22 Foods That Turn Off Your Belly Fat Genes

No matter your genetic tendencies, you can get and stay lean with these Zero Belly strategies.

It’s a question that’s been haunting scientists for decades: if weight gain is just a matter of eating more calories than you burn off, and weight loss is as simple as burning off more calories than you eat, then how is it possible that weight is “genetic”? Why do some people weigh 125 pounds without ever dieting or working out, and others weigh 250 pounds despite owning every piece of exercise equipment ever invented? And why do some family members seem to inherit the fat genes (like Beau Bridges), while others manage to stay slim and win an Oscar (like Jeff Bridges)?

In fact, what we’re learning now is that weight gain is caused not by genetics but by epigenetics—basically, the science of how genes are turned on and off by different environmental factors, including stress, chemical exposure, and, yes, diet. A 2014 study in the journal Advanced Nutrition reported that obese and diabetic people have a different pattern of epigenetic markers than those who are not obese or diabetic. Simply put, their fat genes have been tripped.

“What you eat, and don’t eat, can influence which genes are turned on and when,” says Kevin L. Schalinske, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University. “Eating the wrong foods, deficiencies in the diet, and lifestyle choices like smoking, can turn things on.”

This field of study, called Nutritional Genomics, basically looks at how different foods interact with particular genes to increase or decrease the risk of diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. And what it tells us is that counting calories isn’t an effective path to permanent weight loss—but eating the right way can alter everything. As Alfredo Martinez, Ph.D., professor of food sciences and nutrition at the Department of Physiology and Nutrition at the University of Navarra in Spain, most eloquently puts it, your personal genetic code “is like the lyrics of a song. You can’t change the lyrics, but you can change the way the song is played—the speed, the rhythm and the volume—by changing your diet.” And if your belly-fat genes are blasting away like Metallica, these superfoods can turn them down to Mozart.

Start with these simple day-by-day changes to your daily routine, and check out Zero Belly Diet now to start losing weight while eating the foods you love!