Total Health first met Ann Louise Gittleman in the fall of 1995.


Ann Louise began contributing a column, “Eye on Women’s Health,” in the January 1996 issue. Since then, as an associate editor, marketing consultant, sounding board and friend she has been an invaluable asset to the growth of the publication over the past six years. Ann Louise was also a catalyst for the totalhealth Resource Guide to Health and Sustainability in Time of Crisis which appeared in response to the cascade of events beginning on 9/11/2001. She is also a contributor to the totalhealth Resource Guide to Essential Fatty Acids.

Ann Louise holds a master’s degree in nutrition education from Columbia University and is a certified nutrition specialist. She has appeared on such television shows as “Good Morning America,” “Good Day New York,” and on the PBS and CNN networks. She has also been featured by Newsweek, Harper’s Bazaar, Family Circle, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Gittleman’s advice for women is prominently featured on iVillage. Her books include The Living Beauty Detox Plan, Before the Change, Beyond Pritikin, and Eat Fat, Lose Weight. Her most recent book, The Fat Flush Plan (McGraw Hill) reached both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists almost immediately.

In his forward to The Fat Flush Plan, Barry Sears, Ph.D., author of The Zone and Anti-Aging Zone, states “ . . .this book is far more than simply a diet book. The only way to live a longer and better life is to control the hormones generated by the food we eat. Do we have all the answers yet? No, but this book represents a step in the right direction as we continually seek new information. Ann Louise’s Fat Flush Plan is dietary common sense for all the right reasons—it is balanced, it is a program you can stay on safely for life and it works.

“If you follow the recipes in this book, you will never be hungry and deprived, even though you are restricting your calories, because you are now controlling your hormones (insulin in particular) with laser-like precision. In the final analysis, what is going on in your body is incredibly complex, but how to orchestrate it is pretty easy as long as you are consistent and follow the basic dietary rules outlined by Ann Louise.”

We caught up with Ann Louise early in the morning at her office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho prior to a full day of radio health show interviews.

TH: Ann Louise, Dr. Barry Sears states that your fat flush plan is “dietary common sense for all the right reasons—it is balanced, it is a program you can stay on safely for life and it works.” I recently read a magazine in the health field that carried 39.5 pages of diet advertising, most of which promised enormous weight loss, some as much as 40 pounds in a few weeks without the need to alter one’s eating or exercise habits. With over 50 percent of our population experimenting with weight loss program at one time or another, what does the consumer need to know about choosing a diet?

ALG: If you’re like most people, you’re probably thoroughly confused when it comes to choosing a weight loss plan. You’ve been bombarded by new miracle diets, yet constantly alerted to the health risks associated with these fads. Are carbs bad? Is a high-protein diet good? How much fat is really healthy? Should you follow the Mediterranean diet or the Asian Diet? There are no quick fixes. An intelligent weight loss program should combine common sense and sound science. It should show you how to shed unwanted pounds while actually improving your health. Whether a first time dieter or someone who has had varying levels of success on other programs, it should provide the tools both to achieve your goals and maintain an acceptable weight throughout your lifetime.

TH: How did The Fat Flush Plan evolve?

ALG: As a nutritionist always on the lookout to identify and correct metabolic and nutritional imbalance, I have searched beyond the conventional answers to uncover the root causes of unexplained weight gain. Thankfully, my investigative nature paid off. Years of hands-on experience and avidly following the latest research studies and diet trends led me to insights into lasting weight control.

The year 2000 marked the beginning of the new millennium but also the birth of the expanded and complete Fat Flush Plan—a quick and easy way to erase those pockets of fat that bother us the most. That year was also when iVillage, the most popular women’s health site on the Internet, approached me to be a guest expert on its Diet and Fitness channel. Honored to be a part of the leading Web site on women’s issues, I introduced an early version of a diet plan called the Two-Week Fat Flush—the one I had used with my personal clients for 15 years and which initially appeared as a brief chapter in my first book, Beyond Pritikin.

Suddenly people from every walk of life began to resonate to the concept of fat flush. In fact, fat flush received so many positive reviews within its first four months, along with over 400,000 hits monthly, that it soon became one of the leading traffic drivers of the Diet and Fitness channel.

The media picked it up and dubbed this initial diet blueprint the “Internet Miracle Diet.” Since then the Fat Flush Message Board on iVillage has become one of the most popular diet and fitness boards in the history of the Web—a fact which continues to amaze and intrigue me.

Magazines followed suit, featuring my rapid weight loss diet. Women’s World made fat flush its cover story in the early spring of 2000 as well as in January and February of 2001. First for Women also featured an adaptation of my diet on the cover, including my own testimonial and photo inside.

All of this unexpected national attention, however, did more than just spotlight this emerging diet plan. It was the catalyst for its development into a full-fledged book. The growing interest in my fat flush concepts—I had to post daily answers to mounting e-mails and conduct weekly chats just to keep up—generated a unique opportunity for me to hear directly from individuals all over the country.

