Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guideline 1: Eat Six Meals a Day

We’re so used to hearing people talk about eating less food that
it’s become weight-loss doctrine. But as you remember from the
physiology of metabolism, you have to eat more often to change
your body composition. The new philosophy I want you to keep
in mind is “energy balance.”
Researchers at Georgia State University developed a technique
to measure hourly energy balance—that is, how many
94 T H E A B S D I E T
calories you’re burning versus how many calories you’re taking
in. The researchers found that if you keep your hourly surplus
or deficit within 300 to 500 calories at all times, you will best be
able to change your body composition by losing fat and adding
lean muscle mass. Those subjects with the largest energy imbalances
(those who were over 500 calories in either ingestion
or expenditure) were the fattest, while those with the most balanced
energy levels were the leanest. So if you eat only your
three squares a day, you’re creating terrific imbalances in your
energy levels. Between meals, you’re burning many more calories
than you’re taking in. At mealtimes, you’re taking in many
more than you’re burning. Research shows that this kind of
eating plan is great—if your dream is to be the next John
T H E A B S D I E T N U T R I T I O N P L A N 95
Almost as important as what you eat is when you eat. Researchers at the University
of Massachusetts analyzed the eating habits of 500 men and women
and found connections between the way people eat and the risk of becoming
Eating at least one midday snack –39 percent
Eating dinner as your biggest meal of the day +6 percent
Waiting more than 3 hours afterwaking up
to eat breakfast
+43 percent
Eating more than a third of yourmeals
in restaurants
+69 percent
Going to bed hungry
(3 or more hours after your last meal or snack)
+101 percent
Eating breakfast away from home +137 percent
Not eating breakfast +450 percent
Candy. But if you want to look slimmer, feel fitter, and—not coincidentally—
live longer, then you need to eat more often. In the
same study, subjects who added three snacks a day to three regular
meals balanced out their energy better, lost fat, and increased
lean body mass (as well as increased their power and
In a similar study, researchers in Japan found that boxers who
ate the same amount of calories a day from either two or six meals
both lost an average of 11 pounds in 2 weeks. But the guys who
ate six meals a day lost 3 pounds more fat and 3 pounds less
muscle than the ones who ate only two meals.
There’s science to support the fact that more meals work, but
the plain-speak reason it works is because it does something that
many diets don’t do: It keeps you full and satiated, which will reduce
the likelihood of a diet-destroying binge.
How it works: For scheduling purposes, alternate your larger
meals with smaller snacks. Eat two of your snacks roughly 2
hours before lunch and dinner, and one snack roughly 2 hours
after dinner.
Sample time schedule:
8 A.M.: breakfast
11 A.M.: snack
1 P.M.: lunch
4 P.M.: snack
6 P.M.: dinner
8 P.M.: snack
For a complete 7-day meal plan, check out page 104. It’s not
something you need to stick to religiously, just a suggestion for
how you can make the Abs Diet work for you. It also shows
how to incorporate the recipes you’ll find in chapter 9 into your
everyday life.


overview of some cool science—
how your body reacts to different
foods, why some fats are good and
others are evil, and how some
foods such as dairy products have a secret ingredient
that helps your body burn fat. Science can be fun, but by
this point in the book, you’ve probably got one burning
question in your mind:
Hey, when can we eat?
So let’s get right to it, because eating more of the right
foods more often is the basis of the Abs Diet. Remember:

That’s why the Abs Diet isn’t a diet you’ll feel you “have to”
stick to. It’s one you’ll want to stick to.
See, I’ve talked to lots of men who’ve tried diets, and many of
them describe trying to stick to a strict diet plan as sort of like
standing waist-deep in the ocean and being pummeled by one
wave after another. Those waves come in the form of doughnuts
the boss brought in, the office vending machine you’re stuck with
when the boss makes you work late, and the happy hour to celebrate
the firing of the boss who gave you all those doughnuts and
late vending machine nights. When you’re staring at a wave
that’s clearly bigger than you, you have three choices. You could
run back to shore or try to jump over it, but those options will
leave you with a suit full of sand. But if you dive through the
wave head-on, you’ll emerge unscathed. Same with a diet. You
can try to run away by avoiding restaurants, parties, weddings,
or anyplace that’s likely to tempt you with nachos grande. You
can also try to take the high road, but ordering a salad and water
after a softball game hardly feels right. If you want a diet to
work—if you want to emerge on the other side of this plan with
a new body—your only choice is to have the flexibility and
freedom to keep yourself from getting hungry and the knowledge
that you can eat well no matter what.
You’re about to dive into the Abs Diet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


