You’ve come to the right place. This in-depth buying guide will provide you with reviews of various DNA fitness testing procedures.
Consumer DNA testing has exploded in the last few years. More people are curious about the heritage and family secrets their DNA holds.
Others want to learn more about their health including the genetic diseases they are at risk of and whether they might pass on certain conditions to their children.
But there’s a lot more a DNA test can uncover. It can go beyond your ancestry and genetic health risks.
Fitness and diet DNA testing is a new field that involves using DNA tests to recommend diet and fitness plans.
These tests are based on the (yet to be proven) idea that your DNA can reveal your body’s optimal diet and fitness needs.
There isn’t enough research on whether you can really select a diet or fitness plan based on your DNA.
So it’s important that you consult your doctor or physical therapist before taking any action based on the results you receive.
Your DNA holds telltale clues that a lab can use to pinpoint your ancestry, trace your mother’s or father’s line and even match you to unknown family members.
Companies like 23andMe also use these clues to approximate your risk of getting various genetic diseases.
A Diet and Fitness DNA test is just the newest addition to these personalized ancestry and health tests.
But instead of checking your DNA for ancestry information or health risks, the test looks for variants in your DNA that affect your fitness and diet with an aim of helping you optimize both.
The test usually involves a similar process to an ancestry or health test. You spit in a tube or take a cheek swab and send it in for testing.
Some companies like DNAFit also accept raw data from other DNA testing websites such as 23andMe and MyHeritage.
The lab then tests for specific genetic variants.
If you have a variant associated with lactose intolerance, the report will tell you that.
If you have a variant that is associated with increased strength and endurance, the report might recommend a change in your workout routine.
And if your DNA shows that you metabolize certain types of foods better than others, the report may recommend a specific diet.
Here are some of the things you can learn from a DNA-based fitness and diet test.
>> The best foods and diet based on your DNA. The report might tell you that your body is better suited to a Mediterranean diet or that your body responds better to a low-fat diet.
>> How your body responds to different types of food. Finding out how your body responds to carbs, proteins and fats can help you lose weight more quickly and get fitter.
>> Whether you are intolerant to lactose, gluten and other food components.
>> Your fitness traits. The test might explain why you take longer to recover, why you find running easier than weight training and why you gain muscles slower than most people.
>> The best workout plan for your body. Based on your DNA, the test report will recommend which fitness plan will get you the best results.
>> Best workouts to reduce injuries. Some tests also tell you how you are genetically predisposed to certain injuries and how to modify your workouts to reduce the risk of injury.
>> How to increase athletic performance. Some tests are aimed at professional athletes. The reports contain in-depth data and information on how to optimize areas like speed, endurance and strength.
As I mentioned before, be careful about what you do with these results. The science on how DNA and diet/fitness are connected is still young.
Your report will contain a lot of useful information. It may also contain information that is wrong or misleading.
So before you completely overhaul your diet or workout plan, talk to an expert.
|Test Kit||Best For||Price|
|DNAFit DNA Test Kit||Best for those who want diet and fitness based on DNA.||$$|
|Vitagene DNA Test Kit||Best for those who want to know the influence of DNA on Diet and Fitness.||$|
|Pathway Genomics FiT iQ™||Best for those who want to optimize their diet and fitness.||$|
|Azumio DNA Test Kit||Best for those who want fitness according to the nutrition and food they eating.||$|
|ORIG3N Genetic Home DNA Test Kit||Best for those who want to know their fitness potential.||$$|
|Arivale DNA Test Kit||Best for those who want to loose weight based on their DNA test results.||$|
|FitnessGenes||Best for those who are looking for a budget diet and fitness DNA test.||$$|
DNAFit is one of the leaders in DNA-based fitness and diet testing. The company launched in 2013 with the aim of providing personalized fitness and nutrition solutions based on DNA.
The Diet Fitness Pro 360 package is offered in collaboration with Helix, which is often described as the app store of DNA services.
