With every new year comes new diet and fitness trends. Shows such as “Trust Me: I’m A Doctor” and ITV’s Tonight programme have talked about the concept of DNA testing for your nutritional and fitness needs. It works on the idea that our DNA can determine what type of exercise best suits us and whether we are more sensitive to certain foods. Using this information, we can alter our exercise and eating habits to live healthier and happier lives.
Intrigued by the concept, I thought I’d give it a go. I got in touch with a company called “DNAFit”. They were very helpful explaining how it all works. Once you send off your DNA sample, they will test the sample against 38 different gene variants which relate to different aspects of diet and fitness such macronutrient sensitivities, exercise type that suits you best, etc. These results are presented to you in the form of booklets which explain the genes tested and how you can change your habits according to the results. You will also receive a telephone consultation from one of their sports scientists or dieticians to help you interpret the results and incorporate them into your life.
Sounds good to me … So I thought I’d give it a go.
I decided to go for the DNAFit Diet Pro as part of their New Year New You promotion. This package includes:
- The full diet package which tests:
- The most suitable diet type for you
- Carbohydrate sensitivity
- Fat sensitivity
- Lactose tolerance
- Coeliac predisposition
- Detoxification ability
- Antioxidant needs
- B vitamin needs
- Vitamin D needs
- Omega 3 needs
- Salt, caffeine and alcohol sensitivity
- The full fitness package which tests:
- Training intensity response
- Aerobic response
- Post-exercise recovery
- Injury predisposition
As part of their New Year New You promotion, they also included their brand new Stress Report.
Once I put in the order, a few days later I received a kit which included a swab that you use to take a sample from your cheek, a container for the swab, a capsule which you put in the container to keep the sample fresh, a form to fill out, a label to stick on the sample for identification purposes and an envelope to send the sample and form back to the lab. Once I took my swab, I registered the number on the sample label on the DNAFit website and sent it off. It was quick and easy to do.
After about 10 days, I received an email saying my results were in and I was able to download and view them. So excited!
I received a colourful infographic which gave a brief overview of the results and three reports detailing all the genes tested and what my results show with recommendations. There are also added extras such as a shopping list and a guide to my specific dietary recommendation with the option of purchasing a meal planner and a fitness plan.
A couple of weeks later, I had my complementary consultation with Michelle, one of the sports scientists at DNAFit. She was extremely helpful and explained the reports fully offering specific advice once she got to know me and my lifestyle needs.
Here is a rundown of my results:
- My ideal diet type is the low carbohydrate plan (this does not mean I cannot have any form of carbohydrate. The consultant recommended percentages of my macros so I can work out how many grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat I should have depending on height, weight and activity level)
- I have a high sensitivity to carbohydrates – this means that I am more likely to gain weight from high carbohydrate intake, specifically refined carbohydrates
- I have a low sensitivity to fat – this means that I am able to eat more fat than some people without gaining weight (although it’s still best to limit saturated fat)
- I am at a higher risk of DNA damage from smoked and chargrilled meat (good thing I’m mostly vegetarian)
- My detoxification ability is normal
- I have an increased need for antioxidants (which include Vitamins A, C and E and Selenium)
- I have a raised need for Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- I have normal Vitamin B requirements
- I have a raised need for Vitamin D
- I have a normal salt sensitivity – this means that salt has less of an effect on my blood pressure than for some people (although it is still recommended I stick to the standard guideline of maximum 6g per day)
- Alcohol has a positive effect on my cholesterol if I were to have 1-2 units of alcohol a day (or up to 3 times a week)
- I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine – this means that it will only stay in my system for around 1-2 hours but may stay in longer for slower metabolisers. It’s still recommended I have no more than 300mg per day
- I am lactose tolerant – this means that I don’t have a primary intolerance to lactose (found in dairy products) and that if I do experience symptoms, it is a secondary intolerance following an illness
- I have a negative result for Coeliac Disease – this means I have a less than 1 in 2000 chance to develop coeliac so there may still be a chance of me developing coeliac. I know that I definitely have an intolerance to gluten if it isn’t coeliac. I will keep an eye on any signs that it could be coeliac and get tested accordingly
- I am suited to more power based activities (60% power and 40% endurance). This includes activities such as weight training, sprinting and track cycling. This makes complete sense to me with my gymnastics. Michelle also told me that this means that I am more likely to put on muscle and maintain it (but don’t panic – you won’t see a picture of me looking like the Hulk). She recommended I do a 2:1 split on my power and endurance. For example, if I was training 5 days a week, I should do power training 3 days and endurance 2 days
- I have a medium VO2 Max aerobic potential. VO2 Max is a test used by scientists to measure maximum or optimum rate an individual can effectively use oxygen during exercise. Mine is in the middle. Including a mixture of power and endurance can help me to improve my VO2 Max
- I recover from exercise quickly. This is good to hear but DNAFit still gave me recommendations to include in my diet to help with recovery such as Omega 3 and Beta Carotene
- I have a high injury risk (that explains a lot – I do tend to hurt myself quite easily). Michelle recommended I do some eccentric training in my resistance training sessions (during the last set) as this will help with strengthening my joints and muscles and preventing injuries. This involves you slowing down the returning to start position phase of an exercise. For example, when doing a bicep curl, lift the weights up for one count then lower for 3 counts
Overall, I have a low/medium stress response, presenting a mixture of strategist and warrior responses. I guess this makes sense to me as I do manage to come up with strategies during stressful times. Some stress reducing strategies are suggested in the report such as meditation and exercise.
Overall, I found DNA testing a very interesting experience. It was fascinating to see what my genetics say about my body’s response to diet and fitness and seeing how it actually fits in my lifestyle. The support I got from Michelle during the consultation was great and she offers to continue that support afterwards through email which is great so I don’t feel like I am struggling on my own. I look forward to trying all of the recommended advice and see if it makes any difference to my overall shape and tone and sports performance.
Would I recommend it to anyone else? It does come with a price tag with plans starting from £99 so I would certainly recommend looking at your finances to see if you really can afford it before buying. While I am only at the starting point of the DNAFit journey so am yet to see if the recommendations have the desired effects, just from the amount of information, recommendations and support I was given, I believe it was money well spent.
For more information, see http://www.dnafit.com