21-Day Tummy Diet Success Stories

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019

Our testers collectively lost 90 pounds and 29 belly inches in just three weeks on the 21-Day Tummy plan, and improved their digestion too! Read their diet success stories here.

Liz Vaccariello
Steve Vaccariello

Liz Vaccariello
Lost: 10 pounds and 3 1/2 belly inches in 21 days!
Favorite Meals: Tomato-Ginger Flank Steak; Curry-Rubbed Chicken with Fresh Pineapple Chutney; Hearty Roasted Vegetable Soup

The 21-Day Tummy diet works. How do I know?

Because I did it myself and I lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks. More important: I feel 100 percent healthy. My symptoms disappeared almost immediately and I haven’t seen them since! Now that I know what my particular problem foods are, I can avoid them. That way, I remain lean, healthy, and happy: My digestion problems are a thing of the past, and so is that extra pooch.

To round out the experience, I recruited 11 colleagues, friends, and readers to try the diet with me. The grand tally of our weight loss in 3 weeks: 90 pounds! Our testers shed 29 inches collectively from their waists (that’s a lot of belly fat), and every one of them reported improved digestion.

I’m amazed at how great eating this way makes me feel. I’m sleeping like a baby, I’m bounding with energy, my skin has taken on a glow, and I swear my hair is growing faster (is that possible?). But the best part? My digestion is regular, and I don’t feel crampy and bloated anymore. I’ve always eaten healthfully, but this specific combination of high magnesium, low-sugar, high-fiber, and carb-light foods works for my system in a way I’ve never felt before. God willing, I’ve found my solution.

Related: The 7 Best Foods for Your Belly »

Liz Vaccariello
Steve Vaccariello

My advice for following the plan? Embrace the planning and food prep that’s involved in the first weeks of the plan. The results you’ll experience are worth the investment of time and energy. I quickly lost the ten pounds that had crept onto my frame. And I now go through most days without even a hint of the pain and discomfort that had plagued me daily. Here’s to your happy and healthy tummy!

Tummy Testers share their experience on the 21-Day Tummy diet

Rob McMahon
Steve Vaccariello
No more daily heartburn medication!

Rob McMahon, 42
Lost: 19 pounds and 2 1/2 belly inches in 21 days!
Proudest Accomplishments: Dropped more than his goal weight; stopped taking heartburn medication completely
Favorite Recipes: Ginger and Tomato Flank Steak; Tomato Lime Quinoa Salad

At 6’3”, Rob is tall enough to carry his weight well. Most of his colleagues (me included) were surprised to learn that he had extra pounds to lose—but at 233 pounds, his BMI put him on the high end of the “overweight” category. And he was feeling it. He was usually exhausted by day’s end, and the bursitis pain in his right shoulder was flaring up more frequently.

Plus, he had constant, severe heartburn. He had been relying on daily prescription medication to control the symptoms and, previously, when he had tried to wean himself off of it, as soon as he skipped a dose, he felt a lot of discomfort. But on day 1 of the 21-Day Tummy diet, “I stopped taking the medication, and I did not need it once. My acid reflux is completely gone.” Amazing.

Rob almost didn’t try the diet. Because he had several business trips plus a vacation scheduled during the 21-day trial, he wasn’t sure he would be able to follow the plan. But he found it easy to find belly-friendly foods when eating out—and once he started seeing results, it was easy to avoid the temptations offered by his dining companions.

Rob’s goal had been to “start the journey of losing 15 pounds,” but he didn’t necessarily expect to do it all in 21 days. Instead, he blew away his expectations, dropping a whopping 19 pounds—that’s almost a pound a day! “To know that I lost even more than I wanted. . . . I just simply feel better about myself. This plan is giving me more confidence. I have more stamina and less exhaustion by day’s end. I’m sleeping better as well.

“Compared to other diets, the weight loss of the 21-Day Tummy diet was much quicker. Other plans took 3 or 4 months to accomplish what I did here in 3 weeks. I’ve been able to kick the ‘habit’ of eating just to eat, and now I eat when I’m truly hungry—and choose satisfying foods.”

His best advice: “Commit to it 100 percent. It’s easier than you think to reduce portions when you’re eating the right kind of food. If you stick with it, you’ll see results fast—I lost 9 pounds in just the first 5 days.”

