Jeans vs genes – Does your DNA make you fat?

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Our lifestyle has a lot to do with the way we gain weight, but how much does your DNA affect your weight, and what can you do about it?

Metabolism – keep the fire burning

You’ve probably heard the phrases ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ when it comes to metabolism, and generally the faster your metabolism the easier you burn fuel or fat. But what is it, and how can you change or influence what’s going on inside?

What is metabolism?

Your metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that occur within your body such as digestion, how you move food nutrients between your body’s cells, and it has a big impact on your weight and how your body converts food to energy. We all have differences in our DNA that affect our metabolism, and in turn, can affect our weight.

DNA double helix graphic

How does my DNA affect my weight?

Many genetic markers have been linked to differences in weight, obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI). One example is the FTO gene, which makes a protein commonly known as the fat mass and obesity associated protein. Variations in this gene have been strongly associated with effects on body mass index (BMI) and an increased risk of obesity.

As well as BMI, some genes indicate our risk of gaining weight by how we metabolise the fats from our diet. For example, the APOE gene makes a protein that is involved in fat metabolism and cholesterol regulation. Variations in this gene can show whether we are more likely to store fat and gain weight.

Similarly, the FABP2 gene plays a role in fat metabolism via transport and uptake of fatty acids in the intestines. Variations in this gene have been linked to uptake of fat from the diet and differing levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. This can lead to different sensitivities to saturated fats in our diets and an increased risk of obesity.

So is my body against me losing weight?

It’s not all bad news – some genes have variations which can have the opposite effect on our weight. The ADIPOQ gene makes a protein that helps in fatty acid break down and the reduction of triglycerides in the blood. Higher levels of this protein in the blood allow for increased ability for the body to metabolise fat. Variations in this gene are connected with people having a lower body weight when more than 13% of their calories come from monounsaturated fats (often known as good fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados and nuts). There is also evidence to suggest some variations may be linked with protection from regaining weight after weight loss.

How can I find out if my metabolism genes are affecting my weight?

For most of us, our genes probably play a minor role. Our weight is almost always influenced by a combination of our upbringing, community, education, finances, convenience, our personal decisions - and our genes. But, by having a better insight into your metabolism, you can understand how your body works and how you might be able to make changes to your lifestyle to that might help boost your metabolism faster. Order a DNA test today and discover more about the inner you.

Written by
Evergreen Life

Article updated:
May 27, 2021
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