30 Reasons Why You're Getting Fat

  • You eat low-fat foods.

    It sounds crazy, but stop buying foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free, even weight-loss smoothies. Typically, they save you only a few calories and, in doing so, they replace harmless fats with low-performing carbohydrates that digest quickly—causing a sugar rush and, immediately afterward, rebound hunger. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that meals that limited carbohydrates to 43 percent were more filling and had a milder effect on blood sugar than meals with 55 percent carbohydrates. That means you’ll store less body fat and be less likely to eat more later.

  • You're not drinking smoothies.

    Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial protein shakes are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. Flatten your belly in just 30 seconds with 100+ delicious, filling weight-loss drinks from the brand-new book Zero Belly Smoothies!

  • You avoid all carbs.

    Not all carbs will give you a muffin top. Slowly digested carbs such as whole grains and sweet potatoes, along with resistant starches - a type that resists digestion - can speed weight loss by increasing satiety and preventing overeating. To find out more, check out these 20 Best Carbs for a Zero Belly!

  • You avoid good fats.

    Though it may seem counterintuitive to add fat to a meal if you're trying to lose fat, eating a moderate portion of unsaturated fats, like the kind found in olive oil, avocados and nuts, can ward off the munchies and keep you full by regulating hunger hormones. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward!

  • You aren't eating red fruits.

    Research suggests that the fruits richest in flavonoids called anthocyanins—compounds that give fruits their red or purple color—boast special "zero belly" properties, making them one of the few weight loss tricks you'll be happy to use every single day. Choose ruby red grapefruit, tart cherries, Pink Lady apples — anything that's a shade of red.

  • You're cutting down on calories and starving yourself.

    That means you'll lose muscle. One of the best ways to protect yourself against belly fat is to strengthen your muscles. Muscle burns energy even while you're at rest, so it steals energy away from fat cells, preventing them from hanging around. For delicious meals you won't want to skip, buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook!

  • You don't know about your fat genes.

    You're not consigned to being overweight just because it runs in your family. The body contains fat genes that are switched on by unhealthy foods and can be switched off by Zero Belly foods. Start on the Zero Belly Diet today - test subjects lost up to 16 pounds in two weeks!

  • Your gut bacteria's out of whack.

    Your gut contains both good and bad bacteria. When the bad gut bugs outnumber the good, it leads to inflammation and the production of belly fat. How to get your bugs in line? Consume foods rich in fiber such as whole grains like oats and quinoa. Good guy bugs feast on fiber, releasing compounds that soothe inflammation.

  • You're not eating enough folate-rich foods.

    Legumes, leafy greens, great tea and brightly colored vegetables are packed with the nutrient, which turns off the genes for responsible for insulin resistance and belly fat.

  • You don't target the fat that matters most.

    Your body has two kinds of fat: Subcutaneous fat (the stuff that jiggles) and visceral fat, which wraps around your internal organs and makes your belly stick out. While subcutaneous fat is neutral, visceral fat is villainous. It's dangerous to your heart, dangerous to your brain, dangerous to your love life, and even dangerous to your wallet. The billions of enemy cells in your belly are nastier than anything the conspirators on Homeland could dream up. Understanding how to fight back against them may be the most important piece of health and fitness information you'll ever have. Read more science-proven secrets in the bestselling book Zero Belly Diet!

  • You're not drinking tea.

    New research reveals that tea can reset your internal thermometer to increase fat burn by up to 10 percent without exercising, or dieting, or sitting in a sauna dreaming about a Nestea plunge. Try one of these 20 Best Teas for a Zero Belly.

  • You lack spice.

    Curcumin — found in turmeric — shuts down the genes that lead to inflammation and obesity. Black pepper contains piperine and peppers contain capsaicin, two compounds that have been shown to fry flab.

  • You don't drink enough water.

    Adequate water intake is essential for all your body’s functions, and the more you drink, the better your chances of staying thin. In one University of Utah study, dieting participants who were instructed to drink two cups of water before each meal lost 30 percent more weight than their thirsty peers. And you can magnify the effect by adding ice. German researchers found that six cups of cold water a day could prompt a metabolic boost that incinerates 50 daily calories. That’s enough to shed five pounds a year!

  • You're not getting enough betaine.

    Found in whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice and oats), leafy greens, green tea and brightly colored vegetables, this nutrient turns off the genes that lead to insulin resistance and a fatty liver.

