A lifestyle DNA test? What the heck is that about? I expected it to be a bit of a horoscope with results that fit anyone reading it. Turns out that is not really true. Here’s what came out of it!
What kind of results I expected:
– My genes make me easily put on the pounds
– I need to exercise to keep my weight in check
– I’m better at strength training than cardio
– I’m bad at handling stress and worry too much
– I look around 5-10 years younger than my age
I’m 30 something… I know that by now. I don’t need a DNA test or science mumbo jumbo to tell me that. But hey, let’s put it to the test!
When I first heard of lifestyle DNA tests back in 2019, I was pretty sure I could pretty much spot-on predict the results. I struggled with my weight my entire life, hitting 120 kilos (that’s around 265 pounds) when I was 18 years old. So, it’s my destiny to be chubby, right? I mean it must be genetics…
Wrong that it was my destiny – through discipline, WeightWatchers and my newfound love for cooking, I lost 30 kilos within 3 years. A better understanding of nutrition and the gym have helped me to stay somewhere roughly around 85 ± 8 kilos.
Wrong again that it was my genetics – the results were a reality check. Turns out I don’t have any genetic predisposition to be overweight. It’s due to my lifestyle choices…
DNA analysis from 2019 vs 2022
The results in 2019 were a wake-up call (read the full in-depth article here). By now we are 3 years and a pandemic further down the line. I’ve been keeping in touch with Omniyou – the company that runs these DNA analyses – throughout the years. I have changed in the last 3 years, so have they. But what’s the added value of doing another DNA test 3 years later..? Same DNA, same DNA results, right?
Omniyou has extended their analysis and reporting. Next to knowledge into your metabolism and sports performance, they now also investigate the characteristics of your skin, stress-resistance and everything that relates to a good night’s sleep.
How does the DNA analysis with Omniyou work?
You get your DNA collection kit in the mail, swab some mucus of your cheek, send it back, Omniyou analyses the DNA in a certified genetic laboratory in the Netherlands, and you find your results in a nifty little dashboard. That’s the easy part.
What about that whole nature vs nurture debate?
Your DNA tells you about your genetic predispositions. In other words, how likely is it that you have certain characteristics. Genes can also be turned on and off by lifestyle. That’s why two identical twins with the same DNA can still be different.
What kind of results I got this time around
- Nutrigenomics – or: I don’t have fat genes, but I make terrible lifestyle choices
- Athleticogenomics – or: My exercise preferences match with my genetics
- Somnogenomics – or: Oh that’s why I have a severe caffeine addiction
- Stress-genomics – or: Well, I guess my overthinking is genetic then
- Dermagenomics – or: Why I’m still gorgeous after 30 and turn into a lobster if sun touches me
Nutrigenomics – I do not have a predisposition for a higher weight
Even though I was sure of the opposite, it turns out that I do not have a genotype that puts me at a higher-than-average risk of obesity. It’s just plain old average. So, the fact that I am overweight, and have a BMI of 26.9 is due to the fact that I regularly consume more than my daily energy requirement of 2623 calories.
The ideal diet for me? A carb/fat/protein split of 45 / 30 / 25. In the past I have tried low-fat diets (WeighWatchers) and low-carb (keto). Both resulted in rapid weight loss for me. Personally, I found lower fat a lot easier to maintain than keto (read my full experience report on the ketogenic diet here).
Based on my genetics an increased protein intake should have a positive effect on my weight loss and maintenance. In my current cooking at home, I try to cook mostly plant-based. Adding extra protein in plant-based cooking (e.g. beans, tofu, tempeh) usually goes hand in hand with extra carbs. I’m still having trouble staying within my suggested macro range and get my recommended daily 108-180 grams of protein in.
Genetically I do have an increased risk for folic acid, B6 and iron deficiency. This was already present when I got my results in 2019. I completely adjusted my diet back then to ramp up these micronutrients but didn’t feel any noticeable effect of it even after several weeks doing so. Ever since reading Michael Greger’s “How Not To Die” I structurally increased the amount of beans and legumes I eat. That should roughly take care of it. Though I am very curious about doing a blood test and see if I have any actual deficits.
A risk of high blood pressure due increased salt intake seems pretty reasonable. My granddad was on blood pressure meds, so is my father. My dad once told me “High blood pressure runs in the family. It’s more a question of when, rather than if you’ll get it.” Unfortunately, salty snacks are my kryptonite… Even if I’m trying to stay to healthier salty snacks instead of chips (e.g. roasted veg, edamame, etc.), I just can’t shake my salty habit. (*ba dum tzz*).
– or: My exercise preferences match with my genetics
All in all, I do have an increased aptitude for short high-intensity exercise, in terms of muscle composition, VO2max and lactate threshold. That only fits too well with my preferred sports, meaning going to the gym and rock climbing. I have tried jogging, rowing, and cycling in the past, but never got the hang of it. I’m knackered quite quickly and end up dragging myself with terrible form.
You might say – “dude, you are just in terrible shape and should work on your cardio”. Well, fair point. But then again, I enjoy more intense exercise way more. Probably also because I saw results a lot quicker in terms of putting muscle on and losing flab.
One thing that is interesting was the interaction of physical activity on body weight. I do have a genetic predisposition which leads to faster weight gain if I exercise less. Which brings us to the topic of COVID and lockdowns. I always thought of exercising in the gym mainly as an outlet to calm and empty my mind. Turns out that as soon as the gyms closed, I quickly put on the pounds. My diet stayed the same, just my activity level went way down. Ultimately, it’s true what they say – you can’t out train a bad diet… and neither should you want to.
