The Flat Belly Diet

Don’t waste your money.

I am an idiot. Throughout the past ten years or so, I’ve been conned by at least a half dozen “best-selling” diet books. I thought I’d learned my lesson. But when I picked up The Flat Belly Diet book at a Borders bookstore last week, I said “this is the last diet book I’ll ever buy.”

I should have quit with the previous one.

Another “Breakthrough Diet Plan”

The Flat Belly Diet is yet another attempt — apparently successful — to sell America’s overweight women on an easy way to lose weight. Trouble is, there’s there’s not much that’s either easy or effective about it.

Every “breakthrough” diet has a gimmick. This one has three:

  • The Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart. This is a mind game, pure and simple. You follow a strict and not exactly convenient diet plan and keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and challenges for four days. The goal? Lose your water weight. Up to 7 pounds of it! Well, that’s what one person on the plan lost, anyway. I’m not stupid enough to confuse water weight and bloating gas with fat.
  • MUFAs. This is the biggie. MUFA (pronounced MOO-fah) stands for monounsaturated fat. It’s the “good” fat and The Flat Belly Diet presents one example after another to prove why MUFAs are healthful foods. (Okay, I get it already.) But this is a gimmick with real punch for women — after all, dark chocolate is a MUFA! Yes, ladies, this diet lets you eat chocolate. How can you resist?
  • Get a flat belly without doing “crunches.” Yes, like most diet books, this one promises again and again that you can flatten your belly without exercise. But then it includes an exercise program — if you want better results. Better results than a 6-pound loss in 32 days? What the hell do you think?

Of course, the book is only part of a huge marketing machine. There are already add-on pocket guides and cookbooks. There’s also a Web site, which is offered on a free “trial” basis to book readers. After that, you have to pay. And pay, and pay. After all, isn’t that what “breakthrough diet plans” are all about? Creating a money-making machine to separate desperately overweight people from their money?

When will we see MUFA-fortified “snack packs” on supermarket shelves in yellow in pink packaging? Give them a month or so — they’re probably in production now.

Reality Check

Here’s the reality of dieting and weight control for middle-aged women. You put on fat when you consume more calories — the energy in your food — than you burn in your daily life. As you age and your hormone situation changes, your metabolism slows down and you burn fewer calories. You start fattening up.

If you want to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. You can do this three ways:

  • Eat less of the same stuff. Let’s face it: portion control in this country is a joke. We often choose restaurants based on portion size for the money spent rather than quality or flavor. It’s the American Way of eating. Next time you sit down at a restaurant with a typical portion in front of you, cut it in half and take half home for tomorrow. At home, simply make less food. Use smaller plates. There are many things you can do to eat less. Stop making excuses and just do it.
  • Eat smarter food. Yes, a bag of potato chips is a wonderful-tasting snack. And yes, it seems to “satisfy” your hunger better than a handful of carrot sticks. But guess which one has fewer calories? Duh. Read the damn labels on the food you eat — choose foods with fewer calories per serving. Eat more unprocessed foods, like salads and fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Get more exercise. Take a walk around the block at lunchtime. Walk to do your errands. Walk your dog. Take a hike with your spouse or kids or grandkids. Take the stairs at the mall. Park on the far end of the parking lot rather than in the closest space. These little bits of exercise can make a huge change in your metabolism if you simply keep moving.

The thing that got me to buy The Flat Belly Diet was the fact that it mentioned calories. (So many diet plans don’t — they lead you to believe that you can eat as much as you like of certain types of food — the hell with balanced diets!) Its diet plan is pretty simple (after the first four days): four meals a day, 400 calories per meal, 1 MUFA per meal. Do you really need a book to tell you that? Of course not. I just did.

But I’ll tell you this, too: 1600-calories a day might not be the right number for you. I know it’s not the right number for me. I don’t lose weight until I drop down to 1000-1200 calories a day. This is probably why so many people on The Flat Belly Diet only lost 5 or 6 pounds after 32 days of dieting. I can lose 5 or 6 pounds in a week and not even feel it — that’s normal body weight fluctuation for me.

In defense of The Flat Belly Diet, they’re trying to convince you that following their plan helps you make a lifestyle change. 1600 calories a day is doable, they argue. It won’t hurt. Is that true for you? I know it’s not for me. When I want to lose weight, I quickly get frustrated when I hit a plateau and stop losing. I know 1600 calories a day won’t do it for me — not unless I take up jogging.

And here’s another thing: I’ve looked at the book’s recipes and menus and portion sizes and guess what? They cover the first two points of my Reality Check list above. This is common sense stuff, ladies! This is the same thing you’d learn in Weight Watchers or by consulting a dietician. Eat less, eat smarter. Toss in one or two good, brisk walks a day and you’ll be able to lose weight without yet another fad diet guiding your meal plans.

What will I be doing with my copy of The Flat Belly Diet? Donating it to my local library. Hopefully, I can save some of my neighbors a few bucks.

20 thoughts on “The Flat Belly Diet

  1. I was sick of all the diet scams out there too that made me create a website all about how to lose weight for free once I found the “secrets” of eating healthy publicly available on the USDA website. Simply by learning how food works, cutting out sugar, and exercising you can lose wieght pretty simply.

    As nice as a diet eating chocolate and no exercise sounds…the old adage “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” seems to sum it up pretty well!

    Chelle´s last blog post: Best Exercise to Flatten Tummy: Simple Ways to Flatten Your Tummy

  2. About the only thing I love about not flying anymore is not having to visit the Flight Surgeon once a year.

    I have always weighed about 230lb (from playing football).

