Through the help of the SparkPeople.com Flat Belly Diet team members, I sent off some questions about the diet to Prevention magazine editor and Flat Belly Diet author Liz Vaccariello. Here's the Q&A:
Q. Is there a point at which adding the MUFAs raises the percent of fats too high? Nutrition guidelines suggest your fat intake be something like 20% to 30%. When I follow the diet I seem to be consuming almost 40% or more of my calories from fat....Of course I'm trying to eat less than the recommended 1,600 calories so maybe my fat ratios are too high.
LIZ: Well, first of all, I must congratulate you on your interest in nutrition! For women over the age of 18, the recommended intake of total dietary fat is between 20% and 35% of total calories, according to the Institutes of Medicine, but studies have shown that diets can be healthy if they contain up to 40% calories from fat, especially if the fat sources are healthful. On average the Flat Belly Diet provides about 35% of calories from fat, mostly in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of many different types of disease. Consuming more of this healthful fat as part of your daily calories can actually help you stay on the plan because fat keeps you feeling full and satisfied in between meals.
In regards to your last note — that you're consuming fewer calories than the diet recommends — I would discourage this. It is very difficult to fulfill all your nutrient needs on a diet containing 1500 calories or fewer, and it's even harder to get enough MUFA. If you are cutting portion sizes of carbohydrates and protein, your fat ratio will indeed be higher. If you are absolutely certain that 1600 calories is too much for you to lose weight safely, I'd advise cutting a snack pack in half, rather than trying to shave calories from individual meals. It's easier to maintain the correct balance of nutrients that way.