If you’ve failed a weight loss plan, you’re not alone – around 95% of all diets fail. Losing weight is not simple. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and the reason your last diet didn’t work has nothing to do with your personality or your will power. Most diets fail because we look for one diet to fit everyone, even though we know we’re all different.
The simple truth, explains Dr Yael Joffe – Chief Science Officer at 3X4 Genetics and world-renowned specialist in nutrition and genetics – Is that there is a better way to get the right answers for you: Through your genes.
Joffe reveals five secrets the dieting industry has kept from you:
Your unique genes affect weight loss
Genes have a big influence on how our bodies function at a cellular level, affecting how our bodies store and burn energy or fat. But it's not just about our metabolic rate; our genes also impact how we experience hunger and fullness. They also affect how our bodies store fat, how we respond to exercise, how much energy we use when not exercising, and if inflammation in our body makes it difficult to lose weight.
At least 50% of what drives your weight comes from your genes, with the rest as a result of diet and lifestyle choices. Because we each have a unique genetic profile, what’s good for one person may not be good for you, Joffe stresses.
We all experience hunger differently
The way we experience hunger differs from person to person, which is why one person may feel ravenous after not eating for a few hours while others barely have an appetite. In addition, our genes also ensure that after eating, some of us feel fuller than others. Some people may experience a high appetite and a low level of satisfaction after eating, which will leave them feeling hungry all the time and this can make dieting especially hard.
If you know that you have these genes, Joffe says, your chances of success could be improved by a diet with more appropriate and substantial types of foods and targeted supplements.
How much energy you store away depends on your genes
Some of us easily convert our energy into fat, which is an evolutionary trait, while others burn through it quickly. Our ancestors, living on the plains of Africa, where hunting was infrequent, survived longer if they could convert their energy into fat. This means that their chances of surviving the lean times were higher than those that burned energy quicker.
Storing energy as fat is not a problem if you burn energy efficiently – some people burn up energy very well, both at the gym and while sitting at their desk. But others can train for a marathon and still not lose weight, even though they’ve been hitting the gym hard for weeks on end.
Inflammation and weight gain work together
Chronic inflammation and excess body fat are inextricably linked and can stall your attempts at weight loss. There is a direct correlation between excess weight and inflammation; as you gain more fat stores, your low grade inflammation will increase.
The more overweight you are, the more inflammation you will have in your body, Joffe explains.
“We know that when your body is inflamed, you’re very unlikely to lose weight because inflammation holds on to body fat. When we are treating patients who are overweight, we always want to manage inflammation as well,” she says.
There is only one weight loss plan that will work for you
Most dieticians will tell you that to lose weight, you need to decrease your calorie intake and increase your energy output. This approach, along with any diet in the media, is fundamentally flawed because it assumes one diet will work for everyone.
“If we all gain and lose weight differently, then it makes sense that there’s a different plan for everyone to lose weight,” Joffe explains.
There is only one diet that will work for you, but it won’t necessarily work for the next person. And the only way to find the diet that will work for you is to build it around your gene profile with a nutritional professional who knows how to interpret a genetic test.
“The dieting industry has done untold damage to those of us looking to lose weight. The truth is that you’re not a failure; you’ve just been working against your genes. The real personal health journey begins when you work with you genes.”