Zero Belly Smoothies: Lose up to 16 Pounds in 14 Days and Sip Your Way to A Lean & Healthy You - David Zinczenko (2016)

Chapter 10. The Zero Belly 7-Day Smoothie Cleanse

Doing nothing more than swapping a few Zero Belly Smoothies into your day will result in dramatic weight loss. But you can take your results to the next level by following the Zero Belly 7-Day Cleanse and increasing your smoothie intake to create an effective plan that will flatten your belly in record time.

If you’re already following the Zero Belly program, then you’ve no doubt seen for yourself how powerful it can be. But if you’re new to it, here’s a quick look at the overall program.

HOW THE ZERO BELLY DIET WORKS

The science of Zero Belly is the science of flavor.

This is a weight-loss plan that focuses on taste, because the taste of a food is the single strongest indicator that it has the power to unlock your metabolism, heal your body, even turn off the genes responsible for weight gain. Sweet, moist fruits; deep, decadent chocolate; bright, crunchy vegetables; and rich, silky oils are the backbone of the Zero Belly plan, each enhanced with herbs and spices that are as potent on your plate and in your glass as they are inside your body. Zero Belly Smoothies harness the power of real food to target belly fat—the most dangerous type of fat there is—by unlocking your body’s own natural fat burners.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Zero Belly foods and how each of them will inform the drink recipes in this book.

ZERO BELLY SMOOTHIES

Maximize Nutritional Intake

The original Zero Belly program included one blended smoothie drink per day. If you’re currently enjoying success with Zero Belly, then this book has no doubt provided a whole new set of recipes to inform your palate and delight your taste buds. But if you want to turbocharge your results, the cleanse outlined in this chapter will show you how to strip away belly fat even faster. Studies show that high-protein, low-fat smoothies are highly effective at rushing nutrients into your body, particularly your muscles.

A reminder: I’ve stripped all the Zero Belly Smoothie recipes of dairy, added sugars, and artificial ingredients so common in popular commercial shakes, and packed them with real fruits, nuts, vegan proteins, and dairy alternatives like almond and coconut milks. Why the alternative milks? First, dairy can be difficult to digest for some folks—and poor digestion leads to inflammation, which leads to weight gain. But there’s more to it than that: In 2014, Swedish scientists at Uppsala University found that women who drank three or more glasses of milk a day died at nearly twice the rate of those who drank less than one glass a day. Broken bones were more common in women who were heavy milk drinkers as well. While this is only a preliminary study, it’s further reason why using nondairy milk in your daily smoothie is a wise move.

EGGS

Turn Off Visceral Fat Genes

Eggs are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body’s cell membranes. Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause visceral fat accumulation, particularly in the liver. Yet according to a 2015 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only a small percentage of all Americans eat daily diets that meet the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Adequate Intake of 425 milligrams for women and 550 milligrams for men.

Of course, unless you’re filming yet another sequel to Rocky, drinking raw eggs isn’t in your nutrition plan. But while there are no egg-smoothie recipes, you should make an effort to include them in your diet as often as you can.

RED FRUIT

Turn Off Obesity Genes

Like professional basketball players, all fruits are good at what they do. But a red hue is a sign that your snack is just that little bit better—watermelon is to honeydew what LeBron James is to a backup on the Knicks. And since the release of Zero Belly Diet, more and more evidence keeps proving that point. For example, a study in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour found that people who ate more portions of red and orange fruits and vegetables had a more sun-kissed complexion than those who ate less—the result of disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids. You’ll find a wide array of red fruits used throughout the drink recipes in this book.

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
ruby red grapefruit, tart cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, red apples (especially Pink Lady), watermelon, plums, peaches, nectarines

OLIVE OIL AND OTHER HEALTHY FATS

Vanquish Hunger

Fat does more than just make our food taste good. In fact, the right kinds of fat, like that found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados, can ward off the munchies 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. And a brand-new study by scientists in India looked at 60 middle-aged men who were at risk for diabetes and heart disease. They gave the two groups similar diets, except that one of these groups got 20 percent of their daily calories from pistachios. The group of men who ate the pistachios had smaller waists at the end of the study period; their cholesterol score dropped by an average of 15 points, and their blood sugar numbers improved as well.

