Dieting through your DNA: Can your genes help you fit into your jeans?

CHICAGO -- Testing your DNA to tell you what your body really needs in way of exercise and diet is a newer trend in nutrition.

There are plenty of products out there in the market that are advertising to do just that. What’s the cost? Do they work? Are they worth it?

WGN News chose three and put them to the test.

Diona Donelson, a 29-year-old bride-to-be and a WGN employee was part of the test.

She decided she wanted to lose weight before her wedding in April 2018.

“I got engaged in August of 2016," she said. "There were a ton of video and photos. I hated them all.  I just thought I looked huge.”

The pictures were enough for her to get to work. She started right away with biking, yoga and high intensity training. It was a drastic change in her diet. She worked out at least five times a week. In six six months, all on her own, she lost an impressive 38 pounds.

“I had my wedding coming up and I wanted to get into things on a deeper level," Donelson said.

So she agreed to send away for some online kits to see if her DNA revealed that there was more to her than what she was seeing in the mirror.

Step one was the purchase. Donelson chose DNA Fit at $331.42, Fitness Genes at $230.83, and LifeNome $199.  They weren’t cheap.

Once they arrived, all in less than a week, step two was sending in samples of her DNA. You either submit saliva in a test tube or swab the inside of your cheek. Donelson could easily do it all at home. She sealed them up, sent them back, then waited.

DNA Fit took over two months to send back results. Fitness Genes was a little less than two months. But LifeNome seemed to take forever. After weeks of back and forth emailing with the company, a person was finally reached to tell Donelson where to find her test results.  It took almost four months to get her hands on them.

Once she got them. She had to carefully read and understand them.

Donelson said she learned a lot.

On the nutrition side, there were many consistencies between the three tests.

"I always thought that i was lactose intolerant," she said.  "All three of the tests verified that.”

The tests also confirmed sensitivities to alcohol and salt.

On the fitness front, Donelson felt these results largely told her things she already knew, with a few exceptions.

“I am really good at working out," she said.

Her breathing levels are good, but LifeNome said she might be prone to injury.

“It also told me another interesting thing," she said. "I am somebody at intermediate level so I need to be working out at least three to five times a week."

There were some consistencies, but not in every category.

“One tells me I’m a powerhouse. The other says I need to take it easy. Then another one says, you need to do high intensity workouts. Kind of conflicting and confusing.”

Here's how she felt overall about each test.

Life Nome:

 Very informative, it broke down the genes, what I should do, whether it’s elevated, basically pointed out predispositions I would have in terms of my genes.

DNA Fit

I thought DNA Fit was cool. They give you a lot of info, but the best part of this is that they gave you a diagram.

Fitness Genes

It’s not user friendly.

One real perk in the process was genealogy results. Both LifeNome and DNA Fit provided 23 and Me data. Donelson’s father was adopted. Their family background was a bit of a mystery until now.

"I had no idea it would come back as 36 percent Eastern European and majority African, four percent Native American, four percent Asian. Very interesting.”

In a world where information is power, overall, Donelson found the exercise of learning more about well, exercise, food and you a real plus.

“It was complex," she said.  "But all of the information was useful in my overall health and weight loss journey.”

While she had already been eating that way, Donelson also learned that a Mediterranean diet is best for her. No more fried foods.

Now, for one month Donelson did what the test results suggested. For about 30 days she did it the old fashioned way with some muscle in the gym and in the kitchen. Tomorrow on WGN News at 10 p.m., we take a look at whether or not the DNA test results made a difference on Donelson’s waistline.

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