“You can be predisposed genetically, but it’s not a sentence. I’m genetically predisposed, but I manage my weight. The root of obesity, though, is usually emotional. The poor habits are a symptom of a deeper emotional issue.” – Jillian Michaels
So what do you think? Is Jillian Michaels right? Are people genetically predisposed to being fat?
We all know a person who can eat ice cream, cake, and whatever else they want and still not gain weight; while we seem to gain weight just by thinking about food. Why? What allows one person to remain thin without effort but demands that another struggle to avoid gaining weight or regaining the pounds he or she has lost previously?
There have been more than 400 different genes have been implicated in the causing weight gain and obesity, although only a handful are major players. Genes contribute to obesity in many ways, by affecting appetite, satiety (the sense of fullness), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress.
Exactly how much genetics plays a role in weight gain varies quite a bit from person to person. Research suggests that for some people, genes account for just 25% of the predisposition to be overweight, while for others the genetic influence is as high as 70% to 80%. Having a rough idea of how large a role genes play in your weight may be helpful in terms of treating your weight problems.
These circumstances suggest that you have a genetic predisposition to be heavy, but it’s not so great that you can’t overcome it with some effort.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can assume that your genetic predisposition to obesity is modest if your weight is normal and doesn’t increase even when you regularly indulge in high-calorie foods and rarely exercise.
When the prey escaped or the crops failed, how did our ancestors survive? Those who could store body fat to live off during the lean times lived, and those who couldn’t, perished. This evolutionary adaptation explains why most modern humans — about 85% of us — carry so-called thrifty genes, which help us conserve energy and store fat. Today, of course, these thrifty genes are a curse rather than a blessing. Not only is food readily available to us nearly around the clock, we don’t even have to hunt or harvest it!
People with only a moderate genetic predisposition to be overweight have a good chance of losing weight on their own by eating fewer calories and getting more vigorous exercise more often. These people are more likely to be able to maintain this lower weight.
In contrast, people with a strong genetic predisposition to obesity may not be able to lose weight with the usual forms of diet and exercise therapy. Even if they lose weight, they are less likely to maintain the weight loss. For people with a very strong genetic predisposition, sheer willpower is ineffective in counteracting their tendency to be overweight. Typically, these people can maintain weight loss only under a doctor’s guidance. They are also the most likely to require weight-loss drugs or surgery.
The Genetix Program specializes in finding a comfort zone for each individual. This means a zone that your weight will drop when you want it to drop and stay still when you want it to maintain all while not cutting calories to a dangerous level. Since the problem is multi-faceted, each individual should take a multi-faceted approach at changing their gene structure. That’s right you can change your genetic makeup! However changing your genetics takes time and serious dedication.
Exercise and diet, when done THE RIGHT WAY, can change your DNA.
Unlike the aberrations and genetic mutations caused by carcinogens and toxins, changing the way you eat and the way you move induces alterations to DNA that are more like tune-ups, helping muscles to work better and more efficiently. What’s more, these changes occur even with minor consistent changes to the diet or after a single 20-minute workout.
Juleen Zierath, a professor of physiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, reports with her colleagues in the journal Cell Metabolism about these very early changes that muscle cells undergo the first time you get off the couch and into the gym. The researchers worked with a group of 14 young men and women who were relatively sedentary, and asked them to work out on an exercise bike that measured their maximum activity levels. The participants also volunteered to give up a little bit of muscle, from their quadriceps, in a relatively painless biopsy procedure performed under local anesthesia.
The researchers took the biopsy of muscle cells once before the participants exercised, and again within 20 minutes afterward. The more intense the exercise, she says, the more the methyl groups are on the move. She and her team were able to see this firsthand by comparing gene activity in participants who also agreed to exercise at two different intensities over a period of a week.
Ask your Genetix Counselor if your genes play a role in your weight problems and more about how you can incorporate a genetic change during your program.