How Your Genetics Can Impact Weight Loss

Mar 02, 2024
How Your Genetics Can Impact Weight Loss
Your body weight isn’t simply a product of how many calories you consume, burn, and store. Every element of this energy-balance equation is influenced, to some degree, by your DNA. Learn more about genetics and weight loss here.

Virtually everyone who’s ever attempted to shed a few pounds has received the same stock advice: Move your body more, and put less food on your plate. 

As a key part of every weight loss plan, the energy-balance equation states that your weight will:   

  • Stay steady when your caloric intake consistently matches your energy use 
  • Increase when you frequently consume more calories than you expend 
  • Decrease when you routinely consume fewer calories than your body burns

 But one thing this equation doesn’t take into account is how your genes can shape your weight control efforts. In this month’s post, Nawo K. Fiamo, ARNP, and our team at Fiamo Aesthetics explore the relationship between your DNA and your weight. 

Your weight is a product of various factors

On the most basic level, your weight is determined by how many calories you consume, burn, and store. 

But if the energy-balance equation is so powerful, how are some people able to eat whatever they want without gaining weight, while others struggle with their weight even when they watch what they eat? 

 The answer lies in how each factor in this basic equation — calorie intake, burn, and storage — is influenced by a combination of genetics and environment, both of which go on to shape your physiology and behavior. 

The complex interplay among all these factors begins at conception and continues throughout your life.    

How genetics can affect your body weight

The number of Americans who are either overweight or obese has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. Today, nearly one in three American adults (31%) are overweight, and more than two in five (42%) have obesity. 

While environmental factors like America’s car and fast-food culture are largely to blame, genetic factors are also relevant. To date, researchers have implicated more than 400 gene variations as contributing causes of weight gain. 

Your DNA makeup helps shape your:

  • Appetite and satiety (sense of fullness after eating)
  • Metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories) 
  • Body fat distribution patterns (e.g., pear or apple shape)
  • Food cravings and tendencies to cope with stress by eating

A weight-related DNA variation that affects most people — about 85% of modern humans have it — is the thrifty gene variant. Thrifty genes helped our ancestors survive times of food scarcity by promoting increased energy conservation and fat storage. 

But when food is plentiful and people are less active, these same genes can promote weight gain.    

Can my genes make it harder to lose weight?

For the average person, genetics have much less influence over body weight compared to environment, behavioral patterns, and age-related changes. Even so, the degree to which DNA can influence weight control varies greatly among individuals.  

Research indicates that for some people, no more than 25% of their body’s tendency to be overweight is driven by DNA, while for others, the genetic predisposition for becoming overweight is as high as 80%

You can gain basic insight into how much your weight might be influenced by genetics by considering the following:

Low predisposition 

Your genes probably aren’t a major factor in your weight if you typically maintain a healthy weight with little effort, even when you indulge in high-calorie foods and don’t exercise. 

And when you do gain a bit of weight, you’re able to shed those pounds — and keep them off — simply by changing your diet and activity levels. 

Moderate predisposition

Your genes may play a moderate factor in your weight if you tend to be a bit overweight, but you can lose that weight when you follow a healthy diet and exercise program. 

You’re more likely to regain weight when you’re stressed, during the holidays, or when you ease up on your diet and exercise habits.   

High predisposition

Your genes may play a considerable role in your weight if you’ve been overweight for most of your life, especially if one or both of your parents (or other close relatives) are significantly overweight. When DNA has a very strong influence over body weight, it’s often difficult to lose weight on your own through diet and exercise.  

While your genes can make it harder to lose weight, that doesn’t mean successful weight control is a lost cause. In fact, virtually everyone can reach and maintain a healthy weight with a comprehensive, individually tailored plan and expert support.  

Yes, you can offset the effects of your DNA

At Fiamo Aesthetics, our medical weight loss approach is fully individualized, meaning we take all the information we learn from your physical exam, medical and health history, and previous dieting history to tailor your plan to your needs. You can expect:

  • Realistic and sustainable goal-setting 
  • Safe and efficient weight loss strategies
  • Healthy, empowering lifestyle changes
  • Ongoing expert advice and guidance  
  • Medical support to jump-start your efforts

Are you ready to reach a healthier weight? We can help. Call us today or use our online booking feature to schedule a visit at Fiamo Aesthetics in Yakima, Washington.