The flat belly diet

The Flat Belly Diet

The Flat Belly Diet by Prevention Magazine editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, RD, promises readers the tools they need to lose belly fat for good without doing a single crunch and while dropping up to 15 pounds in 32 days.

The basic foundation of the Flat Belly Diet is evidence the authors say links monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) to a reduction in belly fat. By eating MUFAs at every meal, the Flat Belly Diet claims it can flatten your stomach and help you lose belly fat permanently.

The Flat Belly Diet: How Does It Work?

There are two parts to the Flat Belly Diet: a four-day jump-start period that is supposed to flush out the system, followed by a four-week eating plan. The jump-start phase allows only 1,200 calories a day; the four-week phase increases calorie intake to 1,600. Each phase is broken up into three meals and a snack, and shopping lists and sample menus are provided.

During the jump-start phase, readers are instructed to avoid salt, processed foods, high-carb foods such as pasta and bagels, and gas-producing foods such as cabbage, onions, and legumes. Followers of the Flat Belly Diet are also told to avoid coffee, tea, sugar alcohols, and carbonated drinks, and instead drink two liters of “sassy water” (a mix of ginger root, cucumber, lemon, and mint leaves) every day.

During the four-week period of the flat belly diet, each meal must have a MUFA and dieters are told never to go more than four hours without eating.

The Flat Belly Diet: Sample Diet Day

Breakfast: 1 flax-enriched waffle topped with 1/2 cup sliced banana, 2 tablespoons pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Lunch: 1/2 cup each burger meat and baby spinach leaves, 1/4 cup sliced avocado, and salsa divided evenly among four small corn tortillas

Dinner: 3 ounces grilled wild salmon and 1.5 cups green beans tossed with 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Snack: 1 packet instant hot oatmeal with 1 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons almonds

The Flat Belly Diet: Pros

The biggest advantage to the Flat Belly Diet is the healthful food choices included in the meal plans. “The flat belly diet says to eat avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish and to avoid meat and saturated fat, very much like a Mediterranean diet,” says Lona Sandon, RD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson. “It says to eat monounsaturated fats, which are healthy for the heart.”

Other health benefits have been linked to a Mediterranean-style diet. “There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, a wellness manager at Cleveland Clinic and also a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

The Flat Belly Diet also includes meal-replacement options and good choices for eating out at fast-food restaurants, which is helpful for today’s busy dieters.

The Flat Belly Diet: Cons

One major problem with this diet is that it oversells the concept that MUFAs magically help you lose belly fat, says Sandon. And while there is a chapter on the benefits of exercise, the Flat Belly Diet only emphasizes eating MUFAs to lose weight and claims that not a single crunch is required. “There is nothing on stress management or lifestyle,” says Jamieson-Petonic. “Monounsaturated fat is not a silver bullet for weight loss.”

Another drawback to the flat belly diet is the lack of research to support recommendations such as drinking the sassy water. “There is no scientific evidence that ‘sassy water’ will jump-start your metabolism,” says Jamieson-Petonic. And the recommendation to suddenly stop drinking caffeine fails to take into account that doing so could lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches.

Finally, the Flat Belly Diet fails to adjust calories for variable factors such as height, weight, and activity level. “For some people, 1,600 calories may not be enough,” says Jamieson-Petonic. “If you’re a runner, for instance, you would get hungry.”

The Flat Belly Diet: Short-Term Effects and Long-Term Effects

People who are on the Flat Belly Diet will lose weight, but most of it will be water weight. And while the Mediterranean-style diet is healthy, long-term weight loss will also need to involve exercise, lifestyle adjustments, and perhaps working with a nutritionist, particularly if you are someone who needs fewer or more than 1,600 calories.

