What a DNA Test Taught Me About Diet and Exercise

dna fit

Just two weeks after scraping the inside of my cheek with a swab, bottling it up, and sending it back to a lab in England with a short questionnaire, I got back the most exciting report about diet, fitness, and general health I’ve ever read.

I took the DNA test as part of our Men’s Fitness “Breakthroughs” coverage of a stunning new study that found that subjects who dieted using recommendations based on their actual genetic makeup lost 33% more weight than those who didn’t.

And man, what an eye-opener to learn what my genes do and don’t say.

The most interesting findings?

Low-carb diet, here I come! Why? Because my DNA conclusively proves that I’m extremely sensitive to carbs, so if I want to lose weight, I need to restrict refined carbs to just 6% a day (bye-bye, whole-wheat bread and maple syrup). I’m also highly sensitive to saturated fat, so that has to stay at around 12% a day.

I’m still grieving over that one.

Good news: I’m not lactose intolerant—which surprised me, since my father and sister are. But less-good news: I definitely have one of the two genes necessary to make celiac a “possible predisposition.” (Boy, could that explain some things…)

Fitness wise, while my best exercise plan is “high intensity and short duration” (it’s uncanny how I’ve always gravitated toward this naturally), I’m also at “extremely high risk” of injuring myself when I work out—which could definitely be behind my recurring knee and ankle injuries.

Here, the summary I was sent via email from dnafit.com:

Your DNAFit Diet Results

-Your carbohydrate sensitivity is VERY HIGH. This means you’re more likely to put on weight if you eat lots of refined carbs. To lose weight you would need to restrict refined carbs to just 6% of your daily calories

-Your saturated fat sensitivity is HIGH. To lose weight you would need to restrict saturated fat to just 12% of your daily calories

-This means to lose weight you’d be better suited to a LOW CARB DIET

-Your recommended exercise plan is HIGH INTENSITY and SHORT DURATION. This means you should aim for 30-45 mins of exercise 5 days a week with at least from high intensity exercise

-You are lactose tolerant but you have A POSSIBLE PREDISPSITION to the risk of developing celiac (gluten intolerance.)

Based on your results, we would recommend you need to:


Folic Acid, Vitamins B6 & B12
Vitamin D


Refined carbs/sugars
Grilled meats

Your DNAFit Fitness Results

-You are equally suited to power and endurance training and sport—your potential is 51.2% power and 48.8% endurance. You should split your training between power training (weights, sprints) and endurance (cardio, treadmill, long runs.)

-Your aerobic potential (VO2 Max) is MEDIUM. In order to make the most of your natural VO2 Max capacity, you will need to cross-train by consistently including both endurance and power activities in your training program.

-Your post-exercise recovery profile is MEDIUM, meaning you don’t need long bouts of recovery between exercise training.

-Your personal injury risk is VERY HIGH, meaning you have a very high risk of a sports related soft tissue injury. You will need to adjust your training plan to include more injury prevention training sessions than the average person.

The report also includes in-depth explanations for what each gene marker means, how to interpret each result, and how to implement the report’s recommendations in the most efficient possible way.


I’m in the process now of incorporating all these changes and recommendations into my diet, and I’ve arranged for further testing on the whole celiac issue. (I know, the topic is celiac/gluten sensitivity is considered trendy and borderline cliché but the DNA doesn’t lie—and my gut has been trying to tell me something for years.) I’ve also just begun a low-carb eating plan.

Finally, I made an appointment with a sports therapist, to show him my results, find out what I can do to further avoid injuries (I take boxing classes and run, so I’ll be curious to see what measures are recommended), and discuss the optimum workout to get strong and stay healthy.

Bottom line, this has been an incredibly eye-opening experience, one I believe will enlighten me for the rest of my life. If you’d like your own DNA test, prices range from $163 to $410 from dnafit.com, or $79 to convert your results from 23andme.com.

It’ll be the best bucks you’ve ever spent on your health.

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