An ABSolutely Great Way to Lose Weight, Gain Muscle and Feel Great

By Melissa Conroy 

For the aspiring dieter, there are literally hundreds of diets out there and many of them are frankly wacky: the cabbage soup diet, the drinking man’s diet, the master cleanse diet, the grape jelly and the parsnips diet. OK, I made that last one up, but beyond the land of crazy fads, there are also doctor-approved diets that have made their rounds through the media. A decade ago, low fat was all the rage. A few years ago, carbs suddenly became taboo as the Atkins diet reigned. However, as nearly everyone who follows some sort of diet realizes eventually, most diets simply don’t work long-term. The rising rates of obesity in the U.S. certainly testify to this truth. 

Luckily, there are some diet plans that are effective long-term and offer sensible, livable plans to help people lose weight, get fit and stay that way. One of the best diet books on the market today is The Abs Diet. Written by David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, this information-packed book is an excellent guide for people who are ready to finally discover their abs and improve their health. 

The Abs Diet plan covers two areas: diet and exercise. For both topics, Zinczenko has an abundance of information to offer, delving into topics such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high-fructose corn syrup. The focus of the book is not merely on whittling your waist down but also reducing your chances of back injury, cancer, heart attack and a variety of other conditions. 

One of the best aspects of the abs diet is that it doesn’t deprive you of food. In fact, the diet calls for you to eat six times a day and cautions you against becoming too hungry or going too long without food. The abs diet is centered on what Zinczenko calls the “power foods” which he explains in a nifty acronym.

  • Almonds and nuts
  • Beans and legumes
  • Spinach and other green vegetables 
  • Dairy products (low in fat)
  • Instant unsweetened oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Turkey and lean meat           
  • Peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Whole-grain bread and cereal
  • Extra-protein whey powder (for shakes and smoothies)
  • Raspberries and other berries 

These power foods have been chosen for their abilities to: fight cancer, strengthen bones, build muscle, lower blood pressure, encourage weight loss, strengthen the immune system and fight heart disease. While many diet books can make you feel guilty about eating anything at all, The Abs Diet unabashedly celebrates food, pointing out how the power foods and many others are like bullets against all sorts of illnesses and diseases.


This doesn’t mean that you are limited to just these 12 foods, but that most of your meals should be based on them. The point is, the abs diet allows for a great variety in the foods you eat, so there is no need to feel deprived. Plus, the diet calls for you to splurge on whatever you want at one meal each week. Now, tell me that isn’t a diet plan you can live with! 

The second focus of the book is on exercise, specifically strength-building. The book actually doesn’t put much focus on cardiovascular exercise, good news for those of you who hate sweating it out on a stair-stepper. There are two weekly sessions of light cardiovascular exercise built into the exercise component, but they are labeled as optional. Instead, the focus is on strength training and for many good reasons. For one, muscles consume a tremendous amount of fuel: someone with developed muscle tone will burn more calories day-to-day than someone without much muscle mass. For another, well-developed muscles (especially the abs themselves) help prevent injuries such as back strain. When it comes to losing weight, getting fit and looking fabulous, a pair of dumbbells are simply going to do the job better than a treadmill. To help you gain that crucial muscle mass, The Abs Diet outlines a detailed, clearly-explained weight lifting program and provides pictures of all the exercises so that even a beginning weight lifter can follow the plan with ease. 

Although The Abs Diet is one of the absolute best books on exercise, nutrition and weight loss available, it contains a few minor drawbacks. For one, the original 2004 edition is geared more toward men, although women can follow the book just as well as men. (Note: The Abs Diet for Women came out in 2007). The weight lifting plan outlined in the book is rather lengthy: each session has 11-14 different exercises and the book calls for you to complete the entire circuit twice, which can easily take an hour to accomplish and may be too much for novice weight lifters. A simple solution to this is to do only one circuit until you build up enough endurance. Finally, some of the power foods can be a little pricey: a measly six-ounce container of raspberries can cost as much as a pound of good-quality apples. However, the abs diet is certainly one of the cheaper diet plans on the market, considerably less expensive than buying all the pounds of meat you will need to follow a low-carb diet. Plus, when you consider that a pack of blueberries may keep you from contracting gigantic cancer-related medical bills, a few extra dollars on your grocery budget doesn’t look that expensive.    

Visible ab muscles, increased energy and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease: all this can be yours if you eat the right foods and follow the right exercise routine. Lucky for us, David Zinczenko has explained just how to do this. If this is the year that you’ve made a resolution to get into better shape and live a healthier lifestyle, The Abs Diet is one of the best guides you can find.


Melissa gets her exercise by practicing Japanese swordfighting, lifting weights and chasing her basset hound, Erasmus. She can be reached at [email protected]

Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.