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Do my genes determine what I can eat?
Do my genes determine what I can eat?

How we metabolize different foods also depends on genetic predisposition. Whether their bodies overreact to carbohydrates, enjoy proteins or despair of fat - three WOMAN editors found out in a gene test.


One-size-fits-all? That has never worked. Neither when it comes to clothing nor when it comes to food. Of course, you can follow paleo, keto, intermittent fasting or other nutritional trends - you can also achieve change in the short term. But isn't it strange how strongly these diets contradict each other and still lead to the same result?

For example, for some people it actually makes sense to reduce carbohydrates, for others dairy products are stressful. And still others can eat what they want without adding a gram. Unfair? Yes eh! But you can't do anything for the genes.

The genetic makeup as the key to success

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal disposition, which is determined in the genetic make-up. If you crack the gene code, then this is not only the key to your desired weight, but also finally an answer to the question of how to eat properly. At least that's what the experts of a relatively new branch of the nutrition industry claim, which specializes in the subject of DNA and metabolism. The Austrian start-up igevia offers a DNA test that is supposed to reveal the secrets of one's own metabolism.

WOMAN editors dare to take the self-test

The first step: extract genetic material. You don't even have to leave your own four walls for this, you get the kit sent to your home. The DNA is taken from the "spiked" test stick in the laboratory. 99.9 percent of the people are genetically identical. Only the remaining 0.1 percent ensure that we do not become clones - and that we use food differently.

According to the igevia website, the evaluation is based on "current scientific studies with a recognized research method". The personal results are obtained "in accordance with the German Nutrition Society (DGE)".

What exactly do you find out now?

  • Metabolic type (carbohydrate type, protein type, fat type and mixed forms)
  • Sport type (endurance, strength or mixed form)
  • Information about the tendency to become overweight, yo-yo effect, feeling of hunger
  • List of suitable foods
Metabolic test
Metabolic test

Michaela, 44: "May I introduce: I am the protein type"

"Since I first went on a diet when I was in my early twenties, my life has been a single yo-yo effect: The weight keeps going up, down and up. The focus has unfortunately always been on dissatisfaction with the number on the scales So I was all the more curious when I found out that a DNA test can be used to find out what kind of metabolism you are, because maybe I've been eating 'against' my type all these years and that's why I have problems with my weight? Now would I get the solution that is appropriate for my type? Or, based on this test, did I just want the absolution that I can do nothing for my supposed lack of discipline?

After the straightforward implementation at home, the result landed in my virtual mailbox a few days later: May I introduce: I am the protein type. And should focus less on carbohydrates and fat (goodbye white bread, cakes, chocolate, chips & Co), but on protein. My inclination towards the yo-yo effect was confirmed in black and white. The diagnosis that I "do not tend to be very hungry" cannot confirm my hunger attacks and I cannot.

The list of “good” foods (tofu, quinoa or legumes) that I owe my new favorite breakfast porridge to my new breakfast favorites was very helpful in the test report, which comprised several pages. But I also found the listing of the 'neutral' (fish, eggs, potatoes or meat) and 'bad' foods (high-fat dairy products, wheat flour products or fruit juices, which surprised me a lot) helpful.

I have to admit, I didn't stick to the list completely afterwards. Especially since the last few months have been very stressful and then it is not without small sins. But I still tried to focus more on protein. And I noticed that these keep me full and satisfied for longer. Only a few changes in my eating habits have caused me to lose 1.5 kilos in 6 weeks. And that without an explicit diet! Now I'm curious whether these will stay down …"

metabolic test
metabolic test

Anna, 29: "I can just eat anything - Hallelujah!"

"For years I struggled with the classic yo-yo effect. Sometimes it was 3 kilograms more, then again 5 kilograms less and vice versa. I always approached my diets radically: low carb, cabbage soup, juice fasts. There were also countless Hours that I have spent on the treadmill without any real success.

At some point it was too stupid for me. I stopped counting calories, ate whatever I wanted and, most importantly, started training with weights and sprinting rather than jogging on the treadmill. Because I no longer wanted to be afraid of getting "too muscular". Lo and behold: my mini weight problem resolved itself. And that, although I eat more than ever. (And am happier accordingly.)

The metabolic test confirmed that I unconsciously did everything right. And that's probably why it works: I'm a mixed type who can use all calorie sources equally well. I was spot on with strength training and speed strength. Endurance sports tend to be less effective with my gene type. However, I cannot confirm that I should "tend to be overweight". Despite the fluctuating weight, I was never overweight. And my family also belongs more to the 'beansticks' category."

Metabolic test
Metabolic test

Anne, 29: "I'm a carbohydrate type - for me the sixth place in the nutritional lottery"

All high carb foods are my best friends. But just as the cool girl in the US high school comedy is ashamed of her nerd friends, I always had the feeling that I wasn't getting caught with too many carbohydrates. They don't have the best reputation in most diets. Through the test, I learned that I was actually a carbohydrate type - for me, six in the nutritional lottery! Flour, potatoes, bread, pasta: they are all at the top of my food list. Only when it comes to proteins, hands off!

What frustrated me a little is my type of sport: "Speed strength" - strength training with fast, strong movements. If I wanted to lose weight through exercise, I would have to do a longer program of tempo runs, circle training or temporary swimming several times a week. A terrible thought for me, because I have to mobilize all my inner powers myself for half an hour of yoga. At the same time, this explains why I never really lost weight even in my 'more sport-intensive' phases, while my training buddy celebrated great success after a short time."

How informative are metabolic tests really?

Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, however, has the evidential value of many currently propagated DNA tests: "Unfortunately, we still don't know enough to be able to offer real personalized medicine," said the head of the Center for Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases at the Medical University Clinic in Vienna. Essential health risk factors such as pre-diabetes, high blood lipids or an unfavorable fat distribution can be accurately determined using simple tests and biomarkers, and some rarer forms of obesity or diabetes can be detected using genetic tests. Epigenetic changes (i.e. the activity of genes) can also contribute to the risk of disease, which can also be influenced by the environment and lifestyle.

Factors such as sporting disposition or a precise nutritional profile can currently only be read vaguely from genetic tests. In addition, most of the recommendations for good testing are general and consistent with a healthy lifestyle. "In the future, a combination of genetic findings and other biomarkers, gender, age and quality of life parameters that are important for the individual affected will lead to precision medicine," said the doctor.

Nevertheless, the expert does not generally advise against such tests. Only she urges caution: "It is important that you only turn to trustworthy laboratories whose results are based on studies. They should be re-evaluated over and over again." In addition, one should choose a company that offers medical supervision so that "one can discuss the results and the further procedure".

Anyone who has already done such a test should therefore not "weigh every word on the gold scales", says Kautzky-Willer. In any case, in order to lead a healthy life, it can be helpful to know your own body better. Recommendations may also be more likely to be followed and successes motivate you to continue.

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