Testing your DNA can lead to better health | by
At just under 5 feet tall, Lisa Capano has always been, as she describes it, chunky. She’s tried numerous diet programs and stayed active. “I’ve done my part to lose weight,” says the high-energy, 52-year-old Westminster resident, “but it was just not coming off.”
At her heaviest, she weighed nearly 200 lbs. Her frustration was compounded by her two sisters, size 0 and 2. “I’m a good 14-16,” she notes ruefully. What, she wondered, could be so genetically different about her?
Turns out, with relatively new technology, she was able to answer that exact question. Capano had DNA testing done at PlainSmart, a Denver-based clinic that gathers dozens of their clients’ genetic markers to better help them understand what works for them both in terms of nutrition and exercise.
Capano, for instance, found out that her body processes carbs well but does not efficiently process fat — even the good kinds — meaning her system is prone to storing fat. She also discovered she has what’s called slow-twitch muscles. “I need to do endurance exercises — 45 to 50 minutes nonstop” to make a difference, she says.
The test results can be surprisingly specific. “It can tell you if you have a higher risk of developing an Achilles tendon injury, or if your exercise motivation is average. It can tell you that you don’t process vitamin A as well as others, or if you are a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine,” says Kassandra Gyimesi, PlainSmart’s registered dietitian.
Though there are online companies that offer this type of testing, the benefit of having it done in a clinic, Gyimesi says, is that a dietitian can help you interpret your report and plan an altered nutritional approach. Capano, for instance, didn’t need help with meal planning — she loves to cook, was already well-versed in clean eating and food journaled faithfully. But Gyimesi helped her figure out how many calories she should be consuming and how many of those should come from protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Five months later, Capano is down more than 40 lbs. — just a few shy of her 50-lb. goal. She starts every day with a four-minute plank. She’s wowing the ladies in her Jazzercise class with her success, and she doesn’t wake up her husband with her snoring anymore.
Though she cautions that this is no quick-fix — “it still takes time and it’s not easy” — she adds that knowing her genetic markers gives her knowledge and power she didn’t have before. “It’s always going to be a struggle, and I’m still round,” she adds with one of the hearty laughs that frequently punctuate her conversations. “But I’m round and cute. And I’m healthy because I know what I need to do for me.
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