  • You're not eating chocolate.

    That’s right. Dark chocolate is high in resveratrol, an antioxidant that can whittle your waist. A recent study found that antioxidants in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and actually 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.

  • You're avoiding eggs.

    They contain a powerful flab-fryer called choline. Be sure you eat the yolks: That's where choline hangs out. Other good sources of the nutrient: Lean protein, leafy greens, green tea and brightly colored vegetables.

  • You're not getting enough butyrate.

    It’s a fatty acid that your colon produces by bacteria feasting on fiber. If you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet, you’re not getting butyrate’s powerful ability to quell inflammation and turn off the genes responsible for insulin resistance. Find it in whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and oats; yellow, black and brown spices and dark chocolate.

  • You're eating too many saturated fats and added sugar.

    You know fat and sugar is bad for you, but what's really interesting is the new research on how they conspire with your genes to set you up for weight gain. Foods high in saturated fats seem to cause weight gain even if calorie intake stays the same. The combo of sugar and fat has been dubbed an "obesogenic environment," much in the same way a toxic waste dump linked to a cancer outbreak might be referred to as a "carcinogenic environment."

  • You're taking vitamins.

    Increased levels of B vitamins have long been associated with a higher incidence of obesity and diabetes. Researchers believe that fortified infant formula may also trigger the genes. If you're more comfortable taking a daily multivitamin, it's probably fine, but megadosing may do more harm than good.

  • You're eating canned foods.

    The concern here is a compound called BPA, or bisphenol-A. Used to make plastic softer, it's found in some plastic containers and also in the thin plastic linings of food cans. Research has indicated it may have an epigenetic effect on humans. BPA leaks into foods that are acidic or fatty, like tomatoes, tuna and baby formula.

  • You're not taking a morning walk.

    Bizarre but true: Recent research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that getting direct exposure to sunlight between 8am and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake or age. It's possible that morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes.

  • You're taking too many antibiotics.

    Our gut bacteria play a big role in keeping our fat genes in check by chomping on fiber and creating short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate. SCFAs help tame our genetic propensity for weight gain and diabetes. When we take antibiotics for every sniffle, we create disorder in our gut bacteria and undermine their ability to create the SCFAs that keep our fat genes in check.

  • You're not getting your greens.

    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”—basically, turning a stem cell into a fat cell. A healthier intake of the compound means a healthier body weight for you.

  • You can't relax.

    You look tense. Seriously: Chill out. If you don’t, it could lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels, causing sleep and immunity problems, blood-sugar abnormalities and weight gain. How should you chillax? Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says stress relief is very individualized, so what helps your BFF relax may not work for you. Give a few different tactics a try and see what works best for you. Practicing yoga, meeting up with friends and unplugging from technology for an evening are all things Zanini says are worth a shot.

  • You're not eating oats.

    Make oatmeal part of your morning routine—try making overnight oats, if you're short on time in the A.M.—and top it with some fruit. What’s so magical about this combination? Each provides insoluble fiber that helps reduce blood cholesterol and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. By doing so, you trigger your gut to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that reduces fat-causing inflammation throughout your body. In a Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that controls hunger.

  • You don't ask how it's cooked.

    Chefs often add fat and salt to make meals taste better—but these ingredients aren't necessarily something they advertise on the menu. Since you’ve already taken such care to choose a meal that sounds healthy, take the extra step and ask your server if there is any cream or butter in your dish. If these is, ask for your veggies and meats to be cooked dry and have sauces come on the side so you control how much ends up on your plate. After crunching the numbers, we discovered that no matter what kind of restaurant you’re dining at, you can save up to 1,000 calories at each meal by making this simple request.

  • You skip meals.

    In a 2011 national survey from the Calorie Control Council, 17 percent of Americans admitted to skipping meals to lose weight. The problem is, skipping meals actually increases your odds of obesity, especially when it comes to breakfast. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who cut out the morning meal were 4.5 times more likely to be obese. Why? Skipping meals slows your metabolism and boosts your hunger. That puts your body in prime fat-storage mode and increases your odds of overeating at the next meal.

  • You eat too quickly.

    If your body has one major flaw, this is it: It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s had enough. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters took in 66 fewer calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they had eaten more. What’s 66 calories, you ask? If you can do that at every meal, you’ll lose more than 20 pounds a year!