You may not think of fats as an ingredient in a drink, but dietary fat is essential to creating a drink that will strip away body fat. You’ll find healthy fats from sources like avocados, nut butters, and coconut throughout the recipes in this book.

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
extra-virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, avocados, walnuts, cashews, almonds, almond butter, wild salmon, sardines, ground flaxseed (flax meal), chia seeds

BEANS, RICE, OATS, AND OTHER HEALTHY FIBER

Turn Off Diabetes Genes

Think of beans as little weight-loss pills and enjoy them whenever you’d like. One study found that people who ate ¾ cup of beans daily weighed 6.6 pounds less than those who didn’t, even though the bean eaters consumed, on average, 199 more calories per day. Part of the reason is that fiber—from beans and whole grains—helps our bodies (okay, actually the bacteria in our bodies) produce a substance called butyrate, which deactivates the genes that cause insulin insensitivity.

One common source of fiber that you won’t find in these recipes, however, is wheat. Zero Belly isn’t specifically a gluten-free program, but all the recipes in this book are gluten-free for a reason: If you have gluten intolerance, then this protein will cause inflammation in your gut. My goal has been to create a plan that will work for everyone. So go ahead and have your Wheaties if you want, but more and more science says that sticking with the Zero Belly fiber sources might make more sense: According to a study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, scientists found that having oatmeal (in this case, Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute Oats) for breakfast resulted in greater fullness, lower hunger ratings, and fewer calories eaten at the next meal compared with a serving of ready-to-eat sugared cornflakes, even though the calorie counts of the two breakfasts were identical.

In fact, fiber causes you to lose weight even if you do absolutely nothing else to improve your diet. In a study at the University of South Carolina, subjects who ate an average of 16.6 grams of fiber per day were put on diets that increased their fiber intake to an average of 28.4 grams a day, while eating the same number of calories and not exercising at all. After four weeks, the subjects had lost an average of 3 pounds each, and both groups reported less hunger and more satiety. This despite the fact that the subjects didn’t exercise or take any other steps toward weight loss other than to boost their fiber.

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
peanuts and peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, quinoa, brown rice, canned black and garbanzo beans, French green lentils, peas

EXTRA PROTEIN

Boosts Metabolism

One of the unique qualities of Zero Belly is its reliance on plant-based proteins. While I’m no vegetarian—not by a long shot!—I also know that relying on dairy-based supplements to boost your protein intake isn’t always the best bet for those of us focused on balancing our gut health, especially those who suffer from lactose intolerance.

And more and more research is showing that when we add plant proteins to our diets, our bodies respond by shedding fat. In a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, researchers discovered that patients who ingested higher amounts of vegetable protein were far less susceptible to metabolic syndrome (a disease that ought to be renamed “diabolic syndrome”—it’s basically a combination of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity). That means eating whole foods from vegetables—and supplementing with vegan protein powder—is one of the best ways to keep extra weight at bay. A second study in Nutrition Journal found that “plant protein intakes may play a role in preventing obesity.”

Zero Belly Smoothies are made specifically with plant protein, but to add more into your day, focus on vegetable protein sources like lentils, hemp or chia seeds, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and beans. Or try adding spirulina to your smoothies; it’s one of the few plant foods that are mostly protein by weight (about 70 percent).

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake; Vega Sport Performance Protein; Sunwarrior Warrior Blend

LEAN MEATS AND FISH

Build Muscle and Turn Off Fat-Storage Genes

Maintaining and building muscle is important, especially as we get older. Increased muscle mass means a healthier weight, better fitness, and improved quality of life. But in order to get those benefits, we may need to eat more protein than we currently do. A lot of this can come from plant proteins in our Zero Belly Smoothies. But an extra helping of lean meat might not be a bad idea, either. In a 2015 study in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that those who ate twice as much protein as the RDA had greater net protein balance and muscle protein synthesis—in other words, it was easier for them to maintain and build muscle. (Interestingly, the researchers found that it didn’t matter when you ate the protein, just that you ate it.)

