Eat This, Not That!
It's no secret that weight loss isn't easy. It takes time and dedication and if you've gotten to the point where you're just sick and tired of not seeing the results you want, or trying out diet fads that just aren't working, you're not alone.This is why I've made it my life's work to learn everything there is to know about how to lose belly fat fast. But nothing in my years of health journalism has prepared me for the groundbreaking research that shows exactly how we can turn off our fat genes and lose weight almost automatically. In 14 days, to be exact.That's exactly what happened when I shared the Zero Belly Diet with a test panel of more than 500 people, some of whom lost as much as 16 pounds in just 14 days, and up to 3 inches off their waist. The secret to the Zero Belly Diet is the new science of nutritional genetics, the study of how our genes are turned on and off by the foods we eat. Simply making a handful of tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can help improve your gut health, dampen inflammation, turn off your fat genes, and start your body shedding fat—in particular, belly fat—almost automatically. Read on to find out how—and strip away belly fat and lose up to 16 pounds in just two weeks—while eating the foods you love—with the Zero Belly Diet. (To help you get there, check out the 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time!)1 Take a brisk walk before breakfastZero Belly Diet panelist Martha Chesler did just this as part of her Zero Belly program, and the results were astonishing. "I saw changes immediately," she reports. In less than six weeks on the program, Martha dropped over 20 pounds and an astonishing 7 inches from her middle by combining the right foods with a pre-breakfast walk.This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent found that exposure to sunlight between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of the food you ate. But what stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting the Zero Belly Diet, Martha's heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. "After the first week and a half, I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn't even see."2 Start with the perfect breakfastNaturally sweet recipes in the Zero Belly Diet were the key to test panelist Isabel Fiolek's dramatic 13-pound weight loss. "I happen to have a big sugar addiction," Isabel admits, "But the recipes have been surprisingly satisfying for my sweet tooth." Isabel also made dramatic health strides: A checkup after her six weeks on the Zero Belly Diet revealed she'd dropped her total cholesterol by 25% and her blood glucose level by 10%.3 Choose red fruit over greenIt's the best fruit for weight loss. That means Pink Lady over Granny Smith, watermelon over honeydew, red grapes over green ones. The higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins, compounds that give red fruits their color—calm the action of fat-storage genes. Red-bellied stone fruits like plums boast phenolic compounds that have been shown to modulate the expression of fat genes.4 Make some guacamoleFor test panelist June Caron, incorporating fresh produce like avocados was a life-changing lesson from the Zero Belly Diet. The 55-year-old lost 6 pounds in the first week of the program. "Learning to eat real, chemical-free, fresh foods has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I am never hungry. And the weight just keeps coming off!" Glowing skin, healthy nails, and better sleep were Zero Belly bonuses, June said. "I'm well on my way to getting my sexy back. Everyone says I look much younger!"Avocados are a double-whammy to belly fat. First, they're packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that dim your hunger switches; a study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Second, healthy fats like the unsaturated fats found in avocados seem to prevent the storage of belly fat.5 Mix up a smoothieTest panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding 6 inches from his waist in just six weeks on the program, and he attributes his success to Zero Belly Smoothies. Their vegan protein will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits of whey, without the bloat. "I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat," Bryan said. "I'm a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had."6 Power up with eggsYou'll find lean, satiating protein in every single bite you take on the Zero Belly Diet. The muscle-building macronutrient is fundamental to the plan, and eggs happen to be one of the easiest and most versatile delivery systems in the universe. Not only that, but they're also the number-one dietary source of a nutrient called choline. Choline, which is found also in lean meats, seafood, and collard greens, attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. One Zero Belly Diet recipe—a breakfast hash with sweet potatoes and fresh farm eggs—became test panelist Morgan Minor's go-to breakfast, and after just 3 weeks on the program, the female firefighter lost 11 pounds and 4 inches from her waist! The more eggs you eat, the less egg-shaped you get.7 Mix up a magic elixirStart each day by making a large pitcher of "spa water"—that's detox water filled with sliced whole lemons, oranges, or grapefruits—and make a point of sipping your way through at least eight glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant D-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick.8 