7 Day Flat belly diet – The Perfect Weight Loss Tips

Festivals are around the corner and there could be no time better than this to start that much thought about diet plan. And it is actually possible within a week. Wondering how to lose weight in 7 days? Give this diet plan a try and see the difference on your own. After all, being a women you want to fit in that lehenga of yours and show off that much dreamt of flat belly.
So pull up your socks for getting that flat stomach really fast, by following these simple food rules:
1) Chuck that C.R.A.P. out of your body
Wondering what C.R.A.P. is? Well, it is a group of food that does no good to your body. C for caffeine, R for refined sugar, A for alcohol and P for processed food. If you remove these four food groups from your life, you can live your dream of a flat belly. One of the biggest enemies of a flat stomach, these groups cling to your bodies and make it difficult for you to lose fat.
2) Treat yourself
You are already doing good by resisting unnecessary food cravings but a mere treating won’t do any harm. Enjoy a cheat meal once a week, be it creamy pasta, chocolate fudge or anything delightful, it will actually help you speed up your metabolism.
3) Go for fish-oil supplements
Found in sardines and salmons, fish oil is a bliss food. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for everyone, it should definitely be included in your diet. If not consumed directly, there are a lot of fish oil supplements available in the market too. These supplements help in burning fat, thus, leading to a flat belly.
4) Never skip breakfast
We all know the importance of a healthy breakfast and there is a reason it is called one of the most important meals of the day. Breakfast should be consumed within an hour of waking up and should be containing all the essential nutrients our body requires.
5) Avoid eating after 8pm
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. Dinner is something, which should be as light as possible because it is that time of the day when your digestive system is preparing to shut down. So avoid eating after 8 pm so as to give your body enough time to digest.
8 Food Swaps that will flatten your belly in a week
Mere swapping some food items with their healthy versions can actually change your life. It can help you in getting a flat belly with less effort. Try the following pointers and notice the difference on your own.
1) Say bye-bye to fizzy drinks
When we talk about fizzy drinks, the only thing it brings along with it besides taste is gas. These carbonated drinks actually fatten your belly. To prevent yourself from those unnecessary fats, swap them with flat drinks like green teas and juices.
2) Ditch raw vegetables
Vegetables are extremely healthy and must be included in your diet. But your body struggles to break it down when it is eaten raw. So it’s better to have steamed veggies instead of eating them raw. It’ll cut the extra efforts your stomach and gastrointestinal tract have to undergo in order to break those vegetables down.
3) Cut the salt
Water retention induces a puffed belly. And as salt is something which is attracted to water, it contributes in gaining extra fat. To avoid this unnecessary fat, switch to salt-free seasonings like cayenne pepper and notice the difference on your own.
4) Probiotic yogurt
Bacteria present in the gut have a very crucial role in the digestion of food. Its imbalance can actually disrupt the digestion system leading to a puffed belly. Indulge in probiotics like Greek yogurt in order to meet those sugar cravings without gaining extra pounds. It helps in improving intestinal mobility and thus eases digestion.
5) Drink more fluids
Fluids are essential for a healthy body. Especially when it comes to bloating, hydrating really helps. And what better fluid can there be than water? Drink at least 8 glasses of water to get a healthy bloat-free body to substitute those sugary drinks.