    Dispatch was always on my case to lose weight..didn’t.

    My station mgr would tell me “Weight on the pilot equals less fuel and less money made on supplies carried onboard”.

    Now, I weigh 245. Doesn’t hurt my feelings any. Burb..

    I would think on a Robinson, weight is fuel and carrying capacity. More critical than on my Huey.

    Excuse me, gotta go to my favorite all you can eat buffet place now…LOL

    • I’m not too fat for my R44, but hell, things would be easier if I lost about 30 pounds (read that 5 gallons of fuel). I’d also feel a lot better physically.

      Needless to say, I’m avoiding the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants these days. Truth be told: I can eat an awful lot.

  3. It sounds like we have all lived and learned. I stood in the grocery store line tonight and read the covers of magazines and noticed that one mentioned “The Flat Belly Diet.” Isn’t it funny how those magazines tell you how to lose weight fast on the cover next to that big chocolate cake photo. I’m tired of buying diet books too. Everywhere you look someone is trying to cash in on the growing obesity in this country. It is common sense in most cases… eat less and healthier while adding activity to your life and save your money.

  4. Stop looking at the scale people and spending money on books that will be sitting on your bookshelf after a couple months- if you eat right and exercise daily. Exercise does not mean going to the gym though it does help. It means get off your couch go outside take a brisk walk, play with your kids etc.. take stairs instead of elevators, takes longer waiting for one then using stairs. Moving makes fat come off and no there is no miracle pills as advertisted. It took a few years to put it on (slowly) and slowly it will come off. Patience of which no one seems to have is the success of losing.

  5. Diets and diet aids do not help anyone. The only way to successfully lose weight and get the body that you want is by using the right information. This information can be found in the book [redacted] which can be ordered through the website [redacted] Everyone who has gotten a copy of this book is now healthier.

    • Hey, Todd29. Are you out of your fucking mind? Did you honestly expect me to allow you to spam my blog with your crap? Didn’t you read the blog post? Didn’t you see where I said the Flat Belly Diet was the last diet book I’d ever buy? Or are you just so fucking stupid that you think you can spam blogs with your crap and get away with it? Get a life, shithead, and stop annoying bloggers and their readers.

      (Apologies to readers who have never seen the f-bomb thrown so many times in a blog comment. If you knew how much of this crap I put up with on a daily basis, you’d understand why I occasionally explode.)

  6. Really insightful posts here. Glad I finally found this place. I can’t remember who referred me here, but sure glad they did.

  7. OMG! I am so glad I found this post. Thanks for bringing me back to reality. I came here because I saw the Flat Belly diet on TV this A.M. and was looking into it. I too have a book shelf full of weight loss books. Thanks for telling me what they ALL say, eat sensible and portioned meals AND exercise or just move.

  8. Well I can here for more information about the quality of this book and am glad I did. It sounds like more of the same, sensible diet and moderate exercise. The starvation thing never works in the long run, so successful weight loss always comes down to lifestyle change. Too bad this book didn’t add anything new to the formula.

  9. A guy I work with lost 35 lbs on the flat belly diet. Some times people need a little motivation and a different way of thinking to reprogram their brain to eat right. If a book does it…….so what. Dont be mad because you are not selling the book. You say its easy Maria, but im sure the book has helped people change the way they eat. You can also get the book cheap on amazon, if you dont like it and it does not work, just sell it on amazon again or pass it to a friend. Maybe it will work for them.

    • Mike: Get back to us in a year and let us know if your friend kept that weight off. I’m curious to know whether the book can prompt him to make a permanent lifestyle change.

      I’ll stand by everything I wrote. It’s just another fad diet book. You don’t need a book to lose weight. Reduce calorie intake, drink lots of water, and exercise more and the weight will come off — without lining the pockets of fad diet authors and their publishers.

  10. Hi Maria

    My sister-in-law started the flat belly diet a year ago. After about 5 months she had gone from a size 12 to a size 2. She looks amazing. I don’t know exactly the number of pounds she lost, but she loves this “diet” book and says it’s just a very easy way of life for her now. More importantly, she had gone to the doctor prior to beginning the Flat Belly and her cholesterol and blood pressure were in the unhealthy range and when she went back, the doctor was astonished at her new, healthy numbers. Anyway, I just wanted to say that it did work for her, she has kept the weight off, and she says she doesn’t even look at the book anymore because it’s just an easy-to-maintain way of life now. I completely agree with your comments that it’s common sense calorie control, healthy choices, and getting exercise. But if it helps some people to follow a plan, why not?

  11. the best thing i can say is i hate diets and exercise i love food and i love to relax. how do i lose the weight? i dont eat meals anymore i just snack i dont have time to count calories on everything i eat. i try to exercise on my indoor bike at least 3 times a week beleave me i hate it but i look at it like this dont we all have to do things in our lives that we hate to. now if my higher power said to EXERCISE EVERYDAY OR MY LIFE WILL END AS OF RIGHT im pritty sure ill be in a size zero !! so i know thats not going to happen when i exercise i give myself a time limit 15min to an hour some time is better than none at all. my diet is to snack i eat a little like some chips small bag or candy bar or drink a bottle of water just to throw my mind off wanting food for little while longer i no longer eat to get full just somthing salty and something sweet is good for me. so screw the diet plans over exercising that causes me to be in deathly pain counting calories starving myself spending hours in grocery stores lookin for food that i never seen or thought of eating befor when you get to the register your total comes to hundreds of dallors and all you got is 3 to 4 bags to take home.thats not going to work in my book or with my belly.

What do you think?