As someone who always wants to shed some extra pounds, I've tried my fair share of trendy diets over the years (Whole30, bone broth and Beyoncé's 22-day vegan cleansing just to name a few), and Like most people, I have been told repeatedly that reducing carbohydrates is the key to losing weight.
But I have never been able to say goodbye to pizza, pasta and bread for a long time, and I am certainly not the only one.
Yet LifeDNA, a Hawaii-based biotechnology startup, insists that these one-size-fits-all eating plans certainly fail because they don't take into account the only thing that makes us unique: our DNA.
With my sister's wedding just over a year later, I seized the opportunity to try out the company's customized nutrition and fitness plans in the hope that I would be told that carbohydrates were not, or at least not, the enemy my enemy.
Before and after: I tried LifeDNA & # 39; s modified nutrition and fitness plans based on my DNA and lost about five pounds without robbing myself
Cyril Moukarzel, co-founder and CEO of LifeDNA, emphasizes that the fundamental problem with all-in-one health and wellness solutions being offered is that they don't take genetics into account.
& # 39; We discover new ways to determine how our DNA affects our health and well-being every day, & # 39; he told DailyMail.com. & # 39; Your DNA is the blueprint of your life. It is essentially the guide to how your body functions and how you are built as a person. So ignoring that makes no sense. & # 39;
LifeDNA was founded in 2017 with the aim of creating supplements that are specifically tailored to customers 'DNA, but has since evolved to offer meal and fitness plans based on customers' genetic strengths and weaknesses.
Moukarzel explained that our DNA is about 99.9 percent the same, but that 0.1 percent difference consists of a few nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNP & # 39; s for short. Some SNPs lead to differences in physical appearance (eye color) or health (sensitivity to certain diseases).
"We have compiled a list of hundreds of SNPs that we have identified and that have a certain impact on certain things, such as your sensitivity to carbohydrates," he said. "We take that information, we understand how that specific SNP affects your health and well-being, and then we create personalized solutions, recommendations and insights."
The company's nutrition, fitness, health and personality reports determine which diet type people should follow and which training will best transform their bodies, although Moukarzel makes it clear that genetics is only part of the comparison.
& # 39; Just because there is something in your DNA, this does not mean that it will determine your destination, & # 39; he said. "You are who you are because of a combination of your genetics but also your lifestyle and your environment."
Surprise! After years of trying to follow a low carbohydrate diet, I learned that I have a low carbohydrate sensitivity and should include in my meals according to my DNA report
Saying no to no carbohydrates: I also have an average sensitivity to fats, which means that a high-fat, low-carb plan such as the keto diet does not work for my body
According to Moukarzel, following a fad diet was one of the worst things I could do to lose weight. Not only are they often untenable, but they also do not take into account the way in which people's genetics play.
Even before I got my results, I was convinced that I would get a low-carb diet plan and couldn't resist asking him about the increasingly popular Keto diet that has received much attention in recent years.
& # 39; You cannot label Keto as the magic diet, & # 39; he said to my great joy. "It can be a blessing or a nightmare. It really depends on a person's individual genetic makeup, environment and lifestyle. & # 39;
After years of hopping from one eating plan to another, I knew I needed a lifestyle change, not a quick plan, so I was happy to test LifeDNA's customized program.
LifeDNA now offers automated nutrition plans and an introductory consultation with an expert for $ 199 a year, but when I tried out the program, it was still in the testing phase and my meals were made manually by Peter Curry, a consultant at LifeDNA.
Before I started, I had to submit a DNA report (LifeDNA offers its own test kits, but I already had one from 23andMe) and Peter led me through a series of personal questions.
We have discussed my medical history, age (34), activity level, dietary restrictions and whether I have access to a gym. Because he would make my meal plans, he asked if there was any food that I didn't like, and I went completely empty.
Training: based on my DNA, my body is better suited for endurance activities, such as running at a long distance, swimming or boxing
Taking a break: I almost cried with tears of joy when I heard that my recovery speed requires me to rest a full 48 hours between strenuous exercises
I told him that I really didn't like shellfish, but somehow I forgot the dozens of other things that I'm not a fan of. (This would later lead to many emails to Peter about the variety of foods that I suddenly realized I don't like.)
My ultimate goal was weight loss, but as someone who is constantly tired, I also chose to focus on my energy level and cognitive function.
I love preparing meals out of sheer laziness during the week, so he agreed to send me recipes for two options that I could make in bulk for six days for lunch and dinner, which would make me a little smoother one day.
As for breakfast, I would continue to make my morning protein smoothies. My Whole30-approved, dairy-free Nutpods coffee creamer was also approved.
What struck me about my conversation with Peter was that this had to be a lifestyle. I would not get any fictional points for dropping my diet. I was even expected to slip every now and then.
Peter even provided an exchange list for things like pizza, tacos and cheese, so I could enjoy something and still hold myself responsible.
When he went through my nutrition report, the first thing he looked at was my sensitivity to carbohydrates, which was low. I was very happy to hear that carbohydrates are my friend.
& # 39; You are pretty lucky with that, because it actually means that your genes are better at incorporating carbohydrates into food than the average person, & # 39; he explained and noted that I would like to keep my carbohydrate count a little higher than average.
Pretty good: for the first week, I have mustard-marinated chicken and a full cup of white rice with a salad for lunch (left) and pork loin with rice and balsamic candied carrots for dinner (right)
What do you say? I had prepared everything on Sunday and was shocked to hear that I could get a full cup of rice with every meal
What he said made sense, considering that I spent the last eight years of my life bouncing from a low-carbohydrate diet to a low-carbohydrate diet, although I was 30 pounds thinner when I was a 26-year-old vegetarian living on whole-grain pasta and bean taco & # 39; s. (I know that youth at that time in my life was also by my side.)
