There are several diets on the market that claim to help people lose several pounds in a short amount of time. However, some of the diets are difficult to maintain because they contain few calories or foods that provide little nutrition for the body. Some diets can help people shed weight by eating the right foods in combination with exercise, one of which is the Zero Belly Diet.
What is the Zero Belly Diet?
The diet, which is the creation of David Zinczenko, claims to help turn off fat genes. So dieters can lose as much as 16 pounds in two weeks. Zinczenko has a background in health and wellness as he has written several other books on nutrition and dieting, including:
- Eat This, Not That!
- The 8-Hour Diet
- The Abs Diet
- Cook This, Not That!
Along with the main diet book, he has also written a cookbook and recipe books for making smoothies and breakfast foods to eat on this diet.
Switching Genes Off and On
The crux of Zinczenko’s theory is that how a person eats can prevent fat from being stored in their genes. This is especially true around the stomach. A study at the University of California Los Angeles found that mice, who were on the same diet, had varying responses when it came to maintaining or gaining body fat.
Some of the mice gained up to 600% more body fat than some of their counterparts whose body fat percentage didn’t change. This difference in body fat storage led researchers to deduce the difference was due in part to genetics and not diet alone.
The diet the mice were on was essentially a junk food diet as it was a high-fat, high-sugar diet. The researchers were curious as to why the diet didn’t seem to cause weight gain in all the mice.
Researchers also found that some mice had large shifts in the number of gut microbes after eating the diet. Other mice saw very little change. They found that genetics may influence the number of gut microbes in response to the foods you eat.
Another factor could be due to epigenetic changes. These are changes in gene activity. Changes in gene activity occur when molecules attach themselves to either DNA or the protein it wraps around and turns the genes off or on. You can trigger epigenetic changes by environmental factors and pass them down to the next generation.
Targeting Belly Fat
The fat genes around the belly, or abdomen, are the focus of Zinczenko’s Zero Belly diet because belly fat has been found to increase the risks of:
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Other degenerative diseases
Both forms of fat around the abdomen, the subcutaneous fat that lays just beneath the skin, and visceral fat, which is found in the muscles and around the organs, increase the health risks. However, visceral fat is especially dangerous since it’s responsible for releasing inflammatory molecules into the body.
Dieting and exercise is the best way to reduce stomach fat and help people lose weight. But Zinczenko’s Zero Belly diet claims they can turn off fat genes to reduce fat around the belly and reduce health risks. There is some science behind this theory as there have been studies done about influencing fat genes.
How Exercise Changes Genes
A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that resistance training can reduce gene expression found in fat by as much as 20%. Gene expression refers to the messages genes send out to create proteins that determine characteristics. In the study, the genes could determine when to burn and store fat.
Researchers were able to determine that a regimen of weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise could help the body burn more fat than with cardio exercises alone. The study found changes in the genes’ expressions. But study participants also added muscle mass. Muscle is a natural fat burner because it helps to burn fat 24 hours a day.
The exercises Zinczenko recommends for his diet consists of whole-body exercises and core strengthening workouts. He believes whole body exercises are more effective for influencing genes to “turn off” to reduce more belly fat. This is because exercises alone cannot target abdominal fat.
When you exercise to lose weight, regardless if you’re male or female, the first fat that is lost is visceral fat. We sometimes refer to it as hidden fat. However, instead of hard, intense workouts, moderately intense exercises are best.
Highly intense workouts can trigger the overproduction of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This hormone can be damaging to the body, and it can lead to more belly fat. So, the diet recommends less intense workouts like taking a brisk morning walk.
Zinczenko recommends a brisk walk in the morning because research has found that exposure to morning light when walking outside between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon could help burn fat. A study at Northwestern University found that the Body Mass Index for people who exercised in the morning was lower than for those who exercised later in the day.
Also, exercising before your morning meal helps to burn stored fat instead of utilizing the calories from the foods you’ve just eaten. Regular exercise also helps people sleep better. This reduces stress and allows the body to heal.
The diet also encourages doing exercises that help build muscle as it burns fat all day long, even while sleeping. Also, muscles store energy. So when you apply them, your body will use the energy in your muscles first.
Then, when you eat, the body will use those calories to restore the glycogen deposits in your muscles instead of converting them to fat. Resistance training, such as lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises, helps to build muscles that act as a fat-burning machine.
You should combine resistance training with cardio exercises like walking, running, or swimming, which are also full-body exercises. Not only do they use all or most of the muscles in your body. But they help to strengthen the heart and lungs as well.
Zinczenko discourages doing sit-ups on his diets because they can lead to spine damage. After doing some research, he found out that once the spine flexes more than 25 degrees, the abdominal muscles are no longer the primary muscle group used, but the hips are engaged instead.
Also, once the spine moves forward to a certain point, so much pressure is exerted on it that it can lead to disc herniation. A typical sit-up puts about 3,350 newtons of compressed force on the spine, but 3,330 newtons is considered unsafe according to the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The main part of the Zero Belly Diet equation is eating the right foods to turn off fat genes and burn your belly fat. The foods the diet recommends help attack belly fat by:
- Boosting metabolism
- Reducing inflammation
- Prevents fat storage
The diet focuses on foods containing three macronutrients to boost metabolism to burn fat. The macronutrients include:
- Healthy Fats
These foods promote the thermogenic effect in the body that helps to burn body fat. They also trigger the brain to feel full as you reduce the junk food in your diet. These are foods that are high in fat and high in sugar.
The diet can also help you lose your belly fat by reducing inflammation. It reduces the amount of lactose, gluten, and animal fat in your diet. This can trigger inflammation and lead to fat storage. It also reduces the number of additives and preservatives in your diet by eliminating most processed foods, which can also lead to inflammation.
Prevents Fat Storage
The foods on the diet also help to reduce gene expressions that can lead to your genes storing more fat, especially around your middle. There are nine power foods the diet recommends to help turn off fat genes, including:
- Red fruits
- Healthy fats like olive oil
- Beans and other healthy fiber
- Plant protein
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Lean meats and fish
- Spices and flavors
- Zero Belly drinks
The drinks they recommend, Zero Belly smoothies, contain high levels of protein with fiber and healthy fats. There are several recipes for them online, or you can get Zinczenko’s book dedicated to the smoothies.
Zero Belly Diet Reviews
If you’re still not sure about trying this diet, you should read what people who have tried it say about it. While there are several places online where you can read a Zero Belly Diet review, be careful because many of them are by professionals. Try to find reviews written by dieters to get an authentic opinion about it.
The Zero Belly Diet can be a good way to jumpstart a diet if you want to lose weight and flatten your stomach. By doing so, you can reduce the risks of several diseases so that you live a long, healthy life.