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
boneless skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey (94 percent), lean beef, lamb, wild salmon, shrimp, scallops, cod, tuna, halibut, orange roughy, freshwater fish (like pike and sunfish)

LEAFY GREENS, GREEN TEA, AND BRIGHT VEGETABLES

Stop Inflammation and Turn Off Fat-Storage Genes

A leafy green like Swiss chard is a veritable Swiss Army knife for weight loss, which is why vegetables, as well as fruits, show up in many of the delicious recipes in this book. When you eat more greens, you arm your body with high levels of folate, a B vitamin that’s been linked to everything from boosting mood to battling cancer. It’s also a key that locks down genes linked to insulin resistance and fat-cell formation.

But leafy greens also perform another important function: They help provide you with a healthy, balanced gut. See, it’s not enough to just get beneficial bacteria into your body. To make sure the good guys stay healthy and thrive, you need to feed them. And what they really love is something called fructooligosaccharides, or FOS, a type of fiber found in vegetables as well as fruits and grains. But veggies, because of their low caloric load, are probably the healthiest way of all to get these essential nutrients into your belly. FOS has been shown to increase absorption of vitamins and minerals, improve feelings of fullness, and otherwise keep everything running “clean.”

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
watercress, Chinese cabbage, spinach, romaine, kale, carrots, Swiss chard, zucchini, red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, mesclun greens, leafy green herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary)

YOUR FAVORITE SPICES

Turn Off Genes for Inflammation and Weight Gain

Herbs, spices, and flavorings do more than add extra pizzazz to your food. From battling cancer to managing insulin response to fighting inflammation, many of the spices that sit on your pantry shelf are secret nutritional superstars, and the more you can incorporate them into your daily meals and Zero Belly Smoothies, the better. Spices and herbs are among the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the food world, and when you dampen inflammation, you set the table for faster weight loss.

To test the actual potency of spices after they’ve been ingested, researchers at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and at Penn State had subjects eat significant amounts of different spices every day for a week. Then they tested the subjects’ blood plasma by dripping it onto inflamed white blood cells. The plasma of subjects who ate cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric were the most potent—in other words, these spices have the highest level of anti-inflammatory impact after ingestion.

That’s exciting news. All four flavor enhancers are essential parts of the Zero Belly Smoothie recipes, but turmeric deserves special attention. It’s one of the magical nutrients that have been shown to work directly on our fat genes, turning off the specific genetic mechanism that’s responsible for inflammation and obesity. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar. Another reason why this spice belongs in your pantry.

ZERO BELLY FAVORITES:
yellow mustard, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, raw apple cider vinegar, dark chocolate with a cacao content of 70 percent or higher

The Zero Belly 7-Day Smoothie Cleanse is nothing more than a simple tweaking of the standard Zero Belly Diet. It’s just a little more intense, because you’re replacing two meals a day with drinks.

The plan is simple: You’ll enjoy two Zero Belly Smoothies as meals (breakfast and lunch), two snacks, and a Zero Belly dinner. On the regular plan, you’d have three meals and two snacks, with one of those snacks being a drink. Here, I’m replacing both breakfast and lunch with drinks, which will cut your daily calories just a bit. (Note: If you’d prefer to eat breakfast and drink dinner, be my guest. I suggest breakfast and lunch because they tend to be the most harried times of the day, and hence a smoothie can help, er, smooth things out.)

How come? Since the drinks average about 300 calories each, this step alone will cut approximately 500 to 1,000 calories out of your daily intake, which may take several additional pounds off your body in just seven days. The drinks pack such a nutritional punch that I know you’ll be getting the vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats you need. Remember to always ask the three Zero Belly questions before each drink, meal, or snack:

WHERE’S MY PROTEIN?

WHERE’S MY FIBER?

WHERE’S MY HEALTHY FAT?


HOW TO BUILD A ZERO BELLY 7-DAY SMOOTHIE CLEANSE DINNER

If you’re drinking breakfast and lunch, then having a full, satisfying dinner makes all the sense in the world. Here’s how to create one that complements the Zero Belly Smoothies plan perfectly.