Helix is the one that tests your DNA through a process called exome sequencing. This is a highly accurate way of studying the DNA to find specific variants.
It’s much more reliable than genotyping, the cheaper alternative used by most DNA testing companies.
Once they have your raw DNA data, they send only the parts that DNAFit needs for their Diet Fitness Pro 360 service.
Fitness report: an explanation of how your genetics influence your workouts. Also includes information on your predisposition to certain injuries as well as recovery response.
Custom workout and diet plan: This includes DNA-based diet guidelines and a personalized training program that takes advantage of your fitness traits to optimize your workouts.
Nutrition report: A finer look at how your body interacts with various macro and micronutrients including proteins, carbs, vitamins, saturated fat, caffeine, alcohol and others.
Phone consultation: You get a complimentary half hour consultation with an expert who’ll help you go through your results.
Vitagene’s health + ancestry test sounds a lot like the similarly named 23andMe test. But the similarities end there.
While the ancestry part is close to 23andMe’s own ancestry test, the health part is very different.
Instead of genetic diseases, Vitagene helps you understand how your DNA influences your diet and fitness.
The company uses genotyping, which is faster and cheaper. But the results are not as reliable as those gotten from sequencing.
If you are looking for a budget diet and fitness DNA test, Vitagene is a good choice. The ancestry report is a nice bonus.
Genetic diet traits: Over 30 nutritional traits including carbohydrate metabolism, fat metabolism, cholesterol and blood pressure. These traits can help you refine your diet to achieve better results in areas like weight loss and overall health.
DNA diet menu: Personalized meals selected from over 700 recipes. The meal calorie counts and ingredients are tailored to your DNA profile.
Exercise report: Insights on how your body responds to different exercises, your body type (power vs. endurance), blood pressure and exercise and muscle cramps. The report recommends the best exercises for your particular body type and fitness traits. You also get personalized exercise plans.
Ancestry report: A breakdown of your ancestral regions plus a handy map showing your ethnic composition.
Pathway Genomics (formally known as Pathway OME) is a company that focuses on advanced personalized precision medicine.
The company provides genetic tests for weight loss, diet and metabolism among other areas.
The FiT iQ test is designed to help customers improve overall health and wellness.
The report includes insights into how your body responds to different nutrients and exercises plus recommendations for how to optimize your diet and fitness.
The process works much the same way as that of any other DNA testing company. They will send you a swab kit that you then send back with a sample.
Results take 4-6 weeks.
Unlike other DNA tests that are more cautious about making weight loss promises, Pathway Genomics explicitly says that their recommended DNA-based diet will help you lose weight.
As I mentioned, be careful with such bold promises. Talk to a doctor before you decide to switch to a low-carb or low-fat diet.
What You get
Eating behavior traits: Explanations for traits like sweet tooth, snacking, food desire and satiety.
Food reactions: How your body reacts to different types of food including carbs, proteins, fats, caffeine, lactose and alcohol among others. This can help you improve your diet to increase energy levels, sleep better and improve overall wellness.
Weight loss: How your DNA affects your metabolism and weight loss.
Personalized diet: The report provides a personalized diet that matches your genetic profile.
Exercise recommendations: DNA-based workout recommendations to optimize weight loss, muscle building and athletic performance. Also includes insights to help you with endurance training, loss of body fat and strength training.
You need to buy the Helix sequencing test to get your diet and workout report from Azumio. If you have bought a Helix Kit before, even if it is for another test, you do not need to buy another one.
The sequencing data they already have is enough for lifetime access to all Helix DNA ‘apps’ including Azumio.
This product by Azumio focuses on optimizing nutrition and fitness. The report will tell you which foods you should eat and which workouts will be most effective for your fitness goals.
Azumio is a health and fitness company that uses computer vision and machine learning technology to help their customers improve their diet and fitness.
They are best known for their Calorie Mama app that just needs to snap a photo of your food to do a calorie count.
This kit comes with a full year’s subscription to Calorie Mama.
