READING MY BOYFRIEND’S DM’S IN ASMR | Jeffree Star
MH tries the DNA diet
Slim is something Ive never been. You might say Im plump. I would probably go with stocky but wed both be wrong. Because the truth is that Im overweight. Not dangerously so, yet enough that Ive been on a diet or two. Ive had some success cutting carbs and counting calories but there has always been something I couldnt stomach; that the seemingly spurious rules of one diet are better than another. Why cabbage soup over grapefruit, or Atkins instead of Dukan? Most diets seemed like a bit of a... fad. So, after a week or two, I would quit. And my plump stockiness would remain.
But a new weight-loss programme, now available in the UK, promises to be more scientifically sound than any other. It is a diet built on a customer-by-customer basis and designed to match the most unique thing about each and every one of us our genetic code.
The Nordiska Diet known as the DNA diet is founded on the emerging field of nutrigenomics, which is the study of how food interacts with your genes. Its creator, Newcastle-based company MyGenomics, makes two confident claims on the website: firstly, that the plan will double your weight-loss potential compared to other diets; secondly, that the matching of your nutrition to your DNA has been proven to work for nine out of 10 people.
Where other big-name diets such as Atkins and Dukan equate to off-the-peg suits, the Nordiska regime sounds like a Savile Row two-piece: a plan tailored specifically to your bodys individual dimensions. It sounds too good to be true like Dukan with a fancy microscope. Im going to swallow my scepticism. Im going to trust to science and stick with the DNA diet for one month to see if I do Iose weight.
My gene pool
At £249, having your genetic code analysed to discover the weight-loss secrets within does not come cheap. Before I sign up, I seek a second opinion on MyGenomics from Daniel MacArthur, a geneticist and founder of the personal genomics website Genomes Unzipped. He warns me to be wary of the bold statements made by the DNA diet.
The company states on its website that its product is proven to have helped 90% of people who have tried it, he says. But that study was based on weight, height and age, not genetic information. So, the paper cited has nothing to do with DNA. MyGenomics confirms this, but its founder Dr Carolyn Horrocks adds, The genetics is backed up by data published over the last 10 years in scientific journals, Suddenly, £249 sounds like a lot to have your genes shot through a spectrometer at a lab in Newcastle.
It also sounds complicated, but my part in it couldnt be simpler. I decide to register on the website and a DNA swab is sent to me. It plops onto the doormat one morning and looks like a cross between an inter-dental toothbrush and a cotton bud. You simply rub it inside one of your cheeks, put it into a sterile tube and post it back to the lab. While the white coats pick apart my metabolism, appetite control, muscle activity and five other genetic markers, I get as exacting a medical screening as I can: the meticulous WellMan Screening at Champneys Medical Centre in Hertfordshire.You dont have to do this, it isnt part of the Nordiska service and, frankly, my findings are not happy ones. They confirm that I am clinically overweight. My waist is a shameful 39in. This fact, in particular, comes as a nasty surprise. Slipping into 36-waist jeans has always been my reason not to panic about my weight.
Further cause for alarm is that my metabolic age has edged ahead of my chronological one meaning that at rest my body burns energy slower than it should for somebody 33 years old. Lean muscle is more metabolically active than body fat, so a higher metabolic age shows Im fatter and less fit than I thought.
Worst of all is my cholesterol. Its not through the roof, but it has certainly checked into the penthouse suite. So, despite the warnings about the legitimacy of the Nordiska diets promises, I cant help hoping the white coats are getting more favourable results.
The facts of life
A week later, my DNA dossier lands on the same doormat as the swab it was extracted from. The conclusion of all 25 pages is that, on a cellular level, I am a very boring man.
The Nordiska system places you into one of 36 potential diet and exercise combinations, based on the variations in the eight genes it isolates in its testing. But in terms of everything from metabolism to muscle function, I am simply balanced. I am exactly average. I am, understandably, a little disappointed about this seemingly off-the-peg result. A bit of further research online suggests that the DNA diet is not as bespoke as you might think. In fact, there are only four nutritional types you can be matched to: GI smart, with an eating plan which ensures you dont spike your blood-sugar too much; carb smart, which limits your carbohydrate intake to 40% of your food; fat smart, which is to say, low fat; and balanced me which uses a predictable combination of all of the above. Surely this is all just standard nutritional advice. To this, Dr Carolyn Horrocks explains: The DNA is used to help choose from the four diets, all of which are commonly used by dietitians. It is the fact that they are matched which helps them to be more efficient.
On the exercise front, my two fitness-related genes show a moderate proportion of fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibres and equal tolerance to strength and endurance. It sounds like a reassuring slice of sports science, but I am assured by the supplied bumph that I will be prescribed a standard blend of cardio, weights and high-intensity training. In other words, my normal gym routine. Which is already boring. I dont lose faith just yet, though. According to Mariette, my personal dietitian provided as part of the service, falling into the healthy-balanced category means I am going to be able to shift weight both quickly and efficiently. Thomas, my assigned exercise consultant, agrees: I will lose weight.
