Thursday, 17 March 2016

Genetic Tests

Ive always wondered if I had any genetic advantage in the sports I have done, or whether its just down to my hard work... I certainly don't feel like I have any particularly strong genetics, but wouldn't it be great to know? I have always thought children should try lots of sports / hobbies so they have a good chance to find if they are particularly gifted... can you imagine having the genetics to be the fastest man in the world, but you never knew??? So when I heard that such genetic testing is actually available now, I jumped at the chance to find out!

So I contacted 2 companies and looked at the options and chose one. I went on the website and ordered a test kit and now I'm waiting for it to arrive in the post, and i'll put up my results when they arrive and explain how I think they reflect what I personally think and how useful the results are.
So what do the tests tell you? Well they test your genetic potential in two areas
  • Anaerobic threshold
  • Basal Energy Expenditure,
  • Endurance,
  • effect of exercise on weight,
  • hypertrophy response,
  • injury risk,
  • lean body mass,
  • power, recovery,
  • VO2 max,
  • warrier v worrier
  • bodys basal energy expenditure,
  • how you react to calorie restriction,
  • exercises affect on weight,
  • risk of obesity,
  • response to carbs, proteins and fats,
  • waist circumference (risks)
  • weight re gain
Once you get the first test you will get an option to upgrade to the other tests so you can choose either sport or weight package to start with.

So before I have the tests I think I have the following profile based on what I have experienced through life so far!
I have always preferred sprints to any other activity, I love weights but I'm a hard gainer (tall and skinny) Most of the athletics coaches ive had have thought I was more suited to middle distance but I was never interested. Ive competed for Great Britain in Sprint / Power events and in Bodybuilding, so is it possible I'm genetically gifted for speed and power which has lead my down my chosen sporting path?
  • I hate anything low intensity or endurance so I think I ill be poor for this. 
  • I'm strong but not mega strong and I'm fast but not mega fast, and I put on muscle very slowly so I doubt any genetic advantage here.
  • I think I have a high pain threshold and fast recovery
  • I think I am a mix of warrier / worrier (competitive but easily stressed)
  • Last time I had my VO2 max test done I scored higher than a professional footballer who was also tested that day, so I think I have an advantage here.

  • I think I have a fast metabolism
  • I think I tolerate carbs really well,
  • I don't tend to get fat easily
  • I think I will be low risk for waist circumference, obesity and weight regain.
  • However how much of what ive experienced comes from the fact ive always been active and always had a healthy diet... is this because of my lifestyle or do my genetics help me?  I have had some success in sprint sports and bodybuilding but is it genetics or hard work? Time to find out!!
To find out more visit the website and use code HUBBARD at the checkout for 5% off your test!

So the test kit arrived, I read the instructions, used the cotton bud to take a swab inside my mouth, popped it back in the tube - registered the number online and posted it back. Simple. It took about 5 mins to collect the dna sample and about 3 weeks from when I posted them back for the results to be posted on the website, and they arrived today!
And its been very interesting! this is a summary of the main points

My Thoughts before tests
Actual Result
Fast metabolism
Obesity and regain
Low risk
High Risk
Waist circumference
Low risk
Lean mass
Anaerobic threshold
Effect of exercise on weight loss
Warrior / worrier

The reports are posted on your own portal. Summary charts followed by explanations and then you complete a questionnaire and recommendations are made specific to your goals, based on your genetic profile.

So I was right in that my fitness has no genetic advantage, for speed, power or weight / body composition- so as I suspected - hard work has overcome the genetics I have- I was right in that I don't have any affinity for endurance but I did think id have an advantage for lactic acid tolerance and Vo2 but apparently not- despite 200m & 400m being my best events! But I do have 2 above average gene types which I'm really excited about!

As I'm tall and was skinny growing up, I have always believed I was a hard gainer when it comes to muscle... but apparently I have the genes for above average muscle gain! I guess I have managed to add muscle year on year and I'm 40 now and still gaining despite dieting every year for competitions and having relatively short off seasons in which to grow, so I guess my genes explain that!

But my biggest shock was the weight risk factors. As a tall skinny athlete, I would never have suspected that I carry an obesity gene and am high risk for weight regain following a diet. Now I am shocked, so I emailed the testing company as I was so shocked... but they said that lifestyle factors are what cause genetics to express or not and that exercise's effect on weight is highly important not to mention the sensitivity to certain food groups.

So my genes have either remained dormant, or I have out smarted it with my lifestyle choices. Now over the past 6 years I have dieted, and gone into offseason each year, ive never had bad rebound weight gain post comp and although I don't get super ripped in comp, I also don't add too much fat off season. Before I got into bodybuilding I had years of trying to gain weight for bobsleigh and before that wasn't really that conscious of my diet and just ate what I wanted, yet I never 'got fat' so I put this down to always having done exercise, in some form, since I was at secondary school and as in my genes I have a strong effect of exercise on weight, that seems to have prevented any problems with obesity for me. I guess i'll never be able to be a couch potato- that's down to me to utilise my genetic advantages and get the work done!

So as I thought, I have mainly pretty crappy genetics, but as I have 2 gifted genes for exercise my lifestyle choices have helped me to have overcome the not so good genes. I'm pretty proud of that to be honest! Hard work pays off- I don't have the genetics to be a fast sprinter or a powerful athlete, but ive got the most out of what I have- clearly my above average hypertrophy has helped me- and my sprints have improved as ive gained muscle.

Ive often had people make comments to me about how 'lucky I am to not put on weight' or that I don't need to prep because 'I always look like that' when the reality is I put a lot of hours into my training, I put the effort in, I eat a balanced healthy diet all year round (with a few treats yes) the fact I don't drift far from competition shape and have never got overweight isn't 'lucky' its not 'genetics' its the lifestyle I lead, which is something ive always thought, but now I know! I never thought I was particularly talented as an athlete, but I did work hard and again the results from a fitness point of view reflect what ive always believed I'm average but worked hard. BUT the muscle ive added since I started bodybuilding- that is genetics, I just had a very low muscle level to start with - that ive added to since ive trained specifically! When I look back I can see that ive changed a lot, I just didnt think about the muscle gained, just the size I am and thought I wasn't gifted in this area.

So how do these results help me? Well,  now I know I have a positive response for resistance training, I will continue to use weight training as the basis for my training, I'm going to add more work to improve my fitness and i'll be adjusting my diet to match the macros my genes suggest will work best for me. I am apparently slow in recovery - and I have noticed a decline in recovery with age, but I will be more mindful with my planning to ensure I get the right rest, both in workouts and between sessions to get more out of my workouts and maximise my muscle gain! The Genetic tests can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses so you can plan your diet and training to get the best possible results- it could also help you choose the best sport / event for you!

To find out how you can get your own genes tested, visit the website and use code HUBBARD at the checkout for 5% off your test!

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