January 20, 2011

Your Parents Made You Fat, Do Something About It

As we move into the latter half of January, the initial rush of the New Years resolution crowd is already starting to slow in gyms everywhere. This yearly phenomenon of “gym dropout” coincided eerily well with a new article published in the Globe and Mail entitled, “Skinny Genes: How DNA shapes weight-loss success“.

The entire piece centered around the role played by genetics in our struggles to lose weight and how misguided universal weight loss recommendations tends to be.

Although the entire piece was well written (a rarity these days when it comes to diet/weight loss reporting by the mainstream media), I would like to highlight one particular part. The point that really caught my eye, was a quote of how genetics may account for anywhere between 60-85% of an individual’s BMI.

Like Father, Like Son

In case numbers aren’t your strong suit, that is a huge amount to attribute to genetics… and a number I would agree with 100%. However, I do feel there needs to be a caveat added to that claim: genetics account for 60-85% of BMI in the absence of a structured physical activity and nutrition program.

While an innate capacity for weight gain might be largely due to genetic factors, attributing weight loss failure to “bad genes” is a serious cop-out. Also mentioned in the article was a point about how as many as 50% of all people of European decent carry a particular gene that predisposes them to excess fat storage.

In other words, crappy genes really aren’t an exception at all!

Think about that for a second: if other people with crappy genes can get their act in gear and figure out how to drop weight and keep it off, surely you can as well.

Is this glass half prone to getting fat or prone to staying lean?

The importance of nature vs. nurture will always exist when discussing weight loss. Although genetics clearly play a strong role in determining whether you will have an easy time or a difficult time managing weight over the course of your lifespan, the reality remains that you alone are responsible for your health and your physique.

Admittedly, you may need to work harder than a peer to look lean year round, but that’s the luck of the draw. Not everyone is as bright as Stephen Hawking, nor is everyone blessed with being 7 feet tall like NBA legend Shaquille Oneal.

While advanced physics, NBA stardom, or year-round washboard abs might be out of our grasp, we can all become more intelligent by studying, better basketball players by practicing or much fitter by following a properly constructed exercise and diet program.

Remember, genes are merely a predisposition, not a death sentence. But even the best genes in the world can’t make a couple weeks worth of exercise undo 30 years of bad diet decisions.

Now stop browsing the web and go do something positive for your health!

Till next time, train hard and eat clean!


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