Sometimes a diet just doesn’t seem to get you anywhere, no matter how strictly you stick to it, and this can be especially discouraging when you can see it working for other people. Your genetics may be to blame.
How Genetics Can Influence Weight
It is often obvious how genes can shape our bodies. People tend to resemble their relatives, including the distribution of weight they carry. However, it isn’t as simple as a gene that controls the presence or absence of fat thighs. Many of the genes that influence weight gain are involved in complicated processes such as metabolism, fat and carbohydrate absorption and processing, and the body’s response to exercise.
Genetics are also not entirely to blame for weight gain. After all, the genetic profile of the population is roughly the same as it was 100 years ago, but obesity rates have sky rocketed. Lifestyle factors must also be taken into account. Studies of twins have tended to show that genetics and lifestyle are each around 50% responsible for weight gain.
Genetic Testing and Weight Loss
Genetic testing is a new trend in health care, and can help to reveal your vulnerabilities when it comes to weight gain as well as other lifestyle related conditions. Interleukin Genetics is one company that has developed a test they feel is comprehensive in terms of current knowledge about weight loss and genetic factors. From a simple cheek swab, this company can tell you what kind of diet you are best suited for–whether it is low carbohydrate, low fat or a balanced low calorie diet. They also determine what intensity of exercise would be most beneficial. A study at Standford showed that women who followed a diet based around this genetic testing lost up to 2.5 times more weight than their peers.
Nutrigenetics is another type of genetic test that has been gaining in popularity. Tests based on nutrigenetics can determine how much of each vitamin we need to stay healthy, which can also aid in weight loss. Often the companies that offer these tests also offer tailor made diets or vitamins depending on your result.
Cons of Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is still in its infancy and the complicated relationships between genes and lifestyle factors are still being determined. Current knowledge does have value, but it should not be taken to be the whole truth. There are many, many more genes to test before scientists can really claim to understand a genetic tendency of obesity. Many of the recommendations made based on genetics are common sense, bought for hundreds of dollars. We should all eat fresh fruits and vegetables and exercise more. There is no magic bullet that genetic testing will reveal, and it cannot change the fact that weight loss can be difficult. It can only help you to better understand the way your body works.
Genetic testing can help you to tailor a diet and exercise program to your particular body needs, but it should be kept in mind that it cannot reveal the whole picture. A knowledge of your genetic profile, however, can take some of the guesswork out of weight loss.