What is it?

Developed by nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, The Fat Flush Plan combines weight loss and detoxification into a low-carbohydrate, restricted-calorie diet. Gittleman, who has a PhD in holistic nutrition, developed the diet after working at the Pritikin Longevity Center, where she observed that many of her clients had minimal success on the center's extremely low-fat diet. She introduced the idea of "fat flush" in her 1988 book Beyond Pritikin. The theory behind the diet is that the liver is a "fat-burning furnace" and the right combination of foods and a specific eating schedule will increase metabolism and cause the body to burn fat efficiently. But first the liver and lymphatic system must be detoxified for optimal functioning. There are three phases to The Fat Flush Plan:

  • Phase 1: This is the detox phase. It calls for eight glasses of a cranberry juice and water mixture per day to reduce water retention. Caloric intake is restricted to 1100-1200, and wheat and dairy products are prohibited.
  • Phase 2: Designed for continued weight loss, this ongoing phase slightly raises the caloric allowance and allows certain carbohydrates to be slowly added back into the diet.
  • Phase 3: Called "The Lifestyle Eating Plan," this phase is designed for lifetime weight control. It, again, slightly raises the caloric allowance and adopts a diet ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Limited dairy consumption is allowed.

Exercise is also an important part of The Fat Flush Plan. The first two phases call for 20- to 30-minute walks five times per week and 100 jumping jacks per day on a mini-trampoline. In the third phase, exercise is increased and strength training (using weights) is added. Keeping a daily diet journal is also part of the plan.

Those who wish to try out The Fat Flush Plan can buy kits containing various supplements that are part of the diet.

The Promise

The Fat Flush Diet promises to cleanse the liver, which, in theory, will help melt fat and cellulite away from the waist, hips and thighs. The diet also promises increased energy and metabolism, mood stabilization, and better sleep, as well as "rapid weight loss" during the initial two-week phase and healthier weight loss and management for a lifetime.

Pros & Cons

The diet emphasizes healthy foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, fiber-rich fruits, and healthy oils. Fat Flush also promotes an active lifestyle through regular exercise, which is obviously a good thing, and there are plenty of positive testimonials from people who have enjoyed varying degrees of success—from weight loss to disease control.

Because of the regimented schedule and strict food restrictions (especially in the first two phases), this diet takes an enormous amount of discipline and is difficult to maintain. The caloric allowances are particularly low, especially in conjunction with the exercise requirements. Eating out is virtually impossible, and following the diet plan is costly because of the expensive supplements it requires.

Healthline Says

First of all, as a rule, we tend to shy away from eating plans that eliminate entire categories of food. We like balance in our healthy lives, especially when it comes to food. Regardless of that, we have to admit that we're a little confused by this diet. Gittleman apparently gained inspiration for this diet by seeing numerous people fail on a strict, low-fat diet, so she created a strict, low-calorie diet and threw in an intense workout regimen and a daily journal assignment? Our confusion aside, there's little doubt that if you cut your calories nearly in half and complete 30 to 45 minutes of exercise five days a week, you're going to lose weight.

But it's going to take some serious self-discipline, because lower calories mean less energy to exercise, and extremely rapid weight loss can increase risks for gallstones, electrolyte imbalances, and malnutrition. In addition, any weight you lose on a strict diet is likely not all coming from fat, and you may be risking losing valuable muscle mass along the way.

As with most fad diets, the Flat Flush Plan highlights convoluted science and gimmicky logic to sell its products (and Gittleman's books) and doesn't really explain the basic truth of the diet — that any plan involving lower calories and increased exercise is going to cause weight loss. Critics of The Fat Flush Plan have pointed out that there is no credible evidence that proves "detoxing" the liver results in weight loss or that the liver has anything to do with weight loss. Experts also warn that mixing supplements with certain medications can be a dangerous recipe for some dieters. And that leads us to Healthline's Rule #1 of dieting: Consult your health care provider before making any changes to your eating or exercise routine.

There's no doubt this diet works in the short run. If your doctor gives you the "OK," if you are starving for some drill-sergeant discipline in your life, and if you've got some extra cash to spend, you can give this one a try. But even then, you should skip Phase 1 and 2 and go straight to Phase 3. A two-week juice fast is never healthy.

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