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5 Easy Ways to Turn Off Your Fat Genes—and Keep Extra Weight Off for Good

Groundbreaking research shows how certain foods and lifestyle changes can deactivate the genes that cause us to store fat. Here are five key moves to tamp down the genes that contribute to weight gain, from the new book, Zero Belly Diet.

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Cut down on saturated fats and sugar

As far as how to burn fat, first thing’s first: Consuming fat and sugar are 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. Researchers believe it’s because the wrong balance of foods causes our fat storage genes to turn on. But in a test panel for Zero Belly Diet, subjects lost up to 16 pounds in 14 days just by reducing saturated fats and sugars while increasing their levels of certain foods that deactivate fat genes.

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Don’t take vitamins

Increased levels of B vitamins have long been associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Researchers believe that fortified infant formula may trigger fat genes. If you’re more comfortable taking a daily multivitamin, it’s probably fine, but megadosing may do more harm than good. A better bet for how to burn fat is to build your diet around a series of foods that balance all of your nutritional needs while also shutting off your fat-storage mechanisms. For some ideas, check out our list of foods that burn fat. Plus, here are some more vitamins and supplements you simply don’t need (if you’re a woman).

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Be cautious of 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 that it may have an epigenetic effect on humans. BPA leaks into foods that are acidic or fatty, like tomatoes, tuna, and baby formula. BPA is used by most manufacturers, but Eden Organic and Trader Joe’s both sell BPA-free canned goods.

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Go for a morning walk

Bizarre but true: recent research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that getting direct exposure to sunlight between 8:00 a.m. 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. Here’s how to burn fat all day from just an 18-minute workout.

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Cut down on 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, which help tame our genetic propensity for weight gain and diabetes. When we take antibiotics for every sniffle that comes along, we create disorder in our gut bacteria and under­mine their ability to create the SCFAs that keep our fat genes in check.

Excerpted from ZERO BELLY DIET by David Zinczenko. Copyright © 2014 by David Zinczenko. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. 

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest