You’ve tried and tried, earnestly to lose weight for years and although you may drop a few pounds trying every diet plan possible, the bottom line is, you are still overweight and struggling. And you are not alone. Could it be your genetics are preventing you from hitting your target weight?
According to studies, 95% of people will gain back the weight they lose within a few years, and 41% of those who attempt dieting will eventually gain back more weight than they originally lost.
Understanding your genetic makeup is clearly important not only to protect your DNA but also to know if certain genetic mutations are challenging you from losing weight.
Let’s dive deeper and see if we can unravel the mystery of genetics and weight loss.
DNA and Weight
Have you considered that perhaps you are struggling to lose a lot of weight or just that last 5-10 pounds, because of what is coded on your DNA? Researchers have identified specific combinations of genes that appear to correlate very strongly with fat retention independent of, and even despite, exercise and eating a calorie conscious diet. This may be why the exercise and eating plans that worked so well for your friend, just isn’t working for you.
When it comes to keeping weight off, a combination of factors conspires against you. Each one on its own makes it difficult but put them together and you are no longer in a fair fight. One factor that makes things hard is our environment of the near-constant temptation of all kinds of foods, treats, and drinks. Everywhere we go, the choices are endless whether they are healthy or not.
Not to mention other hazards attacking your DNA which are out of your control such as radiation, oxidative stress, environmental exposures, and chemicals. This is a whole other topic which I’ll save for another article.
Two other factors to manage weight which are biology and psychology.
Weight and the Biological Factor
Your genes play an important role in determining how much you weigh throughout your life. In fact, your genetic code contains the blueprint for your body type and the weight range that you can healthily maintain. Your body tends to stay in your set weight range—most of your adult life. If your weight strays outside it, multiple systems of your body make changes that push you back toward it, unless you have hormonal imbalances, are overeating or undereating or other medical conditions affecting weight.
Weight and the Psychological Factor
The other foe in the long-term weight loss battle is psychology. When you are dieting, and hungry, psychological changes take place. This type of behavior would have been useful for our ancestors during times of starvation. Back then, those who focused exclusively on food and how to access it would have been more successful at finding some and, therefore, would be more likely to survive than others who were able to distract themselves from thoughts of food.
Interestingly — today it just means that the less we try to eat, the more obsessed we become with food. This shouldn’t come as a big shock.
Psychologically, for many of us, the more we think of off-limits food, the more we fixate on wanting it.
What is a Gene
The interplay of science and genetics has truly evolved the way we now look at personalized health in our society. DNA testing and genotyping programs are designed to educate everyone on how their body works. Using full gene sequencing can uncover a truly individualized approach to fitness and health.
Metabolic tests or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) analysis are only partial snapshots of the genes or metabolic function, but full gene sequencing paints the complete picture of metabolic function. And because it is based on DNA, it does not change so results are applicable for a lifetime.
Contained in the nucleotides of DNA are the genetic instructions for every function in the human body. Traditionally, DNA is explained in terms of dictating individual appearance: hair and eye color, height, freckles or none and it remains true in regard to enzymatic pathways, receptor function and ultimately the precise requirements for exercise, diet, and nutritional supplements.
Here is a great short video that simply explains what is DNA.
Perhaps the recent DNA research studies are some of the reasons for the latest rage to check in on genetic makeup using kits by 23 and Me or Ancestry.com besides just wanting to know the geographical areas of our ancestry.
While the discovery of new genes (SNPs) is constantly evolving, today scientists know of more than seventy genes that are related to the greater probability of obesity. Many of these genes are connected to how your body breaks down food, metabolizes fats and carbohydrates, and sends signals to your brain to stop eating.
When looking at DNA testing it is important to put all the data in perspective to interpret the genetic mutations. Ever wonder why some people can eat certain foods and not gain weight while others just look at food and gain five pounds? The problem may be they have a gene mutation which causes them to gain weight despite their caloric intake. However, this does not mean that all gene mutations require any concern or action. So, it’s not as simple as saying this gene makes a person fat.
The research suggests that certain genetic mutations can predispose obesity and weight gain. This does not account for the changes you can do to counter any findings of DNA mutations.
An example of some genes shown to correlate to weight include:
- Fat Mass and Obesity (FTO) gene which affects the ability to regulate the amount of food intake and feeling of satiety to prevent overeating. The FTO gene is also one of the strongest genetic variants known to correlate with obesity and will benefit greatly from exercise.
- The APOA2 gene shows how a person reacts to what they eat, especially saturated fat. So, for these individuals, consuming high amounts of saturated fats can lead to obesity and high BMI.
- The ADRB2 gene is a marker for the breakdown of fat.
- Methylation Functioning (PGC1-alpha and Tfam) are two genes that are related to methylation which when functioning properly help with metabolism.
- Studies show that people with the MRAP2 gene gained weight despite caloric restrictions. This may sound familiar to some readers and may explain this puzzling struggle.
While these genes and many more may make it more challenging to lose weight, lifestyle choices may still be the best way to overcome what your genetic traits are saying about you.
The good news is while genes may mean you have challenges losing weight — it doesn’t mean weight loss is impossible. You simply must work harder to manage your genetic traits with lifestyle choices such as better diet, reduced caloric intake, sleep and relaxation and move more.
The bottom line is — get to know your DNA for insights and then learn what you can do to make small tweaks through lifestyle choices to combat them.