To your eggs: A third of a cup of chopped onion and a clove of garlic will add
1 gram of fiber to a couple of scrambled eggs.
To your sandwich: Hate whole wheat? Go with rye. Like wheat, it has 2 grams
of fiber per slice. That’s more than twice the amount of fiber in white.
To your dinner: Have a sweet potato. It has 2 grams more fiber than a typical
Idaho potato.
To your cereal: Half a cup of raspberries adds 4 grams of fiber.
To your snack: Eat trail mix. Half a cup of Raisin Bran, 1 ounce of mixed nuts,
and five dried apricot halves give you almost 7 grams of fiber.
has risen 15 percent in the past 10 years.) Like today’s low-carb
craze, the low-fat craze originally appears to work because it creates
a restrictive eating program that eliminates certain foods
and, hence, a certain number of calories. If you suddenly have to
cut out countless steaks, baked goods, slabs of butter, nuts, dairy
products, and desserts, presto, you lose weight.
But, as with carbohydrates, our bodies crave fat. Fatty foods
(beef, fish, and dairy products, for instance) are usually high in
muscle-building proteins and supply critical vitamins and minerals
(the vitamin E in nuts and oils, the calcium in cheese and
yogurt). So you can go on a low-fat diet for only so long before you
wind up facedown in a pint of Chunky Monkey. That’s the way
Mother Nature planned it.
What she didn’t plan for, however, was the craftiness of food
marketers. Knowing that low-fat dieters are secretly pining for
the old days when a nice slice of cake and a scoop of ice cream
ended every celebratory meal, grocery manufacturers go into the
laboratory and come out with hundreds of new low-fat foods. And
that leads to what should go down in history as The Great Snack-
Well’s Debacle.
Nabisco conceives SnackWell’s as the ultimate answer to the
low-fat diet craze. SnackWell’s, which you can still find on grocery
shelves today, are fat-free and low-fat cookies that somehow carry
nearly all the flavor of full-fat cookies. The secret is that Nabisco
loads up the cookies with extra sugar (except in the sugar-free varieties),
so consumers can indulge their sweet tooth without ever
missing the fat. How this development plays out in the mind of the
average consumer is simple to predict:
“All I have to do to lose weight is to cut out fat.”
“Yo! These cookies have no fat. Let’s buy two packages!”
“Honey, did you eat that second package of cookies for
breakfast? I wanted it!”
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 91
The magic bullet doesn’t work, in part because we need to eat
fats and in part because we’ve been fooled into thinking that we
can eat whatever we want, in whatever quantity we want, as long
as we aren’t eating fat. So we scarf down sugar calories by the
spoonful—and we all get just a little bit fatter in the process.
Okay, hop out of the time machine—trip’s over. It’s a decade
later and, instead of a low-fat craze, America is caught up in the
throes of a low-carb craze. And the same scenario is playing out
all over again. Every grocery store and corner deli is filled with
products—particularly “meal replacement” bars—that are marketed
with bywords like low-carb or carb smart.
Suddenly, it’s not hard to eat low-carb anymore. Today—and
increasingly more so tomorrow—we can fill our shopping carts
with all the foods we cut out for the past couple of years. Food
marketers are altering the makeups of their products, packing
them with soy protein and fiber and sugar alcohols—all ingredients
that lower the “net carb” impact of the food. Now, I’m all for
more protein and fiber. Sugar alcohol, on the other hand, is nothing
but empty calories that, in elevated quantities, cause gastric distress
and flatulence—but hey, whatever turns you on.
What I am against is the notion that marketers are peddling—
that we can eat whatever and whenever we want, as long as we’re
not eating carbs. It is exactly the same trap we fell into 10 years
ago: a restrictive diet that offers short-term success, turned into
a food craze that guarantees even greater health risks and higher
obesity rates.
And that’s a time travel destination no one wants to arrive at.

Low-Carb Dilemma #2: Follow the Money

REMEMBER WHAT I said about why the low-carb diet appears to
work? Because it cuts out a majority of foods that people love to eat,
and because it makes eating on the run difficult. Those two factors
conspire to restrict calories, and fewer calories mean less weight.
Now, here’s an easy question: How do food manufacturers
make money? By selling you food. So what happens when 60 million
Americans decide they’re going to stop buying all the candy
bars, loaves of bread, boxes of pasta, and jars of sugary spreads
that manufacturers have obligingly loaded with carbohydrates
over the past half century?
Food manufacturers are going to have to come up with something
else to sell. Something they can tout as low-carb, to appeal
to Atkins-oriented dieters, but something that’s familiar, easy to
find, and even easier to consume. And so begins the next phase in
the American obesity epidemic.
In February 2004, the New York Times reported on the growing
trend toward low-carb marketing among restaurants and grocery
stores. Retailers are being counseled by their business
advisors to open up “low-carb” aisles; restaurants are vying for the
coveted “Atkins approved” label to hang in their windows. And in
the past 5 years, an estimated 728 new food products claiming to
be low in carbohydrates have hit the shelves. Today, you can
snack on low-carb candy, low-carb cake, and low-carb brownies,
washing it all down with a couple bottles of low-carb beer.
To get a sneak preview of where all this is going, let’s hop back
into that time travel machine. This time, we’re not going to the
storied Middle Ages or the dawn of man . . . we’re just going back
about 10 years or so, to the beginnings of the last diet craze that
swept the nation: the low-fat craze.
It’s the early 1990s. The low-carb craze hasn’t yet begun to
blossom. (For better or worse, neither has Britney Spears.) But
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 89
another mantra has begun to take hold in American society: EAT
This directive comes not from a book-peddling diet doc but from
the U.S. government, in the form of a revised food pyramid designed
by the Food and Drug Administration. Fat has been fingered as the
root of all dietary evils: Simply put, fatty foods translate into fatty
people. Diet experts race to defend this idea, which on the face of
it sounds pretty logical: Dietary fat is more easily transformed into
body fat, whereas carbohydrates are preferentially burned off for
energy. Hence, swap your fat calories for carb calories, and voilĂ ,
you’ve entered into the magical weight loss zone.
Quickly, food manufacturers move to capitalize on these exciting
developments. As sales of fat-free milk rise, packages of
reduced-fat, low-fat, and fat-free cheeses, spreads, yogurts, ice
creams, cakes, and cookies begin to fill the supermarket shelves.
Some taste okay. Some taste like sugar-crusted cardboard. But
what the hell—no fat, no foul. Carbo-loading becomes a byword of
amateur athletes all across the country.
However, this whole low-fat theory comes with one big but.
(Actually, it comes with millions of big butts, as the obesity rate

