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The Flat Belly Diet. Heard of it? If not, you will.

August 8, 2008 | 11:35 am

Newflatbelly_2 Get used to the word "mufas." It's an acronym, actually --used (over and over and over) by the editors of Prevention magazine to mean "monounsaturated fatty acids." Pronounced MOO-fahs, the word is an integral part of their new Flat Belly Diet.

And if you haven't yet heard of the Flat Belly Diet, brace yourself. You definitely will. The editors, Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, have launched not just a diet, but a book, a cookbook, a website, an online program and more. And they're getting the word out. They made a repeat appearance today on the Rachael Ray Show, have appeared on Good Morning America and are popping up here, there and seemingly everywhere.

Their mantra is mufas (or, more appropriately, MUFAs). These delightful substances are the healthy fats found in almonds, peanut butter, olive oil and avocados among other things, and they're fairly satiating. The eating plan (based on the good ol' Mediterranean diet) says you should have some with every meal. That's one of its three rules. 

The other two rules: Stick to 400 calories per meal. And never go more than four hours without eating. Snacks, carefully controlled, are fine -- as long as you don't eat more than 1,600 calories a day. ("Aha," you think.)

The book on which the diet is based, or vice versa, promises that "A flat belly is about food and attitude. Period. (Not a single crunch required.)" It adds that you can lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days.

So if you're obsessed with the weight around your middle, as women of a particular age group (usually those over 40, as carefully detailed in the book) tend to be, check out the website FlatBellyDiet.com, which offers more information, sample meal plans, a way to buy the cornerstone book (not available from Amazon until late October) and, of course, the online membership program.

Here's a take on the diet from Cranky Fitness, which has one of the better blog subtitles: "Your guide to health, fitness, nutrition, personal development, and whining." The writer says: "In general, I hate 'simple solution' diets. They almost always turn out to be only partly right. Nutrition and weight loss are rarely simple. But heck, if you're not getting many MUFA's now and have some bellyfat you'd like to evict, it could be worth a try."

Even better, here's a good WebMD review of the diet. The upshot: The eating plan can work, but largely because the diet itself is sound, not because MUFAs are magic.

-- Tami Dennis

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