscos here. Debating whether to try it or not really need to loose my stomach bad. This book has just arrived in Aust. or is it just another croc to get money out of desperate fat people?

    [Reply]

    Mary

    I am a vegetarian and bought the book. It is not suitable for vegetarians – they incorporate a lot of meat into the menus. To be honest I think there are a lot better diets around – I read the book and I am not a fan. It seems a lot of ingredients are required and you need to eat every 4 hours which isn’t practical when you work full time.

    [Reply]

  • 26
    Shay

    I’m Vegan, will this diet still work for me?

    [Reply]

  • 27
    Wendy

    What I don’t understand is that if this diet really works why do you have to pay for it? Who ever made it up knows America is in need of some severe reform when it comes to weight loss so why keep it a secret from those who need it and can’t afford it? Some people can’t just go out and buy the book even though they need the intervention. If I found a diet I would make it available for everyone.

    [Reply]

    samanths rank

    You don’t have to buy the book i just started the diet and i got the book from the library.I also got the cook book as well.

    [Reply]

    Suzanne

    You can get a pocket guide at Target for about 6 bucks. The pocket guide has enough info to get you started. I also saw the book at Costco for less then 6 dollars.

    [Reply]

    Dianne

    Hi, I got a copy of the book from ebay for £0.99 + £1.96 p&p Hope you all do well; i’ve only just started.

    [Reply]

    Diane

    You must pay for Weight Watchers as well. It is another diet that DOES work. I like this diet though. Just saying.

    [Reply]

  • 28
    Barb

    I an unable to find unsweetened corn flakes, unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds nor unsalted roasted sunflower seeds. Are these only available in grocery stores? Seems like every diet I’ve tried has food items that I cannot find.

    [Reply]

    Kathryn

    I could not find them either so I buy the salted sunflower seeds and then wash them really good to remove as much salt as possible. Dry them well with a paper towel and then put them in a warm (250 degree) oven for a few minutes to dry them and slightly roast them again (about 10 – 15 minutes). I stir them around about half way through to keep them from burning on the bottom.

    [Reply]

    Nicole

    The only place I have been able to find unsalted sunflower seeds is online. I usually order from nutsonline.com.

    [Reply]

    Anonymous

    I found them at Whole Foods

    [Reply]

    Anonymous

    I found these things at Giant Food and at MOM’s market

    [Reply]

    MaryAnn

    You can purchase unsalted sunflower seeds at Walmart. They’re in the produce department.

    [Reply]

    Laurie

    Are the seeds supposed to be shelled or not? I’m about to start and this isn’t clear in the book. I bought shelled and am trying to find a conversion but can’t, Help please.

    [Reply]

    Sharon Pultz

    Look for a Whole Foods in your area. They are wonderful,and you can find all the above items.

    [Reply]

    Barbra Moore

    Thanks- I found the sunflower seeds at Whole foods during the jump start- now I’m ready to move on. Good to know I don’t have to run all over town to find Ezekiel bread.

    [Reply]

    Chris

    Go to a Vitamin store or health food store if there is one close by. You should be able to get all of the unsalted nuts at those.

    [Reply]

    Suzanne

    I buy them at Raleys in the food bins where you can choose the qty of the item you would like to purchase. They have pumpkin, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds all sorts of unsalted nuts. You can also find them at Trader Joes

    [Reply]

    Sharon

    Try Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s if you have them in your area.

    [Reply]

    Ann

    I found roasted unsalted sunflower seeds at WalMart in the produce section. They are not in the shell.

    [Reply]

    Terri

    sunflower seeds at WalMart also….Pumpkin seeds there too. Found most everything in a regular grocery store, and some at the Whole Foods store, (health food store)

    [Reply]

    Cindy

    /trader joes has most of the flat belly diet foods for cheap

    [Reply]

  • 29
    Suz

    1> do you have to do a cleanse to start the diet.

    2.are you allowed to drink wine with dinner?

    [Reply]

    Jen

    do you have to do a cleanse to start the diet.

    2.are you allowed to drink wine with dinner?

    [Reply]

    Suzanne

    No I didnt do a clense to start and no unfortunatly no wine with dinner. I have given up alcohol completly :( You could probably count the calories for the wine as part of your 400 calorie meal as long as you are still having your full mufa serving. Im sure an occasional glass of wine would only slow down the weight loss. I really miss my social drinks A LOT! but Im just trying to focus really hard on getting the weight off as quickly as possible and then I think I can play around with a drink here and there as Im trying to maintain.

    [Reply]

    Sharon

    Although the diet does not encourage it you can have a glass of wine with dinner. They suggest in the book that if you do you cut 50 calories off of 2 of your meals (cutting 100 from one meal could cause you to get too hungry) or excercise enough to burn off 100 calories to replace with the wine.

  • 30
    Michelle

    I’ve been on the flat belly diet for 14 days and have lost 8 pounds. I give it a thumbs up! Never hungry, eat 4 times a day, 4 hours apart.

    [Reply]

    Myla

    Did you exercise too?

    [Reply]

    lisa

    its kinda tricky, says you have to walk 5mins after every meal. but once i am walking i dont want to stop. you can easily walk for an hour without realising it. but its a good thing i am not working. eating every 4 hours is hard!

    [Reply]

  • 31
    anne k.

    can you drink hot unsweet green tea on the diet?

    [Reply]

  • 32
    Theresa

    Your 28 day recipes make 4-12 servings. On some of them I can cut the recipe in half or 4th’s but I don’t understand why there’s not more one person recipes when, in most cases, there’s only one person doing the eating. Even a box of pancakes gives instructions for making a smaller amount. Are there one person recipes available?

    [Reply]

    Shelly

    That’s my exact question. I feel like this diet drops the ball on singles. Purchased the pocket guide and followed. Now ready for more single serving menu suggestions and the cookbook doesn’t offer many. DISAPPOINTED.

    [Reply]