When it comes to improving anything in your life, there’s no denying that information is key. Regardless of how much effort, drive and will you have, it’s always better to channel that energy into something that’s effective and not just taking shots in the dark. For training, that vital information can be on a variety of factors including your routine and nutritional choices.
However, the other side of that equation is the individual person. Humans aren’t all alike and in just like our nutritional needs change over time as we age and vary by person to person, our training routines change depending on the individual as well.
It’s no secret that proper training and nutrition are inherently dependent on the individual implementing them. With that in mind, what about getting more information on ourselves? Can we use that to improve our plans? With home DNA test kits becoming more and more popular, should you get one for yourself to learn more about tailoring your strategies? Let’s take a deeper look.
Home DNA Test Kits
Direct-to-consumer home DNA test kits like 23andMe, Ancestry.com, and more have become incredibly popular over recent years. People are using them to learn more about their genetic makeup, where they come from, and even find unexpected relatives. Given their rise in popularity, it’s no surprise that now many are wondering if they can be used to make nutritional choices for themselves as well.
Beyond traditional DNA testing kits, an even more specific niche industry has risen focusing on giving users insights for their health and fitness based on their genetic findings. New companies like Nutrigenomix and DNAFit tell consumers they can offer individually tailored recommendations for their health based on genes. Like other direct-to-consumer DNA testers, DNAFit and Nutrigenomix collect a sample (user’s saliva) and analyze it to give informed, actionable suggestions catered to the individual.
While all of that sounds great, there’s still the question of results. Can these companies actually offer valuable information that the big names from CompareDNAKit’s top 10 tests can’t? Is it worth it to purchase a DNA test kit being marketed as a health and fitness tool now or should you hold off until the field matures more?
Do They Actually Work?
DNA test kits are incredibly interesting and useful for learning more about you and your family’s past, but are they actually helpful for improving your training and health goals? For that question, the experts agree that no, they don’t really work, at least not yet.
Writing for Self, Anne Machalinski reached out to experts in the biomedical industry to discuss the question of DNA testing and the offerings of health and fitness DNA testers. As it turns out, the overwhelming answer from experts in the field is that DNA testers offer essentially no real insight.
Claude Bouchard, Ph.D is the director of the genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center specifically told Machalinksi that:
“When it comes to these current genetic tests for fitness and performance, they have almost zero predictive power.”
And Bouchard is not alone in that sentiment. Along with many other geneticists and specialists in the field, a consensus statement was released on the question of direct-to-consumer DNA tests and their efficacy for health and fitness. According to Bouchard and more than 20 other experts:
“The general consensus among sport and exercise genetics researchers is that genetic tests have no role to play in talent identification or the individualised prescription of training to maximise performance.”
What That Means for Us
Is all hope lost for genetic identification and tapping into the wealth of information stored in your genetic material? The good news is no, it’s certainly not. While commercial DNA test kits may not suitable for providing tailored recommendations to help you unlock your full potential now, that’s likely to change in the future.
The interest and use of DNA testing has grown immensely in recent years and improved vastly just over the past decades. Now, as more people continue to learn about their family history and genetic roots, we’re still learning more ways to put that information to use and improve on it. For the time being though, you’re not going to be gaining any true insights about improving your performance and changing up your nutritional plans so it’s not recommended to pay for tests expecting those results.