In a very real sense the invaluable iVillage community served as a focus group for me, providing significant input and helpful insights. The group also encouraged me to examine every aspect of the plan under a huge magnifying glass to learn why fat flush was supporting them on so many levels: body, mind and spirit.

As I heard from people across the nation, one thing rang loud and clear—they wanted more. Specifically, they asked for menu plans, recipes, a transition plan, a maintenance plan and tips on how to follow the fat flush principles in a restaurant, how to fat flush during the holidays and how to modify fat flush for men or women in different ages and stages of life (such as breast-feeding, pregnancy, perimenopause or menopause). They also wanted to know how I developed the program, the science behind the protocol and why each of the rather unusual elements was included, especially the flax seed oil and the fat flush signature drink, the Long Life Cocktail.

I soon realized that fat flush is more than a diet program. It is also a journey into self-care. I believe that you deserve to put self-nurturing at the top of your to-do list.

But that seems to be a difficult concept for many of us 21st century women. According to a 1999 Wirthlin Women’s Health Issues Survey, today’s woman appears to be so entrenched in caring for the daily demands of work and family that she neglects the much needed care of herself.

Too often she’s penciled in at the bottom of her unending to-do list.

As a result she falters under tremendous physical and emotional stress, totally drained of energy.

That’s why simple and healthy habits are built into the program, habits such as keeping a journal, moderate exercise and going to sleep at a set bedtime. By following the total plan you will not only enjoy effortless weight loss but you will become renewed and revitalized.

Potential fat flushers are asked to read testimonials, case histories and success stories to reassure themselves and inspire them into action. Many had questions on how much to exercise and what kinds were appropriate. It seemed as though everyone wanted to know what were the best fat burning supplements available to maximize their results.

I listened carefully to all the feedback and then decided to put it all together in a book. The three-phase Fat Flush Plan is committed to encouraging accelerated weight loss and ongoing, balanced weight control as well as championing lifestyle habits that are overlooked or forgotten as a result of our hectic day and age.

TH: It sounds to me like the book jacket should read The Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman and a couple hundred thousand of her friends.

ALG: That is what makes this project so exciting to me. The Fat Flush Plan has been a work in progress for the past 20 years. While it was precipitated by my observations at the Pritikin Institute, it has matured into what I sincerely believe to be a positive lifestyle commitment which is literally affecting those hundreds of thousands of individuals you mentioned. Each new letter, e-mail, radio interview, book sold and personal commitment to The Fat Flush Plan means it continues to be a work in progress. While fat flush is a journey towards a weight loss destination, The Fat Flush Plan is also a journey to the healing and optimum health of body, mind and spirit.

TH: Please give us an overview of the plan.

ALG: The good news about The Fat Flush Plan is that you won’t have to cut out your favorite foods forever or maintain a strict daily routine permanently. You just need to know the basic principles of fat flushing so that you can rely on the foods that will keep you lean with the help of the easy-to-follow menus and simple recipes.

The Fat Flush Plan has a rather basic and clear-cut mission: to increase metabolism, flush out bloat and speed up fat loss. At the core of the plan is the commitment to promote a balanced lifestyle and champion simple healthy habits that we all overlook or forget about as a result of life in our hectic 21st century. Every aspect of each phase of the plan is targeted like a guided missile to accomplish this goal.

The Fat Flush Plan comprises real foods. It eliminates all weight loss inhibiting foods and beverages such as white flour, white sugar, margarine, vegetable shortening, artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame) and caffeine in regular coffee, tea, chocolate and many soft drinks.

In fact, the more meals you build around the fat flushing foods on the plan, the more weight you will lose and the healthier you will be.

The Fat Flush Plan is a springboard for a workable eating strategy. Each phase can be further individualized to target your personal needs by adding either more protein or more carbs sooner rather than later.

The program is divided into three phases.

Phase 1: The Two-Week Fat Flush is a quick-start weight loss plan that cleanses the accumulated fats in your tissues and liver and purges fluid buildup from your system. It also prevents new fats, in the form of triglycerides, from forming. This two-week program reestablishes a beneficial fat ratio for your body composition, which sets the stage for continuous fat burning and appetite control. The result is steady weight loss.

Phase 2: Once you have completed the two-week fat flush it’s time to step up to the next phase. You’ll continue to lose weight and maintain your cleansing momentum—but at a slower pace.

Phase 3: When you graduate to the Lifestyle Eating Plan this means that you have overcome many of your former eating habits, have stabilized your weight and can better cope with real-life challenges. Hopefully, your journaling experience will have revealed some emotional eating patterns that you are now better equipped to handle.

TH:Ann Louise, your on-going support of totalhealth magazine is sincerely appreciated. The Fat Flush Plan has all of the elements to help change America’s approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy body. It is a natural, common sense, well-balanced, scientifically based program you can stay on for life. And importantly, it has been field tested by thousands of individuals who have contributed to its continuing evolution from a basic diet to a comprehensive lifestyle program. A few of us on the staff are involved in various stages of the fat flush diet and will keep you informed of our progress.

ALG: Thank you. I look forward to our continuing relationship in pursuing the mission of totalhealth.

TotalHealth editors