In the middle of summer, when everyone is focused on losing those last few pounds to look bikini-ready, it can be easy to lose track of fact that we want more than just temporary, seasonal weight loss. While a week long juice cleanse might help us get rid of a little bloat or excess water weight in time for a summer getaway it’s not necessarily a long term solution. So after endless summers of yo-yo dieting, juicing and crash diets we’re looking to science for a more permanent solution.
Simplified Genetics, a health lab based at the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center at LSU, thinks our DNA could hold the key to wellness. Through their new health program Simply Fit, clients are given a full mapping of their genes to highlight exactly what their body does and does not need for weight loss and optimal health, from exercise intensity to supplement intake. But I’ll admit I’m skeptic when it comes to “scientific breakthroughs,” especially where weight loss is concerned (who wouldn’t be?), so I had to see for myself exactly what this process entailed.
I met with Gina Johnsen, developer and co-founder of Simplified Genetics, who explained (in very easy-to-understand terms—thank goodness) how the body responds to outside influences. A self-professed nerd, Johnsen spoke excitedly about biomarkers, full-sequence genetic strands, comparative analysis and the accuracy of genetics. In short, genes are indicators of how your body functions and processes food, exercise and nutrients. Where we store fat, how we digest certain food groups and what supplements our body naturally lacks can be found in our genetic makeup. And fortunately, illness, weight fluctuations, prescriptions and other outside influences have no bearing whatsoever over your DNA, which means once you have your genetic “roadmap,” you’ve got it for life.
Depending on your genetic makeup, certain exercises, foods and nutrients may or may not work for your body. This is part of the reason some have work harder to stay in shape while others can coast by with a few Pilates classes and some low-fat potato chips. (Totally not fair.) We are not all built the same, so what works for one may not work for others and visa versa. But Simplified Genetics’ Simply Fit program hopes to take some of the guesswork out of weight loss, by interpreting your DNA code. I decided to see what my genetics said about me and my diet by taking their DNA test.
When you first receive the test at home you might be glad you chose Simplified Genetics—simplified is in their name for a reason. They aren’t just talking about easy to understand science or results that have a straightforward flow chart—even their testing process is simple. Where other labs require blood samples (I don’t know about you, but I am not taking vials of my own blood), this is simple and non-invasive. You swap the inside of your cheek with a Q-Tip, pop it in a bag and send it off. That’s it. They even supply the Q-Tip. Win-win. After a couple of weeks you’re get your results, and that’s when the fun begins.
First, I must warn you, don’t look at this as a list of things wrong with you. While Simplified Genetics completes a full sequence DNA analysis, they are only looking for things that pertain to wellness and weight loss. They don’t test for “disease pathways or drug interactions” and just because it says you have a harder time processing sugar doesn’t mean you are doomed to never eat chocolate again. Take it with a grain of salt. When you receive your results you can set up a consultation call to go over your results in detail. While the results are easy to understand (they include both technical and laymen’s terms) it never hurts to get a more detailed explanation. These guys are extraordinarily knowledgeable and can answer any questions you have or clear up any confusion.
My results consisted of 10 pages telling me, with surprising detail, what I need to do, eat and take to lose or maintain my weight. And while it didn’t sound fun, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I, unfortunately, am not the person who can coast by on a few yoga classes and a juice cleanse. Nor was I blessed with a lightning-fast metabolism. I need high intensity workouts and a surprising number of supplemental nutrients, but I can process carbs and fats just fine—which means I don’t have to give up pasta anytime soon. Results include a workout program for both weight loss and weight maintenance, worksheets for cataloging progress and detailed explanations of each genetic biomarker. They also detailed exactly where I hold all my weight, and one glance in the mirror told me they were right.
Of course, all of this science is worth very little if nothing is done with the information. This won’t get you to the gym or put the fresh veggies in the fridge or supplements in your smoothie. It’s a tool to help you work smarter. Which means I needed to then apply the information. Thankfully my body processes food well which means I didn’t need to cut back too much on carbs and fat, but I did need to introduce a lot more protein into my diet (I was recommended a 40 percent carbohydrates, 35 percent protein, 25 percent fat diet). I’ve been on numerous weight loss programs in the past that have left me hungry, unsatisfied or just craving the crunch of a potato chip, but this was different. Because I’m still eating my favorite foods (in moderation!) in a different way, I’m not starving, unsatisfied or hangry at all.
I may have lucked out when it came to food, but with exercise I got the short end of the stick. For my body to make any real changes 90 percent of my workout needs to be high intensity—yoga is not an option. While I still don’t enjoy exercise, the silver lining to this high energy workout is that I can exercise for a shorter period of time. With 30 minutes of cardio I can reach the goal set for me to start losing weight. Of course the type of exercise needed changes with each person—my fat just happens to be the stubborn kind.
After almost three weeks of following the Simplified Genetics plan I'm pretty convinced there's something special about this genetic diet. I’ve lost 6.8 pounds and I feel different. It’s not quite the post-weight loss glee you feel when you can zip your jeans up without wrestling into them, but rather just healthier and happier. Of course, this is just my personal experience—everyone’s genetic makeup is different and your Simply Fit regimen will call for an entirely unique diet. But that’s the beauty of it—you aren’t following a plan made for just anyone. These genetic guidelines are specific to every individual's makeup so it’s possible to know exactly what your body—and your body alone—needs to lose weight and become it’s healthiest.
Simply Fit is available at Simplified Genetics and is priced at $479.