PICK YOUR PROTEIN

6 ounces chicken breast (skinless)

6 ounces lean ground turkey (at least 93 percent)

6 ounces lean ground beef (grass-fed, at least 90 percent)

6 ounces lean steak (grass-fed, sirloin, or anything labeled “round”)

6 ounces fish (wild)

2-3 eggs


ADD A FIBER

Stop thinking in terms of carbs and instead think of fiber. Focus on gluten-free fiber sources to help fight inflammation and bloating.

Brown, black, or wild rice

Quinoa

Beans

Peas

Lentils

Spiced oatmeal

Grainful is a new line of “steel-cut meals,” which can be served as side dishes or combined with meat into one dish. Flavors include Thai Curry, Cheddar Broccoli, and Vegetarian Chili. All weigh in at 6 grams of fiber or more. Pasta alternatives: Many companies have begun producing gluten-free pasta products out of high-fiber, high-protein foods. Check out Banza pasta, made from chickpeas (twice the protein and four times the fiber of regular pasta), or Tolerant, a line of bean- and lentil-based pastas, which are even more potent.


STEAM, STIR-FRY, OR BUILD A SIDE SALAD

With Some Combination of These Vegetables

(Note that cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are not on the list, as they can cause bloating. Feel free to enjoy them if they don’t irritate you, but I kept them off the recommended list just in case.)

Spinach

Romaine or other lettuce

Asparagus

Grape tomatoes

Carrots

Bell peppers

Mushrooms

Zucchini or squash

Herbs and spices


TOP WITH FAT

¼ avocado

2 tablespoons nuts/seeds

Olive, walnut, avocado, or hazelnut oil

Or top with this recipe for Zero Belly Vinaigrette.

ZERO BELLY VINAIGRETTE

Yield: 1 cup, about 16 servings

⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. Store in fridge and shake before serving.

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU FOLLOW THE ZERO BELLY DIET

The 6-week Zero Belly Diet plan, as outlined in the New York Times bestseller, is just as simple to follow as the cleanse.

When I first assembled a test panel to prove the theories behind the Zero Belly program, I knew I was on to something exciting. I created a six-week test, figuring that subjects would almost certainly drop 5 to 10 percent of their body weight in that time.

But I wasn’t prepared for how rapidly the panel saw results, and how dramatic those changes turned out to be. Here’s a look at what happened:

WEEK

LOOK AND FEEL LIGHTER—IMMEDIATELY

The first thing you’ll notice on this program—within a few days, in most cases—is that your pants will fit better, you’ll look leaner, and you’ll feel less bloated and lighter. You’ll step on the scale and wonder if this is a trick; while you may lose up to 7 pounds in the first week, you’ll feel like you’ve lost a lot more.

That’s because the first thing Zero Belly affects is your digestion, helping balance your gut health, reduce bloating, and fight inflammation. It’s step one in your attack on belly fat: You’re prepping your body for dramatic weight loss. Your belly will almost immediately look leaner, and you’ll notice a huge spike in energy and emotional well-being.

That’s what Morgan Minor, a 24-year-old firefighter in Coalinga, California, told us. Within a week of starting the Zero Belly program she had dropped 7 pounds, and after just 21 days, a sculpted stomach emerged—Morgan had shed 4 inches off her waist by focusing on the Zero Belly foods and enjoying Zero Belly Smoothies. “My favorite was the Peanut Butter Sandwich,” she says. (The recipe is in Chapter Seven.)

Bryan Wilson, 29, a bachelor in beautiful Monument, Colorado, had exactly that same experience. “Almost immediately I lost the bloat,” he says. And Bob McMicken, 51, from Lancaster, California, reported looking and feeling flatter “within days.”

WEEK

SUDDEN, EFFORTLESS WEIGHT LOSS

When June Caron got on the scale at the beginning of week two, she was stunned: 6 pounds gone in the first seven days. “And the weight just keeps coming off,” she says. The 55-year-old work control specialist from North Oxford, Massachusetts, had begun to gain weight in her belly—the very thing that puts postmenopausal women at the same elevated risk for heart disease as men. It was a health crisis that needed attacking, but June had seen a lot of other weight-loss strategies fail—Weight Watchers, workout DVDs, you name it. “I’ve joined gyms but rarely stuck with them,” she confesses. Now she finally had a plan that would help her manage not only her weight but also her health. Matt Brunner, a 43-year-old professor in Glenside, Pennsylvania, who had seen only mediocre results from past weight-loss plans, experienced the same thing: 7 pounds gone in just a week.

