A Genetics Test Taught Me My Personal Fitness And Nutrition Plan

According to FItnessGenes, the key to your perfect workout and diet plan is in your spit... and your genes.
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Publish date:
November 17, 2016
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nutrition, genetics, diet, fitness, workouts, Fitnessgenes

Mail-in genetic tests have been popular for a while now — most notably 23andMe, which our very own Marci took back in April. I find any sort of information based on your genetic makeup fascinating, so when I came across FitnessGenes, I had to try it out.

I’m 26, which means I haven’t been on any sort of regular gym schedule since it was a part of my grade. We’re looking at a solid 10 years of casually working out but never really finding something to stick with. Is running the way to go? Re-watching an episode of Master of None on the elliptical? Attempting to follow a workout dvd on the reg? In an era of hyper-efficiency, I wanted to know that the work I was putting into my body was going to benefit me in the most useful way possible.

I know, why can’t I just get my shit together and go to the gym like a regular person? Well, I wish I could be one of those people who wakes up at the crack of dawn, heads to the gym, and works a full eight-hour day at an office, but I’m not. I peel myself out of bed at 6am every morning and that alone is an incredible triumph. I mean, I work a desk job, and by the time I’m home, all I want to do is curl into a blanket and watch Netflix with my dog. Finding a way to create as efficient a workout as possible that I can actually stick to is a lot more realistic.

So when I came across FitnessGenes, I was instantly intrigued. I’m already aware of how much info can be extracted from just a tiny bit of saliva thanks to 23andMe, but using that info specifically to focus on physical fitness and curating a dietary and workout plan sounded like a next level version of hiring a personal trainer. I know everyone builds muscle and burns calories differently, and to find out how my genes affected this, along with a slew of other things (like what kind of metabolism I have, how my body responds to different types of exercise, how fast my muscles clear lactic acid, for example) was extremely exciting to me.

Did you know that the info they extract from your saliva doesn’t come from the spit you send in, but from the cheek cells that are floating around in it? The sample is also completely stable for up to five years thanks to what they refer to as the buffer solution, which is what snaps open and fills the remainder of the test tube when you close the lid. Once you send off your sample, you receive an email where you can log into your personal portal. This is where you’ll find your DNA findings along with fitness plans and a library full of exercises.

If you really got into it, with the amount of detail they give you, you could probably be reading your results for days.

The amount of info you get from FitnessGenes is incredible. I really don’t know how to express that enough. On top of the 41 genes they break down for you, they also offer training and nutritional strategies. These are based on your genetic info, weight, height, age and a quick lifestyle quiz you take once you log into the online member portal. Here everything is revealed in great detail. When you scroll through your genetic results, there is a brief rundown of what your findings mean and an option to click for more info, where you’re taken to a page with a breakdown of your genotype and how common it is globally.

My results revealed that I react best to a high volume form of resistance/strength training, even breaking down the amount of reps, sets and time between sets (right down to the second count for each lift) to benefit the most from my workout. I don’t know about you, but that’s a great place to start.

As far as my health, I found it interesting that I carry a gene that puts me at a higher risk for high-blood pressure since it does seem to run in my family. Luckily enough, that has yet to be an issue for me and apparently is largely affected by my weight and fitness level. So as long as I stay a healthy weight and try to maintain a fitness level that can only be described as upwards of sloth, I should be okay.

They also analyze your Clock gene (that is, Circadian Locomoter Output Cycles Kaput) where I was found to have a “moderate likelihood of sleep disturbance”. A nice way to say I’m a terrible sleeper, which didn’t come as such a shock. I mean, I did spend an entire night in a sleep study where all they really said was “try not to sleep on your back, but otherwise we can’t really help you, you’re just a bad sleeper”. It was reassuring that it’s my DNA working against me, and not all my other failed sleep experiments.

When it comes to nutrition, based on my height, weight and fitness levels, I should be eating 18% (74 grams) of protein a day, 33% (62 grams) fats, and 49% (205 grams) carbs. They even break down the calories for each meal or snack to make it easier for you to follow. If I up my workout plan, I can adjust my meal suggestions.

They also threw in a fun tidbit of info, specifically about eye color, which I found particularly interesting. According to my genes, I had an 84% chance of having blue eyes (and only 1% of having brown). I was actually born with green eyes and my mother’s terrible vision. Interesting since my dad has blue eyes and perfect vision. Shout out to corrective eye surgery!

Some more interesting bits:

  • I metabolize caffeine slowly, which means it stays in my system longer and can affect my sleep if I drink it later in the day. It can take up to 11 hours for caffeine to leave my body!
  • I benefit from slow movements, at a high volume of reps with very little rest.
  • The best time for me to work out isn’t at the crack of dawn, but between the hours of 12pm - 4pm. As long as my workout doesn’t interfere with my sleep — the emphasis being on my sleep quality and not my ability to get to the gym before the sun rises.
  • I benefit more from HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) than traditional cardio. two to three 25 - 35 minute sessions every week are the most beneficial to me. I’m more than happy to avoid spending hours at the gym every day!

Overall I found the breadth of information I received from my test incredibly intriguing, spot-on in some cases (read: light sleeper) and reassuring in others (no 6am gym sessions for me!). I love that I have so much more of an idea with where to start with workouts, like the fact that I don’t have to workout for 3 hours a day, every day, to get in decent shape. I found the specificity of every bit of info so helpful, especially when it came to the reps, count and time to rest between sets, which is something I never had any clue about. If you want a DNA test that is both insightful and actionable, take a closer look at FitnessGenes.

  • Do you struggle as much with keeping a consistent gym schedule as I do?
  • What are you most curious about when it comes to your DNA?
  • How many times have you re-watched Master of None? What new show should I be watching?