The basis of the Flat Belly Diet is healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs. The diet’s mantra is “a MUFA at every meal,” because MUFAs help burn belly fat, according to the diet’s creators. Nuts and seeds, olives, avocados, dark chocolate and most vegetable oils contain MUFAs. Almonds are a good MUFA source, and the diet incorporates almonds and almond butter into its meals and snacks. Almond milk is also acceptable on the Flat Belly Diet.
Why MUFAs Are Healthy
Your body makes most of the cholesterol it needs, but when you consume too much cholesterol in the form of unhealthy saturated and trans fats, it clogs your bloodstream and leads to heart disease. It also increases abdominal fat that may surround your vital organs. Saturated fat makes up 11 to 12 percent of calories consumed by Americans, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Replacing as little as 5 percent of those calories with MUFAs, including almonds, will have a significant impact on your health. MUFAs are “healthy fats” and instead of increasing cholesterol levels, they “clean up” the excess cholesterol and carry it to your liver for disposal.
Almond Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk
The obvious difference between almond milk and cow’s milk is that almond milk is not a dairy product. It has no lactose and no saturated fat. It has no cholesterol to contribute to the dangerous visceral fat the Flat Belly Diet fights. Almond milk is a good choice if you have gluten or casein allergy. It is plant-based, and so it is also appropriate for vegetarians and vegans. Unsweetened almond milk has 50 fewer calories than an equivalent amount of skim dairy milk and more than 110 fewer than whole milk. On the Flat Belly Diet, each of your four meals should be about 400 calories and have no unhealthy fats -- as far as calories go, almond milk is a better choice for this particular diet.
What to Watch Out For
Skim milk contains no fat but does have 5 grams of cholesterol; unsweetened almond milk contains 2.5 grams of fat and no cholesterol. The Flat Belly Diet does not limit healthy fat except in terms of calories, and MUFAs, like saturated and trans fats, contain 9 calories per gram. Too much of a good thing -- almond milk -- may put you over the Flat Belly Diet calorie limit. Also, compared to dairy milk, almond milk contains very little natural calcium, so look for it fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Fortification brings the calcium/vitamin D content to a level similar to cow’s milk. If you make your own almond milk, you must get your calcium from other sources.
Make Your Own
Almond milk has a long history, and people have made it for centuries. Making it requires a blender, a strainer and cheesecloth. To make unsweetened almond milk, use raw, blanched almonds, without the skin. Cover them with water and soak overnight. Strain them and put them in the blender with fresh water. Blend the almonds into a paste, then add more water and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth to strain. If you prefer to sweeten the almond milk, add vanilla and honey or maple syrup while it is still in the paste stage. You can also flavor the milk by adding a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon. It will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator.
Almond milk can be substituted for regular milk in any recipe.
- Flat Belly Diet!; Liz Vaccariello
- YOU on a Diet; Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz
- Silk.com: Unsweetened Almond Milk, Nutrition
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Milk, Non-Fat, With Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D
- Harvard University Health Services: Calcium Content of Common Foods in Common Portions