The most recent nutritional fad is the Flat Belly Diet and the notion of “Belly Flattening Foods.”
Lately there has been a lot of word of mouth about something known as the Flat Belly Diet that features foods that are supposed to be able to burn stomach fat. This belly fat – aka visceral fat – dwells within abdominal cavity and can surround and impact the function of internal organs, which makes stomach fat potentially more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is what constitutes the dreaded “spare tire” or “beer belly” that most people are long-familiar with.
The Flat Belly Diet was formulated in response to a study done in Spain where eleven overweight people who were progeny of diabetics, were fed 3 contrasting diets comprising of the equal amount of calories each with a different concoction of carbohydrates and fats. One diet was high in carbohydrates, one diet was high in saturated fats and one diet was high in monounsaturated fats. People spend 4-weeks on each diet.
According to Prevention Magazine the promoters of the Flat Belly Diet, researchers ascertained that the people who consumed the diet high in monounsaturated fats lost more weight without additional exercise. However, in interpreting conclusions published in the actual study, this statement is dubious. Here’s what the study tells us, “RESULTS- Weight, body composition, and resting energy expenditure remained unaltered during the 3 sequential dietary periods.”
And while the Flat Belly Diet puts forward that a diet high in monounsaturated fats cuts down weight and visceral fat, here’s what is published in the study. “Using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry we observed that when patients were fed a CHO-enriched diet (carbohydrates), their fat mass was redistributed toward the abdominal depot, whereas periphery fat accumulation decreased compared with isocaloric MUFA-rich (monounsaturated fats) and high-SAT (saturated fats) diets.”
What this signifies – despite the propaganda spread by the Flat Belly Diet – is that the monounsaturated and saturated fat diets resulted in less “stomach fat” accumulation than did the high carb diets. The researchers also clearly state that weight and body fat percentage were unaltered as a result of all 3 diet interventions.
Here is the conclusion as published in the study, “CONCLUSIONS- An isocaloric MUFA-rich diet prevents central fat redistribution and the postprandial decrease in peripheral adiponectin gene expression and insulin resistance induced by a CHO-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects.”
So despite the statements made by the advocators of the Flat Belly Diet, eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats had no effect on slimming or body fat percentage, and a diet high in saturated fats was just as effective as the monounsaturated diet in preventing visceral – belly – fat from accumulating. And these results were found in people who were overweight and the offspring of diabetes patients. Not exactly life changing results are they?
The inclusion of particular kinds of foods in this reduced calorie eating program does not alter the truth that the Flat Belly Diet is merely the most recent edition of an externally regulated, restrained eating program, simply another gimmick that applies exhausted, old, ill-conceived hope statements such as, “Eat and think your way thin.”
You don’t have to take my word for it, you can check out the abstract of the study for yourself. I’ve a tough time trusting the hype that circles the Flat Belly Diet given the way these results have been twisted. As a result, the Flat Belly Diet should be viewed as simply another diet, a diet – like all the rest – that is not deserving too much of your time or excitement.