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Origins of a Sweet Tooth

TO UNDERSTAND WHY carbohydrates are important, we have to
take another fantasy trip, this time back to the dawn of man. On
the savannahs of Africa, the high plains of Europe, the wetlands
of Asia, and the woodlands and jungles of the Americas, primitive
man learned how to feed himself from nature’s banquet table. He
learned how to fish and hunt, and later, how to domesticate animals
and grow grain. But since he first stood upright, man has
also had a craving for sweets.
As with all things, there’s a reason why we crave sweets. The
sweetest things on earth, back in those days before Cherry Garcia,
were fruits: wild berries, pears, citrus fruits, and the like. Not coincidentally,
fruits are also packed with nutrients: vitamins to
fend off disease, minerals to assist with cell function, and fiber to
regulate hunger, control blood pressure, and help ease digestion.
Without our sweet tooth, we would have been happy to eat
nothing but wooly mammoth and buffalo meat—the original
Atkins program. But nature saw to it that we craved the foods
that would make us healthy.
Fast forward to today, when the sweetest things don’t look
anything like tangerines. Whereas our sweet tooth was once nature’s
way of protecting us from disease, now it’s the food industry’s
way of tricking us into it. To satisfy our cravings, we turn
to cookies and cakes and chocolates instead of apples and pears
and blackberries. That’s one of the main reasons Americans today
are so fat. And it’s one of the main reasons why, in the short-term,
low-carb diets work.
By limiting carbohydrate intake, diets like Atkins create bydefault
weight loss. If you restrict yourself to just one class of
foods—low-carb foods, in this instance—you’re bound to lose
weight. That’s because the stuff you’re used to munching on, from
the doughnut you nosh in the car on the way to work to the
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 85
Snickers bar you snag from the vending machine before your drive
home, are now voided from your diet. You’re eating less food, so
you’re taking in fewer calories, so you lose weight.
The other sneaky advantage of an Atkins diet is that it focuses
on foods that are difficult to prepare and consume. It’s easy to pop
a bagel or a grapefruit into your briefcase; shove some steak and
eggs in there instead, and things get a little messy. So low-carb
diets restrict calories in two ways: by limiting food options, and by
limiting the ease with which we can consume food.
But there are two major reasons why, in the long-term, lowcarb
diets won’t work: Mother Nature and the almighty dollar.
Low-Carb Dilemma #1:
Take That out of Your Mouth!
SOMEONE WITH A SOUND understanding of nutrition and a sadistic
streak could have a field day torturing low-carb enthusiasts.
Here’s an evil trick: Take two pieces of soft, fresh, whole-grain
bread. Slather one side with 2 tablespoons of all-natural peanut
butter. Now take 1⁄2 cup of blackberries, mash them lightly with a
fork, and (this is where it gets really nasty) spread the mashed
berries onto the other piece of bread. Put the two sides together
and you’ve created the world’s healthiest PB&J sandwich: 5
grams of fiber (about as much as the average American gets in a
single day), 25 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C, 13 grams
of protein, and (sacre bleu!) a verboten 30 grams of carbohydrate.
(Oh, by the way, it tastes incredible.)
Float this concoction in front of a low-carb enthusiast and you
might as well be serving broiled rat viscera. (Come to think of it,
they’d probably prefer the rat viscera. No carbs.) The sandwich is
achingly sweet, soft, and chewy, a delicious comfort food that, at
the same time, is a cholesterol-busting nuclear missile. The fiber
86 T H E A B S D I E T
protects you from heart disease as well as from stroke and colon
cancer. The vitamin C boosts your immune system. And the highquality
(meaning high in fiber) carbs give you long-burning energy
and food for your brain. Yet phase one of the Atkins diet bans
every single ingredient in this simple sandwich.
Every single one.
In fact, the Atkins diet focuses on something called net carbs
that Atkins claims are the carbohydrates that actually impact
blood sugar. A rough formula for figuring out net carbs is to subtract
the number of fiber grams from the total number of carb
grams. (The reasoning being that fiber doesn’t impact blood sugar,
spike insulin, or contribute to fat storage.) By that calculation,
this sandwich has about 33 net carbs. Phase one of the Atkins diet
limits you to 20 net carbs per day. Eat this one super-good-for-you
food, and you’ll have to fast for the next day and a half to keep
your Atkins diet in effect.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this whole low-carb plan is
simply crackers. (Oh, sorry—not allowed to eat those.)
See, carbs are not our enemies. As I explained earlier, we crave
carbs because we need them to protect us against a host of ailments.
The low-carb craze works temporarily not because it limits
carbs but because it limits food intake. And if I came out with some
crazy diet plan that said you could only eat foods that are high in
fat or low in protein or bigger than a breadbox or start with the
letter P, believe me—you’d lose weight. For a little while, at least,
until you couldn’t look at pudding, parsnips, and poultry ever again.
You’d lose weight because, by restricting your food intake, I’ve
restricted your calorie intake. And the fact is, when you take in
fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight; when you take in
more calories than you burn, you gain weight. That’s true regardless
of where those calories come from. The Abs Diet works
both by cutting the number of calories you take in through a sen-
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 87
sible-but-satiating eating plan and by increasing the number of
calories you burn away by improving your metabolic function.
Fewer calories coming in here, a few more burned off there, and
presto—weight loss. No magic, no deprivation, and no pointing
fingers at the evils of carbohydrates.
The confusion about carbs comes from the fact that in today’s
society, we’re surrounded by high-carbohydrate foods that have
had all their positive attributes stripped from them. Commercial
bread baking has followed the same path as Michael Jackson—the
whiter it gets, the less wholesome it becomes. The refined flours
and sugars and sugar substitutes that you find in everything from
cookies to ice cream to mass-produced ketchup and peanut butter
give us all the calories and none of the nutritional benefits of their
original ancestors: whole grains and fruits. The lack of fiber in, say,
a plain bagel causes the calories in the bagel to be digested quickly,
flooding our bloodstreams with glucose, triggering spikes in the digestive
hormone insulin—which then turns the blood sugar into
fat cells and leaves us hungry once again.
But fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread products have a
very different effect on the body: They’re digested slowly, giving
us long-burning energy. Insulin levels stay steady while fiber
scours our bodies for cholesterol and other harmful substances,
and the vitamins and minerals inherent in those foods help protect
us from a host of ills.
The longer we try to go without carbs, the more our bodies
crave them. Eventually, you have to fall off a carb-restricting diet:
Your body is programmed to make you seek out carbs, just the
way it’s programmed to blink when something hurtles toward
your eye. It’s one of our natural defense mechanisms, and what
Mother Nature wants, she will eventually get.
Then again, what corporate America wants, it too will get.
Which presents us with part two of why the low-carb craze is a
disaster waiting to happen.


you with scientific evidence,
persuaded you with
real-life testimonials, and
referenced study after study
to show how the Abs Diet works and why it makes sense
for anyone who wants to manage his weight and live a
healthful, active, disease-free life. But just for a moment,
I want to step away from all the hard science and
take you on a bit of a fantasy adventure. Come this
way—I promise you’ll find it revealing.