At first glance my DNA diet plan is pretty basic. Far from revolutionary, unheard-of snacks to fight fat and build muscle, Mariette prescribes meals of carefully balanced protein, dairy and carbohydrates. Chicken and couscous salad with feta cheese and spinach isnt genetics, its just dinner. It doesnt even feel tailor-made for me. My bespoke breakfast on the first day of the programme consists of a small bowl of porridge, a piece of wholemeal toast and two poached eggs. Perturbed, I Google Nordiska and find my very own Mariette quoted by the Associated Press: [The diet] should be practical, it should be realistic, and what we find is that we are more coaches in terms of what they should be doing, rather than telling them exactly, you know, you should be eating 50g carbohydrates a day, for example.
That was, however, almost exactly what I thought I had signed up for. I wanted a diet so specific to my own body that I would very much be told to eat 50g of carbohydrates a day, if my genes deigned it necessary. It feels a lot like the small changes I am making to my food intake are more common sense than unique science.
Nevertheless, I stick to my plan. By the end of the week, my DNA is already dictating all that passes my lips. I sprinkle sunflower seeds on everything and buy bags of nuts in Pret where once I would have had a sandwich. I am eating more carrot sticks and hummus than I thought possible and have discovered the joys of seaweed.
My boring genetics do allow me some nutritional excitement, though: a small glass of red wine with dinner every day, and a piece of chocolate for dessert. While chilli-infused chocolate is delicious, algae is far less palatable. To begin with it tastes (and smells) like a mouthful of The Solent at low tide. But it represents the most surprising diet tip the DNA system gives me, so I stick with that, too. I want to know if my natural confidence in those men in white coats could be why Im persisting.
The apparent scientific core of this concept is particularly male-friendly, says Dr Kerri McPherson, a health psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University, specialising in body image and eating behaviour. The element of empiricism allows the whole dieting process to be more acceptable within the context of masculinity. In other words, as a man, I am more likely to accept Nordiskas claims and follow their advice because I believe it is based on my own biology and the fact that it involves fitness, not just calorie counting, adds credibility.
And its true. The 25-page DNA dossier is giving me motivation to stay on the genetic wagon, despite the far from earth-shattering impact that its had on my diet. The personal attention I receive from my nutritional and exercise consultants is also having a noticeably positive influence on my determination. More than that, its working. Despite the weight of my doubts, by the end of the second week, I have lost 2kg.
I still credit this progress to a generally improved diet rather than my training schedule, though. The gym-work is hardly ground-breaking to anyone who has opened this magazine before, let alone someone who works here. Thomas does have something up his sleeve, though. Or, rather, something to go up mine.
The key to weight loss is to target and control your Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) hours over each week, he says. MET is a measure of how much energy you burn during physical activity the more vigorous the action, the higher the METvalue. For my body-type, Thomas tells me, I need to aim for 24 MET hours a week for safe weight loss.
I wear a Ki-Fit monitor on my upper arm. It measures the regularity and intensity of my movement, much like the new Nike+ FuelBand, so, regardless of whether Im working out or walking to work, my MET hours are totted up. Thomas promises me its going to work.
It does. While the diet and training regime thats been prescribed to suit my DNA isnt going to get me into cover-model shape, I certainly feel fitter. On the Saturday of week three, I run a half-marathon and beat my PB by more than four minutes. While Im increasingly sure that the DNA diet is having as much of a psychologically positive effect as the actual science of my genetic code, looking at my new personal best, I cant help but think Nordiskas service suits me.
After 31 days of DNA dieting, I have a second health screening at Champneys. According to a Stanford University study quoted by the MyGenomics website, youll lose more than twice as much weight if you match your diet to your genotype, instead of taking a less targeted approach. After sitting down with Nick Lincoln, senior fitness instructor at Champneys, I would say that, regardless of how the Nordiska diet works, for me, at least, it definitely has.
On paper, you look like a completely different person, says Lincoln. Youve lost 6kg thats very nearly a stone. Your metabolism has speeded up significantly, your waist has shrunk by 4in. These are absolutely stunning results.
I am indeed stunned. The tests show Ive lost 7% of my total bodyweight, my blood pressure is down and my cholesterol has plummeted. I have reduced my metabolic age by a decade. The diet and exercise plans I was prescribed were far from futuristic. Balanced or no, the Nordiska system seems like a combination of solid advice in scientific goggles. I am a man with faith in science, and thats why it worked.
Daniel MacArthur remains unsure. We still know very little about the genetic basis of variation in diet responses, and consumers should be extremely wary about the claims made by companies operating in this area, he says. Its very likely that you would lose just as much weight by following a standard diet and exercise regime without the expense of DNA testing.
The DNA diet did work for me. You can see that in the pictures and the numbers. Even despite my misgivings about how legitimate the system really is, just knowing that an extra level of tailoring went into my plan gave me what I needed to lose weight. The scientists had given me more than faith they gave me motivation. As to whether you should pay £249 for that, you have to go with your gut.
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