The perfect diet for you is all down to genetics
With the world of nutrition constantly changing, and a host of new diet trends promising everything from anti-ageing to instant weight-loss – it's no wonder we’re overwhelmed and confused as to which eating plan is best to follow long-term.
The truth is, every person is different and so are his/her dietary needs. It’s not a one size fits all, and just because a high fat, low carbohydrate diet works for your friend, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Although I’ve learned over the years to listen to my body and respond to its needs, especially from a diet and exercise point of view, I still decided to have a DNA Diet test by DNAlysis Biotechnology, and my results were surprising.
ALSO SEE: My results from my recent DNA Sport Test
What does DNA Diet reveal?
The DNA Diet test was developed to help you pinpoint your own dietary needs. Although most of us should be following a nutrient-dense eating plan packed with plenty of fruits and veg, each person metabolises macronutrients, which is fats, carbohydrates and proteins – differently.
Based on your genetic results, DNA Diet will help your specialist determine whether you should be following a low-fat, low- carb or Mediterranean-type diet that’s rich in healthy fats, whole-grains, oily fish and vegetables. Certain DNA patterns also reveal whether you should be doing high- or low-intensity exercise, and what your response to carbohydrates and different types of fats is.
Another great thing about this test is that it shows which lifestyle and behavioural factors could affect your weight long-term, such as having a sweet tooth, and whether you’re more prone to snacking. (I love my snacks!)
After having the test done, I met with Sasha Mannion Maggs from DNAlysis to go through my results and my genetic profile revealed the following interesting information:
1. My body will respond best to a low carbohydrate diet
This was very interesting for me because I really love carbohydrates and they make up quite a substantial part of my diet, due to the amount of exercise I do (I give up to 7 rebounding classes a week and need the energy), plus the fact that I’m a vegetarian and love to eat plenty of whole-grains every day.
However, Sasha explained that a few key genes of mine, relating to carb responsiveness, showed that I would do better on a diet that’s made up of 45% or less carbohydrates, especially if I plan to lose weight. I know this because if I have a shoot coming up where I need to look leaner and more toned, or drop around 2kg, I simply cut down on carbohydrates at dinner time for a few weeks and it does the trick!
2. The low carb suggestion doesn’t mean I should go high fat
According to my gene results related to fats, my body responds better to healthy fats and oils such as olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, olives and oily fish (which I don’t eat), rather than saturated fats. So, just because I should follow a moderate to low carbohydrate diet, doesn’t mean I should be pouring cream in my coffee or eating loads of saturated fats.
As a vegetarian, this fits in perfectly with my current way of eating, which is rich in healthy fats such as avocado, seeds and nuts, olives etc.
3. I have a high sweet taste receptor!
This couldn’t be more accurate. Sasha said that as someone with a high sweet taste receptor, my body will naturally “seek out” and crave sweeter foods. If I’m honest, I have a serious sweet tooth and love baking and experimenting with different recipes almost every weekend.
However, I’ve learned to balance my sweet tooth with the 80/20 rule. This means that I follow a healthy, clean diet with minimal sugary, processed foods 80% of the time, and I indulge in a piece of cake, good-quality dark chocolate or a few sweets 20% of the time. Sasha also believes that you can train your body to crave less sweeter foods, by steering clear of sugar. Although it takes a bit of time, this simple step helps to switch off the receptors in the brain linked to cravings.
Another trick is to make healthy swaps – with your favourite foods. So, rather than a chocolate milkshake, I make a delicious chocolate protein smoothie with healthy fats like peanut butter, to keep me full. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why I developed my Super Scoop recipe book. It’s packed with 30 healthy alternative recipes to your favourite sweet treats. Think rich chocolate brownies, vegan chocolate mousse, superfood berry cheesecake and lots more!
ALSO SEE: MY Super Scoop Recipe Book
4. I should be doing 20 MET hours of exercise a week
DNA Diet also looks at your genes linked to exercise and my results showed that I should be completing around 20 MET hours of exercise week. MET stands of Metabolic Equivalent which is the ratio of the rate at which a person expends energy doing a particular activity, versus being at complete rest.
According to Harvard Health, certain activities get assigned a MET value, for instance, walking briskly has a MET value of 3.3, while running has a MET value of 8.
So, in my case, 20 MET hours a week could mean around 7 hours of brisk walking a week, or 4-5 hours of more strenuous activities such as cycling or rebounding (which is high intensity but with less impact on the muscles and joints.)
This is a great way to determine just how much exercise you’re doing per week and if it’s enough to lose or maintain your weight.
The bottom line
My DNA Diet results show that the optimal diet for me is a moderate to low carbohydrate diet with healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein. The focus for me, should be on good quality carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables, and low GI carbohydrates such as oats and rice that’ll give me sustained energy throughout the day.
I should be avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, rice or muffins, cakes and sweets, and should be loading my plate with vegetables, some fruit and moderate amounts of lean protein and healthy fats.
For more information on DNA Diet, as well as a list of accredited practitioners, click here to visit the DNAlysis website.