With the number of fitness devices and apps now available, we’re able to collect more individual health data than ever before. This has led to the development to hyper personalised health programmes, specifically tailored to the individual. FitnessGenes is one company that’s using people’s DNA to develop fitness programmes based on their genetic make-up. We interviewed them for the blog.
What exactly does FitnessGenes do?
FitnessGenes interprets people’s DNA to help them build muscle, burn fat, and lead healthier, longer lives. All the consumer needs to do is send us their saliva sample and then we extract and analyse their DNA for dozens of genetic variables that influence metabolism, appetite, muscle structure, and performance.
When a customer registers the barcode of their DNA sample on our secure website, we also conduct a thorough lifestyle survey, because these “environmental” factors influence how a person’s genes express themselves (This is called epigenetics). After a detailed analysis of a customer’s combined DNA and lifestyle data, we provide precise, actionable advice on how that person should eat and train to achieve their body composition goals. Furthermore, if the customer desires a more structured diet and exercise program, we also create goal-specific, genetically tailored weekly plans detailing each day’s workout, caloric load, and macronutrient breakdown.
With DNA-based fitness analysis, how can consumers be sure that the testing mechanisms and/or results are accurate?
The first part of the question pertains to the DNA testing itself, which is incredibly accurate. The FitnessGenes system uses the only FDA-approved saliva collection kit currently on the market. In addition, our DNA tests happen in duplicate, so every single person who gets tested actually gets tested twice to make sure that their results are consistent and accurate.
In terms of the customer’s DNA results, we utilise three levels of research:
1) Peer-reviewed research that relates to the specific SNP (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism) that we’re talking about
2) Our own process of discovery within the algorithmic models that we’ve created, refined, and tested via rigorous R&D
3) Our proprietary research in collaboration with the big universities
So in terms of interpretation of the results, we have a very stringent, peer-reviewed academic research validation process that ensures accuracy.
What is a DNA-based diet, and how popular are these diets right now?
Very simply, generic “diets” simply don’t work for everybody. By cutting out the guesswork entirely we eliminate the repetitive failure cycle and put them directly on the road to success. People find this quantifiable, personalised data very empowering. It is far more motivating to know that you are doing the right thing; and that if you continue doing the right thing you, will get results.
If a person were to ask you, “So, if I follow both my FitnessGenes training plan and my DNA-based diet to the letter, is it guaranteed that I will achieve a predetermined result?” how would you respond?
While I wouldn’t go so far as to guarantee a predetermined result (because physical results always vary due to incredibly complex circumstances) but it follows that if a person adheres to a genetically-tailored, goal-specific diet and exercise plan to the letter, they will have a much higher degree of success and a much lower rate of failure than a person who just randomly grabbed a diet and exercise plan “off the shelf.”
How prevalent will these “designer” diets and workout plans become over the next five to ten years?
Five years ago, these kinds of personalised diets and workouts were the preserve of professional or elite athletes only. Five years from now, they will become the “new normal.”
With all of the advances in wearables and increased availability of biological data that is making personalised wellness and precision healthcare possible; the apps and tests that fuel the quantified self and biohacking movements; and the reduction in costs that make this level of specialization increasingly available and affordable, why would anyone settle for “generic” when they can get “precise?” Why would you settle for an exercise plan that did not play to your strengths, or for a diet that stuffed you with the incorrect foods?