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The Gene Smart Diet

The Promise

Could understanding how your genes work be the key to controlling your weight? That’s the idea behind the Gene Smart Diet.

Creator Floyd Chilton, PhD, a Wake Forest School of Medicine professor of physiology, says your genes were simply not designed for today's diets and lifestyles. This mismatch, he says, leads to inflammation in the body, which causes weight gain and other problems.

To get them back in sync, you’ll need to reduce calories, eat more fiber, increase polyphenols (a type of antioxidant found in fruits, vegetables, and tea), exercise more, and add omega-3 fatty acids.

Does It Work?

There has been one study of the Gene Smart Diet. Men who took part in the study lost an average of 13 pounds and women 10.5 pounds over the course of 8 weeks.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

The diet lets you choose from a variety of foods. Its grocery list focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole-grain carbs, "good" fats such as canola and olive oil, and low-fat dairy products.

The diet doesn't mention alcohol other than red wine, which has nutrients called polyphenols. You can't have red wine during the first 5 weeks of the diet. After that, you can have a glass of red wine with dinner three to six times a week.

Level of Effort: Medium

Limitations: The diet is flexible and gives you lots of foods and menu plans to choose from. You will need to control portion sizes.

Cooking and shopping: Most of the foods recommended on the diet should be available at your local grocery store. The book recommends stir-frying and steaming to preserve foods’ nutrients.

Packaged foods or meals: No. All foods should be available at your regular grocery store. The diet does recommend supplements, which are sold on its web site.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: You should do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week, and also do strength training.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: This diet will work for you.

Gluten-free diet: Gluten isn't banned, but you can skip it if you want to. If you're strictly avoiding gluten, check food labels for unexpected sources of gluten.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: Just your groceries.

Support: You do this diet on your own, although you can find some resources and support at Facebook, on Pinterest, and in an email newsletter.

What Else You Should Know

What Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD Says:

Does It Work?

In one study of the Gene Smart Diet, men lost an average of 13 pounds and women lost 10.5 pounds over the course of 8 weeks. This isn't surprising, as the meal plans are healthy and low in calories. 

WebMD Medical Reference

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