Wow, it seems that belly fat is the hot health and wellness topic of the year. Every week in my inbox I get some message advertising the latest diet book, exercise program or dietary supplement that puportedly targets belly fat. Now, I agree that excess fat in the abdominal area poses significant health risks. It is correlated with increased incidence of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and a number of other life-altering conditions. But do these programs and products work?

The Flat Belly Diet by the editors of Prevention Magazine has some efficacy behind its premise. The diet includes more fat than most with the fat coming from mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). There are a few studies that have shown when you replace other fats in your diet with MUFA, you may lose slightly more fat around your mid-section. However this is not definitive. The diet is generally a balanced one and has a reasonable calorie level. Keep in mind, however, that if you expend more calories than you consume on any diet you are likely to lose weight. Actually, a diet that is high in protein with adequate amounts of healthy fats such as the MUFAs (olive oil, sunflower seeds, some nuts, avocado) and whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrates is your best bet. This formula is superior to many others as it helps you lose fat while preserving your calorie-burning furnace — your lean body mass (muscle).

What about exercise? This is a must. However, doing a bunch of crunches may tighten your abdominals but in order to see them you have to lose the fat they’re hiding under. The best way to do this is to follow kj’s Seven Keys to a Healthy Diet and Combine Strength Training With Cardio.

Supplements? There are many that don’t have any science behind them and some that may supplement your program. However they are not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise program. I will write a seperate post on this later. In this article I will include the supplements you may want to take when you are trying to lose weight.