First, I want you to imagine that you’ve taken a time machine
back to the Middle Ages. You find yourself at the door of an alchemist’s
laboratory, where magic elixirs and potions fill the
shelves and the echoes of mantras and spells fill the air. You’ve
traveled long and hard, through terrifying dark woods and vast,
arid deserts to seek out a Holy Grail of sorts: a concoction that
legend says will make you lose weight, magically.
The sorcerer appears, and he holds up before you two vials.
The first, he says, contains an elixir that will protect you from
most of the diseases known to man. Its ingredients hold properties
that will change your cholesterol profile and protect you from
heart disease; help scour your body for toxins and protect you
from the onslaught of cancer and the side effects of aging; energize
your body and your brain, making your thinking clearer and
helping to immunize you from Alzheimer’s; and, over the course
of your long life, control your weight and keep obesity and diabetes
at bay.
The second vial will do none of that. It will, in all likelihood,
raise your cholesterol profile and increase your risk for cancer,
stroke, and heart disease, as well as other ailments. But, if you
take it, it may help you lose weight dramatically—though only for
a short period of time. And there’s one more drawback: If you
choose the second vial, you can never sip from the first.
Which do you choose?
In the past 5 years, about 60 million Americans chose vial
number two.
Now, scrape the dust from the label on that vial and guess
The first vial, on the other hand, brims with all sorts of things:
fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and
nuts—the sorts of thing that nature intended us to eat but diet
plans like Atkins’s do not. And over the long term, if Americans
keep choosing vial number two, I think we’re going to pay—heavily.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


meet some of the men and women
who went on the Abs Diet—and
Patrick Austin dropped 30
pounds, half of it in just the first 2 weeks. Now he can’t
wait to take off his shirt at the beach.
John Betson turned a flabby 36-inch waist into a solid
32-incher and saw his abs for the first time in years.
And Jessica Guff stopped skipping meals—and
started wearing skimpier tops.
For Bill Stanton, the turnaround was an eye-opener:
“I’d been lifting weights all my life, but just by
changing my diet, my body got leaner and stronger

