The Gene Smart Diet

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 21, 2022

The Promise

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.

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 on Facebook, Pinterest, and in an email newsletter.

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.

But the reason this diet helps people lose weight is because it’s low in calories, not because it changes your genes.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Overall, this good-for-you plan is in line with diet recommendations for preventing chronic conditions. It’s also a solid choice for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes, though you will still need to be mindful about your specific diet needs, like tracking sodium and counting carbs.

The Final Word

This is a healthy diet that gives guidance on food and exercise and can help you lose weight.

The plan is for people who want support, enjoy cooking, and prefer a structured eating and exercise plan. It may not be a good fit for someone who hates to cook or needs to start with smaller changes.

People over age 50 or with a health condition should talk to their doctor before starting this weight loss plan.

Show Sources


Chilton, F. The Gene Smart Diet: The Revolutionary Eating Plan That Will Rewrite Your Genetic Destiny -- And Melt Away the Pounds, Rodale, 2009.

Ivester, P. Preventing Chronic Disease, July 2010.

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