Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Best Diet for your Genes

  • Paarl Dietitians
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Ever wondered why some people lose weight on one type of diet and others don’t and why is there is so many conflicting results? It might be because of us. Well, because of our different genes.

This specific question led to the emerging science of genetic testing, called nutritional genomics (a.k.a. nutrigenomics) – the study of interactions between genes and diet. Keep reading if you want to know more.


Dieting is often an endless cycle of losing weight and gaining it all back. Thousands of diets exist, but how do you know which one is best for you? The answer may lie in your DNA. The idea of the DNA DIET is rooted in the scientifically proven reality that dieting simply doesn’t work for many people. Popular diets are based on a presumption that ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL. That is NOT true. For some people it is harder to lose weight than for others because of their genes.

A now famous study conducted at Stanford University looked at the long-term effects of weight loss using a few different diets assigned at random. Results showed that some participants lost weight on one type of diet, such as low-fat, while others did not. The study then tested participants’ DNA for 3 specific gene variations and found that those using the best diet for their DNA lost 2-3 times more weight than those on the ‘wrong’ diet, not using their best DNA diet.

DNA testing and following a weight loss diet based on your genetic make-up makes sense because our genes control hormone levels, enzyme levels – all the basic levels of metabolism. And how we metabolize food determines what happens to the nutrients and calories we take in.


Nutritional guidelines are for ALL individuals, but just like clothes, a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not applicable. These dietary recommendations are based on averages across large populations or responses of people, which could be irrelevant to others. For many years, doctors and dieticians have viewed diet the same way, assuming there is only one optimal diet for all. Research has shown otherwise and that this is likely not the case. Humans are 99.5% the same. Yet that 0.5% difference matters.

Why is DNA testing so successful for weight loss?

Research has shown that it is extremely important for successful weight loss to know the right amounts and ratios of macronutrients in your daily nutritional intake. Therefore knowing how many carbohydrates, proteins, saturated fats and unsaturated fats you should eat daily plays the most important role in your weight loss management plan. Research found that individuals who dieted using recommendations based on their actual genetic makeup lost 33% more weight than those who didn’t.


It is as simple as 1-2-3!

Do a cheek swap

DNA testing is easy and painless, by taking a cheek swap sample (like they do in Crime Scene Investigations on TV) and then sending the sample back to the DNAlysis laboratory for analysis. Here they use modern technology to analyse a person’s sample in order to identify genetic variants and study the relationship between individual genes and diet – thereby gaining intimate knowledge about physiological processes that may not function optimally.

Unlock your results

The DNA DIET report is generated that allows an individual to understand how their genes affect the way he or she respond to foods they consume e.g. carbohydrates or saturated fat.

The DNA DIET further determines the right amounts and ratios of macronutrients required on a daily basis by defining your weight loss nutritional type (e.g. Mediterranean, Low-Fat or Low-Carb). By knowing that, you can give your body exactly what it needs! No more cravings and constant hunger you have experienced with previous diets that resulted in unsuccessful weight loss.

Optimise your diet and training plan

The DNA DIET report is used to refine your nutrition and exercise plan to manage your weight. Providing you with a diet plan tailored to your genes (be it low carb or low fat) and insight into optimal exercise intensity for weight loss. However, some people have the gene where physical activity does not help them lose weight!


Genetic variations make each of us unique in all sorts of ways, including how our bodies respond to different types of foods, it may also have a powerful influence on what we like to eat (bitter vegetables or sweets) as well as why some people get fat and others stay thin. Some gene variants affect appetite and satiety. Others appear to influence how efficiently people burn fat for energy.

Obesity Risk 

The DNA DIET test will reveal if you have what is called the “increased obesity risk” gene called FTO. This gene plays a role in appetite control, meaning a person with this gene are likely to eat more, feel hungry soon after a meal and crave fattier foods more than someone without this gene.

Then there is the gene that tells a person whether they are more likely to gain and regain weight as well as their ability to lose weight more slowly or faster than others. The DNA DIET will also indicate if you are genetically inclined to have a higher body fat percentage and higher waist circumference.

Carbohydrate responsiveness

Certain gene variants impact your ability to lose weight when carbohydrates are eaten. If a person’s carbohydrate sensitivity is very high, they are more likely to put on weight if they eat lots of carbs. This means to lose weight they’ll be better suited to a low carb diet and would need to restrict refined carbs significantly. If someone falls in the low risk category, they can eat carbohydrates and still lose weight.

Eating behaviour

Certain people are genetically more prone to forms of food and sugar addiction than others. Part of the reason for this is that some people are more predisposed to seek out pleasure than others. For instance, in our brain, there is a small receptor known as the D2 dopamine receptor, (DRD2). This party of the brain must be activated at all times for us to feel pleasure, and it can be activated by the presence of an amino acid known as dopamine. Stimulating addictions and sugar all prompt the release of increased amounts of dopamine in the short term. The problem is, those who suffer from sugar addictions, compulsive eating patterns, and even issues of obesity often have DRD2 systems that are in need of much larger portions of stimulation in order for the same amount of pleasure to be felt. In other words, those who suffer from sugar addiction don’t have as many D2 dopamine receptors, and therefore consume excess amounts of sugar in an effort to find the additional stimulation required for turning those receptors on.  Intervention? Cold turkey I am afraid!

Then there is the “sweet tooth gene” called TAS1R2. This gene appears to stimulate the desire to eat sweet foods. People with this gene consistently consume more sugar and sweet foods and beverages than those with a slightly different one. These individuals want to eat more sugar containing foods to “quench’’ their sugar craving – this is due to there being more ‘sweet taste receptors’ along their gastro-intestinal tract to ‘quench’. When it comes to the intervention for this gene – individuals need to focus on portion control and to lower carbohydrate intake where possible – it’s not just the sweets, chocolates cakes etc. that needs to be addressed but carbohydrates as a whole. Keeping this sweet taste preferences in mind, attention should be drawn to the foods they normally don’t eat because it’s not ‘sweet’ enough – like cruciferous veggies.

Fat metabolism and fat storage

DNA DIET analyses the gene variants associated with fat metabolism. It determines how an individual metabolises different types of fatty acids, how fats are stored in the body as well as released. A certain gene variant makes people who carry it especially susceptible to weight gain when they eat a high-fat diet. Some individuals have a greater absorption of dietary fat or some tend to have a slower mobilisation of fat from fat cells. Based on these genetic variants these individuals should follow a low fat diet. Their diets should especially be low in saturated fat as a high saturated fat intake may impact a person’s ability to lose weight. On the flip side, some people can eat fatty foods without damaging their health and even lose weight!

Exercise responsiveness

The DNA test will indicate the type of exercise needed to maximise a person’s chances of weight loss – high intensity or moderate or low intensity as well as the amount of exercise (given as MET hours) required in a week to achieve and maintain weight loss when combined with the best diet possible.


You are not the same as everybody else, so why follow everybody else’s diet?

By having your genes tested and with the help of the DNA DIET you will receive nutrition and exercise recommendations that will help you lose weight effectively and facilitate the long-term maintenance of your desired body weight without the yo-yo effect. No more mistrials with popular and one-size-fits-all weight loss diets. Remember, you can lose 2-3 times more weight with a gene-based DNA diet compared to a traditional diet.

When we know more about our genetic variations and own unique risk factors, we might be more likely to make healthier choices – choices that can help manage our weight and prevent disease in the long run.

Make an appointment today, have your DNA tested and determine which may be the best diet for your genetic makeup.

About the author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.