Dorothy lightens up, losing 6 1/2 pounds in 21 days

Dorothy Nuzzo
Steve Vaccariello
Lightening—and Lighting—Up at Midlife

Dorothy Nuzzo, 55
Lost 6 1/2 pounds and 2 ¼ belly inches in 21 days!
Proudest accomplishments: Wasn’t tempted by cake; walked farther and faster
Favorite meal: Belly Soother Smoothie

Like many women, Dorothy Nuzzo didn’t like her belly very much. “It was big and in my way all the time,” she complained before she started the 21-Day Tummy meal plan. When she sat, she felt the weight of her stomach pressing up, likely a cause of her frequent gas and heartburn. When she lay down to sleep, she found it tough to roll over. And every pound showed on her petite frame.

After 21-Day Tummy? Heartburn and gas are no longer a part of Dorothy’s life; they are 100 percent gone. Her body aches have decreased, she’s more flexible, and she was able to go from 3.8 miles per hour on the treadmill to 4.5 miles. “I feel much lighter,” she says. “I can move much easier, and I feel much more comfortable in my clothes. I feel that my belly is a lot flatter.”

In addition, she exclaims, “I lost more than 6 pounds, and for someone my size—I’m only 4’10”—that’s a lot of weight. It shows right away.”

The best part? “I was always full. I never felt hungry, and I felt good about eating healthy foods.”

Going out to dinner is Dorothy’s favorite way to relax. She says it wasn’t a problem to stick with the diet in restaurants. “I never cheated. If I saw cake, I didn’t want to eat it because I was full. That was the biggest surprise. I was thrilled by that, actually.” Unlike other diets, on which she lost weight but didn’t feel good, the 21-Day Tummy plan caused her energy levels to soar, her overall well-being to improve, and her self-confidence to fly off the charts. “All in all, I am feeling great!” she proclaims.

The happiest news? Dorothy has learned exactly what foods she should avoid to stay this way. Onions, bread, and soft cheeses like ricotta are among Dorothy’s personal Belly Bullies. “The heartburn and bloating come back big time when I eat them. The diet changed my eating habits and made me much more aware of what I am consuming. I can evaluate if what I am about to eat is worth the calories and/or discomfort.”

Tonya sets a better example for her daughter – and loses 6 pounds

Tonya Carkeet
Steve Vaccariello
Setting an Example by Slimming Down

Tonya Carkeet, 32
Lost 6 Pounds and 4 belly inches in 21 days!
Proudest accomplishments: Trimmed 4 inches from her waist; modeled healthy habits for her daughter; her digestive symptoms and feelings of depression disappeared
Favorite Meal: Curried Chicken Soup

Weight has been a struggle for Tonya Carkeet her whole life. While she would lose a few pounds here and there, they always came back—and then some, especially after she endured a difficult pregnancy and difficult delivery of her daughter, Trista.

Tonya struggled to adjust to life as a working mom. Her weight ballooned to a high of 280 pounds, a number that hit home when she was watching a television show in which “some guys were bugging one of the characters about his weight, and it turned out I weighed more than him. It was devastating.” At that weight, she says, “something always hurt.” Tonya suffered from constant muscle aches, severe heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach pains, and her blood sugar was near diabetic levels.

By the time Trista turned 2, Tonya was finding it exhausting to keep up with her. Plus, “Trista is the first grandbaby in the family, and everywhere we went there were always cameras. I would literally hide from them. I wondered if something were to happen to me, if Trista would even remember what I looked like or if she would be ashamed of me from the few pictures there were. I realized that I was not living the life I wanted and certainly not modeling the legacy that I wanted to pass on to my little girl.”

Tonya began her weight loss journey with the Digest Diet and had lost more than 40 pounds with it when we invited her to try the 21-Day Tummy plan. Despite her success, she was nervous about giving up garlic and onions—“the things (other than butter and fat and sugar and salt) that make food taste good!” To her surprise, she loved the food: “I think the food is amazing. The meals are pretty straightforward and easy to prepare.”

And after 21 days, her heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach pains were completely gone. An unexpected bonus? Her feelings of depression lifted, while her optimism, energy, and self-confidence soared. Best of all was seeing Trista learn to love new, healthy foods. “It’s hard to believe I was content to live the old way for so long,” Tonya says. “I feel better, I look better, and the future is much brighter.”

Her best advice: “Just get back on the plan and move forward if you mess up. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep the focus on your ultimate goal. It took me a long time to get unhealthy; it will take a long time to get back.”

Jonathan kicked a soda habit – and lost 7 1/2 pounds

Jonathan Bogham
Steve Vaccariello
He Kicked a 6-Bottle-a-Day Soda Habit

Jonathan Bigham, 43
Lost 7 1/2 pounds and 1 belly inch in 21 days!
Proudest Accomplishments: Kicking his diet soda addiction; losing his middle-age spread
Favorite Meals: Tomato-Ginger Flank Steak; Berry Good Belly Soother Smoothie

Jonathan Bigham had always been trim and fit. But, he noted, “since I turned 40, I’ve been gaining weight only in the middle, and no matter how far I’d run or how many laps I’d do in the pool, nothing worked.” until the 21-Day Tummy plan, that is. After the plan, he crows, “I feel like I stand taller. I fit into pants that didn’t fi t 3 weeks ago. I’ve moved my belt notch back to where it used to be a couple months ago.”