When you order, Helix will send you a sample collection kit. Spit into the tube and send it back to Helix for full Exome Sequencing.
Results will be ready in 4-6 weeks.
Custom fitness and nutrition plans: Personalized plans based on your DNA profile. Includes recommendations on carb, saturated fats, sugar, iron and Omega-3.
Genetic predisposition to food intolerance: This includes tolerance to lactose, caffeine, sugary beverages, alcohol and gluten.
Genetic risk of injuries: Learn your predisposition to arthritis, Achilles injury and ACL injury among other types of injuries.
Note that you’ll need to download the Calorie Mama app to see these insights from your test. The test report is only accessible through the app.
You can make use of all the other app features using your 1-year subscription.
Orig3n is a biotechnology company that focuses on regenerative medicine to treat rare genetically inherited conditions affecting the liver, heart and the neural system.
They also provide DNA tests to help customers learn more about their bodies. They have packages for running performance, child development, behavior, nutrition and beauty.
This particular one is for fitness.
They test for 27 genes that affect muscle strength, cardiac output, training response, exercise recovery and other areas of fitness.
The test involves a simple swab. They’ll send you the swab kit after you complete your order.
Once you send the sample back, it takes about 3 weeks to get your results back. You can access your results via a link that will be included in the notification email.
They also have a free app where you can access your results.
This is a fitness-only test so the report will only include insights into how your DNA affects your fitness.
The report consists of explanations of specific areas they analyzed including metabolism, muscle recovery, strength, speed, endurance, joint health and overall performance.
They report on a total of 27 genes including SOD2 (cell repair), TRHR (lean body mass) and ADRB3 (energy output).
Unfortunately, the report does not provide detailed recommendations of what workouts are best suited for your DNA profile; just basic suggestions.
You’ll have to create your own comprehensive workout plan based on the report.
Note that the report does not contain recommendations on what food to eat. For that, you’ll have to buy a separate nutrition package.
This package is focused on weight loss. The report will tell you the type of food your body responds to best.
As with other weight loss DNA tests, I advise caution. Talk to your doctor first before making a significant change to your diet.
You’ll have to buy a Helix test to get this package. If Helix has already sequenced your DNA, you can just go ahead and order the package. There’s no need to get a new test.
Weight loss recommendations: these personalized suggestions are based on your DNA. The report will also tell you whether you’ll lose more weight on a low fat or low carb diet.
Phone consultation: One on one consultation on the phone with a registered dietician.
30-day coaching: In addition to the phone consultation, you can keep chatting with the dietician for up to 30 days after the test results are out.
FitnessGenes is a company that uses DNA to help people get fitter and healthier.
The basic package includes a DNA test plus a weeklong genetic workout plan. If you want longer workout and nutrition plans, you’ll have to buy their other packages.
They have a package for fitness, getting lean, weight loss and muscle building.
They’ll send you a kit for collecting a saliva sample. Send it back to them in the prepaid box and wait 2-3 weeks for your results.
You can access your report in the “private members” area of their website.
They test for a total of 42 genes (which explains the fairly high price tag) associated with things like endurance, speed, power, recovery, alcohol metabolism, sleep, caffeine, overeating and lactose intolerance.
You can see the complete list here.
22 personalized insights: Important insights into what your DNA says about your fitness and nutrition.
32 personalized actions: Actionable suggestions to help you get fitter and eat better.
In-depth gene analysis: You can read an analysis of every single gene they tested.
1-week genetic workout plan: A complete workout plan to help you achieve your fitness goals. Longer premium plans are available.
Nutrition guide and recipes: Get to know how your body responds to different types of foods and nutrient. The report also includes recommended recipes based on your DNA nutritional analysis.
Most companies require that you provide a sample for DNA testing. But a few allow you to upload raw DNA data if you have already tested with another company like 23andMe or AncestryDNA.
Check the company’s requirements before you upload raw data. Some accept raw data only from specific companies.
Something else to keep in mind when uploading raw data: make sure you upload the right file. It will most likely be in a .txt format.