6) Avoid the gum
Some people have a strange habit of chewing something or the other all day long. For meeting this craving of chewing, they often end up eating gums, which do no benefit to the body at all. An amazing swap is to try munching on dry fruits like almonds, which will actually be beneficial to your body and provide it with those necessary nutrients at the same time.
7) Chuck the carbs
Our muscles are habitual of storing a kind of carbohydrate known as glycogen. This stored carbohydrate is only consumed when our body does some extra exercise. When we get rid of carbs, we can actually access this stored fuel and consume it off. For this avoid consuming carbs after lunch and substitute with low-carb food so that no new fat is stored.
8) Eat your fiber
Fiber is amazing when it comes to helping digestion. Organic fiber cereals actually prevent constipation and help you get that flat stomach quickly if consumed regularly in breakfast. Substitute high fiber oats with any traditional cereal and that flat belly isn’t far.
Food Plan
Sticking to a meal plan besides working out is of equal importance. Follow this diet plan for 7 days and notice the difference on your own. It’s suggested to start on a weekend so that you have time for yourself to be prepared.
Day 1
Breakfast: Omelette made with three egg whites and filled with 75g chopped mixed peppers and a handful of spinach
Mid-morning snack: 100g chicken with ½ red pepper, sliced
Lunch: One grilled chicken breast, mixed salad leaves, red peppers, green beans and ¼ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g turkey breast with ¼ cucumber, sliced
Dinner: 100g grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli
Day 2
Breakfast: Baked chicken breast with a handful of stir-fried kale
Mid-morning snack: 100g turkey breast and ½ green pepper, sliced
Lunch: Baked haddock fillet with mixed green salad, with ½ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g turkey breast with 75g steamed broccoli
Dinner: One salmon steak with chopped dill and steamed green beans
Day 3
Breakfast: 100g smoked salmon, plus spinach
Mid-morning snack: 100g chicken breast with ½ yellow pepper, sliced
Lunch: One grilled chicken breast with garden salad and ½ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g turkey slices with ¼ avocado
Dinner: One grilled lamb steak (or two cutlets); steamed broccoli and spinach
Day 4
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (one whole, two whites), tomatoes, green beans
Mid-morning snack: 100g turkey slices with ¼ cucumber, sliced
Lunch: Baked cod fillet with salad, tomato, spinach and ½ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g chicken breast with ½ grilled courgette
Dinner: 100g chicken breast stir-fry made with ½ tsp oil and green veg
Day 5
Breakfast: 200g turkey breast with ¼ avocado and ¼ cucumber, sliced
Mid-morning snack: Two hard-boiled eggs with ½ red pepper, sliced
Lunch: 150g grilled prawns with a green salad and tomatoes, ½ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g turkey breast with five almonds
Dinner: 100g chicken breast with steamed broccoli
Day 6
Breakfast: One grilled haddock fillet with roasted peppers and courgettes
Mid-morning snack: 100g chicken with one tomato, sliced
Lunch: 150g turkey with green salad, steamed broccoli and ½ tbsp olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g chicken with five pecan nuts
Dinner: 150g-200g steak served with steamed green beans and broccoli
Day 7
Breakfast: Three-egg-white omelette, grilled tomatoes and steamed spinach
Mid-morning snack: 100g turkey with five Brazil nuts
Lunch: 150g chicken breast with steamed asparagus and green salad
Mid-afternoon snack: 100g turkey with ¼ cucumber, sliced
Dinner: Grilled, skinless duck breast with steamed oriental greens or broccoli

