The Flat Belly Diet focuses on MUFAs
The Flat Belly Diet focuses on MUFAs.

If you have watched television, read magazines, or surfed the internet lately, you've probably heard of the MUFA diet and its magical ability to shed excess abdominal weight. So, what exactly is a MUFA and how can it help you lose weight?

What Are MUFAs

A MUFA is simply a clever name for monounsaturated fatty acids found in plant-derived foods. MUFAs fall into five primary categories: oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, chocolate, and olives. Examples of foods made up of these fatty acids include:

  • Flax oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Green olives
  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate chips
  • Avocados
  • Seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Tahini
  • Pesto sauce

These "good fats" help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. In addition, fats are filling, which satisfies your hunger longer. Assuming you do not give in to emotional eating, this increased satiation encourages you to naturally eat fewer calories without feeling hungry or deprived. Other proclaimed benefits of eating MUFAs include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower risk of Parkinson's disease
  • Reduction in internal inflammation

Diet that Focuses on MUFAs

Prevention's Flat Belly Diet, which promises fat loss from the abdominal area, is largely responsible for the current interest in MUFAs. The Flat Belly Diet claims that followers can lose up to 15 pounds of abdominal fat in 32 days. And don't worry, the diet doesn't consist of just MUFAs.

Basics of the MUFA Diet By Prevention Magazine

The MUFA diet as set forth by Prevention magazine is actually a healthy eating plan based on sound nutrition. Dieters eat three meals per day, each approximately 400 calories, and one 400 calorie snack. Each meal and snack must contain at least one MUFA. That's easier than it sounds. Ideas for incorporating MUFAs into your diet include:

  • Add nuts or seeds to your salad
  • Saute almonds in olive oil and add to cooked green beans for Green Beans Almondine
  • Add chocolate chips to your yogurt
  • Add nuts or dark chocolate to whole grain muffins, pancakes, or waffles
  • Add olives to whole wheat pasta and toss with pesto
  • Add natural peanut butter or almond butter to your smoothies
  • Add flax seed to your salad or yogurt for a satisfying crunch
  • Add nuts, seeds, or chocolate chips to your cereal

2-Day Sample Menu

Day 1 Breakfast

  • 1 slice whole grain toast
  • 2 TBS natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter
  • Small banana
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Day 1 Lunch

  • Veggie burger with avocado and salsa on whole grain bun
  • Medium apple

Day 1 Dinner

  • 3 oz grilled chicken breast
  • Salad consisting of mixed greens, cucumbers, red onions, corn, and tomatoes; top with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Day 1 Snack

  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Day 2 Breakfast

  • 1 flax waffle topped with:
    • Cherries
    • Chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Day 2 Lunch

  • 2 corn tortillas filled with:
    • ½ cup black beans
    • ½ cup salsa
    • ¼ cup Haas avocado

Day 2 Dinner

  • Tilapia fillet, grilled
  • Greek salad with feta cheese, red onions, and olives topped with vinaigrette

Day 2 Snack

  • 1/2 multi-grain pita filled with:
    • 1/4 cup hummus
    • 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
    • 1 cup organic mixed baby greens
    • 4 oz deli turkey slices
  • 10 olives on the side

Does it Work

Although it is not yet entirely clear why a MUFA diet is effective at targeting belly fat, it does appear to work. According to a study appearing in the American Diabetes Association's journal, a diet rich in MUFAs is more effective than a high carb diet for reduction of belly fat. When Prevention magazine tested this theory, they had similar results. The bottom line is 1600 calories is a reduced calorie diet for many people. With a diet of reduced calories, healthy fats, lean protein, and vegetables, most people will lose weight. If you are going to diet, this is a healthy, balanced one to try. At the very least, try incorporating more MUFAs into your existing diet. You have nothing to lose... except, perhaps, some abdominal fat.