Genetics and Your Weight Loss Goals

I used to do research in a whole slew of subjects from drugs against tuberculosis to the genetics of allergy.  I was a lab nerd!  All that aside, I wanted to give some more information to you all about the interplay of genetics and obesity.

Genetics has been a hot button topic in relationship to weight loss, and there’s been a ton of weight placed on the idea that genetics determine a person’s set weight or the ability to loose weight.  As a personal trainer, we hear a lot of the “oh it’s in my genes to be fat” or “my parents are this size so that’s why I’m this size”. You know what?  In part it’s right!

Genetics has a lot of determination about how a person will carry weight or build muscle: certain people will naturally gain more fat while other people will be naturally skinny.  Genetics determines to a degree a persons basal metabolic rate or their average consumption of calories while at rest.


In actuality genetics is probably about %20 of the cause of obesity the rest is environment so what is your environment?


Yes nutrition is part of your genetic environment!  What you eat, how much you eat, all affects activation of genes.  As a matter of fact, there’s more research coming out saying that what your parents and your grandparents ate has in part a determination on whether or not your genes turn on or not!  Research on Omega-3 fatty acids and our lack of consumption in North American society shows that we are at risk of allergy, asthma, mental illnesses and heart disease amongst other things (this list is expanding!)


You knew I was going to mention this one!  Well whatever contribution you think either nutrition or exercise plays in weight loss or weight maintenance or just better health in general; I can tell you that the interplay of both are essential!  We can boost our basal metabolic rate with exercise, we can also encourage our bodies to create mediators that encourage the dampening of some genetic diseases.


Think about it!  What we inhale on a daily basis has a lot of determination on how our bodies react.  People who live in cities tend to have higher body mass indices than people who live in rural areas.  If we live in concrete jungles you better believe that it affects our genes!

Mental Health

Ask yourself how your daily stress levels actually are?   Stress and mental health affects our body’s ability to loose weight.  If we’re over stressed our body’s general response is to retain weight since it tries to store calories.  Our bodies under stress act in a primitive way: it believes that mental stress is associated with nutritional deprivation.  So when it’s given food it retains it thinking that the food will be scarce.  I often tell people if they’re looking for weight loss: stop obsessing about it!  One of the reasons is that it actually induces a stress response in their body.

So let’s think about a whole body approach to weight loss, we need to stop placing blame on one thing or another and really focus on making positive lifestyle changes.  Let’s make them one step at a time though and avoid the 180 degree flip!

Tell me what you think in the comment section below!

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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