It was also good news that I have an average sensitivity to fats. With this in mind, I would eat 1,700 calories a day to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds a week. My meals would consist of 35 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent fats. Fortunately Peter would do that for me.
My head almost exploded when I was told that I could eat a full cup of rice – brown or white – per meal. Although we just checked how my body likes carbohydrates, I couldn't help but check it again and ask: & # 39; Like a full headline? & # 39;
The first thing Peter looked at when reviewing my fitness report was whether my body responds better to endurance (low intensity over a longer period) or strength (high intensity with short bursts).
It appears that my body is better suited for endurance activities, such as running at a long distance, swimming or boxing. I do not have a particularly high risk of injury due to physical activity, although as a general precaution, I still have to stretch and warm up.
After being guilty for years for not training five or six days a week, I almost cried with tears of joy when I heard that my recovery rate requires me to rest a full 48 hours between strenuous exercises that I thought I needed to do alone to work three days a week.
The keyword I chose to exaggerate was & # 39; strenuous & # 39 ;. I could still jog, swim or do other activities on days off. It was not an invitation to lie down on the couch and reach a book as I initially thought.
For most clients, Peter would adjust workouts for clients based on their access to the gym and training equipment, but I was a bit different.
Thanks to the Instagram stories of Busy Philipps, I have become committed to streaming Lauren E. Kleban's LEKFit training sessions from the comfort of my own home. I have a $ 400 mini trampoline in my living room and I didn't want to stop with that one workout that I was able to sustain.
Comfort food! Other diners were taco bowls (left) and a low-fat Shepard & # 39; s cake (right)
Simple solution: I got a recipe for a low-fat beef dish that reminded me of meatloaf, which I also don't like, so I turned them into meatballs
In view of my stamina, Peter decided that I would take LEKFit & # 39; s Boost lessons (a combination of cardio and muscle sculpting) twice a week with a Define class (a full-body mat workout) in between. Both training sessions last between 50 and 60 minutes, and if you follow Busy, you know that you have sweat drops at the end of these lessons.
What I wanted to do between training sessions was at my discretion. (Spoiler alert: I spent my days off on my couch.)
I was a bit worried when Peter sent me my first meal plan. For lunch I had mustard marinated chicken and a full cup of white rice with a salad – but there was no mention of salad dressing.
I don't really like mustard either, so I immediately realized that I have a lot more antipathies that I didn't tell Peter.
For dinner I had to make a pork loin, which made me feel mildly panic, but it was easier (and tastier) than I expected. For the sides I still had a cup of rice and carrots with a balsamic glaze.
I eventually used two tablespoons of balsamic dressing for my lunch salad because I am not someone who can eat dry lettuce, but I later realized that Peter had allowed some room for maneuver with my calories for things like spices.
At the moment I was still in shock that I could consume as much rice as everyone else told me to avoid carbohydrates such as the plague.
I don't think I've eaten such a balanced meal since I was in high school and my mother had prepared all my dinners, but the recipes still felt like much for me to prepare.
Happy: I could not believe that I was told to eat a turkey-taco pasta with melted cheese
Cheating: I was quite lax with my diet at the weekend and did not count my macros as I should have. I had randomly wholemeal waffles and eggs for breakfast on a Saturday
During my weekly check-in I gave Peter a more detailed list of things I don't like to eat (ham, mushroom, cottage, cheese, etc.) And I really emphasized that I prefer simple meals such as meatballs and taco bowls.
In week two I received a recipe for a low-fat beef tray that reminded me of meatloaf, which I also don't like. I remedied the situation by turning them into meatballs, which I gladly brought for lunch.
For dinner I made taco bowls with lean ground turkey, brown rice, corn (another food I learned was the reincarnation of the devil) and home-made salsa, which I enjoyed very much.
I had to keep track of my calories on the weekend with a few splashes here and there, which I must admit I didn't really do. A girl must live and everything.
Although I tried to balance my meals somewhat, there were certainly dinners, pizza, and frozen waffles for breakfast. However, I was happy to see that I still lost about a pound a week – without being hungry or robbed.
Peter continued to send me meals, including chicken chili and a great turkey taco pasta with melted cheese that I couldn't believe I was fed.
Inspiration: Thanks to Busy Philipps (photo), I have become committed to streaming the LEKFit rebounder workouts from Lauren E. Kleban from the comfort of my own home
All smiles: at the end of the six weeks I dropped about five pounds and I feel like I did it in a healthy way
It went great … until I remembered that my friends from New York were visiting. Week four was a complete wash. I drank wine, ate all the time they were in Los Angeles and didn't work. I certainly haven't lost any weight either.
When I confessed to Peter, he was more than understanding. I was reminded again that this was not a crash diet. It was a lifestyle plan.
I finished week five and six with lean burgers and a lean Shepard & # 39; s cake that was made with oatmeal instead of potatoes. Would I have preferred the potatoes? Of course, but it still tasted like comfort food, which I appreciated.
At the end of the six weeks I dropped about five pounds and I feel like I did it in a healthy way. Losing weight was always the goal, but what I liked most about the program was the fact that there was no & # 39; bad food & # 39; was that it should be banned.
Regarding my fitness routine, I am now more committed to my workouts because I no longer feel guilty because I only do them three or four days a week.
LifeDNA made me realize that my body needs rest between heavy workouts and I am happy to report that I feel stronger and even a little slimmer.
I generally appreciated the healthy way of thinking that comes with the program, but old habits die hard.
The wellness industry has hit my brain that carbohydrates are bad and I have to admit that I have mocked them again now that I no longer follow the LifeDNA nutrition plan.
However, I like to know that my body needs to process carbohydrates. I feel much better about eating pizza and pasta, which is perhaps not the point, but still good to know.
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