Flat Belly Diet! Does It Fall Flat on Its Promises?

Author: Betty Kovacs, MD, RD

  • Flat Belly Diet!
  • The Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart
  • The Four-Week Eating Plan

Flat Belly Diet!

What grabs your attention when looking for a diet to follow? Do phrases like no exercise required, fast weight loss, never feel hungry, easy to follow, guaranteed results, and no deprivation required come to mind? Most of the popular fad diets make these promises up front but end up reneging on them once you read the details of the diet. I have read the new diet book Flat Belly Diet! and will give you the pros and cons about this diet along with the facts about what the research says about successful weight loss.

The Flat Belly Diet! program promotes eating a reduced calorie diet that is high in monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in order to flatten your belly with no exercise required. The diet is 32 days long. It states that studies show that this is “just enough time to make any dietary change a lifestyle.” I have not seen any studies stating this fact. Some people may find this to be the case, but the majority of the people whom I have worked with need much longer than 32 days to develop new eating habits. It’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with needing more than 32 days to make changes to your diet.

The book begins with a detailed discussion about the two primary types of body fat: subcutaneous and visceral fat. The subcutaneous fat is the fat underneath your skin, and the visceral fat is the inner fat that surrounds your organs. There is no disputing the fact that visceral fat is the most dangerous one for our health. The error that this diet makes is stating that it’s the most difficult fat to lose and that the only way to minimize it is to eat the right kind of fat. Visceral fat is actually easier to lose than subcutaneous fat and can be lost without any changes to your diet. In fact, studies have shown a reduction in visceral fat with moderate exercise and very little weight loss. Research shows that the ideal approach to decreasing visceral fat is to focus on increasing your activity level, decreasing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, consuming complex carbohydrates and lean meats in place of refined carbohydrates, limiting your intake of alcohol, and consuming polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in place of saturated and trans fats. Unfortunately, this diet only focuses on monounsaturated fats (MUFA).

Throughout the book there are stories about people who have been successful with this diet. Their weight loss and inches lost around their waist are mentioned, but their visceral fat changes are not discussed. The reason for this is that it takes very expensive tests to show changes in visceral fat levels. Therefore, there is no evidence about the kind of fat lost or how much muscle was lost with this diet.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) are the dietary foundation for this plan. The claim is that these fats will fill you up and reduce your belly fat. The first inaccuracy is the premise that dietary fat will fill you up. Numerous studies have shown that fat has no impact on satiety. The only nutrient that has been proven to increase satiety, and thus keep you full between meals, is protein. There is not one mention of this in this book. I can promise that without an adequate amount of protein in your meal, you will be hungry soon after eating. I have worked in the weight-loss field for over 10 years and find this to be one of the keys to my clients’ staving off their hunger.

The emphasis on monounsaturated fats comes from one study that is cited in the book. It showed that a diet rich in monounsaturated fat can prevent weight gain in your belly. This study only had 11 people in it and compared the monounsaturated-fat diet to a high-carbohydrate and a high-fat diet for a period of only 28 days. A limitation to this study is that they did not differentiate among the kinds of carbohydrates consumed. As I previously mentioned, one of the goals for visceral-fat reduction is to consume a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates and low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

The other limitation to this study is that they did not have anyone following a diet that was high in polyunsaturated fats. Research has shown that a diet high in the polyunsaturated omega-3 fats can decrease abdominal fat. Omega-3 fats have been receiving a lot of attention lately because of the positive impact they have on health. Omega-3 fats’ health benefits include reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease and decreasing the symptoms of hypertension, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. The research has been so compelling that the American Heart Association now has recommendations for how much omega-3 fat we need to consume. For those who do not have any documented heart disease, the recommendation is to consume at least two servings of fatty fish each week. You can also use flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts, and soybean oils as sources. For those who have heart disease, the recommendation is to consume 1 gram per day. Omega-3 fats are briefly mentioned in this book but are not emphasized as part of this diet. With the average American diet being too low in this essential fat, this is a grave limitation with this diet.

The Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart

The first part of this diet is called the Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart. The book states that “in just four days, you’ll lose several pounds and inches” and it promises to “shrink your belly-a loss of up to 5 ¾ total inches.” The premise for this is to get you motivated to proceed with the remainder of the diet by seeing some results happen quickly. The goal for these four days is to eliminate gas, heavy solids, and excess fluid. A 1,200-calorie diet is given with the instruction to avoid

  • salt,
  • excess carbs,
  • raw bulky foods,
  • gassy foods,
  • chewing gum,
  • sugar alcohols,
  • fried foods,
  • spicy foods,
  • carbonated drinks, and
  • alcohol, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and acidic fruit juices.

Those following this plan are also instructed to take a five-minute after meal walk.

The calorie goal for this is low for the average woman who needs to lose weight. In fact, the calorie goal for both parts of this diet is not ideal for long-term success. Your calorie needs are based on your height, weight, age, gender, and activity level. It’s always best to determine your own needs and use that as your goal. In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs. When you cut out 3,500 calories from your maintenance calories, you lose one pound of body weight, not body fat as stated in this book. The way to determine your calorie needs is to get your maintenance needs and subtract 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week (500 x 7 days = 3,500 calories) or subtract 1,000 calories per day to lose 2 pound per week (1,000 x 7 days = 7,000 calories).

