Genetics 101: What is DNA and How Is It Connected to Weight Loss?By Stephanie E - Jenny Craig Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed
This article is intended for educational purposes only. As more research is being conducted, further information about genetics and weight loss is still being discovered.
Tired of trying to lose weight without seeing any results? DNA testing for weight loss might be the solution to your weight loss frustrations. Taking a simple DNA test may give you the answers you’re searching for — and you can use this knowledge to support healthy weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Read on as we break down some DNA basics and explain how it may impact your weight loss journey in this helpful guide.
What is DNA and what is a gene?
To better understand DNA and its relationship to weight loss, it’s helpful to know what DNA is, what genes are, and what they do. While genetics is an extremely complicated topic, an easier way to think about it is like a set of cookbooks. Think of your cells as “cookbooks,” your DNA as the “recipes” each cookbook contains and genes as the “ingredients.”
Here are a few definitions of key terms related to DNA and genetics:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes cells as, “the basic building blocks of all living things.”1 Your body is made up of trillions of cells. Cells perform essential functions such as metabolizing food and absorbing nutrients from the food you consume. Cells also contain hereditary information within the nucleus, known as DNA.1
Chromosomes are located within your cells. A chromosome is a protein that is tightly wrapped by a molecule of DNA. This structure allows DNA to be copied and evenly spread throughout the cells in your body.2
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
DNA is a molecule found in the nucleus of each of your body’s cells.3 Under a powerful microscope, a molecule of DNA resembles a twisted ladder known as a double helix. DNA is the “recipe” containing the biological information that makes you unique. DNA tells your cells how they’ll grow, reproduce and survive.3
Genes are segments of DNA and define your individual characteristics.4 They are inherited in pairs, one from each parent. Genes may contribute to physical traits, like eye color and hair texture, and may also provide more insight into your weight loss experiences.
Every cell in your body only expresses or “turns on” a fraction of the genes it contains — the others are “turned off.”5 This is a normal process, known as gene regulation. Gene regulation also helps cells to react to environmental changes.
Your genotype is your own unique DNA sequence.6
A genetic marker tells scientists where a DNA sequence can be found on each chromosome, and it helps to map the inheritance of other genes.7 Many DNA tests use these markers to identify specific genetic traits. You also inherit genetic markers from both parents.
If you’ve had trouble losing weight before, the information and genetic markers stored in your genes could shed light on other useful strategies geared toward healthy weight loss.
How is your DNA connected to weight loss?
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DNA testing offers a unique opportunity to learn more about your body’s weight loss tendencies. There are genes that may influence certain behaviors connected to weight loss such as your likelihood to overeat and your likelihood to crave sweet or high-fat foods. You can even find out if you’re genetically predisposed to becoming overweight. With the help of a simple DNA test, you can unlock the information that’s stored in your DNA and use it to support your goals.
Jenny Craig’s new DNA-based weight loss program, DNA Decoder Plan, tests for 15 specific markers connected to weight loss and gives you a tailored menu with exercise suggestions to match your results.
Dr. Mark Sarzynski, Ph.D., FAHA, FACSM, Director of Genomics Research at a genetics-based health management company explains, “Your unique genetic makeup may naturally predispose you to certain behaviors that influence your weight, as well as predispose you to respond to various weight loss methods in different ways. By understanding those genetic tendencies, you can gain insight into how to best work with your body to support healthy weight loss.”
When it comes to DNA weight loss, knowledge is power
Photo by Gesina Kunkel on Unsplash
Your DNA results indicate your body’s potential to exhibit certain characteristics, but learning that you might be more likely to gain weight doesn’t mean you’re destined for weight loss failure. Knowing your body’s tendencies around food, exercise, sleep and other factors gives you the power to make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
Sarzynski explains, “Although humans share the same genes, not all genes are expressed (or ‘turned on’). Each individual has a unique genotype and a unique set of genetic markers. So if your test results indicate that you are predisposed to being overweight as an adult, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are destined to become overweight. However, your likelihood may be greater than someone that doesn’t have that particular genotype. By knowing your genetic profile and genetic tendencies, this information can be used to better match your behaviors (diet and exercise) to your weight loss and health goals.”
Whether you’re new to joining a weight loss program or are still looking for one that works best for you, a DNA-based weight loss program could be the right fit. If you’re ready to learn more about healthy ways to lose weight, Jenny Craig can help!
Update: We have paused our weight loss insights plan for now. In the meantime, stay healthy and check out our new meal delivery options.
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: Green apple slices with sunflower butter
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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