Gut, belly, tummy — whatever you call it, that area seems to have a bull’s eye on it for weight loss. But lately, authors have been focusing on the inner workings of our digestive system to help shape our outward appearance.
It’s refreshing to see books steer away from short-term diets and deprivation and focus more on a holistic approach to overall health with a flatter midsection and weight loss as the side effects of a healthier eating and exercising plan.
Authors are jumping on the belly bandwagon because recent studies have shown that improving your gut flora will help you lose weight, reduce inflammation and have you feeling better overall. Here are a few recent releases that focus on making your midsection happy on the inside and out.
The Latest Gut Health Books
1. The 21-Day Tummy Diet Cookbook (Reader’s Digest Books, $26.99). Reader’s Digest editor Liz Vaccariello developed this plan after she was tired of the gas, bloating and weight gain she had been feeling. Her 21-Day Tummy Diet, released early last year, focuses on soothing foods, including ginger, magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin and chia seeds, and low-FODMAP foods. FODMAPs are Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols — basically short-chain carbohydrates that can cause gastric distress in some people. This cookbook features 150 recipes that play up the belly-friendly foods, such as quinoa, soups and soothing smoothies.
2. The 21-Day Belly Fix (Ballantine Books, $20). Integrative physician Dr. Tasneem Bhatia digs deep into gut issues with this book that posits a clean gut can help with not only weight loss but also issues including autoimmune diseases, skin breakouts and brain fog. Her three-week plan allows your gut to rest, heal, reset and run more efficiently. The book also features 50 gut-friendly recipes including a bunch of tasty-sounding smoothies and green juices, miso bowls and stir-fries. There also is a section on exercise for gut health that features yoga for stress management, core work and strength training.
3. Zero Belly Cookbook (Ballantine Books, $28). After the success of The Zero Belly Diet, which tackles the midsection on the gut flora and inflammatory levels, author David Zinczenko just released a companion cookbook that supports his eating plan that he says targets the hormones that promote belly-fat storage. The plan also fights inflammation, which he says improves digestion and reduces bloating. And, like the other books, this plan aims to get your gut flora back in balance by increasing fiber and nutrients, such as B vitamins, plant protein, healthy fats and spices. Some of the belly-busting recipes include Apple Pie Muffins, Green Tea Poached Salmon and Vegetable Lasagna With Basil-Pecan Pesto — the “noodles” are eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash.
4. The Skinny Gut Diet (Harmony Books, $26). Digestive health expert and certified nutritional consultant Brenda Watson, a favorite on public television, has long sung the praises of a healthy gut in her past half-dozen books. Her latest book hopes to prime your gut for improved weight loss by cutting back on sugar and all its iterations, eating more healthy fats, prebiotics, probiotics, cultured and fermented foods, and protein to balance the gut bacteria. She says healthier gut bacteria will also cut down on food cravings, store less belly fat and even absorb fewer calories from food. The eating plan is pretty varied, but you’ll be cutting out grains and starchy carbs as well as added sugars. The first Get-Lean Phase is a two-week plan that gets your gut in harmony, and the Stay Lean Phase helps cement new habits for a happy belly and weight-loss maintenance. To help you along, there are 126 pages of recipes, including Lemongrass Chicken, Kefir Ice Cream and a whole lot of cabbage recipes!
5. Tighten Your Tummy in 2 Weeks (Rodale Books, $26.99). Ellington Darden is an icon in fitness circles, and his latest book, written under the Women’s Health banner, focuses more on exercise than diet to target and tighten the midsection. It does touch on some of the same topics as the other belly books — inflammation, cortisol control and frequent small meals. But Darden has two weapons in his arsenal — negative-accentuated training and “superhydration.” These two steps are trademarks of Darden’s and were also featured in his last book, The Body Fat Breakthrough. Darden says that by focusing on the negative part of weight training — spending more time getting the weight to the starting position — you’ll stimulate your muscles and hormones to burn more fat. And what about “superhydration”? Basically, you sip ice-cold water all day long, and your body works extra hard to turn your thermostat back up to 98.6. There are loads of exercise variations, workouts, eating plans and tips for success.
How’s your gut health? Ever try kefir or kimchi? —Gail