At the same time, back in Ohio, Martha Chesler was down 10 pounds within the first 10 days and starting to notice something else as well—her own health was improving measurably. At a checkup with her chiropractor, she discovered her heart was suddenly functioning much more efficiently. During a fitness test using a stationary cycle, when her heart rate would normally climb to 112 beats per minute within minutes of starting on the bike, she found an enormous change: “During the workout I could not raise my heart rate over 96 BPM! It was great to know good things were happening that I couldn’t even see.”

WEEK

OLD CLOTHES BECOME NEW AGAIN

Krista Kirk, 33, was always self-conscious about her belly, and when people started asking her if she was pregnant (she wasn’t), she knew something had to change. Atkins, Nutrisystem—you name the plan, Krista can give the review: boring and ineffective. But after two weeks on the program, Krista discovered that her pants began to feel looser, her hips slimmed down—and she was finally able to dress in a way that reflected her true sense of style: “I’d avoided wearing high heels because the extra weight made my knees hurt so bad. I can actually wear my heels with confidence and without pain!”

In Pennsylvania, Matt Brunner was having the same experience. “My clothes got too big. My ‘skinny’ clothes all looked good again.” And firefighter Morgan Minor was starting to see something she hadn’t seen in years: her abs. “I had plateaued at 160 for over a month, and Zero Belly helped me lose more than 10 pounds in three weeks!”

WEEK

SCULPT YOUR NEW BODY

After a high-risk pregnancy during which she was unable to do more than walk, 38-year-old Jennie Joshi had been working hard to lose her baby weight. But the corporate sales trainer and mother of two simply couldn’t get rid of her “pregnancy pooch.” Low-carb, high-protein—you name the diet, Jennie had tried it. But the belly-specific, targeted approach of Zero Belly was different. She dropped 11 pounds in just about four weeks, but more important, she lost them where she wanted to lose them: “The pregnancy pooch is leaving!” she says. “I feel like the old pre-baby Jennie is back!”

Sticking to a weight-loss plan isn’t easy for a working mom with two small children, and that’s what impressed her about my program the most: The healthy recipes gave Jennie plenty of family-friendly options that even her foodie husband enjoyed. “Zero Belly is easy to follow regardless of life’s demands. It’s not a cleanse or a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle.”

And the fast results help keep you motivated. “I met a group of coworkers who hadn’t seen me in a month, and they were all astonished at the differences they could see in me,” says Fred Sparks, of Katy, Texas. “They wanted to know what I was doing.”

It’s at week four that the body-sculpting aspects of the protocol really begin to take effect. Beyond the flatter belly, most subjects also reported a leaner overall look. “My arms lost some of their flab, and my shoulders, biceps, and triceps tightened up,” says Bryan. And the other side effects of the plan aren’t bad, either. “My energy is at a very high level, whereas before Zero Belly I was feeling tired all the time,” says June. “My skin and nails look better. I’m sleeping better. Everyone says I look much younger!”

WEEK

SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE

Katrina Bridges, of Bethalto, Illinois, wanted to lose weight and shrink her belly. But what she didn’t know when she started Zero Belly was that she entered the test panel with a dramatically elevated risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In five weeks, that all changed. Katrina stripped off 12 pounds quickly, but more important, she shed 5 inches off her waistline, reducing her elevated risk of these diseases by a whopping 80 percent. And, she says, “I just felt like I had more overall strength throughout my body.” The secret: Zero Belly drinks. “I loved the drinks,” Katrina says. “They were all pretty easy, and I am sold on protein shakes.”

Meanwhile, Martha Chesler was not only experiencing a healthier heart but something else: an end to her heartburn. “My acid reflux is under control, with minimum medication,” she reports. And studies show heartburn isn’t just an annoyance; like elevated belly fat, heartburn is a risk factor for certain types of cancer.