than ever. Guys at the gym even accuse me of being on steroids!”
Everyone’s body is different, and everybody who tries this plan
will have a different starting point. But based on the scientific research
I’ve outlined, you can expect an average loss of up to
20 pounds of fat on the 6-week plan and, for men, a gain of 4 to 6
pounds of muscle (about half that amount for women). For the average
man, that’s enough of a transformation to have your abs show.
One of the bigger challenges, however, is monitoring your progress
on the plan. Here’s a look at the four major measurements you can
use to see just how effectively the Abs Diet will work for you.
Weight. It’s the most straightforward. The heavier you are, the
more at risk you are for disease and the less fit you are. It’s a good
measuring stick to gauge how well you’re progressing on your diet,
but it’s incomplete in that it doesn’t take into account the amount
of muscle you’re going to develop over the course of a plan. Muscle
weighs about 20 percent more than fat so even a dramatic fat loss
may not translate into a dramatic drop in body weight.
76 T H E A B S D I E T
Name: James Schellman
Age: 26
Height: 5'8"
Starting weight: 164
Six weeks later: 156
A former professional athlete and an active guy who snowboards 60 days a
year, James Schellman didn’t feel like he needed to lose that much weight.
But then a series of nagging injuries started hampering his active lifestyle,
and he packed on an extra 10 pounds of belly flab. Schellman could have
blamed the weight gain and injuries on getting older, but that wasn’t his
style. “I didn’t want to slow down,” he says, “but I knew I needed a
change.” So he went on the Abs Diet to improve his condition and increase
Body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a formula that takes
into consideration your height and your weight, and gives you an
indication of whether you’re overweight, obese, or in good shape.
To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703,
and divide the number by your height in inches squared. For example,
let’s say you are 6 feet tall (that’s 72 inches) and weigh 200
pounds. So first we multiply your weight by 703.
200 703 140,600
Next, we calculate your height in inches squared, meaning we
multiply the number by itself.
72 72 5,184
Now we divide the first number by the second.
140,600 5,184 27.1
That’s not terrible. A BMI between 25 and 30 indicates you’re
overweight. Over 30 signifies obesity.
This measurement, too, has flaws. It doesn’t take into account
A S I X - P A C K I N 6 W E E K S 77
his muscle tone. Besides, Schellman says, “I figured I need to look good for
my wife.”
During the plan, Schellman lost 8 pounds. But the most significant transformation:
He cut his body fat from 18 to 11 percent.
Schellman has always enjoyed eating healthfully, but adjusting to the Abs Diet
paid off. “Before the plan, I ate about four meals a day and counted calories.
And with this one, I ate six times a day and let calories go by the wayside,” he
says. By basing meals around the delicious Powerfoods, “I didn’t have to
worry about the calories I was taking in.”
Schellman, who is used to spending a lot of time in the gym, credits the Abs
Diet Workout and its emphasis on lower-body exercises for making him
stronger and leaner and helping him burn off that burgeoning belly. “I have
seen stomach fat decrease. I can clearly see some of the muscles [in my abdomen],”
he says. “The plan has been a huge success—I’ve seen an increase
in my overall body strength, an increase in my motivation, an increase in my
self-esteem, and an increase in my well-being.”
muscle mass, and it also leaves out another important factor—
weight distribution, that is, where most of the fat on your body resides.
But BMI can give you a pretty good idea of how serious your
weight problem is.
Waist-to-hip ratio. Researchers have begun using waist size
and its relationship to hip size as a more definitive way to determine
your health risk. This is considered more important than
BMI because of that visceral fat I talked about earlier—the fat
that pushes your waist out in front of you. Because abdominal fat
is the most dangerous fat, a lower waist-to-hip ratio means fewer
health risks. To figure out your waist-to-hip ratio, measure your
waist at your belly button and your hips at the widest point
(around your butt). Divide your waist by your hips. For example,
if your hips measure 40 inches and your waist at belly button
level measures 38 inches, your waist-to-hip ratio is 0.95.
38 40 0.95
That’s not bad, but it’s not ideal. You want a waist-to-hip ratio
of 0.92 or lower. If you were to lose just 2 inches off your waist—
something you can do in just 2 weeks with the Abs Diet—you’d
find yourself in the fit range.
36 40 0.90
Body fat percentage. Though this is the most difficult for the
average man to measure because it requires a bit of technology,
it’s the most useful in terms of gauging how well your diet plan is
working. That’s because it takes into consideration not just weight
but how much of your weight is fat. Many gyms offer body fat measurements
through such methods as body fat scales or calipers
that measure the folds of fat at several points on your body. See
your local gym for what options they offer. Or try an at-home body
fat calculator. I like the Taylor Body Fat Analyzer and Scale 5553
for its price (about $50), convenience, and accuracy. If you want a
simple low-tech test (and this isn’t as accurate as what the elec-
78 T H E A B S D I E T
tronic versions will give you), try this simple exercise: Sit in a
chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Using
your thumb and index finger, gently pinch the skin on top of your
right thigh. Measure the thickness of the pinched skin with a
ruler. If it’s 3⁄4 inch or less, you have about 14 percent body fat—
ideal for a guy, quite fit for a woman. It it’s 1 inch, you’re probably
closer to 18 percent fat, which is a tad high for a man but desirable
for a woman. If you pinch more than an inch, you could be at
increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.
This last measurement can be the most significant because it’ll
really help give you a sense of how well you’re sticking to a plan.
As you see your body fat percentage decrease, you’ll see an increase
in the amount of visible muscle. Experts say that in order
for your abs to show, your body fat needs to be between 8 and 12
percent. For the average slightly overweight man, that means cutting
body fat by about half.
Before you start the plan, it’s important to record some of these
measurements so that you’ll know how far you’re progressing.
Take one baseline measurement, and then remeasure as needed
for motivation. I’d recommend measuring every 2 weeks. That’ll
be enough time to see significant differences to propel you
through the next 2 weeks. (Measure body fat percentage only at
the beginning and end of the plan, unless you have easy access to
a measurement system.) Any sooner than that, and you’re focusing
too much on numbers rather than process.
As with any diet plan, it’s also important to develop some kind
of quantitative goal—your ideal weight, waist size, or percentage
of body fat. This chart will help you figure out where you are and
where you need to go.
I don’t mean to hit you with more numbers than a fantasy
baseball nerd. In fact, it might be easiest to simply focus on one
number—six—so that the others will fall into place. When you
start to see those six abdominal muscles, it’ll mean that everything
else has decreased—your weight, your BMI, your waistto-
hip ratio, and your body fat percentage. This 6-week plan
will get you there. Here’s what you can expect from going on
the diet.
1–2A significant weight loss as
your body adjusts to a new
approach to eating. Some may see losses
up to 12 pounds in the first 2 weeks (especially
if you’re walking, or otherwise active,
each day), but 5–8 pounds will be average.
“I haven’t gone shirtless on
the beach in years,” he says.
“This year, I’m going to be
shirtless.” Read more about
Patrick’s success on page 100.
3–4By integrating a modest amount
of strength training into your routine,
you’ll start to feel your body change because
your metabolism is working hard. You’ll
notice an additional drop in weight (most likely
averaging another 5–8 pounds), but you’ll also
notice significant changes in your shape.
25 POUNDS IN 6 WEEKS. “I definitely
have more energy and
a more positive outlook on
life,” he says. Read more
about Brian’s success on page
5–6After 2 weeks of exercise, your
body is primed to make a significant
push to drop more fat while also gaining
muscle mass. You’ll notice that your
upper body is more toned and that your
waist and other fatty parts of your body are
smaller. Depending on your starting point,
this is where you’ll begin to see abs.
TO 16 PERCENT. “You can see
more muscle,” he exclaims.
“You can see my abs.” Read
more about John’s success on
page 140.
A S I X - P A C K I N 6 W E E K S 81
What you’ll find so remarkable about this program is how
simple it is to follow, how often you’ll eat—each meal and each
snack is an easy, muscle-building, fat-burning treat—and how unlike
any other “diet” the Abs Diet is. Very simply, the Abs Diet is
a plan that will ask you to:
Eat three meals and three snacks each day, with each
of your meals or snacks including several of the wideranging
Powerfoods discussed in an upcoming chapter.
Keep an eye out for a handful of diet busters that you’ll
learn to easily spot and cut down on—not eliminate.
Perform a simple, 20-minute workout three times a
week to turbocharge your fat loss and muscle growth.
The Abs Diet is so simple that unlike most diets, we don’t
break it into phases, and we didn’t design a complex “maintenance”
program (just a few simple words of wisdom that you’ll
find on page 261). The weight loss and muscle gains are yours to
keep for life, and so is the eating plan. We guarantee you won’t be
waiting for your “diet” to end. You’ll enjoy this program so much—
and be so wowed by the results—that you’ll effortlessly follow this
plan for life.
Other people have done it—other people who were in worse
physical condition than you. When they talk about why it worked,
they talk of the plan’s simplicity and its ability to keep hunger in
check. The Abs Diet is going to change your shape, your health,
your life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Cancer is the one scourge that can strike any of us at any time in life. It can hit
in the places we think about and care about on a daily basis—the skin, the
lungs, the brain—or in obscure places we don’t even understand, like the pancreas,
the kidneys, or the lymphatic system.
Simply put, cancer develops when cells in one part of the body begin to grow
out of control. As children, our cells are constantly dividing, creating the new
cells that help us grow. Once we reach adulthood, that cell growth stops, for
the most part. Once we reach our genetically programmed height and weight,
cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells
or to repair injuries. (That’s why there’s no mid-thirties growth spurt, much as
we may wish for it.)
But cancer cells act like kids—they keep growing, dividing, and multiplying,
outliving our normal cells and interfering with the various functions of the
body. The most common type of cancer among men is prostate cancer (the
prostate is the gland located behind the scrotum that produces most of our
seminal fluid). The most common type of cancer among women is breast
cancer. Both result in about a quarter million new cases every year.
We don’t fully understand what causes cancer, but we do know some of the
risk factors: Obesity, low-fiber diets, smoking, heavy alcohol use, overexposure
to the sun, and exposure to radiation and other toxins are among the
biggest dangers. Additionally, there’s a strong link between heredity and
cancer; if one or more close relatives has suffered a bout of the disease,
you’re at increased risk for cancer in general and for that specific form of
cancer in particular.
I’d like to tell you that the Abs Diet is a magic bullet against cancer, but I can’t;
while dietary changes and exercise can dramatically decrease your risk for
heart disease, stroke, and especially diabetes, cancer remains a bit more elusive.
Still, by adopting the principles of the Abs Diet, you’ll automatically decrease
your risk for many forms of cancer, because you’ll decrease your weight
and increase your fiber intake. In the meantime, you can also follow these additional
tips to slash your risk even more.
Toss in the tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a
nutrient that has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. In
fact, researchers say that two to four servings of tomatoes a week can cut your
prostate cancer risk by 34 percent. (Even better news: Lycopene isn’t diminished
by cooking, so pasta sauce and pizza will strike a blow against the disease
as well.)
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 73
Color your plate. A 14-year study found that men whose diets were highest
in fruits and vegetables had a 70 percent lower risk of digestive-tract cancers.
Order the Chilean red. Chilean cabernet sauvignon is 38 percent higher than
French wine in flavonols—compounds called antioxidants that help deter
Try the cheese platter. A large-scale study of 120,000 women found that premenopausal
women who consumed a lot of dairy products, especially low-fat
and fat-free ones, ran a lower risk of breast cancer. Pay attention, men: You
can get breast cancer, too. And Harvard researchers have found that men with
diets high in calcium were up to 50 percent less likely to develop some forms
of colon cancer.
Squeeze a carrot. One 8-ounce glass of Odwalla Carrot Juice—pure pressed
carrot juice—gives you 700 percent of your daily recommendation for betacarotene
(and only 70 calories). Beta-carotene has been linked in several
studies to a lower risk of cancer.
Bite the broccoli. It contains a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has
been shown to fight various forms of cancer. Don’t like broccoli? Try daikon,
an Asian radish that looks like a big white carrot. It’s a distant cousin.
Serve the salmon. Or any other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s
can help mollify your cancer risk.
Order drinks with a twist. According to University of Arizona research,
lemon zest and orange zest contain d-limonene, an antioxidant that can reduce
your risk of skin cancer by up to 30 percent if you consume quantities as
small as 1 tablespoon per week.
Go green. In a recent Rutgers University study, mice given green tea had 51
percent fewer incidences of skin cancer than control mice. Green tea is another
great source of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Get a D. Foods high in vitamin D, like low-fat milk, help detoxify cancercausing
chemicals released during the digestion of high-fat foods, according
to a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Be Popeye. Japanese researchers found that neoxanthin, a compound in
spinach, was successful at preventing the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Show yourself the whey. Whey protein is a great source of cysteine, a major
building block of the prostate cancer–fighting agent glutathione.
Eat the whole grain. Whole-grain carbohydrates are a great source of fiber.
European researchers found that men with the highest daily intakes of fiber
also had a 40 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer.

