It seems like every other day there’s a new diet trend out there trying to catch our attention. It targets either obesity and weight loss, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, or body building and strength gains. But what about getting an overall sense of wellness or well-being?

If you’ve ever fallen for a fad diet and got burned, you might be reluctant to try another one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just because a diet gets a ton of media attention doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice for your body.

There’s been plenty of hubbub surrounding DNA-based dieting, but does that make it worth trying or is it just another fad?

Let’s find out.

What Is DNA-Based Dieting?

DNA-based dieting is the process of following dietary recommendations based on an analysis of a person’s genetic makeup to determine how the person’s body reacts to various nutrients and minerals.

Girl eating fries
Photo by Guillaume Bolduc

It seeks to remove the one-size-fits-all diets that don’t work for every body. Your unique genes or DNA should dictate what you should (and shouldn’t) eat and how often to exercise. The recommendations can tell you about your macronutrients (how many carbohydrates and fats you need to have in your diet) and get very specific about your supplements, workouts, meal plans,

The thought then is that because the dieting plan is ultra-specific to you, it’ll work better. It’s no wonder that a slew of genetic testing companies like 23andme and Ancestry have started offering DNA-based dieting services. If you do choose to embark on this diet, you’ll work with these companies, offering up blood samples, fecal samples, or other pieces of yourself.

Then you’ll receive your results and dietary information. Of course, the same companies that do the DNA testing often have their own brand of food they try to sell you on. This doesn’t come cheap either.

The Pros of DNA Diets

  1. This is a personalized diet and you don’t need to worry about lactose or other intolerances.
  2. It is specific and tells you exactly what foods work best for you (and your genetic predispositions).
  3. It is easier to pull off and incorporate into your eating habits than low-carb and/or low-fat diets.
  4. You can get a home test kit to collect samples of your DNA to send to the testing companies.

The Cons of DNA Diets

  1. There is no scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of a DNA diet.
  2. The recommendations may end up being very far from a balanced diet.
  3. You might need to consult an independent dietitian after getting the genetic test results.
  4. Most people will find themselves stuck in the same dieting pattern: the weight comes off at first, then they hit a plateau.
  5. DNA-based diets can be expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars for the testing and specialized foods.
  6. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information or NCBI, when several researchers reviewed DNA-based dieting (which is scientifically referred to as nutrigenomics), they stated that “commercially available nutrigenomics tests cannot be presently recommended.”
Dog staring at food
Photo by Charles Deluvio

Should You Try a DNA Diet?

In short, DNA based diets might not be worth your time.

A DNA-based diet might sound like just the solution to finally slim down, but it doesn’t seem to be very different from other fad diets. Well, it costs you more money, but that’s about it.


Header photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash.