Its efficacy in personalised fitness plans has made genetic screening hit among Malaysian looking to lose those stubborn kilos. 

The science of how food and exercise affects our genes, or nutritional genomics, is becoming more mainstream as more people have access to their genetic information. Genetic screening is set to be a growing trend in the fitness and wellness industry this year. Our genes dictate how we respond to different food, exercise and nutrition. Fitness fans can discover

if they have a natural aptitude for endurance sports (like running, cycling or swimming) or power sports (like sprinting or weight lifting); their aerobic potential (known as Vo2 max); and how quickly their body is likely to recover between workouts.

New personalised fitness plans based on our genetic make-up

The reason wellness & fitness genetic screening are getting popular in Asia might be their effectiveness in helping people lose weight and improve health, variants in some of our genes determine how we metabolise and utilise nutrients, a field of study known as nutrigenomics. Wellness & fitness genetic screening is offered by a handful of hospitals and clinics, says Tommy Lee, Founder of Genetics Healthcare Centre.

We screen for 154 genes variants with a proven link to how the body responds to food, nutrition and exercise. It includes things like sensitivity to carbohydrates, salt and saturated fat; lactose and gluten intolerance risk; individual anti-oxidant and vitamin needs; and caffeine and alcohol metabolism and more. We combine this information with your environmental data and discover your body’s abilities with regards to fitness, speed, endurance and recovery. These traits give us a clear view of how your body responds to exercise, diet and nutrition. 

People with obesity gene benefit more from exercising
Scientists know that a genetic variant known as FTO, which is the strongest known genetic factor for obesity, is highly likely to have an effect on how much weight we lose when we exercise. People who carry the variant of the FTO gene that causes increased body weight benefit more from physical activity than others,” says Lee.

According to some researchers, the solution could lie within our bodies: our genes. In fact, researchers recently found that matching dieters to a specific type of diet based on their genetic make-up could significantly increase weight-loss success.

"If you look at average weight-loss statistics, average people lose only a few pounds with any weight-loss diet," says Tommy Lee. "But look inside the numbers and you find that some people do lose lots of weight and some fail completely. The difference could be explained by genetics."

Genetic can tell us who is at risk for obesity, but that is not the big question for us, says Tommy Lee. We want to know if genetic can tell us who

is predisposed to do better on a low-fat diet and who will do better on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Your genes determine how your body responds to insulin, he explains, and that has a lot to do with weight loss. If you are insulin-resistant, your body has trouble with carbohydrates, so you may do better with a low-carbohydrate diet. If you are insulin-sensitive, you may do better on a low-fat diet. If you are in the middle, a balanced diet should work best. 

After gaining a basic understanding of their results, people can take advantage of their genetics and design the most efficient fitness and nutrition plan to achieve their desired physique. In the next five years there will be big breakthroughs in how we use genes to treat all kinds of conditions,” Tommy Lee says.