Calcium: The Future of Fat Fighting

YOU’VE SEEN MORE than enough milk moustaches to know that
calcium strengthens your bones, but did you know that calcium
can also firm up your gut? Researchers at Harvard Medical School
showed that those who ate three servings of dairy a day—which
in conjunction with other foods provides about 1,200 milligrams
of calcium (about the daily recommendation)—were 60 percent
less likely to be overweight. In studies at the University of Tennessee,
researchers put subjects on diets that were 500 calories a
day less than what they were used to eating. Yup, the subjects lost
weight—about 1 pound of fat a week. But when researchers put
another set of subjects on the same diet but added dairy to their
meals, their fat loss doubled, to 2 pounds a week. Same calorie intake,
double the fat loss.
Calcium seems to limit the amount of new fat your body can
make, according to the University of Tennessee research team. In
another study conducted at the same lab, men who added three
servings of yogurt a day to their diets lost 61 percent more body
fat and 81 percent more stomach fat over 12 weeks than men who
70 T H E A B S D I E T
didn’t eat yogurt. A study in Hawaii found that teens with the
highest calcium intakes were thinner and leaner than those getting
less calcium.
Some researchers speculate that dairy calcium helps fight
fat because it increases the thermic effect of eating—in other
words, you burn more calories digesting calcium-rich foods than
you would if you ate something with equal calories but no calcium.
That’s one reason why calcium supplements, though good
for bone-building and other bodily functions, don’t have the
same effect as dairy—fewer calories to digest, so fewer calories
to burn.
And calcium has its benefits beyond stronger bones and leaner
bodies. After analyzing data from 47,000 men involved in the
Health Professional’s Follow-Up Study, Harvard researchers
found that men whose diets included 700 to 800 milligrams of the
mineral a day were up to 50 percent less likely to develop some
forms of colon cancer than men whose diets contained less than
500 milligrams. For best effect, shoot for about 1,200 milligrams
(mg) of calcium per day.
The Abs Diet recommended calcium-rich foods are:
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (314 mg)
1 cup large-curd cottage cheese (126 mg)
8 ounces low-fat yogurt (415 mg)
8 ounces low-fat milk (264 mg)
1 ounce (1-inch cube) Swiss cheese (224 mg)
1 ounce (1 slice) Cheddar cheese (204 mg)
1 ounce mozzarella cheese (143 mg)
1 scoop (28 g) whey powder protein (110 mg)

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The hormone insulin is like your pack-rat grandmother: It likes to store stuff.
The only problem is that it’s also as schizophrenic as old Uncle Judd. Sometimes
it makes your muscles grow; sometimes it makes your fat cells grow.
Different foods create different insulin responses. Foods that have
high–glycemic index rankings (including white bread, most cereals, grapes,
and bananas) dump a lot of sugar into your bloodstream soon after eating,
causing insulin levels to spike. In this case, insulin works quickly to turn that
blood sugar into fat.
Some foods, though, cause a different reaction. Dairy products—milk, yogurt,
ice cream—create dramatic insulin surges without the corresponding
effect on blood sugar. You also get this insulin response from some foods
that are virtually carbohydrate-free, such as beef and fish, which have hardly
any effect on blood sugar. When blood sugar remains relatively constant, it
allows insulin to use the nutrients in your blood to build and repair cells, including
muscle tissue.
That’s why the Abs Diet centers around high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods that
are also the ones thought to be most useful for weight control. Most are moderate
to high protein, some are high in dairy calcium, and those that are carbbased
emphasize fiber and other important nutrients.
(By the way, if all this talk about blood sugar and insulin reminds
you of a certain health problem—diabetes—then you were
obviously paying attention in health class. Continuing to flood
your bloodstream with high levels of sugar, followed by high levels
of insulin, eventually trains your body to become less efficient at
processing these blood sugars. That’s called insulin resistance,
which is another term for diabetes. It is a terrible, terrible disease—
and it is also highly preventable. In a Harvard study, men
who ate foods with the lowest GIs, like whole-wheat bread, were
37 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate high-
GI foods, such as white rice. For more information on battling diabetes,
see our Health Bulletin on page 50.)
It’s hard to generalize about which carbs are high on the GI
list and which are low, because glycemic index is simply a measure
of time—that is, how long it takes 50 grams of the food’s carbohydrates
to turn into blood sugar, regardless of serving size. It’s
a measure, for instance, of the carb-to-sugar conversion time for a
whole apple or watermelon, but it doesn’t tell you how much carb
is in one serving of the food. Nobody eats a whole watermelon,
That’s why the latest advancement in food science is to look at
a meal’s glycemic load (GL). The GL considers both the GI of a
food and the amount of carbs in one serving of that food. It helps
you gauge the glycemic effect, or the projected elevation of blood
glucose, that food will cause.
The higher a food’s GL, the more it will cause your blood
sugar to spike, and the less control you’ll have over your energy
levels and your appetite. But considering the GL is only one aspect
of creating a balanced diet. “It’s better to have a high-GL
diet than one full of saturated fat,” says Jennie Brand-Miller,
Ph.D., professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney
and author of the International Table of Glycemic Index and
Glycemic Load. “Aiming for the lowest GL possible is not a good
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 69
move because that means you’ll be eating too little carbohydrate
and too much fat—probably saturated fat.” Instead, to maintain
you’re body’s best glycemic response, center your meals around
foods with GLs of 19 or less and shoot for a GL of less than 120
for the whole day.
Sound confusing? It doesn’t need to be. The Abs Diet Powerfoods
and the Abs Diet recipes all have low to moderate glycemic
loads. All you have to do is follow the plan. And on those occasions
when you are stuck and need to choose between two or more foods,
refer to the chart on page 276.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Carbohydrates: A Bad Rap