And he was happily surprised at “how easy it was to actually be able to cook all my meals. And that it didn’t take a huge amount of time.” He was even able to stick to the plan during his family vacation to Disney World, where he toted his own belly-friendly snacks and scouted out restaurant meals that would make his tummy happy in “the happiest place on Earth.”

It helped that his energy levels skyrocketed on the plan. “Two weeks into the plan and I’ve been waking up without the need for an alarm all week.” He also found that vigorous activities such as his regular runs became easier, and his usual bouts of diarrhea and acid reflux completely disappeared. “I no longer dread having to walk the dog every morning,” he says, “and I’m less anxious about looking older than my age or having clothes that are too tight and uncomfortable.”

But perhaps the biggest surprise for Jonathan? “Three weeks ago, I’d have bet $1,000 that I would never be able to go without diet sodas,” he confesses. “I used to drink at least six 20-ounce bottles of diet soda every day. It was just a habit. But I don’t crave it anymore. I haven’t really missed it. Just give me a water, I’m good.” With that change, he’s even saving money on the 21-Day Tummy plan. And he’s looking ahead to “the next three weeks and beyond.”

Having already introduced his family to the delicious 21-Day Tummy recipes, he’s looking forward to helping his wife, who was inspired by his success, to try the plan herself.

His best advice: “Get support. I loved that our group shared their daily experiences and updates, so I knew I wasn’t the only one having the same issues.”

Social Sabrina trims 6 pounds from her tummy

Sabrina Ng
Steve Vaccariello
A Social Butterfly Trims Her Tummy

Sabrina Ng, 31
Lost 6 pounds and 1 1/4 belly inches in 21 days!
Proudest Accomplishments: Her clothes fit better; learning to love exercise; not letting travel derail her progress
Favorite Meals: Curried Chicken Soup; Beef and Red Quinoa–Stuffed Eggplant

Sabrina Ng works in ad sales, so entertaining clients is a big part of her life. In addition, this single gal has an active social life, frequently enjoying dinners with family and drinks with the girls. All of this wining and dining, of course, took a toll on her waistline. And while her digestive symptoms weren’t severe, they were frequent enough to be bothersome: Sabrina suffered from regular abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and acid reflux.

Even though she was ready to make a change, when she first learned what she would need to do on the 21-Day Tummy diet, she was skeptical. With Chinese New year’s coming up the weekend she planned to start, she fretted about how to tell her family she couldn’t feast with them. Then there was Valentine’s Day, when she had to dodge all the candy in the office. And the all-inclusive bachelorette party in the Bahamas, where she knew she would want to “get her money’s worth” of food and drink.

For Sabrina, doing her belly good meant rethinking what it meant to have a good time. It also meant being open to trying new foods and new ways of cooking, as well as learning what appropriate portions were for some of her old favorites. Having never stuck to a strict meal plan before, she found the 21-day plan a challenge at first, but a worthwhile one. “It works!” she exclaims. “I feel so much less bloated after this diet. I love the changes in my belly and in how my clothes fit. There was a pair of pants that I bought before this diet, and I said to myself, ‘If I lose 5 pounds in the next 3 weeks, I’ll keep them, and if I can’t lose the weight, I’ll return them.’ Well, I’m keeping those pants!”

She also found herself “wanting to run—even while on vacation!” And her digestive issues vanished, except on the few occasions she veered off the plan and had some fried foods. Having lost 6 pounds despite all of these dieting challenges, she is motivated to keep eating the 21-Day Tummy way, thanks to her new attitude.

Her best advice: “Try new foods and enjoy cooking! This plan will definitely make you feel better day to day.”

Gregg sheds 11 1/2 pounds in 3 weeks

Greg Roth
Steve Vaccariello
More Athletic and Happier in 3 Weeks!

Gregg Roth, 47
Lost 11 1/2 pounds and 4 1/2 belly inches in 21 days!
Proudest Accomplishments: Trimmed his tummy more than any other tester; learned to make healthy choices when eating out.
Favorite meals: Mustard-Rubbed Pork Chops; Belly Soother Smoothie

Gregg Roth is now feeling much more athletic. With his 21-Day Tummy, he reports, “I am able to play basketball a lot easier. I feel lighter on my feet and have less pain in my joints. I have more energy, and I feel less sluggish. I’m sleeping much better, too.” It’s amazing what a difference dropping 11 pounds can make!

