6 Genes That Influence Your Training and Nutrition

Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Author Nicola Hansen

Training and Nutrition

There are the physiques we’re born with, there are the physiques we create, and understanding your genetics can help you get the physique you want. The knowledge you gain from your FitnessGenes Action Blueprint will help you to identify the quickest ways to gain lean muscle and lose fat.

Here’s an overview of 6 of the 41 genes we analyse and examples of how greater understanding of your genetics can influence your lifestyle and training for better results.


The FTO gene, aka the ‘fat gene’, influences your appetite. More than 1 in 10 [1] people have the version of this gene that causes them to crave fatty foods, feel less satisfied after a meal and have greater hunger pangs between meals, which is not so useful if you’re trying to lose a few pounds. However, if you are genetically predisposed to overeat,  one of the best strategies to suppress  appetite is to exercise [2] and follow a high protein diet. High protein intake has been shown in studies to both increase feelings of fullness (satiety) and increase the rate of muscle building, [3], perfect for that lean beach body.  

In case you have the fat gene, we would also encourage you to eat smaller, more frequent meals.  For many people, there is a huge psychological advantage in simply knowing that they have the fat gene as it helps explain their battle of the bulge.  Knowing that they are battling their biology rather than “a random force” can be enough motivation to continue on their weight loss quest as the enemy has been clearly identified, and the solutions are actionable. FitnessGenes has been awarded a UK government grant for research into the genetics of obesity and also has 2 prestigious academic collaborations with leading UK universities on the role the FTO gene plays in obesity.


Inherent differences in people’s metabolisms are mostly due to two similarly acting genes called UCP2 and UCP3. These genes regulate how fast or slow the body’s metabolism is working (scientific term for this is non-shivering thermogenesis). A fast metabolism is less efficient because more calories are burned by the body to perform the same function. Unsurprisingly, the gene versions for a slow, more efficient metabolism are frequently found in elite endurance athletes [4]. Click here for more on the genetics of your fat metabolism

To burn more calories you can temporarily speed up your metabolism by increasing the intensity of your workouts. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is incredibly effective, as discussed in ‘3 things you need to know about HIIT and is HIIT legit?’. Cycling, running, and rowing, compound lifts, and kettlebell circuits are all great workouts to get your heart pounding (and burning calories).


AKT1 is a gene that affects muscle building and metabolism. Variations of this gene relate to differences in resting metabolic factors and response to aerobic exercise. For example, it has an impact on improvements in insulin sensitivity and glucose levels, as well as VO2 max increases from aerobic exercise training.  Click here for more on AKT1 and how it can affect your overall body composition and athletic performance.


The body’s preferred fuels are carbohydrates and fats. Carbs are stored in muscles as glycogen which is  a readily available and efficient fuel source. When glycogen levels drop (eg after a long run) the body switches to burning fat. PPARA influences when the body switches from utilizing glycogen to burning stored body fat as fuel.  Regularly depleting glycogen stores, by exercising in a fasted state (for example doing a workout before breakfast), can increase the body’s tendency to burn fat reserves [5] which is great when you're trying to lose fat or training for endurance sports.

Care is advised - strenuous work in a fasted state can lower blood pressure, leaving you feeling light headed. You also don’t want to go out for a long (more than 45-60 mins) run, ride, or swim in a fasted state unless you bring a carb source with you to re-fuel.  You need to have enough energy to return home!  For more on how your body chooses its preferred fuel source, click here.


The MCT1 gene influences your capacity to clear lactate. Lactate is a by-product formed in muscle fibres during (mainly high intensity) exercise. Lactate can be ‘re-used’ by the liver and surrounding muscle fibers, but if it isn’t cleared properly in the fibers where it is produced, it could lead to fatigue via the accumulation of acids. The MCT1 gene codes for the MCT molecule which allows the clearance of lactate. The genetic variation someone carries determines how quickly acids accumulate and how easily you will experience fatigue. [7] For more on Lactic Acid, Fighting Fatigue and your MCT1 result, click here.

Unlock Your Unique Genetic Code

The FitnessGenes Report uses these and 35 other genetic markers to create your Genetic Blueprints and Genetically Tailored Training and Nutrition plans. To find the best strategy for the physique to want to achieve, Get Your Genes Tested and Your Genetically Tailored Nutrition and Training Program Today!


By Nicola Hansen

Nicola is a Physics Masters student at the University of Birmingham with an unusually keen interest in statistics. She is a long distance runner, cyclist, weight lifter, and windsurf instructor (even in February).



[1] Scuteri A. et al (2007) ‘Genome-wide association scan shows genetic variants in the FTO gene are associated with obesity-related traits’, PLoS genetics., 3(7).

[2] Tuomas O. Kilpeläinen et al (2011) ‘Physical activity Attenuates the influence of FTO variants on obesity risk: A Meta-Analysis of 218, 166 adults and 19, 268 children’, PLoS Medicine, 8(11), p. e1001116

[3] Halton, T. and Hu, F. (2004) ‘The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: A critical review’,Journal of the American College of Nutrition., 23(5), pp. 373–85.

[4] Buemann, B. et al (2001) ‘The association between the val/ala-55 polymorphism of the uncoupling protein 2 gene and exercise efficiency’, International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity., 25(4), pp. 467–71.

[5] Achten J, Jeukendrup A, Optimizing fat oxidation through exercise and diet - nutrition (2004) Nutrition, 20(7), pp. 716–727

[6] https://member.fitnessgenes.com/media/1138/ppargdocx.pdf

[7] https://member.fitnessgenes.com/media/1095/mct1.pdf

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