WITH THE BEATINGS that carbohydrates have taken over the past
few years, it’s a wonder that bread isn’t protected by the Endangered
Species Act. Everywhere I look, I see people eating burgers
without buns, ordering spaghetti and meatballs—hold the
spaghetti—or bragging about their all-bacon-all-the-time diet.
While it’s clear that protein and fat have tremendous nutritional
benefits, it’s unfair—and unhealthy—to kick carbohydrates off the
dietary island.
With more and more evidence showing that a high-carbohydrate
diet helps promote fat storage (unless you run marathons), it’s
becoming more accepted that low-carbohydrate diets work in
helping people control weight. A 2002 study in the journal
Metabolism confirmed that very stance. Researchers at the University
of Connecticut found that subjects who ate only 46
grams of carbohydrates a day—about 8 percent of calories—lost
7 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks. And
they did it while downing a satisfying 2,337 calories a day. But
you can make a major mistake by eliminating carbohydrates entirely.
Many carbohydrates—like fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
and beans—help protect you against cancer and other diseases,
and some carbs contain nutrients like fiber, which helps you
lose and control weight.
Traditionally, the confusion about carbohydrates has centered
around finding ways to classify them and figuring out which ones
66 T H E A B S D I E T
are better for your body. It used to be that we thought of carbohydrates
only by their molecular structure—either simple or
complex. Simple indicates a carb with one or two sugar molecules—
things like sucrose (table sugar), fructose (in fruit), and
lactose (in dairy products). Complex carbohydrates are ones that
include more than two sugar molecules—like pasta, rice, bread,
and potatoes. The flaw is that you can’t generalize and say a carbohydrate
is good or bad for you based simply on its molecular
structure. For example, an apple contains nutrients and helps
keep you lean; sugar does not. Both are simple carbs, but they’re
hardly comparable in nutritional value.
Instead, the way to decide what carbohydrates are best for
you stems from how your body reacts to the carbohydrates chemically.
One of the tools that nutritionists use today is the
glycemic index (GI). The GI assigns numbers to foods that indicate
how quickly a food turns into glucose. High-GI foods—ones
that are quickly digested and turned to glucose—are generally
less nutritionally sound than low-GI choices.
Another term for glucose is blood sugar. The presence of sugar
in your blood causes your body to produce the hormone insulin.
Insulin’s job is to move the sugar you’re not using for energy out
of your bloodstream and store it in your body. Here’s where the GI
comes into effect: Foods with a high GI (like pasta, bread, white
rice, and Snickers bars) are digested quickly, flooding your bloodstream
with sugar. Insulin rushes in and says, “Whoa, what do I
do with all of this?” Whatever glucose isn’t immediately burned
for energy quickly starts getting stored as fat. What’s worse is
that if you eat a carb with a high GI in combination with fat—
bread with butter, for example—none of the fat you eat can be
burned for energy either, because your bloodstream is so flooded
with sugar. Insulin does such a good job of turning this new
blood sugar into fat, in fact, that soon your blood sugar begins
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 67
to drop, and you know what that means: You’re hungry again.
If you eat a meal with a low GI (like a balanced dinner of
chicken, high-fiber vegetables, and brown rice), the food is digested
more slowly. Your blood sugar rises only incrementally, and
that slow digestion means that glucose is available as energy for
hours and hours. That means you have hours and hours to burn
off the blood sugar. Insulin doesn’t need to rush in and turn the
sugar into fat; it can use the sugar slowly for other construction
projects, like building and repairing muscle. Moreover, because
your blood sugar levels stay even, you don’t turn ravenously
hungry just a few hours after eating. You build more muscle, you
store less fat, you have more energy, and you keep your appetite
under control.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Name: Dan Shea
Age: 40
Height: 5'7"
Starting weight: 226
Six weeks later: 207
Dan Shea had seen what happens to a man who doesn’t take charge of his
weight and his health, and he didn’t want it to happen to him. His own dad—a
once-fit airborne ranger who used to be in incredible shape—was now, at age
70, on the verge of losing a foot to diabetes. Shea wanted to plot a different
course: “I want to be skiing when I’m 70,” he says.
But at 40 years old, 5 feet 7 inches, and 226 pounds, Shea knew he had to
make a change—a 60-pound change. He had a 13-year-old daughter he
wanted to watch grow up, and at the rate he was going, he was a heart attack
waiting to happen. So he started the Abs Diet and immediately took to it. He
realized he wasn’t eating enough breakfast and also realized the importance
found in most animal products, and those food products are important
for the Abs Diet for other reasons (the calcium in dairy
products, the protein in meat). But I do want you to consume the
low-fat and leaner versions of meat and dairy products. You want
the nutritional benefit from one part of the food without high
amounts of saturated fat.
Fatty cuts of red meat
Whole-milk dairy products
Polyunsaturated fats: GOOD. There are two types of
polyunsaturated fats: omega-3’s and omega-6’s. You’ve probably
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 63
of eating often—making sure he had a midmorning snack consisting of a
couple of the Powerfoods. “Even though I wasn’t hungry, I ate it,” he says. “It
was like fighting years of dietary knowledge to have that midmorning snack. I
wasn’t hungry yet, but if I hadn’t eaten, I’d have been starving at lunch.”
But his biggest affection is for the Abs Diet smoothies that he makes with lowfat
yogurt, low-fat milk, some fruit, and a scoop of protein powder. “Best damn
thing on the planet, like going to Dairy Queen,” Shea says. “For fun, I’d layer it
with a couple of tablespoons of fat-free, sugar-free whipped topping. My life is
all about smoothies now. It’s my snack of choice—really my meal of choice. If I
could have a blender in my office, I’d have them three times a day.”
Shea lost 19 pounds on the plan and now has made the Abs Diet his regular
eating and nutritional plan as he strives for his goal of 165 pounds. “I look
great, or so my wife tells me. My pants are much looser, and I need a new belt.
I tuck in my shirts now. I walk taller somehow, stand taller. My confidence level
has been boosted. In fact, I had an interview for a position for which I was way
underqualified, yet I was short-listed and came quite close to getting it, based
largely on my strength of presence,” Shea says. “I’ve lost in my gut and butt,
but mainly my man breasts are now less Dolly Parton and more Gwyneth Paltrow.
I know this is a great plan, and I know I’m going to reach my goal. I mean,
I’m in it for the long haul, and this is a plan that is easy to do for the long term.”
heard of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re the fats found in fish, and
a diet high in omega-3’s has been shown to help protect the
heart from cardiovascular disease. That’s plenty enough reason
to include seafood in your diet. But new evidence suggests that
this type of fat can actually help you control your weight. In one
study, subjects who took in 6 grams a day of fish oil supplements
burned more fat during the course of a day than those who went
without. Researchers suspect that a diet high in omega-3’s actually
alters the body’s metabolism and spurs it to burn fat more
Now, you can take fish oil supplements if you want, but you’ll
miss the muscle-building protein benefits of real fish. The fish
with the highest levels of omega-3’s are the fish you probably
enjoy the most already—salmon and tuna, to name two. (To see
where your favorite fish falls in the omega-3 sweepstakes, see the
chart on the opposite page.) In addition to being packed with
heart-healthy, fat-burning omega-3’s, fish is also a great source
of lean, muscle-building protein.
There’s another amazing, secret Powerfood that bodybuilders
know about but you may have never even heard of: flaxseed. Flax
is a seldom-used grain that’s loaded with omega-3’s as well as cholesterol-
busting fiber. You’ll find flaxseeds and flaxseed oil in most
health food stores. Grab it! I keep ground flaxseed in the fridge,
and I toss it on breakfast cereals, into smoothies, and on top of ice
cream. It’s got a mild nutty flavor you’ll like. It crushes cholesterol
with its omega-3’s, it adds artery-scouring fiber to your diet, and
it might just be your best weapon against fat.
Omega-6 fatty acids also help lower bad cholesterol and raise
good cholesterol. They’re found in vegetable oils, meat, eggs, and
dairy products. They’re so common to so many foods, in fact, that
only those of you currently shipwrecked on deserted islands living
off flotsam and jetsam need worry about not getting enough in
your diet.


