And is your body shape nature or nurture? Body Confidential investigates
'Thin is in'. 'Real women have curves'. 'Strong is the new skinny'. And on it goes…
The fashion and diet industries are famed for peddling lifestyle trends, encouraging women to embrace the body type of the season (right now, GIANT bums). But, is changing your body type really as easy as investing in a new exercise routine or latest diet fad? Or does the way our bodies are built mean that, for some, trend right now may never be achievable?
Cue DNA testing by Evergreen Life, a Manchester-based genetics and medical tech company. For £85, they use DNA testing to understand how an individual's genes influence various aspects of their fitness, diet, skin and overall health.
Simply by swabbing a sample inside your mouth and sending it in the post, the app aims to unlock the genetic secrets of your DNA with a comprehensive report, enabling you to pursue your perfect diet and ideal body.
So, is your body shape nature or nurture? L’Oréal Blackett and Tori Attwood put Evergreen Life’s home DNA test kit to the test.
L'OREAL'S 'DIET RESULTS:
"So, those McDonalds cravings during hormonal low-points... well, that’s just genetic."
'Confirmed: my diet is completely at mercy to my emotions. The DNA test proves it. My vices were clearly laid out in the report, which identified genotypes linked to sugar and salt cravings. It read: ‘sugar, likely to crave’ while it should have read ‘sugar: likely to put two heaped teaspoons of sugar in her tea and bathe in a vat of syrup’. Evergreen also identified increased cravings for bitter taste, which could lead to excessive salt consumption.
'Overall, it identified a genotype linked to ‘increased levels of food reinforcement’ – meaning I reward myself with food (I mean, don’t we all?). So, those McDonalds cravings during hormonal low-points... well, that’s just genetic. Interestingly, I’m also a fast metaboliser of caffeine, which explained my hypersensitive reaction to coffee. I am like a Duracell bunny on speed. Plus, I’m lactose intolerant, and generally lacking in B6 and B12. Basically, I’m a DNA nightmare.'
TORI'S DIET RESULTS:
“Oh - my turbulent sleeping pattern isn’t down to FOMO? Huh.”
'Okay, so my inability to say no to any social occasion probably does impact my sleeping pattern. But there’s another reason I’m up all hours of the night contemplating the universe aside from my millennial conditioning. Caffeine. My reduced caffeine metabolism means that my lunchtime coffee buzzes around my system well beyond the typical rate. Whilst the general consensus is to stop drinking coffee before 3pm, my metabolism means I should probably cap my caffeine intake at breakfast. Pair that with my increased risk of deficiency to B vitamins – the ones responsible for brain power and concentration – and is it any wonder I can fall asleep whilst doing my eyeliner on the tram, yet can’t kip come nightfall? Perhaps I should turn down the next after-work coffee invite.
L'OREAL'S FITNESS RESULTS:
"Did I mention I’m a natural athlete?"
'Hello. I’d like to re-introduce myself: my name is Usain Bolt. The test revealed that I’m somewhat of a ‘natural athlete’ – a result completely consistent with my whole lifespan of sport and competitive activities. I come from a family of professional athletes and winning is the only option. My DNA revealed that due to my genetic makeup, I am built for power, endurance but not strength – basically I can run a 100m sprint but can barely lift a can of soup. I favour aggressive, furious sprinting causing the treadmill to roar on a high speed. Interestingly, while personal trainers wax lyrical about strength and weight training as the only cornerstone to fat loss, it was interesting to learn body works entirely differently. I lose weight far more during endurance activity and strength training does bulk me. Alongside enhanced cardiovascular and performance (did I mention I’m a natural athlete?), I have increased muscle growth capacity – so I’m working on getting hench for 2019.'
TORI'S FITNESS RESULTS:
“Surprisingly strong by nature.”
'From the sisters I wrestled with to the netball player that tried to nick the ball off me in PE, to the boyfriend that tried to pinch my pizza, they all had the same revelation: “Woah you’re stronger than you look.” And my DNA proves it. My results show that, despite my slim frame, I’m naturally best at strength workouts when it comes to exercise. What’s interesting is that whilst I have a good natural level of strength, my muscle makeup means it takes me longer than most to bulk. So all those booty-building workouts that state you can squat your way to a Kim K ass in just 10 days… yeah, they’re never going to work for me. At least, not in a short space of time. I also rank highly for cardio performance and worst for power, meaning that I’m a nimble, albeit a little slow, runner.'
L'OREAL'S METABOLISM RESULTS
"Pasta probably doesn’t make me run faster."
'Due to my mixed and non-English background, a lot of the test came in inconclusive for me. Still, there was much to learn about my metabolism. Your metabolism massively impacts how your body converts food into energy and some people are more or less at risk at weight gain than others. For me, when it comes to carbohydrates I have an overall reduced metabolism. This means pasta probably doesn’t make me run faster. In fact, over-consumption of carb-rich foods can make me sluggish, under perform in the gym and make me gain weight. This gene combined with my sugar and salt cravings could be a disaster for my waistline. I was advised to reduce carb consumption (welp!) overall. The test says I’m likely have a higher BMI – which doesn’t mean overweight, thankfully but does mean I can bulk.'
TORI'S METABOLISM RESULT:
“Bye bye bread…”
'Roll up, roll up, come see the phenomenon of the skinny fat girl. She may look slim and slender from the outside, but her insides tell a different story. Likely to have higher levels of bad cholesterol, reduced metabolism of monosaturated fats, reduced metabolism of carbohydrates… it’s all there, in her DNA. So don’t let that trim figure fool you. With sugars from carbs circulating my system long after I’ve devoured my daily bread-based brekkie, my diet has a big part to play in weight gain. The ratio between diet and exercise for weight loss is typically 80/20 – but mine comes in at a whopping 90/10. For me, a moment on the lips really could mean a lifetime on the hips.'
SO, DOES YOUR INDIVIDUAL DNA HOLD THE SECRET TO THE PERFECT BODY?
L'Oréal: The test confirmed that ‘listen to your body’ isn’t one of those perfunctory ‘inspirational’ quotes you find on social media; we should all take heed and really listen to our bodies more. Like most people, my relationship with diet and exercise can be fraught, where at other times I am completely in-sync and a picture of health-perfection.
Evergreen’s test re-affirmed my understanding about my daily habits (good and bad) and I found the experience entirely validating. My attitude to food is mostly a result of a random genetic lottery and the rest is purely my environment. I look this way and eat this way because I am who I am. That doesn’t mean that I can’t change or improve, but it does mean that I’m less hard on myself for craving McDonalds fries from time to time. It has also convinced me to further pursue my exercise regime because I’m meant to do it, that knowledge in itself is life-affirming. I really recommend this service by Evergreen. With all the information provided, I now have two choices: continue to actively nurture my health and make the necessary changes to better myself, or take a gamble and leave it entirely up to nature...
TORI: For me, the test confirmed hereditary traits that had been niggling at me for a while (carb and cholesterol results, I’m looking at you). As well as reaffirming what I already know about myself – my diet is key to how I look and feel.
The fitness results were the most surprising. I usually steer clear of strength training through fear of bulking, so knowing that I have slow muscle build alleviates this worry.
Those looking for excuses and ways out of exercise will find nothing here. Yes, I am less likely to gain weight and am genetically disposed to have a typical BMI, but that doesn’t mean that I should go eat all the pies (especially with my low carb metabolism). Genetics can only go so far to helping you attain an ideal healthy lifestyle – you need to change environmental factors too. What’s good about the Evergreen test is that the results flag up everything that can be changed. The app also offers suggestions on how to make those changes. It’s the perfect balance; knowledge of your genetics + the right lifestyle and environmental factors = desired fitness goal.