Often, we are told that excess weight is simply the result of a lack of willpower: overweight people overeat and exercise too little, period.
We are told that weight loss is a simple equation of Energy intake < Energy expenditure.
The truth is, weight loss is much more complicated than that. Weight loss is not only connected to your diet and how often you exercise; it is intricately related to your stress levels, lifestyle habits, sleep quality, mental health and genetics. Yes, you heard it, even your genetics!
Your genetic makeup governs everything from how your body is programmed for energy storage to how well it processes certain types of foods.
Common reasons why you can’t lose weight are a result of the way your genes work together – or don’t – and how they interact with the environment. Therefore, an effective weight-loss program needs to be tailored to your individual genetic makeup.
Think of it this way. Would you wear one-size-fits-all pants? Of course not. So why would anyone pick a weight-loss program that comes with a one-size-fits-all approach?
This article shares four surprising reasons why you can’t lose weight and the genes that help (or hinder) your weight loss efforts.
Reason #1: THE FATSO GENE
The FTO gene, also known as the Fatso Gene, encodes a protein involved in body composition. It plays a role in fat mass and obesity-associated proteins. Having genetic variations in the FTO Gene may put some people at higher risk for obesity.
For example, people with variations in the FTO gene are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than those with the standard version. The good news is that physical activity is one of the best ways to mitigate this genetic tendency.
In a recent study, physically active people who have a variant in the FTO gene did not have a high BMI. Conversely, those with the same variant who did not exercise were more likely to be overweight.
So, while you may have this genetic variant, the simple act of exercising routinely can minimize your risk of obesity by up to 40% – this is the beauty of epigenetics and your ability to change gene expression for the better!
It’s worth adding if you have the FTO gene, simply being aware of other genetic food variations can help you avoid the foods that are more likely to allow that tricky FTO gene to become a problem.
Learn about your FTO fatso gene in the dnaPower BMI, Saturated Fat and Emotional Eating panel.
Reason #2: THE SNACK GENE
The MC4R gene, also known as the Snack Gene, is a dear friend of the Fatso Gene. Why? Because it pairs up with the Fatso Gene to encourage more snacking.
The MC4R gene produces a protein called melanocortin receptor, which is found primarily in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that detects low energy levels and sends out hunger signals that encourage you to eat.
Individuals with genetic variations in the MC4R gene often feel the urge to snack more during the day, choose fattier foods over healthier ones, and generally eat larger portion sizes.
An excellent way to manage your inner ‘snack monster’ is to keep a food diary to remind yourself of how much you’ve eaten that day already. Keep healthy snacks (e.g. low glycemic fruits like berries and apples, nuts and seeds) easily accessible so that healthy options are within reach at the first sign of hunger. Or go make yourself an herbal tea or get a glass of water every time you have a snack urge.
Learn about your MC4R snack gene in the dnaPower Carbohydrate and BMI panel.
Reason #3: THE EMOTIONAL EATING GENE
Remember that pesky FTO gene? It also plays a role in emotional eating. Emotional eating is associated with using food to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness.
Food cravings are powerful when you’re emotionally weak. Turning to food for comfort — consciously or unconsciously — when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed or even feeling bored. As a result, this can lead to overeating, especially high-calorie, sweet and fatty foods.
Emotional eating involves a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors that influence eating behaviour. Suppose you have variations in the FTO Emotional Eating Genes; you are more likely to be impacted with a strong desire for comfort foods, increasing your chances of being overweight, obese, and developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Luckily, you can turn down these genes by being aware of your emotions related to certain foods. Take note of the environment in which you are eating – is it stressful or relaxing? Becoming more aware of how you respond to certain foods can help identify triggers that lead to addictive eating patterns and behaviours.
Learn about your FTO emotional eating gene in the dnaPower Emotional Eating panel.
Reason #4: THE FAT GRABBER GENE
Are you gaining weight, especially around the abdomen? Have you been diagnosed with insulin resistance?
If you said yes to any of the above, you might have the FABP2 gene. Variations in this gene can increase the absorption and processing of dietary fats in the small intestine.
How do you turn off the harmful effects of the FABP2 gene?
A focus on consuming healthy carbohydrate foods like whole grains and non-starchy vegetables, monitoring and reducing your intake of fats and sugary foods like pastries and cake.
Take dietary and lifestyle measures to reduce inflammation by eating lower glycemic-index foods, choosing complex carbohydrates rich in fibre, and introducing sources of omega-3 from fatty fish and vegan sources like leafy greens and spirulina.
Learn about your FABP2 fat grabber gene in the dnaPower Dietary Unsaturated Fat panel
The importance of learning more about your genes, how they work and how it impacts you, is that you may be more sensitive or vulnerable to certain foods than others. For instance, your temptation to eat sugar or how well your body metabolizes fats, carbs, and proteins.
By understanding your genetic profile, you can unlock your personal genetic code for permanent weight loss. A targeted and tailored diet plan that turns off the bad genes and amplifies the good ones can be an effective weight-loss plan for you.
Learn how your weight loss genes may be impacting your health goals. With our dietPower DNA test kit, you can find out how your body responds to carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Learn how specific food intolerances or potential vitamin deficiencies may be slowing down your weight loss efforts.
Get a complete picture of your genes related to nutrition, fitness, hormonal health, inflammation, and mental wellness with our totalPower DNA test kit. Maximize your health – without the guesswork.