Multivitamins are good insurance for the day you don’t get the daily maximum
amount of nutrients. Look for one with a concentration of chromium and vitamins
B6 and B12. Chromium improves your body’s ability to convert amino acids
into muscle. A University of Maryland study found that men who exercised regularly
and took 200 micrograms of chromium a day added more muscle and
lost significantly more body fat than lifters not taking the supplement. Also,
since hard workouts deplete your B vitamins, it’s good to find vitamins with high
doses, like Solaray Men’s Golden Multi-Vita-Min, which has megadoses of vitamins
B6 and B12, plus your entire daily allowance of endurance-boosting zinc.
Take control of your trans fat intake. Check the ingredient labels
on all the packaged foods you buy, and if you see PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED
OIL on the label, consider finding an alternative. Even
foods that seem bad for you can have healthy versions: McCains
shoestring french fries, Ruffles Natural reduced-fat chips, Wheatables
reduced-fat crackers, and Dove dark chocolate bars are just
a few of the “bad for you” snacks that are actually free of trans
fats. And remember—the higher up on the ingredients list PARTIALLY
HYDROGENATED OIL is, the worse the food is for you. You might
not be able to avoid trans fats entirely, but you can choose foods
with a minimal amount of the stuff.
The other way to avoid trans fats is to avoid ordering fried
foods. Because trans fats spoil less easily than natural fats and
are easier to ship and store, almost all fried commercial foods are
now fried in trans fats rather than natural oils. Fish and chips,
tortillas, fried chicken—all of it is packed with belly-building
trans fats. Order food baked or broiled whenever possible. And
avoid fast-food joints, where nearly every food option is loaded
with trans fats; drive-through restaurants ought to come complete
with drive-through cardiology clinics.
For more on trans fats—where they come from, how they act
inside your body, and how to fight back, see the Special Report on
page 127. In the meantime:
Fried foods
Commercially manufactured baked goods
Any food with PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL on its list of ingredients
Saturated fat: BAD. Saturated fats are naturally occurring
fats found in meat and dairy products. The problem with saturated
fats is that when they enter your body, they tend to do the
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 61
same thing they did when they were in a pig’s or cow’s body:
Rather than be burned for energy, they’re more likely to be stored
as fat in your flanks, in your ribs, even—ugh—in your loin. In fact,
they seem to have more of a “storage effect” than other fats. A new
study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that the amount
of saturated fat in your diet may be directly proportional to the
amount of fat surrounding your abdominal muscles. Researchers
analyzed the diets of 84 people and performed an MRI on each of
them to measure fat. Those whose diets included the highest rates
of saturated fat also had the most abdominal fat. Saturated fats
also raise cholesterol levels, so they increase your risk for heart
disease and some types of cancer.
I don’t want you to eliminate saturated fats entirely; they’re