What I really like are the newly added Nutrition+ and Athletics+ reports that help you to put your results into practice. When I got my results in 2019, I spent weeks on online desk research trying to find ways on how to use my DNA results. Ultimately that’s what got myself into coaching in the first place.
The Nutrition+ report goes more in-depth into the basics of macro- and micronutrients. How much is right for me, and the composition of many common foods. The Athletics+ report on the other hand tackles different ways of exercising to increase your VO2max and lactate threshold, as well as training frequency and load. For me this was fascinating to read, but I might understand that someone that just does the test to lose some weight, might feel overwhelmed by all the information.
When it comes to caffeine, I do have a predisposition to be a fast metabolizer – meaning my body breaks down caffeine and other substances rather quickly. To be fair – my body pretty much runs on caffeine. So much so that I regularly get comments on my espresso consumption… Oh well, in my opinion that’s one of my healthier addictions.
The suggestion for my bodyweight (90kg) at 3mg caffeine per kilo of body weight comes down to 270mg of caffeine. That’s 1.5 caffeine pills (normally doses at 200mg). From experience I can say that for me personally, that’s excessive.
The right dosage for me when it comes to working out is a double espresso right before heading to the gym. Perks you up and gets you going. I have been experimenting with pre-workout supplements as well, which usually contain a lot of caffeine. Though these make me sweat profusely for the rest of the day…
– or: Caffeine keeps me going, while I structurally sleep too little
One of the new reports Omniyou provides is related to sleep. This report is the one that raises the most question marks for me. I can’t really find myself in the results.
Apparently, I do have a predisposition to needing more sleep than average. I’m already happy if I manage to get a solid 7 hours in. On top of that, I should be able to fall asleep about 5 minutes quicker than the average person.
The average sleep duration for my age would be 7-9 hours. Truth be told, I NEVER get 9 hours. Can’t even remember the last time I did. 6-7ish is more of a norm for me.
I did try melatonin supplements to fall asleep and stopped drinking coffee after 6pm. But even with that, I tend to wake up tossing and turning regularly in the early morning hours (usually around 3-4am) and am usually awake before my alarm even rings at 6.30-7am.
Maybe this should be the wake-up-call (*ba dum tzz*) to cut down on caffeine after all…
or: Well, I guess my overthinking is genetic then
Okay, it’s official – I’m a worrier – not a warrior. I knew this beforehand, but it’s interesting to see this on paper. I have always been more the investigative type and definitely tend to overthink things, ending up in all kinds of possible doomsday scenarios.
Always have and probably always will. Next to that I also do have a higher risk of experiencing stress at work.
Sounds about right… It has me lead to the edge of burnout a few times in the past, mental health issues in general – most predominantly episodes of depression, even up to suicidal thoughts. I have dealt with this by myself through meditation, (unhealthy) self-medication, countless meaningful and meaningless projects, sports, yoga, etc. On top of that, seeking external help – meaning coaches, psychologists, psychotherapy, EMDR, and antidepressants.
When I don’t feel in control and experience a lot of stress, I tend to get snappy and isolate myself. Food has been a coping mechanism to deal with stress all my life. I’m still working on that.
Turns out, I do not have a predisposition to have metabolic effects when it comes to dealing with chronic stress. Meaning there is no increased chance of putting on belly-fat or effect on cholesterol. Well, at least that’s a good thing.
Final word of encouragement: If you are dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, it’s okay to seek help. You are not alone in this. Talking to my GP about this and seeking help from psychologists was one of the best moves I ever took.
– or: Why I’m still gorgeous after 30 and turn into a lobster if sun touches me
Another newly added report covers dermagenomics – in other words – the genetic predisposition to various characteristics of the skin.
Apparently, I do have a higher risk of developing crow’s feet. Personally, people tend to guess my age a lot younger than it actually is. Especially without a beard I pretty much still look like a teenager. Throughout my whole life, especially in winter, I do have super dry skin. That’s why I started using day-cream and moisturizer in my teenage years. Guess that wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
The report says that I do not have a higher risk of developing acne. Truth be told, I was always pretty lucky with my skin, and even as a pubescent teenager never had to deal with a lot of skin impurities. So, this one definitely checks out.
As soon as the sun touches me, I turn into a lobster. Which always seemed weird to me as I have dark hair and dark eyes. My genetic profile doesn’t offer any extra protection against the damage from UV-rays and resulting skin damage. Luckily, I have never been the sunbathing type in the first place, though I am guilty of not smearing myself with sunscreen on a regular basis. The result? A beautiful lobster-ish red glow with the well-deserved accompanied pain. I guess I do deserve that…
Would I recommend this DNA analysis by Omniyou? Yup! 👍
If you are interested in biohacking or simply trying to run your body at peak performance, I would definitely recommend you trying this DNA lifestyle analysis. Omniyou have really stepped up their game in the last years and provide you with even more insights than before. When I first did this analysis in 2019, I spent literally weeks doing desk-research where to get the different nutrients my body might be lacking, and how to incorporate everything into my lifestyle. Omniyou now takes out the guessing work with their Nutrition+ & Athletics+ reports. You can get the complete package for €200. I agree that this might not sound extraordinarily cheap, but you get science-backed insights into your body from a respected scientific provider without the fluff and overhyped claims you will get from other parties.
I learned a lot about my body and the ways in which I was deceiving myself in the past. If you are ready to be radically honest towards yourself and want to make steps towards a healthier and more high-performance lifestyle, you might want to give this a try.