Everything You Need to Know About DNA Tests for Weight-Loss and Diets

By Sarah PritzkerSarah Pritzker

A new innovation is making the right diet for you easier to find. DNA testing has already been used by many people to help trace their ancestry, find their biological parents, and discover genetic dispositions to certain life-threatening diseases, but now the familiar spit-in-a-tube DNA sampling method has another purpose.

Experts in the world of diet, weight loss, and fitness are turning to DNA testing for a more accurate picture of your body’s disposition toward foods and fitness for better results. No more trial and error, no more failing a diet because it wasn’t the right one for you. With DNA testing, you can tailor your exercise routine and diet to suit your body perfectly.

For as little as $80, you can get an in-depth report that will tell you all about your genetic makeup as well as your genealogy. Or at least, that's what the claim is. The question you're probably asking is whether or not it really works, and if it does, how?

There are numerous companies that offer DNA testing, but not all of them will give you the right information you need for diet and weight loss planning. You have to look for ones that specifically test for these factors, or you'll waste your money and saliva. Here are several of the top recommended DNA testing companies that specialize in fitness and weight loss tracking as well as ancestry:


Top 5 DNA Testing Kits for Weight Loss Planning


1. VitageneVitagene

All-inclusive DNA kit results

Vitagene DNA Testing

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  • Type of report - Ancestry, diet, fitness, skin, supplements
  • Price - $29-$259
  • Best for - Reporting on fitness, diet, and health

Vitagene is another popular DNA testing service that caters to those looking to lose weight or improve overall health. In addition to fast results, helpful and available customer service, and high customer satisfaction rates, people particularly like Vitagene because it offers a detailed report with involved analyses of each area of your life and how to optimize. For example, you’ll get a fitness regimen, vitamin supplement suggestions, and a meal plan to help you boost your health and fitness and live a better life. Take a look at what Vitagene has to offer.

ProsCons
One of the least expensive kits aroundSome advice is obvious
Upload your pre-existing DNA testNo international shipping
In-depth reports 

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2. Orig3nOrig3n

360-degree self-analysis through your DNA scope

Orig3n DNA Testing

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  • Type of report - Fitness, nutrition, behavior, beauty, traits
  • Price - $29-$259
  • Best for - Serious self-analysis, DNA-style

Orig3n offers a wider range of DNA wellness tests than almost any other company in the industry. The tests range from a very affordable $39 “behavior test”, up to the $79 fitness and nutrition test. If you’re looking to use a DNA test for dieting, that’s probably going to be your best option. For $79, you’ll receive “insights into the ways your DNA may have an impact on how your body responds to food and nutrients,” and what foods you should avoid, according to the company. In only 2-4 weeks you’ll receive an assessment of your metabolism, how your body builds muscle, and your potential for success in endurance sports.

ProsCons
Tremendous amount of testing optionsCan't upload data from previously-taken DNA tests
Take one test, order more reports laterMultiple tests get expensive very fast
Easy, fast and thorough DNA testing 

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3. TeloYearsTeloYears

Practical health advice to live longer & better

TeloYears DNA Testing

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  • Type of report - Personalized lifestyle action plan
  • Best for - Data for your body's aging process
  • Price - $19-$199

The bad news first - with TeloYears you send in a blood sample, but it’s just a simple pen prick that even the squeamish amongst us shouldn’t have a problem with. In your TeloYears test you’ll receive an in-depth report of your cell health spelled out in “teloyears.” Along with the results, you’ll get an action plan with tips for living better, including diet, sleep, exercise, and stress. You’ll also be able to make use of the assistance of an expert who can help you go over your results.

Pros Cons
Discover and improve cell agingDoesn't ship everywhere in the United States
Track your progress over timeTelomere-focused, misses some other key fitness areas
Certified coaches available in bundled plans 

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4. NutrisystemNutrisystem

Holistic approach to diet, weight loss & health

Nutrisystem DNA Testing

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  • Price - $99.99
  • Best for - Comprehensive data to fuel effective diets
  • Type of report - Nutrition plan, metabolism, eating behavior

Nutrisystem, a world-famous diet program, now offers DNA testing kits as well. The beauty of Nutrisystem’s DNA Body Blueprint kit is that it provides a more expansive look at your health based on your own DNA. In addition to being a thorough DNA report, this kit has the added advantage of coming from an already successful weight loss program. Nutrisystem has been helping people lose weight, get in shape, and live healthier for years. So, this program is already starting out from a tried and true standpoint.

Nutrisystem DNA Body Blueprint comes with an encyclopedic report that covers every angle of your health and wellness. You’ll receive a personalized plan of action, detailing what you can do to lose weight and live healthier right now. Plus, the program comes with several convenient tools that you can use after you’ve taken the test and are ready to implement the weight loss program that is created just for you.