Plus, he says, “This diet was much better for digestion than other diets I’ve done. My digestion definitely improved. I was in Florida for 5 days and went off the plan, and I could tell there was a huge difference in my digestive system. Let’s just say it was a gas thing. That went away as soon as I went back on the plan.”

After that experience, Gregg learned how to stick with the plan even while traveling. He learned he could always stick with a few basic meals and how to substitute belly-friendly ingredients when a restaurant didn’t have a specific dish. Now he’s in the habit of making healthy choices everywhere. “When I’m out at a restaurant, instead of picking the cheeseburger with fries, I’m getting vegetable main dishes and lean proteins and things like that.”

Not a cook himself, Gregg was nervous about trying new foods and recipes. Luckily, his wife was willing to help him with a lot of the cooking, but it was still a challenge. It’s one he’s glad he took up, though. “My health is much better than 3 weeks ago,” he reports. “I’m just happier all around, and I want to hold on to that. You have to be prepared to put in some time, but the results are worth it.”

His best advice: “Be prepared to put in a little time to shop and prepare meals. The results are worth it.”

Lauren learned to love cooking

Lauren Weiss
Steve Vaccariello
She learned to love cooking!

Lauren Weiss

As a single girl in the city, Lauren was happy to have an active social life . . . but not so happy with how active her tummy was in response! With a “really easily upset stomach,” Lauren regularly suffered from bloating, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and “really bad heartburn.” Still, she almost dropped out of the program before she even started because the cooking and shopping seemed too overwhelming. But she needed to make a real change in her lifestyle. And so she did! After 21 days, her symptoms had all faded, plus she had made a good start on weight loss, dropping 5 pounds and 2 inches from her waist.

Q: How was the 21-day Tummy diet different from other diets you’ve tried?
A: My last diet was just counting calories and exercising. This diet helped me change my eating and taught me how to think about it, instead of just moderating food.

Q: What’s changed since you started the diet?
A: The biggest change for me has been eating a healthy breakfast. The smoothies started me off the right way each morning, and I wasn’t hungry quickly after them. And they were easy, which I need.

Q: What did you think about the recipes?
A: At first the recipes were kind of daunting because I don’t normally use all those different spices. But once I tried them, I noticed that the food tasted a lot better than the processed food I was used to—and without adding a bunch of calories. There’s lots of really easy meals and sides I can make quickly after work, or make in a big batch and have for lunch all week.

Her best advice: “Learn the substitutions and plan ahead for eating out by checking the menu (online), eating wisely the whole day, and resisting temptations once you’re at the restaurant.”

Adrienne breaks through a weight-loss plateau

Adrienne Farr
Steve Vaccariello
She broke a weight-loss plateau!

Adrienne Farr

Before learning about the 21-Day Tummy plan, Adrienne had already lost more than 60 pounds on the Digest Diet. So she knew a thing or two about how to trim her waistline. But her weight loss had slowed, and she was experiencing stomach pain, bloating, and nausea 3 or 4 days a week. On the 21-Day Tummy plan, she dropped 6 1/2 pounds and 3 inches from her waist, and her digestive symptoms almost completely disappeared.

Q: What surprised you about this diet?
A: I had no idea that onions and garlic cause problems with your digestive tract if you’re sensitive to them. I’ve always heard that both of those things were good and healthy so that was very, very shocking to me. I figure it must be true because I haven’t eaten any of those [Belly Bully] foods in three weeks and my digestion issues are so much better and my belly doesn’t feel bloated.

Q: What was one of your favorite parts of this diet?
A: It’s not all about the weight. It’s about how you feel and it’s about taking care of your digestion. I had been feeling discouraged about how little weight I was losing so it was a breakthrough when I realized that it had been a long time since I’d had a cramp or felt bloated.

Q: What did you think of the recipes?
A: I loved them. They weren’t that hard, either. I feel like I was in and out of the kitchen a lot of times in like, a half an hour. The Lemony Salmon, Potato, and Dill Bake was my favorite; I made that for my mother, who usually eats a lot of unhealthy stuff like macaroni and cheese, and she loved it.

Her best advice: “Pay attention to how you feel and don’t worry about the number on the scale. Once when I was almost done with the 21 days, I had a hard day. On top of that, a friend brought over pizza as a peace offering—now that’s temptation. I had to freeze it so I wouldn’t eat it. I looked in the mirror and I liked the changes I saw, so I decided to have tea instead. Ain’t easy, but the discipline was worth it.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest