DNA test promises personalized diet and fitness roadmap

DNA test promises personalized diet and fitness roadmap

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - When Kurt Johnsen created American Power Yoga back in 2001, the sweat-induced yoga classes were meant to challenge people's physical and mental limits while getting them in shape.

But he quickly found out what worked for him didn't necessarily work for everyone.

"Some people got in great shape, some got in okay shape, and some people's shape changed not at all after years of training with me. You assume that they're cheating on their diet or whatnot, but they're not," Johnsen says, "Now we can clearly look around and see that one size doesn't fit all. That's why there can be fat marathoners and overweight crossfitters. They work hard but they're doing the wrong thing."

Johnsen says you have to have the right stimulus for your body's receptors to get real results, but first you have to know what you're made of. He says that's where his company comes in, to take the guesswork out of getting fit.

"What we do is we provide a map. If you were trying to get here and I didn't give you the address, you could drive around Baton Rouge for weeks and never find this place," Johnsen says.

At a laboratory inside the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center on LSU's campus, Simplified Genetics makes sense of your DNA, specifically the most influential genes linked to obesity.

With a swab sample that you mail to the lab, a technician does a full sequence analysis of your DNA, something not many companies are equipped to do on a consumer-based level.

Johnsen says, "It takes loads of machines and skilled people to be able to do this. That's why everyone's not doing it."

Most DNA labs do what's called SNP analysis. In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that less involved analysis led to results that were misleading and of little or no practical use.

With full sequencing analysis, Simplified Genetics tells you how to exercise, your optimal breakdown of carbs, proteins and fats or macronutrients, and what supplements will work for you.

"So we'll tell you exactly what to do: percentage of high intensity versus steady aerobic. We'll tell you exactly what to eat: percentage of macronutrient footprint. And we'll tell you what to take or not to take," Johnsen says.

For Daphne Olivier, a registered dietician, it was a frustrating guessing game as she trained for a half-marathon last year.

"My body just wasn't responding to exercise," says Olivier. "We would run for hours and hours during the week and I ended up gaining weight doing that. Logically, if we are thinking calories in, calories out, there's no way I should have gained weight, because I wasn't eating significantly more than I was eating before."

In 2014, she took Simplified Genetics' Simply Fit DNA test and found out steady aerobic running was not the answer, but high intensity was. She also learned more about whether a low carb diet would work for her.

"Genetically, it's telling me no, I should not cut carbs, that I still need to be balanced," Olivier says.

She now recommends the test to her own clients to take the guesswork out of nutrition planning.

Simplified Genetics works with doctors, weight loss centers, nutritionists and now individual consumers.

"We don't get into caloric restrictions. Clearly, it's a drag, and two, it doesn't work," Johnsen says. "Look around America. Again, the fat marathoner, they burn tons of calories but they don't lose the fat. Everyone to me is working way too hard, suffering way too much guilt to just simply stay healthy."

Johnsen believes getting healthy and fit is actually easy if you have a set of tailor-made instructions.

He says, "We want to give people their tools. Our only product is your body's instruction manual. And that's a beautiful thing because it doesn't change."

The test will tell you what percentage of your calories should come from protein, fat and carbohydrates.

It will tell you what percentage of high intensity versus steady aerobic exercise you should do and how many days a week. The DNA test can also determine what types of supplements work best with your body.

The Simply Fit test costs $479. For more information, log onto simplifiedgenetics.com.

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