The guidelines to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week are set so that you lose an optimal amount of fat and muscle. Each pound that we gain from eating an extra 3,500 calories contains 75% fat and 25% muscle. Many people believe that you only gain fat, but that is not the case. When you lose weight, you will also lose fat and muscle. The recommended 1- to 2-pound per week weight loss is set so that you lose what you gained: 75% fat and 25% muscle. The faster that you lose weight, the more muscle and the less fat you will lose. So, if your maintenance calories are 2,800 and you consume 1,200 calories, you are going to lose more muscle than fat, especially with a plan that does not require any resistance exercise.

I also think that this part of the diet could be a trigger for many people. Studies have shown that deprivation when trying to lose weight does not help. People either end up consuming too much of something else or overeating the food that they were trying to avoid. This is also a temporary fix. The bloating can easily return once any of the omitted foods or beverages are added back. You can use these suggestions as part of your daily intake to limit the amount of foods that could contribute to fluid retention without having to omit everything.

The Four-Week Eating Plan

The primary part of this diet begins after the initial four-day diet. This part will last for 28 days. The 1,600-calorie requirement is set based on a “40+ woman of average height, frame size, and activity level to get to and stay at her ideal body weight.” Again, this calorie level is not going to be ideal for everyone. The guidelines for this part are

  • eat monounsaturated fat at every meal,
  • consume 400 calories per meal, and
  • never go more than four hours without eating.

There are lots of recipes that you can choose from for each of the 400 calorie meals. They do not list the fat, carbohydrate, or protein content of any of these meals. There is also no fiber count listed. Dietary fiber is essential for every one of us. Contrary to what the book says, some fiber is absorbed, so it can add calories to your diet. The health benefits of fiber far outweigh the small amount of calories that you would actually absorb.

Some people may have a hard time with consuming 400 calorie meals all day and/or eating every four hours. The emphasis on consuming breakfast is correct, but you may find that you prefer to break your calories up differently. It’s important to follow an eating plan that fits your lifestyle or that feeling of being “on a diet” will take over. What matters most is reaching your recommended amount of calories for the entire day by eating at least three meals with a balance of foods from each of the food groups.

There is some discussion about the emotional component of eating and the need to monitor what you consume and how you are feeling. Let’s face it, there is a lot that impacts what, when, why, and how much we eat. Some people need more support and guidance on making this behavior change than what is covered in this book.

Though the cover of the book states that “not a single crunch is required” in order to flatten your belly, there is a chapter devoted to exercise. I like the suggestion that is made that it can be better to focus on changing one thing at a time. I completely agree with focusing on your diet first. I just think that the claim that is initially made can be misleading. The research is clear that the single best predictor of keeping your weight off is exercise. There are going to be people who can lose some inches from their waist through dietary changes but will not be able to “flatten” their belly without exercise.

The quick fix or that “magic” nutrient that you add or remove from your diet is not what it takes to achieve long-term success with weight loss. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults states that successful weight loss and maintenance requires diet, physical activity, and behavior modifications. The goal needs to be making changes that you can maintain so that you do not put back on the weight that you lost. While this book provides some useful recipes and information about body fat and monounsaturated fats, it is probably not going to help you achieve long-term success with weight loss if you have a substantial amount to lose.

Flat Belly Diet Review

With a name like the Flat Belly Diet it’s no wonder this is one of the latest crazes in fad diets. After all, we all are searching for a flat belly and fab abs.

The stomach is one of the major trouble spots on the body according to our mirrors and our bathing suits.
This diet is designed to help you lose that hard to reach belly fat without doing any crunches.
Their book even boasts losing belly fat without one single crunch required.
This program was developed mainly for women.
Getting a tight midsection is hard for many women particularly after childbirth and as we age.
Part of regaining your body is to lose the belly fat

Basics of the Flat Belly Diet

The basic food plan on the Flat Belly Diet is a 1,600 calorie diet based on Mediterranean style diet. They promote whole foods minimizing refined sugars.
Foods on this plan would include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and lean protein.
Red meat is only allowed once a month, so this is not a diet for the steak lovers.
The Flat Belly diet hits both types of body fat: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcu fat is the type that everyone sees on your body or over the top of your pants.
Visceral fat accumulates on your organs and can cause health problems just like too much of the obvious fat.
The Flat Belly Diet 4 week jump start begins with only 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. In this jump start phase dieters are required to drink 2 liters a day of their “sassy drink”.
This drink includes a blend of spices, herbs, citrus and cucumber. This flavored water is to help with bloating, constipation and makes a person feel better and more energized.