WEEK

DRAMATIC CHANGES THAT LAST

I don’t like to think of Zero Belly as a “weight loss” plan, although you’ll lose a lot of weight. I like to think of it as a plan to shrink your waist and improve your life. So I get excited by stories like that of Kyle Cambridge of Peace River, Alberta, Canada, who lost 4 inches off his waist—and 25 pounds of fat—in just six weeks. “I even had to buy a new belt!” he says. “But the best was when Stacie [my wife] came up to me in the kitchen and gave me a hug. She laughed and smiled and said, ‘I can wrap my hands around you again.’”

June Caron lost 4 inches off her waist in just six weeks. Fred Sparks stripped off 5 inches and 21 pounds of fat. Bob McMicken (down 24 pounds) and Bryan Wilson (19 pounds gone) both shed 6 inches. And Martha Chesler lost 21 pounds and 7 inches off her waist in less than 40 days. And they all remarked on how easy and effective the program was. “I love the Zero Belly drinks,” says Bob. And June says, “It has been beyond comparison to any other diet or exercise program I have ever tried. I am never, ever hungry.” These people discovered the amazing benefits of Zero Belly, and they did it without feeling hungry, tired, or overwhelmed.

I can’t wait for you to join them!


WEIGHT-LOSS HACKS FROM THE ZERO BELLY TEST PANEL

A really great weight-loss plan is like a really great sport or game: It’s got a set of rules that all players abide by—but that doesn’t mean those rules can’t be bent a little.

Like a poker player using her superior bluffing skills or a baseball pitcher rubbing a little dirt onto a shiny new ball, you can bring ideas into play that aren’t in the rule book, per se—but can help you come out on top.

That’s what many of the more than 500 folks who signed up for the original Zero Belly Test Panel did, and it helped some lose as much as 16 pounds in 14 days. By bending some of the traditional “diet rules,” adapting the Zero Belly plan and the Zero Belly Smoothie recipes to their own needs and lifestyles, and playing some healthy mind games to make success their own, they lost the weight—and kept it off. Here are some of their weight-loss secrets.

WEIGHT-LOSS HACK #

>Stop Using That Four-Letter Word

Diet, that is. When a fan site for the Zero Belly Diet sprang up on Facebook, I was more than gratified to discover that the fans themselves had decided to drop the word diet altogether and instead call their site “Zero Belly Way of Life.”

When you “go on a diet,” you’re making the conscious decision that this is a temporary plan. But if you adopt a new way of living, it’s yours forever. Breann Neal, 45, found that Zero Belly was the first plan that has helped her successfully deal with thyroid issues, and she lost 7 pounds and 3 inches off her waist in just two months. Even more dramatically, she says, “my husband has lost 20 pounds and is fitting into jeans that haven’t fit him in three years.

“It’s become a lifestyle for us,” Breann explains. “We both feel so much healthier and have so much energy. My husband says this is the first diet he’s ever been on that didn’t feel like a diet.”

Tell friends and family that you’re “on a diet,” and you’ll have them focused on—and judging you by—your weight. But tell them you’re making some lifestyle changes, and they’ll start noticing other things, too. “I recently visited with a group of industry peers that I haven’t seen for a year, and several of them commented that I looked younger than the last time they saw me,” Breann says.

WEIGHT-LOSS HACK #

>Use Your Family for Motivation

The allure of a flat belly, a leaner waist, maybe some new clothes—it’s easy to get excited about a new weight-loss plan. But starting a diet or fitness program is easy. Sticking to it is a different issue.

And one of the reasons it can be hard to stay focused is that we tend to start programs for all the wrong reasons. A 2014 study in the journal Body Image looked at 321 college-age women and found that, long term, those who exercised primarily for appearance-based reasons had a harder time sticking to their fitness plans than those who worked out to maintain their health. Instead of motivating yourself with dreams of rippled abs, try posting photos of the people who love and depend on you by your fridge or computer—and remember, they’re the ones who really benefit when you lose weight.

WEIGHT-LOSS HACK #

>Stop Being Hungry!

One of the hardest concepts for some folks to get their heads around is the idea of losing weight without having to feel hungry all the time.

