Monday, March 19, 2018

DNA Reveals: Does Vegetarian Diet & Exercise Work?

As a marathon runner, boot camp aficionado and cycling enthusiast, I have exercise covered.

And as a vegetarian, salad lover and creative home cook, I eat on the healthy spectrum.

But would my DNA tell a different story?

I tried the HomeDNA Healthy Weight genetic testing kit to find out.

I got a kit in the mail, with instructions on how to swab my cheek and send in a sample. In a couple of weeks, I got the results.

Healthy plant-based lunch
According to my DNA, my weight loss ability with diet and exercise is below average. Although my weight is in the low-normal range for my height, both of my parents were overweight, so this makes some sense.

My fat loss response to cardio was found to be low, a rather depressing insight. And my fitness response to cardio is below average. So maybe I really do need to run a marathon to get the same benefit those lucky high responders get from a one mile jog.

The test results recommended cardio workouts, which include walking, running, cycling and cardio machines. These are all part of my regular routine. The exercise plan it suggests recommends 300 minutes (that's 5 hours) of high intensity cardio per week.

Overnight oats; healthy breakfast 
It also suggested strength training: boot camp or circuit work, 3 times a week.

Vegetarian Diet

Although there was nowhere on the DNA kit to indicate my current food habits, the diet suggested is right in my wheelhouse. It said I should get my protein from plant-based sources such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetables. Check, check, check.

For fats, I should go for plant foods - so perhaps my cheese habit could be reduced. And for cabs, a plant=based diet, high in complex carbohydrates. And avoid processed carbs like fries and chips. Which I mostly do anyway.

The results offer a 7 day diet plan, with few processed foods: steel cut oats or plain yogurt for breakfast, a salad with lentils for lunch, simple broiled fish with veggies for dinner, and fruit or nuts for a snack. Conspicuously missing: chocolate, alcohol, coffee. Well, I mostly have the diet right...

How I spent my weekend

Not a substitute for the doctor

If you get a low or below average level or response to a nutrient, the report recommends you speak to a doctor.

Coincidentally, my neurologist ran a blood test and found that my vitamin B12 is low. The Home DNA kit nailed that. I started on a supplement (that my doctor recommended).

My trainer agrees

Perform moderate to vigorous intensity cardiovascular exercise 5 or more days a week for minimum of 300 minutes per week. You can achieve greater results by lengthening the duration of moderate intensity cardio, focusing on endurance activities like biking or running.
Lift weights 3 days per week using weights that are heavy enough to challenge you at the end of each of 3 sets of 12 reps. 

Note: I received a complimentary genetic testing kit. I was not otherwise compensated.

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