“Are YOUR genes affecting the amount of weight loss you can achieve”?? – this is a question that has been asked many times before, the old ‘Nature or Nurture’ debate, but with the advancement of technology we are getting increasingly better answers.
Take this basic scenario – two obese people, following the same low-calorie diet, neither doing a specific exercise regime, but one loses a lot more weight than the other. Why would this be so? if our bodies acted in the ‘correct’ way the people would surely lose (approx) the same amount. Something causes our bodies to react differently – this part is a fact… is it a case that we are ‘hardwired’ to suffer obesity or indeed the opposite and be perennially thin?
Of course this theory isn’t just restricted to how we relate to diets, but also, scientists are finding out that people have different reactions to taking the same drugs, so what may help or cure most people may not for others. Exercise is another example, why is it that some people can do heaps of cardio and burn lots of calories but not lose weight or even tone up, while others can do so easily with half the effort.
In my experience of training clients, most have a part of their body that reacts quickly and easily to resistance work, so a person may develop great defined bi-ceps, but simply not be able to increase their calf size, despite doing extra reps to try & do so – again something has to be causing this. So are we born with a specific gene that increases the likelihood of our becoming obese during our lifetime. It appears the answer may well be Yes.
It is true however that many things contribute to the ever expanding waistlines of the Australia public – most come down to nature / nurture / genetics and environment.
Environment: As i have mentioned in previous blogs, people in general exercise less today than in years gone by. Kids spend up to 40 hours a week on their smart phones, the internet, video games etc and not outside moving. Jobs as well have gone from the more more physical type in manufacturing or say farming to sedentary jobs where people sit in the same spot all day, barely moving, tied to their computer with less energy expenditure & more calories in, equaling weight gain!
What we eat has also changed dramatically over the years.We generally (in the Western world anyway) live on a diet of fast food, full of chemicals, additives and preservatives, all adding to our collective weight gain, especially as we age!
Nature / Nurture – there is also evidence that the environment to which a foetus is exposed during pregnancy affects likelihood of obesity in later life. Of course how we are brought up will also have an influence, if you’re raised on a diet of soft drink and fast food, your size would most likely be larger than if your parents are vegetarian and strict with your intake of calories.
Genetics - researchers are said to have identified a ‘fat mass & obesity associated’ gene (or FTO) that increases the likelihood that a person carrying this gene will be obese by around 25%, but then in another study, which analised large numbers of people with this ‘fat gene’ – found that the actual effect of weight gain with this gene was very small i.e most of the excess weight is NOT caused by the gene alone, but by other factors we have mentioned, this means that even if you are predetermined to be susceptible to weight gain through your DNA this can be modified by making lifestyle choices, like the ones I mention in my blog about eating less and moving more – it always just gets back to basics!
What appears to be coming out of the research is that rather than this gene being solely responsible for your weight i.e in directly causing obesity, it is more that genetic make up increases ones susceptibility to weight gain if you eat more calories and move less. It is thought that there are many hundreds of different genes that can interact differently as well, again causing different results in different people. This means that even if you are one of the one’s who carry this gene is does not mean that cannot affect your weight and just give up – it does mean that for some people you need to put in more hard work to achieve your fitness / weight loss goals.
Interestingly, this research is saying that it is not just weight management (fast storage and calorie burn) that is partly determined by your genetic make up but other factors such as:, actual food preferences, dietary patterns, also stuttering and compulsive leg jiggling, even what exercise you do or are more likely to be able to do are affected by genes. This can also be seen by the fact that some people are just born to be long distance runners, while others are obviously more suited to be a shot putter – your eyes can tell you that!
So how can we tell if we have this gene (or genes)?? Some companies are claiming to be able to do just that, with a simple ‘gene test’ – but is it authentic?? …Read my conclusion next week to find out!!