“Before Zero Belly I thought I was doing well by skipping meals, eating a salad for lunch every now and then, and walking long distances to try to control my weight,” says Isabel Fiolek, age 56. “It wasn’t working; I was slowly gaining weight and adding inches. Zero Belly taught me to eat smaller meals throughout the day and to eat much healthier food. I was on Zero Belly for six weeks and lost 13 pounds—and I’ve kept it off for a year.”

And Jason Johnson, age 40, found that denying himself food did nothing more than deny him success. “I always felt that in order to eat healthy, it meant I had to be used to being hungry all the time. But by focusing on the foods outlined by Zero Belly, I have discovered that I can eat great-tasting food, not feel hungry, and lose weight.”

What worked for our test panel was making sure the participants always had a Zero Belly snack in hand, just in case. Craving food and not knowing what to eat is like finding yourself in a minefield without a map. In fact, Dutch researchers posed a group of test subjects a series of questions like, “If you’re hungry at 4 p.m., then…what?” Those who had an answer (“I’ll snack on some almonds”) were more successful at losing weight than those who didn’t.

WEIGHT-LOSS HACK #

>Follow Your Moods

Part of the virtue of Zero Belly Smoothies is that they fill you with foods that promote a healthy gut biome. Researchers in Ireland found that mice treated with gut-healthy probiotics suffered less stress, anxiety, and depression-related behavior—which makes sense, since 90 percent of our stores of the feel-good hormone serotonin are actually located not in the brain but in the belly. And Zero Belly Smoothie nutrients like piperine (from fresh black pepper), omega-3 fatty acids (from chia and flax), and folate (from leafy greens and peanuts) have been linked directly to a reduced risk of depression. If you’re blue, it may be a signal that the nutrients in your diet are out of balance.

“I’ve noticed that after I eat food that is not as healthy for me, I tend to not feel as well as I do when I’m eating nutrient-dense foods,” says Jason. “It’s an eye-opener to how rundown I was feeling every day of my life, now that I’m one of those (probably) annoying good-mood people.

“I have been doing Zero Belly for five weeks, and I’ve lost 18 pounds and 3 inches off my waist,” Jason continues. “But the biggest change is this energy and mood shift,” which he says happened on day three of the plan. “I suddenly felt happy, almost euphoric, and my body told me I should just get up and start walking. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.”

WEIGHT-LOSS HACK #

>Freeze Up Your Time

Simple, immediate, and stress-free. That’s what I want Zero Belly to be: a plan that pays off for you quickly, without a lot of hassle and effort. And a key part of that plan is the simple, immediate, and stress-free recipes for Zero Belly Smoothies—plant-based concoctions that are high in the three essential macronutrients of the plan: protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

But whipping up a smoothie isn’t always convenient, especially if your mornings are hectic and your office doesn’t have a blender-friendly kitchen. That’s why I loved this hack from Facebook fan Theresa Nihan Case, who has a simple solution: “I make my shakes the night before and freeze them in mason jars. Then pack them in a cooler bag with an ice pack. Just take them out a few hours before you want to drink.” An added benefit, according to Theresa: “Frozen, you drink it way slower, keeping you full longer.” To make blending easier, always add your liquids first, then the protein and fruit; experiment with how much liquid you need to find the perfect consistency for you.



5-MINUTE FLAT-BELLY TIP:

CALL MERLOT THE MAGICIAN

Have a glass of red wine or two a week. It could help you burn fat better, according to a 2015 study in Nutritional Biochemistry. Over a 10-week trial, mice that got the human equivalent of about 1½ cups of red grapes a day accumulated less abdominal fat and had lower blood sugar than those that didn’t—even though both sets of furry subjects were being fed high-fat diets. In fact, the ellagic acid in the grapes lowered the fat mice’s blood sugar to nearly the same levels as those of lean, normally fed mice.

Red wine is the best possible source of a micronutrient called resveratrol, which works on the genes responsible for obesity and liver steatosis—essentially, belly fat that forms around your liver. That’s because resveratrol is found primarily in the skin of grapes, and the alcohol in wine draws the resveratrol out of the skins, creating a concentrated dose that’s greater than what’s found in just grape juice. (You know how, if you leave a splash of wine sitting in a glass overnight, you get a flaky burgundy deposit at the bottom? That’s resveratrol.)