The Good Fats

The Flat Belly Diet secret is all about the fats – the good fats that is.
This fad diet has a simple guideline; eat a total of 4 meals of 400 calories each.
The focus, or the claim for losing belly fat, is ensuring you get the right fats with each and every meal.
According to the authors, the monounsaturated fat, or MUFA, is what helps burn away your belly fat, achieving a flat stomach. Each meal has to include a measure of monounsaturated fats in the Flat Belly Diet.
MUFA can be found in foods like olives, avocados, nuts, and seeds, flax and dark chocolate. If you are a chocoholic, this may just be the best fad diet for you.
Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats do have health benefits and will target your belly fat.
Another great thing about MUFA is that it helps you feel satisfied and fuller longer.

The Food Plan

As stated earlier, the basics are very simple; eat 4 meals a day at 400 calories per meal. The meals on the Flat Belly Diet are spaced out every 4 hours. So it’s simple to remember the formula; 4 – 400 – 4.
So what are the foods you can eat on this fad diet? Even if you are a vegetarian, allergic to certain foods or just plain picky; the plan can be adapted to your needs.

On this plan you will not count calories despite the fact that each meal must contain 400 calories. Instead you select from 28 different meals that you can mix and match for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.
There are 80 recipes included with all the nutritional values stated with each recipe. The foods you eat are nutritious for the entire body.
However, some vegetables are eliminated because of gassy properties but there are enough included to satisfy daily requirements.

Words from the Experts

So do experts endorse Flat Belly Diet or do they consider this just another failed “fad diet”?
According to Web MD’s review of this diet, experts are not convinced that any diet can target the belly fat.
The experts say that you will lose weight but not necessarily due to the MUFAs but rather the reduction of calories.
Any diet where you consume fewer calories than you burn will lead to weight loss.
Although the diet claims you can lose 15 pounds in 32 days, experts state that much of this is pure water weight and not fat loss. Losing fat is a slower process and so don’t assume your total weight loss was pure fat.
In fact, a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So in order to lose just one pound of fat you would have to burn off 1,640 calories in one day which is highly unlikely.
Before dismissing this as just another fad diet, experts do see some positives with the Flat Belly Diet. The introduction of healthy fats is a plus for this diet plan. These fats offer important nutrients and can make dieting easier for the average dieter.


Even though the name of this plan tends to make you think “fad diet”, they do promote healthy eating that can be maintained once the 32 days is over.
This diet also promotes a lifestyle change of eating healthy, reducing stress, long term weight control and exercise.
This is not just another “fad for 32 days” but if done correctly could become your next diet miracle.

Additional Articles

The Biggest Loser Diet
Check out why this plan has worked wonders for the shows contestants. This is not only a favorite TV show for many, but a great way to lose the weight.

Weight Watchers Plan Review
Read why this website has rated this it’s #1 pick for weight loss programs. Their points plus system has been successful for many people.

Lose Belly Fat
Put away the exercise mat and get out your jogging shoes. You need aerobics and more to lose belly fat. Read this article to find out what it really takes to shed fat from your stomach.

It’s called the “fasting mimicking diet” or FMD, and the science community is buzzing about it. (Photo: )

It’s the ultimate trifecta: a smaller waist, a heftier I.Q., and a longer, healthier life. And now, science may be on the verge of figuring out one very easy way to achieve them all.

