The trend: DNA fitness

Can a DNA test hold the key to better workouts and nutrition? Friday, 26 February 2016

By Joanna Reeves

Can a DNA test hold the key to better workouts and nutrition? Lucy Miller reports
Edited by Joanna Reeves

Just two weeks after scraping the inside of my cheek with a swab, bottling it up, and sending it back to a lab, I got back the most exciting report about my diet, fitness, and general health I've ever read.

As a self-confessed fitness freak, I hadn't hesitated when offered the chance to take the DNA test. If it meant I'd end up with a workout tailored to my genetic code — one that took the guesswork out of my fitness and nutrition — then I was sure be a very happy lady.

Michelle Dand, David Lloyd Leisure's group health and fitness manager tells me the DNAFit test adds a key genetic level of information to help build tailored training and nutrition programmes. The scientists who created the test focused on the genes most relevant to exercise — those affecting power, endurance, soft tissue injury and nutrition.

“While around 99% of everyone's DNA is identical, the remaining 1% is what makes us look different and makes our bodies work in different ways,” Michelle explains. “These differences are the ones responsible for everything from how easily we put on weight to how we respond to exercise.”

What have I learnt from the results?

My power-to-endurance potential is 24% power: 76% endurance, so instead of doing my usual low-rep training, I've upped my reps this week and lowered my weights. My body clearly responds better to endurance-type training, which is maybe the reason why I have a pretty good marathon time to my name (three hours, 23 minutes). I thought my marathon days were over, but it looks like I may have another in me yet!

My day begins with a Mediterranean-style breakfast of mashed avocado on rye toast. My results show that the Mediterranean way of eating is best suited to my DNA — and I'm not gluten intolerant like I once thought. That doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy with the bread, but the odd slice of rye is a great way to start the morning.

Rest day! Although my DNA profile shows I've got a medium recovery speed, my injury risk is high, meaning I'm prone to soft-tissue injuries.

So instead of training, I do a round of yoga sun salutations and then 15 minutes of foam rolling, which helps relieve muscle tension and gets more oxygen and blood flowing to the muscles.

I allow myself a strong coffee today. I always thought I was sensitive to coffee, so tended to avoid it, but according to my results, I've a low sensitivity, which is great as it always perks me up. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a no-no: I'm highly sensitive to the stuff.

I always treat myself to lunch on Fridays — and today I've gone for a big salad, packed with kale, watercress, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale). Because I don't produce the GSTM1 enzyme naturally, I have to get it from food. This is crucial for cardiovascular health and the removal of toxins.

Farmers' market today. I've a list of things to buy, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwis, red peppers, pumpkin and sweet potato. My results show I need more antioxidants to help guard against free-radical damage, which can harm my health. I always thought I ate enough of these. Clearly not. Fruit salad anyone?

It's cold, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining, so I head out for a long walk. It's been recommended that I increase my vitamin D intake, so without jetting off on an exotic holiday I'll make the most of the crisp winter sunshine and eat plenty of eggs, yogurt, oily fish and liver.

The verdict
I feel so in control of my training. I'm back to my high-rep training (up to 30 reps) and enjoying running long distance again. I'm in my element training this way, and now I know why!

DNAfit is available in selected David Lloyd Leisure clubs for £159.

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