Weight loss can be a seemingly easy task for some but an elusive goal for others. Some people seem to be naturally slim, while others optimize their diets and begin high-intensity exercise, yet still see no vast movements on the scale. Unfortunately, there's no simple solution when it comes to weight loss. Many factors can contribute to an individual's weight fluctuation, including daily caloric intake, energy expenditure and the body's ability to use fat as energy.
Researchers have been interested in exploring the factors that influence body weight for many years. Recent research has identified a genetic contribution to the way that your body uses, transports, or stores fat, as well as your appetite. When examining these studies, it's important to understand that weight is a complex trait, meaning there are many factors – both environmental and genetic – that influence it.
Your diet provides fuel for your performance. Through analyzing the contributions of your gene variants to your metabolism, BMI (Body mass index), eating behaviour, and fat sensitivity, you can start to understand how to structure your diet to get the results you desire, whether it's shedding a few pounds or improving certain aspects of your athletic performance. To see the maximum benefit of your results from Athletigen, you may opt to consult a nutritionist or performance professional to personalize your nutrition.
What's the link between my genetics and saturated fat?
Conventional wisdom tells us that we should limit our intake of saturated fat. This type of fat is typically found in cheese, meat, and processed foods. Some individuals may gain more weight from saturated fat due to their variant of the rs5082 marker in APOA2, a gene that codes for a lipoprotein – a type of protein that transports lipids in your blood. Its role in lipid metabolism is still under investigation, but researchers discovered an association between a variant of this gene and a tendency towards higher caloric intake and high sensitivity to saturated fat intake, resulting in increased odds of gaining weight from a high saturated fat diet.
The relatively rare GG genotype of APOA2 has been associated with several metabolism-related traits. Your caloric intake can be a critical determinant of your weight. Individuals with the GG genotype may consume up to 200 more calories than other variants per day. Preliminary studies have linked this effect to alterations in ghrelin levels, a hormone that plays a role in signalling appetite in your brain.
The GG genotype of APOA2 has also been linked to increased sensitivity to dietary fats – especially saturated fats. Individuals with this genotype may be more likely to consume more fat containing meals, and there's a higher likelihood that this may result in weight gain. Researchers examined this effect in European and Asian populations, so further research is needed in a greater diversity of ethnicities to confirm this effect.
Can my DNA affect my response to dieting?
Have you ever noticed that your weight can fluctuate? Or do you have trouble shedding or gaining extra pounds? Your genetics can absolutely affect how you respond to increasing or restricting your caloric intake. Scientists have identified the rs1042714 marker in the ARDB2 gene as having an effect on mobilizing stored body fat.
Individuals with the GG and CG genotypes of ARDB2 have been described as high responders to dieting. One interesting study of 74 Spanish females compared the difference between weight loss by genotype during a period of calorie restriction. In this study, GG and CG individuals lost the most weight, while CC individuals lost the least. Other studies have indicated that GG and CG individuals may have a higher BMI and body weight than CC individuals. This may mean that if you have the GG or CG genotype, you may be able to lose weight with a calorie restricted diet, but you may put on weight more easily, too. These findings are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution as further study in larger, ethnically diverse populations is needed to increase this marker's confidence.
What other markers have been identified as having an impact on my ability to gain or lose weight?
If you look at your Athletigen report, you may notice that your metabolism is affected by several genes, including PPARG. The rs1801282 marker has been identified as having a role in fat metabolism and body composition. This gene has a pretty wide-ranging role. It's responsible for turning on genes that break down fatty acids to produce energy. This makes sense, as it is highly expressed in parts of the body that need higher levels of lipid breakdown, like in the heart, fat, and muscle tissues.
When this gene is turned on, it may result in higher levels of fatty acid breakdown and uptake of fat cells for energy. This is good if you're an endurance athlete, as fatty acids are a very efficient way of producing energy for extended periods of time.
What does this mean for you? If you're CG or GG genotype, you may be at a higher risk of gaining weight if you have a high-fat diet. Additionally, you may also naturally have a higher body mass index and body fat percentage compared to the CC genotype. Luckily, some research has identified that CG and GG individuals may respond well to diets high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like the Mediterranean diet. It seems that CC individuals may respond best to a diet that is low in all fats.
How can I use this information?
Evidently, there are many factors at play in determining your weight and body composition. Your genetics certainly influence whether you'll eat more, lose or gain weight, and how your body uses or stores fat. That said, genetics is only one piece of the puzzle. What you put on your plate is important, too. Whether you have specific weight goals, or you are interested in learning more about how your body works, finding out your variants can arm you with more information to make the best decisions for your individual case.
Get your DNA reports from Athletigen and consider consulting a nutritionist with your genetic information to determine the best diet to fuel your performance or lead a healthy life.