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Food for thought: Is a genetically appropriate diet the key to losing weight and keeping it off?

Knowing more about your genetic make-up can give you useful tips towards safeguarding your health. Inherent within this, it can also provide many important clues on the best way for you to maintain a healthy weight.

The key word here is ‘maintain’. The one-size-fits-all approach to dieting may work in shedding those initial pounds but as a long-term solution for keeping your weight where you want it, it rarely gets results. Just as some people react differently to the same medication, people can experience very different outcomes from the same dietary regime. The important thing is to try to establish the right type of diet for you.

A personal genetic analysis can reveal a wide range of inherited predispositions, which can all affect your tendency to put on weight. Being armed with this insight can enable you to pursue the most effective strategies to enable you to not only lose weight safely but also to sustain the weight loss.

A bespoke eating plan that’s based on your DNA provides a very targeted solution, specific to your particular weight issues. This level of personalisation makes any diet plan more compelling; therefore, you are more likely to buy into it and stick to it.

For several years there has been evidence that people on genetically approved eating regimes are more successful at losing weight.

For several years there has been evidence that people on genetically approved eating regimes are more successful at losing weight. In 2010 a group at Stanford University in the US looked at four specific genes involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption or metabolism of fat in the body. After the participants underwent genetic testing, they were given an appropriate diet plan to match. For example, a low carb eating plan for those who were identified as being carbohydrate sensitive and a low fat eating plan to those who were sensitive to fats. The participants whose diets matched their genetic test results lost, on average, 2.5 times more weight than those whose diets were not based on their genes.

So what are the genetic factors that can impact on nutrition and weight loss and how can genetic testing help?

Allergies/intolerances

If you are eating foods your body can’t tolerate or you’re allergic to, it can cause weight gain. Food allergy (an immune response that occurs when your body reacts adversely to a specific food and produces antibodies to fight it) and intolerance (where a food irritates the gut or cannot be digested properly) can lead to inflammation in the gut, which can prompt the production of hormones that destabilise insulin and blood sugar levels. The excess insulin produced by the body is then stored as fat (usually around the belly).

Undergoing a genetic nutrition test can help you identify any allergies or intolerances such as lactose and gluten. Under expert guidance, such foods can then be gradually eliminated from the diet, reducing inflammation and helping you to lose those unwanted pounds.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

A genetic test can also determine if you have a predisposition to key nutrient deficiencies, which may be contributing to your weight problem. It can reveal whether you are lacking in important vitamins such as A, B12, C, D and E, and essential minerals such as folate, iron and calcium. According to a 2012 study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, obese individuals tend to have high rates of nutrient deficiencies, which can impair glucose metabolism and cause insulin resistance, contributing to weight gain and the development of type 2 diabetes.

If you eat a lot of unhealthy, nutrient-poor foods, you may not be getting adequate amounts of certain vitamins to help your body burn energy and prevent weight gain. For example, vitamin A is linked to the regulation of fat cells and the hormones they release and vitamin D may play a role in the release of hormones that controls our sense of hunger and how much fat is stored in the body. A deficiency in either could have an impact on body weight. By picking up on potential nutrient deficiencies through genetic testing, adjustments can be made to the diet to correct any imbalances that may be contributing to excess weight.

Carbohydrate response

Research indicates that obesity may be genetically linked to how the body digests carbohydrates. A 2014 study by Imperial College London investigated the relationship between body weight and the gene AMY1, which is responsible for making an enzyme in the saliva (amylase), which starts the digestion of starch. The number of copies of this particular gene can vary from two to 16 and the research found that the more AMY1 genes you have, the more enzyme you have to break down carbs more effectively. People who carry a low number of copies of this gene were at greater risk of obesity.

Research indicates that obesity may be genetically linked to how the body digests carbohydrates.

A DNA nutrition test can tell you whether you have a genetic disposition to be carb intolerant. If this is the case, you can then adapt your diet and lifestyle accordingly. For example, switching from refined, processed carbs such as white bread and sugar to complex carbohydrates which are high in fibre and rich in nutrients, can help keep you feeling fuller for longer and less prone to high-calorie snacking.

Metabolic rate

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into the energy that your body needs to function. The difference between a fast and slow metabolism is determined by your metabolic rate – how many calories you burn to support these functions. A slow metabolism burns fewer calories than a fast one. Genetics is just one factor that determines your metabolic rate. Other influences include gender, body composition and daily activity.

By understanding your metabolism through DNA analysis, you can see how your body works and what changes in diet and exercise might boost your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight.

Genetic testing is a simple process that can provide a valuable insight into your physical make-up and thus help you make healthier lifestyle choices. A simple cheek swab test is all it takes to reveal why your lifestyle may be causing you to struggle with keeping your weight under control. The days of one-size-fits-all diets are over; with genetic testing you can be far more precise in your efforts to be the weight that suits you.


 

Our NutriQlu test will unlock the secrets of your DNA to identify genetic predispositions for food intolerances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, ideal exercise type and more.

Train harder, eat better and recover faster with key insights from your custom genetic report.

If you’re looking to lose weight, get lean, gain muscle and optimise your diet take the first step with a NutriQlu personalised nutrition and fitness report.

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