Do not upload your DNA report from another company (which will most likely be in a .pdf format). That’s just the summary. What you need is the unfiltered raw data.
The whole idea of using DNA to recommend the best workout and diet plans is way ahead of where science currently is.
As a result, DNA reports are not always 100% accurate or reliable. Some of the insights included are just approximations and others are just generalized ideas that apply to most people.
That’s why it is important to consult a doctor before taking any major action based on your results.
If you want to see just how confusing the tests can be, try testing with two or more companies.
Several people have tried and the results were baffling.
They got very different pictures from each company with some aspects of the reports flat out contradicting each other.
To be sure, this is not an issue with DNA testing in general.
If you take an ancestry DNA test with different companies, the results will roughly be the same. What might be different is how they each have divided the world and what they call various regions.
DNA diet and fitness testing, on the other hand, varies wildly from one company to the other.
One report might tell you that you perform better at speed-focused sports activities while another says you are better suited to strength-based sports.
You might discover that you are a low-fat kind of person only for another test to tell you that reducing carbs is better for your metabolism.
Even tests that discover the same genes in your DNA might interpret them very differently.
The biggest issue, it seems, is the research that these companies rely on.
When it comes to ancestry testing, there is a lot of solid research on variants associated with different populations. That’s why your ancestry report doesn’t change much from one company to another.
There is also a lot of good research on genetically inherited diseases and the genes that cause them.
If you take 23andMe’s health test, you’ll discover you are at risk of roughly the same conditions that another DNA health screening will find.
But when it comes to fitness and diet testing, there is little-proven research.
Many studies suggest there is a link between DNA and your fitness and diet but we have yet to pin down the exact association between specific genes and your ideal sport or perfect weight loss diet.
Part of the reason is that there are so many other factors beyond genetics that influence weight loss, fitness and overall health.
The research that’s available is conflicting and in most cases, inconclusive. So diet and fitness reports, which rely on this research, are also often inconclusive.
Your report will contain some helpful insights. But it could also include unhelpful recommendations.
That’s why I keep emphasizing that you work with an expert – a doctor, dietician, nutritionist or physical therapist – to modify your diet or workouts based on the report.
Even science itself can be a bit confusing when it comes to DNA-based diet and fitness tests. Again, the problem is conflicting and inconclusive studies.
But the general take for most experts is that DNA diet and fitness testing is still an unproven ground. It has some benefits but it’s unwise to rely only on a DNA test to inform your diet and exercise decisions.
Here are some of the main takeaways from various experts and studies.
>> There is some evidence that genetics can influence how your body processes carbs, proteins and fats. But there is no evidence that changing your diet based on this information helps with weight loss or fitness.
>> Research suggests that genetic variations among individuals do not result in a significant difference in the effect of specific diets and exercises. There very little difference in the amount of weight lost between two groups with different genetic variants following the same diet and exercise regimen. This shows that other factors like lifestyle have a much bigger impact on your weight and fitness than your genetic variants.
>> The effect of various genes varies widely from one population to another. Research involving Caucasian participants many not translate well to Asian or black people. And since most studies involve people with European origins, the little we know about DNA and diet/fitness may not apply to other races.
>> There are many other genes that labs don’t test for and whose effect on our health and fitness we don’t know. One known gene may cause some people to store more fat than usual but we don’t know whether there are other genes that might also affect their fat intake.
You can get some useful information from a DNA diet or fitness test.
But don’t feel that you have to get a diet or fitness DNA test if you want to lose weight or get ripped.
Most of these tests tell you what you already know (workout more, eat more vegetables, avoid caffeine at night etc.) or things that you can’t translate into practical changes.
If you do decide to get a DNA test, be careful how you integrate the recommendations into your lifestyle.
Some suggestions like taking yoga to improve joint health or eating more Omega-3 foods are harmless and even beneficial.
Others recommendations like switching to a low-carb diet to lose weight can actually be dangerous for your health if you are not careful.
For the major stuff, ask your doctor before doing anything.