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Health Team

Can diet alone give you a flat belly?

Posted March 11, 2009 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated March 11, 2009 7:36 p.m. EDT

— The Flat Belly Diet claims that crunches are not required to get a flat stomach. It's all about “food and attitude.”

But can diet alone help tighten up a person’s stomach? Not necessarily, says Rex Healthcare registered dietitian Natalie Newell.

“You can’t spot reduce, whether it’s exercise or nutrition,” Newell said.



The Flat Belly Diet has a jumpstart meal plan to reduce bloating, Newell says.

“That’s just water weight you’re losing – so that’s not true weight loss,” she said.

Newell likes most of the meal plan suggestions on the Flat Belly Diet Web site. Options include sensible portion sizes of fish, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats – like nuts, seeds, flax oil and avocados.

Exercise is also an option to lose weight but it isn’t easy to get a flat stomach with exercise alone, according to Aubrey Miller, a personal trainer at Bodyworks for Ladies in Wake Forest.

Miller says combining a healthy diet and exercise is the key.

Along with regular cardio work and weight training, Miller said a good flat belly workout includes crunches. She recommends using an exercise ball when doing crunches to reduce pressure on the lower back.

“You want to make sure that you're not leading with the neck,” Miller said, as her client Arrington Howard rises in a partial sit-up. She helps Arrington through a regular routine of crunches and other exercises designed to strengthen abdominal muscles.

Experts warn that results will take time.

“It does take work, nutrition, exercise. I wish there was a quick fix – but there's not,” Newell said.

People should consult with their doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program.

Experts stress that instead of thinking of dieting, the focus should be on a long-term change in adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid Web site provides personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help people plan an assess food choices.