"The Abs Diet" is a book written by Dave Zinczenko, the current Editor-in-Chief of "Mens Health magazine." Although the ultimate goal of the Abs Diet® is to help individuals define their abdominal muscles, Zinczenko encourages individuals to adopt eating patterns and a lifestyle that are conducive to achieving physical fitness. Exercises focusing on the abdominal muscles are combined with eating patterns to assist adherents in losing weight.
While the title of Zinczenko's book implies that adherents will develop all of the abdominal muscles in suggested exercises, the focus is actually on developing the rectus abdominis muscles. The development of these muscles is a key component of the exercises, including abdominal muscle crunches, in this diet. This muscle group runs in four equidistant parallel lines on both sides of the anterior abdomen.
As the editor of "Men's Health" magazine, Zinczeno has been able to attract considerable attention for his eating plan. The diet's eating and exercise plan is based on the American popular culture conception that defined abdominal muscles may render a male more sexually attractive.
"The Abs Diet" is written to appeal to health and appearance-conscious young and middle-aged men.
The Abs Diet® encourages people to eat a balanced diet as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), rather than eliminating commonly accepted principles of nutrition to lose weight. However, no higher quality studies have been conducted on the efficacy of the Abs Diet® to help the patient achieve a state of physical fitness or to lose weight.
The goal of the Abs Diet® is to achieve lifelong weight loss. However, the immediate focus of the diet is to increase the physical prominence of the rectus abdominis muscles.
Many of the "power foods" are high in fiber. Daily intake of 3 grams of soluble fiber from oats or 7 grams of soluble fiber from psyllium has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. A diet high in soluble fiber may reduce total serum cholesterol and LDL ("bad cholesterol") by as much as 15%. By forming a gel, water soluble fibers may stay in the stomach longer and help slow food absorption. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized food companies to use a health claim for soluble fiber from both psyllium and oats. For example, the new claim for psyllium states, "Soluble fiber from foods with psyllium husk, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
There is extensive scientific evidence suggesting that regular exercise offers major health benefits. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the failure to exercise regularly is a significant precursor to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Exercising on a regular basis is one of the most inexpensive and easiest measures a person can take in order to reduce their risk and/or delay the onset of serious illnesses. In general, the type and intensity of exercise performed is not necessarily as important as simply completing the exercise. However, the increased prominence of abdominal muscles is apparently a desired result of specific exercises in the Abs Diet® .
A 2006 article in "The American Journal of Nursing" reviewed a series of popular weigh loss and diet strategies. The article found that controlling portion size was a crucial element of diet success. Further, the article stressed the importance of the patient's dedication to behavioral change necessary to sustain long-term changes in exercise and eating routine.
A 2007 article in the "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" stated that treatment of obesity requires the physician and patient to tackle diet, physical activity, and behavioral issues. In some cases, medication and surgical treatments not discussed in the Abs Diet® may be warranted.
A 2007 article in "The Journal of Nutrition" found that an increase in energy use by exercise and a decrease in caloric intake (through an eating routine such as the one described in "The Abs Diet") improves the body's glucose tolerance and insulin action. Such changes in the body metabolism may stave off obesity and pre-diabetes.
"The Abs Diet" advocates consuming 12 "power foods," which are thought to promote weight loss, build muscle, regulate blood pressure, strengthen bone, prevent heart disease, improve immune functioning, and fight cancer. Followers of this diet build meals and snacks around these foods. This diet recommends that two or three of these foods be incorporated into every major meal, and at least one of them be incorporated into every snack. These "power foods" include nuts, beans and legumes, green vegetables, low fat dairy products, oatmeal, eggs, lean meats, peanut butter, olive oil, whole wheat grains and cereals, whey powder, and berries.
"The Abs Diet" book and website includes recipes as well as healthier alternatives to popular American snack foods. For instance, almonds baked at low temperature with canola oil may be substituted for microwave popcorn.
This diet suggest that readers eat three meals and three snacks a day to "provide the body with continuous energy."
Like most recent diets, the Abs Diet® does not advocate counting calories. Rather, adherents are encouraged to practice portion control and eat the "power foods."
Excessive consumption of alcohol is not encouraged because it increases caloric intake and may inhibit the body's ability to burn fat.
The reader is encouraged to eat whatever they want for one meal a week as a reward for abiding by the diet plan.
The Abs Diet® website and book series directs its readers to engage in strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and abdominal muscle exercises nearly every day of the week. The exercises are done in a circuit format, where the reader exercises continuously through a series of different movements.
The Abs Diet® book series and webpage is aimed at individual readers. However, people who choose the Abs Diet may pay a fee to participate in the online community. A newsletter is also available through the "Men's Health" magazine webpage.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.