Make homemade trail mixThe three major ingredients of a perfect Zero Belly Diet meal or snack are protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and all three can be found in abundance in a good trail mix. Sadly, most commercial mixes are made with extra oils, salt, and sugar. Mix up homemade, high-protein snacks from a selection of nuts, seeds, unsweetened dried fruit, and dark chocolate pieces. Make sure to include peanuts—they're a top source of both genistein and resveratrol, two nutrients that help diminish the action of your fat-storage genes.9 SnaxerciseThe biggest reason we can't stick to our workouts? No time. Trying to squeeze a trip to the gym, with a shower and change of clothes, into a hectic schedule—especially around the holidays—can make even the most dedicated fitness buff into someone, well, less buff. But scientists in New Zealand found that men and women who engaged in three 10-minute exercise "hors d'oeuvres" before breakfast, lunch, and dinner saw lowered blood glucose levels—a fat-busting benefit these folks showed all day long!The short circuits in the Zero Belly Diet offer a variety of exercises that blast your core without relying on traditional sit-ups—easy enough to squeeze in before dinner in the comfort of your living room. Within six weeks of incorporating the mini circuits, test panelist Krista Powell lost 25 pounds—and she was finally able to dress in a way that reflected her true sense of style: "I'd avoided wearing high heels because the extra weight made my knees hurt so bad. I can actually wear my heels with confidence and without pain!"10 Rethink your supplementsIf you're taking lots of vitamins and probiotics each day, you may want to reevaluate your strategy. Increased levels of B vitamins have long been associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes, perhaps because megadosing triggers our fat genes. A daily multivitamin is probably fine, but don't try to convince yourself that more is better. And a study by ConsumerLab.com found that most commercial probiotics have far less healthy bacteria than they claim. Your better bet is to focus on the Zero Belly foods to ensure your belly is getting plenty of love—and your fat genes are being cut off at the pass.11 Have dark chocolate and berries for dessertIndulging in delicious food is a core principle of the Zero Belly Diet. It was the balanced, "zero-sacrifice" approach that helped test panelist Jennie Joshi finally lose her pregnancy weight. In just over a month on the Zero Belly Diet, Jennie lost 11 pounds, "and the pregnancy pooch is leaving!" she said. "I couldn't believe I was indulging in dark chocolate—and finally getting results! It's a lifestyle, not a diet. It's easy to stick with, and it makes sense."It makes scientific sense, also: A study found that antioxidants in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. And another study at Louisiana State University found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate into heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation. Why the berries? The fruit speeds up the fermentation process, leading to an even greater reduction in inflammation and weight.12 Swap farmed salmon for wild salmonLean protein like fish is a great way to fight fat and boost your metabolism. But the farmed salmon you get at the local market might not be the best bet for your belly. The cold-water fish has a well-deserved reputation for packing plenty of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids—1,253 milligrams of the good stuff and just 114 milligrams of inflammatory, belly-busting omega 6s. But the farmed variety—and 90% of what we eat today is farmed—has a very different story to tell. It packs a whopping 1,900 milligrams of unhealthy omega-6s.13 Eat a better peanut butterReal peanut butter is made with two ingredients: peanuts, and maybe some salt. You already know that peanuts give you belly-slimming monounsaturated fats, tummy-filling fiber, and metabolism-boosting protein. But peanuts have a hidden weapon in their weight-loss utility belt: Genistein, a compound that acts directly on the genes for obesity, helping to turn them down and reduce your body's ability to store fat. (Beans and lentils have the same magic ingredient, albeit in a slightly less delicious form.) But be careful of the brand you buy: if you see ingredients like sugar, palm oil, or anything you can't pronounce, put it back. They'll undermine any good the peanuts might do.14 Pre-game lunch and dinner with greensHigh-volume, low-calorie greens will fill you up, without filling you out. Test panelist Kyle Cambridge says regular salads turbocharged his success: "My wife Stacie and I decided to add a salad to each meal, and the pounds started melting off." Kyle lost 25 pounds and four inches in just six weeks on the program. "I even had to buy a new belt!" he said. "But the best was when Stacie came up to me in the kitchen and gave me a hug. She laughed and smiled and said 'I can wrap my hands around you again.'"Leafy greens like collard greens, watercress, kale, and arugula may not be on your everyday list, but they all contain a compound called sulforaphane. This nutrient has been shown to act directly on the genes that determine "adipocyte differentiation"—turning a stem cell into a fat cell. A healthier intake of the compound means a healthier body weight for you. And just a scant teaspoon of vinaigrette will help your body absorb the fat-soluble nutrients.