Can DNA Test Really be the Key to Weight Loss?
March 25, 2016
Do you find it difficult to manage your weight at a healthy level or are you someone always struggling with losing that last 5-10 pounds? Do you often blame it on something “out of your control” like genetics or your family DNA? Research suggests that 40-70% of the differences between 2 individuals with respect to their body fat can be linked to their genetics. However, the genes that influence our weight only cause obesity in rare cases. Our DNA can make us susceptible to increases in body weight but that usually happens when our environment supports eating excess calories and being less physically active.
There have been numerous advancements in the role of genetics and body weight in the last decade. One important aspect of this science is that it’s not just one gene that influences our weight but many genes. Also, genes interact with each other to further complicate the obesity puzzle. Genetics can influence glucose metabolism, behaviors around food selection, appetite regulation, as well as how much physical activity can affect weight loss.
For example, through personalized genomic testing, one can determine what specific genes impact their ability to lose and maintain weight loss. The FTO gene is one such gene. Certain variants of this gene can be correlated to obesity in humans. One type of variation has shown that those individuals who eat a high protein diet are more likely to lose weight than those who eat a lower protein diet no matter the ratio of fat and carbohydrate. Also, individuals with this variant who normally have a higher appetite, the appetite can be suppressed when he or she eats more protein. The FTO gene also affects the way someone responds to exercise. If you have this specific variant it would be critical to engage in aerobic activity to maximize weight loss and if you didn’t it would still be important for health, but may not impact your weight loss efforts.
The PPARG gene appears to influence our weight and is sensitive to the type of diet we eat. It affects how our body stores and breaks down fats. Individuals who carry a certain variant in the PPARG gene and eat a Mediterranean style diet (high in monounsaturated fats) seem to be less likely to be overweight. However, another variation in this same gene shows that actually a lower overall fat diet is more beneficial to for weight loss.
Those with the Plin1 genetic variation find it difficult to lose weight even on a low calorie diet; however, it does become easier for them if they consume a diet high in complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. People tend to think everyone who wants to lose weight should be on a high protein diet but here is an example where high protein may actually hinder weight loss.
Losing weight can be extremely challenging and keeping it off can be even more difficult. You may want to try using nutrigenomic testing to determine how your DNA influences body fat reduction and what specifics you should focus on for better weight management efforts.
Angela B Moore, MS, RD, CLT
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Nutrigenomics, Weight Management , Blog