21-Day Tummy: Your Weight-Loss Questions, Answered!

To celebrate the release of 21-Day Tummy, our new diet and weight-loss book, I hosted a Facebook chat with co-author Kate Scarlata, RD, to answer your most interesting questions about the breakthrough plan.

Steve Vaccariello
Is this an actual weight loss tool…or just tummy flattening due to reduction of bloat? —Jackie C.

It’s a weight-loss plan, yes. Certainly you will lose some water weight, as you do on the first few days of any weight-loss plan. And your belly will flatten because there will not be any of that excess gas that gets trapped in the GI tract after eating non-digestible FODMAPs. But in addition the absence of water and air, you will lose body fat as well. —Liz

Related: How the 21-Day Tummy plan works »

Is this new 21-Day Tummy Diet program basically the same as the original Digest Diet program? If it is different, then in what basic way is it different? Which one of the two will I lose more fat weight? Thank you for your answer. I believe in your program. —Mimi A.

Great question. It is not the same as the Digest Diet. The Digest Diet is an overall healthy weight-loss plan. The 21-Day Tummy was specifically designed to be a two-for-one plan that soothes digestive issues (gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn) while at the same time leads to weight loss and belly fat loss specifically. Test panelists lost weight on both plans, but the 21 Day Tummy test panelists also experienced belly soothing. —Liz

Related: Watch 21-Day Tummy success videos »

I was doing great with your first book..lost 12 pounds! But I couldn’t stay focused…started cheating! What advice can you give to go all the way to my goal? —Margie S.

Sometimes a new plan is the fresh start you need. But I will say this too: If you slip up, forgive yourself immediately. The next meal, the next day, the next week: They are all opportunities for fresh starts. My hope for you is that you find a way to eat that can sustain and nourish you for the rest of your life. —Liz

You might find the 21-Day Tummy plan, with new recipes and approach, to motivate you in a new way to lose weight. The testers that tried the diet were successful with the plan, felt energized, and flattened their bellies! —Kate

Related: 6 delicious recipes to lose weight and help digestion »

Can this diet help with IBS? —Tami P.

We include the low FODMAP diet as one of the key principles to the 21-Day Tummy—this is an evidence-based diet that helps manage symptoms in 75 percent of those with IBS. —Kate

How long does this diet take to find relief for IBS? —Noelle P.

You may find that IBS symptoms improve in a day or two on the plan. —Kate

Can you please give a brief list of the foods that are eliminated/added? Thank you. —Susan K.

Here are the 7 Best Foods for Your Belly, which we call “belly buddies,” and also the 7 Worst Foods for Your Belly, the “belly bullies.” —RD

Is it low in carbs? —Tami P.

We include healthy carbs in just the right balance—to keep you energized and NOT moody!! —Kate

21 day tummy book
Reader’s Digest Association
How can I obtain calcium in foods? —Carla T.

Carla, we include calcium-rich chia seeds, kale, fortified rice, coconut milk, and low-fat cheese for bone-boosting calcium. —Kate

One of the happy surprises for me was that chia seeds (which are high in magnesium) are also very high in calcium. —Liz

Related: 11 calcium-rich foods that are natural fat-burners »

If I’m avoiding seeds, nuts, and grains for non-FODMAP reasons, do you have other fiber suggestions that still work? —Lora W.

Raspberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, blueberries, potatoes with skin, and green beans to name a few. —Kate

Do you have any advice to mothers who have a “pooch?” —Tiff P.

First of all, congratulations on the most important thing: You’re a mom! The 21-Day Tummy will target that dangerous visceral belly fat in and around our internal organs. The MUFAS (healthy fats) have been shown to do that in particular. —Liz

Include some exercise along with the diet to help firm and trim excess weight too. —Kate

Related: 4 food rules for better gut health »

Before having four babies I had a flat tummy, but after pregnancies my tummy with belly button looks like a sad face. Will I ever get a flat tummy with diet and exercise? —Manjula P.

Four babies! What a blessing. Yes, it is absolutely possible. You must find the eating and exercise lifestyle that takes off weight (so you shed any extra layers of fat on top of your abdominal muscles), while doing core and ab work to strengthen and flatten those muscles. A word to new moms: Sleep is essential to fat loss. When we don’t get enough sleep, our cortisol levels go up and cortisol (the stress hormone) makes our bodies store any extra calories that we eat as fat. So be good to yourself! Get the nutrition AND REST that you need. (I know: easier said that done.) —Liz

Related: 1-minute workouts that work »

Even lactose-free dairy gives me an upset stomach. Any ideas why that might be? I miss dairy. —Kari R.

You might have an issue with casein (protein) in milk instead of the sugar component (lactose); or other chemicals in dairy foods can contribute to slugging down the intestine—and seem to contribute to constipation in some people. —Kate

What do you think about apple cider vinegar? Help or not so much? —Karla D.

Not really. We will say: Unfiltered apple cider vinegar we would not allow on the diet, because the particles probably have FODMAPs in them. —Liz

Can I eat the soup in the morning and at night? —Carla T.

Depends on the phase—but try to include the Belly Soother Smoothie —Kate

My questions are about snacking. I have my smoothie at 7am and [am] hungry by 10. Is there something safe to snack on, and would there be anything considered unlimited on the 21-Day Tummy? —Nancy M.

I might nosh on a handful of carrot sticks or bell-pepper strips. —Kate

What are some tips to promote regulatory and stomach health overall naturally? —Tiff P.

Chia seeds add a great source of magnesium and belly soothing fiber. Both great for stomach health. —Kate

Let me chime in to vouch for the soothing effects of regular exercise! Walking (moving) regularly throughout the day, every day, keeps everything moving. —Liz

Learn more about the plan and buy the book at 21DayTummy.com or wherever books are sold.

Note: Some language from our Q&A was edited for length and clarity.

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Liz Vaccariello
Liz Vaccariello is the Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine, the 2.2 million rate-base title. In addition, she is currently the Group Editorial Director for Parents Latina and Meredith's lifestyle titles including Shape, Real Simple, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, and Health. Vaccariello has led many of the media industry's most recognizable brands, developing content across print, digital and social channels. Prior to joining Meredith, Vaccariello held numerous executive editorial roles including serving as the Chief Content Officer for Reader's Digest. She has also served as Editor-in-Chief of Rachael Ray Every Day; Editor-in-Chief of Prevention; Executive Editor of Fitness; and Editor-in-Chief of Cleveland Magazine. Vaccariello regularly appears on national broadcast media including The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, and Dr. Oz. She is the author of nine best-selling books, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Flat Belly Diet! She has received numerous awards and honors over her distinguished career and is a frequent speaker at major summits presented by the MPA, Folio, MIN, and Digiday among others. Vaccariello, who is the parent of twin daughters, earned a BA in Communications with Distinction from the University of Michigan and lives in New Jersey with her family.