Pros Cons
Gives a full picture view of your healthNot an ancestry test
Excellent report with real actionable items 

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5. Toolbox GenomicsToolbox Genomics

Everything you want to know in 1 test

Toolbox Genomics DNA Testing

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  • Best for - Healthcare pros who want to aid their clients
  • Type of report - Supplements, diet, lifestyle, exercise
  • Price - $159/kit + $37-$57 additional products

Toolbox Genomics is a DNA test for those who are serious about weight loss and their general health. These kits are usually sold to doctors and other health care professionals, so you can understand that Toolbox Genomics isn’t messing around. The kits are simple to use—a basic cheek swab is all you need to collect your DNA sample.

From there, your DNA will be tested in order to help guide you through the major areas of health, including nutrition optimization, health enrichment (sleep habits, exercise suggestions, metabolism guides), weight management (macronutrient processing, genetic predisposition to weight gain, obesity, and unhealthy eating habits), and endurance performance (types of muscle fibers, any nutrient deficiencies present, ability to recover and susceptibility to injury).

In other words, Toolbox Genomics gives you the full picture of your health based on your DNA, and then it gives you the reports and tools you need to live a better life for yourself.

ProsCons
Professional, in-depth reporting featuresDifficult to find information on the site
360-degree perspective on your healthNo customer support information

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Can DNA Testing Help You Lose Weight?

While choosing a diet plan based on your genetic makeup may seem somewhat too futuristic to be real, it’s really not a major stretch of the imagination to consider there being a genetic tie to weight gain. After all, obesity has already been proven to have genetic variants. So, these tests just take things one step further, exploring your body type and your genetic makeup to determine what your triggers are.

How Does DNA Testing Work for Weight Loss?

The main concept behind DNA testing for weight loss is that your body responds differently to various stimulants (specifically food and exercise) than someone else’s body. For example, your body might start conserving fat when it hits a certain caloric deficiency, storing fat after eating less saturated fat, or needing more carbs after doing certain exercises than someone else. Your genomes can tell researchers this, and in turn, they can tell you which foods are helpful to you for trimming down and which ones are actually preventing weight loss, how much of each sort of food your body needs to reach the optimal BMI, and even which exercises will benefit you the most.

The process varies depending on the service provider of your choice, but they’re all pretty simple. You’ll provide a saliva sample (by either spitting in the test tube provided or swabbing the inside of your cheek—nothing invasive), mail in your sample, and wait for the results. This usually takes a few weeks to arrive. Various companies will track different areas, but in general, DNA testing will register as many as 32 different genetic markers, including areas that affect weight loss, nutrition, allergies, food sensitivities, and overall fitness.

The results can tell you if your body is predisposed to certain foods, quantities, and combinations, and the reports will provide you with food recommendations, menu plans, and meal ideas based on your DNA results. The suggestions are made up of foods that will help you lose weight because of the way your body in particular responds to those foods.

Should You Take a DNA Test Before Planning a Diet and Why?

If you are considering which diet is right for you, it’s a good idea to take a DNA test beforehand. The test results can help you determine power foods that you’ll want to stock up on as well as which foods to avoid. So, you might have decided to go on the Atkins Diet, but your body type might need more simple carbs that come from fruits which are limited in that diet plan. By consulting your genetic makeup, you can choose a diet plan that is more beneficial for you instead of just basing it on what looks good for the average person. You’re unique, and your genetic makeup is different than anyone else’s too. So, it’s logical that the way your body reacts to foods and fitness will differ from the reactions of your friend or neighbor. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a DNA test before you start planning your diet. Before you choose a plan, see what your body has to say about it.

Can DNA Testing Help for Fitness?

Since your DNA sequencing holds loads of information about you including your genetic disposition toward diseases, sleep patterns, and tribal origins, it’s not surprising that researchers are finding the information you need to understand which foods are best for your body too. What’s more, DNA testing is being used to determine which exercise routines will yield the most results for you as well. Some people swear by HIIT (high-intensity interval training) while others will do nothing but weight lifting to stay fit. The truth is your body will respond to the right workout routine for it, and not respond as well to the wrong one. So, using your genetic map, you can determine which exercises will get your body moving so that you can maximize that gym time and sculpt your body the way you want to.

DNA & Your Health

DNA testing isn’t just about finding your roots or choosing the right diet for you. In fact, it's a positive idea if you have questions about your health in general. While looking at your genomes under a microscope, researchers can find important information regarding your health that can help with making healthier decisions and even life-altering choices. For example, 23andMe has an in-depth package that tests for genetic health risks, signs that you are a carrier of debilitating diseases such as Celiac or Parkinson's, and even your propensity to lose your hair earlier. Discover what your genes have to say about these important areas so that you can take the necessary precautions for staying healthy and living longer.

DNA testing is not a foolproof way to lose weight. There's still significant research to be done in order to fully maximize this type of diet planning, and even with the most accurate results, at the end of the day, you will still have to practice self-control and discipline if you really want to lose weight and get fit. Using DNA testing for weight loss can help guide you in the right direction and help you understand why certain diets just aren’t working for you.

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