The Fat Flush Plan made its debut in 1988 with the book Beyond Pritikin (Bantam). Author Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, a former nutritionist at the Pritikin Longevity Center, created the diet after seeing how poorly many of her clients did with the extremely low-fat Pritikin approach. Her approach focuses on eating the right fats rather than restricting fat, as well as eating the right carbs and proteins. A banner on the book's cover boasts that the diet "melts fat from hips, waist, and thighs in two weeks." It also claims to reshape and detoxify the body. Gittleman's newest book, The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet (Morgan Road Books, 2005), presents a much-compressed version of the program that calls for sipping a purifying "miracle juice" to peel away pounds.

There's nothing wrong with advising people to exercise, get plenty of sleep, and record their daily progress. In fact, these are great overall health and weight-loss strategies. However, it's hard to buy into the whole concept of "fat flushing." Gittleman offers skimpy scientific support and makes some eating and exercise recommendations that sound not only flimsy but downright strange. In the exercise chapter, for example, Gittleman tells dieters to "bounce off fat" on a mini-trampoline to remove those nasty cellulite-like deposits on hips and thighs. If only it were that easy.

Basic principles:

The diet's central focus is the liver, which Gittleman calls a "fat-burning" furnace. According to her, many people have tired, toxic livers. The first phase of the program claims to detoxify the organ and make it healthy. By phase two, dieters are slowly adding back "friendly carbs" like brown rice. In phase three, dairy foods are reintroduced. There are also more choices in the oil and fruit groups. Along with following the eating plan, you're advised to get adequate sleep, keep a journal, and exercise.

How the diet works:

Dieters gradually increase their calorie intake, starting in phase one with 1,100 to 1,200 calories; then 1,200 to 1,500; and finally, in the maintenance phase, 1,500 or more per day. They also follow specific "fat flushing" rules: one protein item per meal, no vegetables and fruits together, no milk and meat together, no water with meals, and so on.

What you can eat:

All three phases include "powerful proteins" such as lean meat, eggs, and fish; "colorful, friendly carbs" such as fruits and vegetables; omega-3-rich fats such as flaxseed and evening primrose oil; spices such as ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon; and "The Long Life Cocktail"-a mixture of cranberry juice, psyllium seed or flaxseed, and H20. Menus are included.

Does the diet take and keep weight off?

Who knows? There are no clinical studies to support the diet's effectiveness, just anecdotes.
Is the diet healthy? Hard to tell. This is another variation on low-carb dieting with some odd food-combining twists thrown in. Without long-term data, it's difficult to give the regimen a thumbs-up.

What do the experts say?

The notion of the liver being a fat-burning furnace that is revved up by eating certain foods "deserves to be flushed," says registered dietitian Jane Kirby, who reviewed the plan for her book Dieting for Dummies (Wiley, second edition, 2003). "There's no science behind this claim. It's just a low-calorie diet. Most people lose weight when calories are cut this low."

Noted weight-loss researcher Judith S. Stern, ScD, RD, concurs: "The liver doesn't need to be detoxified. Give me a break." It's muscle, not the liver, that burns fat. Stern, vice president of the American Obesity Association, says the book offers "pseudoscience." It promises you everything," adds Stern, "but that's all it is-a fantasy."

Who should consider the diet?

No one.

Bottom line:

Fat Flush is just another low-calorie, restricted-carb diet, albeit one based on logic a bit more convoluted than that of other plans out there. Sure, youll lose weight, but thats because youre eating fewer calories, not because your liver is burning fat.
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