A new study funded by the National Institute on Aging has uncovered a diet plan that can put you on the path to all three — in just four days. In a preliminary study reported in the new issue of Cell Metabolism, researchers found that cutting daily calories in half for just four days every two weeks reduced biomarkers for aging, diabetes, heart disease and cancer with no adverse effects. “It isn’t a typical diet because it’s not something you have to stay on,” says lead researcher Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

Researchers tested the eating plan, called a “fasting mimicking diet” (FMD), on yeast, mice and humans. Turns out, it doesn’t matter what species you are: The results remained consistent across all three groups. The yeast and mice studies showed that the diet increased lifespan, while a pilot study given to 19 human subjects indicated that the same approach could not only slow the physical and mental aging process, but also help slash belly fat accumulation.

The diet “mimics” fasting because you’re not cutting out all food. Instead, researchers reduced the individual’s caloric intake down to 34 to 54 percent of normal for four consecutive days every two weeks.

Longo believes that for most people, the FMD can be done every three to six months, depending on one’s health and body weight. Here, the editors of Eat This, Not That! reveal exclusive tips for making “fasting lite” work in your busy life and reducing hunger. (And to turbocharge the weight loss powers of the plan, alternate your 4-day diet with these 11 Eating Habits That Will Reveal Your Abs.)

Fat Slashing Trick #1: Pick Your Own Days
You don’t have to slash calories four days in a row — during a busy work week — to reap some rewards of fasting. Between shuttling the kids to extracurriculars and fixing family meals, sometimes you just can’t block off four days straight. Try to block off every other day instead: Fasting in this pattern leads to a 10+ pound weight loss after 10 weeks, according to a study out of the University of Illinois. And it may also be beneficial in more extreme cases; obese adults who tried this particular method of intermittent fasting (and also added exercise into the mix) lost weight, fried fat and slashed bad cholesterol–while boosting good cholesterol–according to research published in the journal Obesity.

Fat Slashing Trick #2: Cheat With “Hunger-Busting” Foods
Slashing 54 percent of your daily calories sounds rough, but there are foods that can help you sail through the day without your stomach growls interrupting the office like a fire alarm. The secret is spending your calories on foods that boost your levels of leptin, a hormone that controls hunger. Start your day with a bowl of oats; this breakfast staple is packed with insoluble fiber, which one Canadian study showed can boost levels of leptin. That’s why it’s one of the key tricks in our exclusive 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days.

Fat Slashing Trick #3: Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water will not only fill your stomach and ward off hunger, but it also keeps your energy levels up and your metabolism from dipping while you’re eating less. But plain water can get boring, so mix in glasses of water spiked with pieces of fresh fruit, or drink unsweetened tea.

Fat Slashing Trick #4: Make Room for Resistant Starch
If you’re going on a fast — or dieting — your first instinct might be to avoid all carbs, since they break down quickly in your body and can grow belly fat. But if you choose the right starchy foods, they can actually help you sail through your four days of fasting and trim down in the process. Slightly underripe bananas and white beans should both be on your menu during your fast as they’re rich in resistant starch. This type of starch resists digestion (hence, the name) so it passes through the small intestine without being digested. This feeds healthy gut bacteria, leading to prolonged feelings of fullness and more efficient fat oxidation. (Cool weight-loss secret: when you chill pasta, it turns into a resistant starch. Learn more tricks with this special report: 6 Best Sources of Resistant Starch.)

Fat Slashing Trick #5: Head to Bed Earlier
Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for hunger regulation and even healthy weight loss. A recent study found sub-par sleep could undermine weight loss by as much as 55 percent. Inadequate or broken sleep can throw hunger-regulating hormones out of balance. Ghrelin, the “I’m hungry” hormone, shoots up; leptin, the “I’m full!” hormone, decreases. The result? You’re hungrier, grumpier, and you eat more food. Plus, going to bed early and logging a full eight hours a night while you’re fasting makes it easier to bypass less than virtuous late-night cravings.

FOR A PROVEN PLAN TO LOSE WEIGHT RAPIDLY—while eating the foods you love—check out these secrets of the Zero Belly Diet.

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