By David Zinczenko
special to CNN
Editor’s note: David Zinczenko is the best-selling co-author of the popular “Eat This, Not That!” series and the author of the new book “Zero Belly Diet: The Revolutionary New Plan to Turn off Your Fat Genes and Help Keep You Lean for Life!” The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
(CNN) — For a lot of people, fighting belly fat is part of their New Year’s resolution. But for me it’s a lifelong mission.
Growing up as a fat kid in the 1980’s, I figured there was nothing I could do about my growing girth.
My dad was obese, and I was well over 200 pounds by the time I was 14.
I’d inherited the “fat genes.”
Then, at the still-young age of 52, my father passed away from a sudden, massive stroke.
I was his son. Would this be my fate too?
I started fighting back. First, by exercising like mad and becoming a marathon runner. Then by trying just about every diet under the sun.
But the more I learned about belly fat — and the more I understood how deadly it could be — the more I knew I had to find an answer that was easy, effective, and worked for everyone.
I called this approach “Zero Belly.” It’s aim is to reduce inflammation, end bloating and turn off your fat-storage genes.
Belly fat — what medical experts call “visceral fat” — is the stuff that gathers in our guts, pushing out our bellies.
It has been linked directly to almost every major illness of our time, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, diabetes, and yes, stroke.
As far as I’m concerned, belly fat killed my dad.
Zero Belly is my revenge.
Zero Belly is based on the breakthrough science of “nutritional genetics.” That’s the study of how certain foods trigger our fat genes to turn on, or off.
In early 2014 I put together a panel to test-drive the Zero Belly program, and I’ve been stunned by the results: The average person lost 4 inches off their waist — in just six weeks.
The key to this program is a scientifically proven eating program that targets your fat genes — turning them to “off” and making weight loss automatic.
There’s no calorie counting, no deprivation.
Zero Belly works in three ways:
— First, it reduces bloating by cutting down on excess salt, dairy and artificial sweeteners, all of which can give you a “food baby”. Some of the test panelists lost up to 3 inches of bloat off their waist in just 7 days.
— Second, it heals your gut by feeding the “good” microbes in your belly. A balanced gut reduces inflammation and helps to turn off your fat genes.
— Third, it turbocharges your metabolism with lean protein, healthy fats and quality fiber.
Once you deactivate your fat-storage genes, you don’t have to worry about counting calories.
You just have to make sure you’re eating the right combination of foods.
There are nine simple foods that I built into a list that’s easy to remember since it spells out “zero belly:” including:
“Zero belly drinks,” drinks that are essentially plant-based smoothies that include protein, healthy fat, and fiber and contain resveratrol. Resveratrol can be found in abundance in red fruits, peanut butter and dark chocolate.
Eggs contain a nutrient called choline. Researchers believe it turns off the genes for visceral fat gain.
Red fruits like an apple can be some of the healthiest foods to eat. The deeper the color, the more effective they are at helping turn off obesity genes.
Olive oil and other healthy fats can help control hunger for up to four hours.
Beans, rice, oats and other fiber can work with your gut bacteria to turn off genes for diabetes. Oatmeal is a great way to start the day and if it is a little sweet it may satisfy your sweet tooth.
Extra plant protein can be found in soy or split peas or nuts and seeds like almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds. You can also add a plant-based protein powder to any smoothie you’d make.
Lean meat can help keep your metabolism high. Lean meats include skinless chicken breast, the white meat part of the turkey or the lean cuts of beef (will often have the word “loin” or “round” in the name).
Leafy greens, green tea and bright vegetables can help reduce inflammation and help turn off fat-storage genes. Bright, colorful vegetables also add color and crunch to your meal plan.
Your favorite spices and flavors like cinnamon, ginger and even dark chocolate can reduce inflammation and attack your fat genes.