Your genes can interact with the food you eat when it comes to weight loss—but just how much of an impact does it make? A systematic review of the literature has revealed some interesting associations between genotype–diet interactions and weight loss. For instance, a low-fat diet may be more effective for individuals with specific genetic backgrounds, while a Mediterranean diet may benefit those with other genetic backgrounds.
Personally, I find the research on weight loss, genetics, and diet to be interesting. However, the differences in weight loss outcomes based on genetics are more of a statistical change (a couple of pounds, in many cases) instead of a real game-changer for weight loss. The best weight loss diet is one that is both healthy and something you can maintain long-term.
If you have questions on healthy eating, talk with a nutritionist, functional medicine doctor, or someone with a solid background in the subject.
Most diet-gene interaction studies look at overall fat, carbs, or protein. They aren’t getting into the details of whether the carbohydrates were whole grains and fruits vs. processed junk. Likewise, high-fat diets aren’t differentiating between pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed butter, or industrial seed oils.
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Goni, Leticia, Dianjianyi Sun, et al. “A Circadian Rhythm-Related MTNR1B Genetic Variant Modulates the Effect of Weight-Loss Diets on Changes in Adiposity and Body Composition: The POUNDS Lost Trial.” European Journal of Nutrition, vol. 58, no. 4, June 2019, pp. 1381–89. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-018-1660-y.
Goni, Leticia, Jose Ignacio Riezu-Boj, et al. “Interaction between an ADCY3 Genetic Variant and Two Weight-Lowering Diets Affecting Body Fatness and Body Composition Outcomes Depending on Macronutrient Distribution: A Randomized Trial.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 6, June 2018, p. 789. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060789.
Huang, Tao, et al. “HNF1A Variant, Energy-Reduced Diets and Insulin Resistance Improvement during Weight Loss: The POUNDS Lost Trial and DIRECT.” Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, vol. 20, no. 6, June 2018, pp. 1445–52. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.13250.
Qi, Qibin, George A. Bray, et al. “Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (IRS1) Gene Variation Modifies Insulin Resistance Response to Weight-Loss Diets in a Two-Year Randomized Trial.” Circulation, vol. 124, no. 5, Aug. 2011, pp. 563–71. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.025767.
Qi, Qibin, Yan Zheng, et al. “Vitamin D Metabolism-Related Genetic Variants, Dietary Protein Intake and Improvement of Insulin Resistance in a 2 Year Weight-Loss Trial: POUNDS Lost.” Diabetologia, vol. 58, no. 12, Dec. 2015, p. 2791. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-015-3750-1.
Razquin, Cristina, et al. “A Mediterranean Diet Rich in Virgin Olive Oil May Reverse the Effects of the -174G/C IL6 Gene Variant on 3-Year Body Weight Change.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 54 Suppl 1, May 2010, pp. S75-82. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.200900257.
Rung, Johan, et al. “Genetic Variant near IRS1 Is Associated with Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia.” Nature Genetics, vol. 41, no. 10, Oct. 2009, pp. 1110–15. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.443.
Xu, Min, et al. “Genetic Determinant for Amino Acid Metabolites and Changes in Body Weight and Insulin Resistance in Response to Weight-Loss Diets: The POUNDS LOST Trial.” Circulation, vol. 127, no. 12, Mar. 2013, p. 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.000586. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.000586.
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and also an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.
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