In working with patients in my Westchester NY office I often look to DNA testing to uncover the root challenges they are experiencing when trying to lose weight. Modifying genetic expression with targeted programs helps them to compensate for any gene mutations and make their body work best.
Causes of Obesity
Many factors influence body weight-genes including some hereditary factors, poor diets, not enough sleep and not enough physical activity.
The biggest equation to look at is that — at the start — obesity usually results when you take in more calories than you need. The body stores these excess calories as body fat, and over time the extra pounds add up. Eat fewer calories than the body burns and weight goes down. But this equation doesn’t account for the many factors that affect what we eat when we eat, how much we exercise, and how our bodies process energy.
Genes seem to increase the risk of weight gain when looked at with other risk factors in the environment, such as unhealthy diets and inactive lifestyles.
Specifics on What Causes Obesity
Putting it all together means understanding what other factors outside of your genes can affect your weight.
1. Prenatal and Postnatal Influences
Pregnant mothers who smoke or who are overweight may have children who are more likely to grow up to be obese adults. Also, excessive weight gain as a child can raise the risk of adult obesity. Teaching a child at a young age how to eat right can have lasting effects on their ability to manage weight into adulthood.
2. Unhealthy Diet
The typical Western diet of frequent, large meals high in refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks-plays one of the largest roles in obesity. These foods can damage your DNA which correlates to how your genes are expressed and impact your weight loss.
3. More Television and Not Enough Activity
Watching too much television is a strong obesity risk factor, in part because we get exposed to food and beverage advertising that can influence our food choices. Studies show that those with the FTO gene variant are more likely to gain weight however, physical activity appears to reduce the effect of their genetic predisposition to obesity.
4. Toxic Environment
Our environment has become toxic to healthy living in general due to the incessant marketing everywhere you look at unhealthy foods and sugary drinks. “Convenient and processed foods” have become a staple in many homes which reduce the amount of fresh whole foods, contributing to more toxic buildup and weight gain.
5. Not Enough Sleep and Stress
Excessive stress and lack of sleep over time can lead to the increased expression of genes that cause inflammation. This inflammation can cause health risks such as obesity. The good news is that you don’t have to let stress overwhelm you and learn to take it down a notch with relaxation techniques.
Genetics or Not
Recognizably, not everyone is willing to go for genetic testing before embarking on a weight loss program. Nor is it always necessary to do genetic testing before making positive efforts towards weight loss goals. The important thing is that research shows – again and again – that the calories-in, calories-out explanations about body weight while simplistic and with many very real, is necessary for weight loss. You may know this from your own experiences, but the good news is you can learn new behaviors and adapt if necessary.
And pretty much everyone can benefit from looking at these specifics when managing their weight loss efforts.
Best Weight Loss Supplements
The combination of targeted efforts and supplements may offer the best possible protection against genetic challenges and weight loss. Here are a few to get started.
How well your system works to remove toxins from your body is very important to how well you are able to lose weight. Starting with a comprehensive detoxification program can help with this assessment.
A 14 or 21-day detox program is a good gauge for seeing what is happening with the toxins and targeting what else may be needed for optimal health. My plan is convenient and easy to follow, improves satiety while you are eating less food and most importantly, is formulated to minimize the possibility of negative detox side effects.
2. Vitamin B Status
Vitamin B plays a crucial role in boosting your metabolism and other important psychological functions. B deficiency is common because of the everyday stresses of our lives as well as eating a modern refined diet, high in sugar, alcohol, and devitalized foods. Many medications may also lower B vitamin levels. B-Supreme is an easy way to make sure you are on track with your B vitamins.
3. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity has to do with how well your cells respond to insulin.
when you have high insulin sensitivity, you can eat carbohydrates without such a large rise in insulin but once insulin gets too high, fat loss comes to a halt. If you have bombarded your body with high-glycemic carbohydrates and processed foods most of your life, chances are you may have some insulin resistance. So, when you eat carbohydrates, it causes a larger release of insulin, inhibiting the release of fat. Simply put — higher insulin levels = more fat storage. I often recommend Metabolic Synergy™ for patients after testing confirms some blood sugar issues as a unique multivitamin that may help maintain already healthy glucose levels while supporting the conversion of carbohydrates to be used for energy.
4. Green Tea for Weight Loss
I strongly advise on supplementing with green tea for its numerous health benefits as shown in studies. It provides protection against oxidative stress, gene signaling against potential cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer, inflammation, and aides in promoting weight loss. Green tea contains an active polyphenol, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which when consumed diminishes the impact that poor diet can have on insulin production and chronic inflammation. An ideal product is called EGCg which helps with fat metabolism and supports gene expression. The consumption of green tea is easy and cheap, however for therapeutic effects supplementation is optimal.
If you’ve earnestly tried to drop weight, and your results just don’t ever seem to stack up very well next to others in your life, it can be very discouraging. In this case, we can get you started with a genetic testing kit and within a few weeks, you will know what your genetic makeup is saying about you. Contact me to get your genetic test kit ordered today.
Getting dealt a genetically bad hand doesn’t mean you are doomed to losing the game – it just means you may need a different strategy to win it.
I often lead my patients through a dietary and weight management program tailored to address their very specific needs to get and keep weight in check regardless of what we find on their genetic report.
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Contact me and let me help you with a fresh start at losing those pounds and truly getting healthier. Together we can uncover not only — your individual metabolic requirements, your best paths to weight loss and optimal performance – but also the psychological mindset it takes to be successful on all levels.
What are your weight loss challenges? Share in the comment box below.