7 steps to achieving your goals

Diet

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7 steps to achieving your goals

1. Set realistic goals
Some goals are unrealistic and will only set you up for disappointment like, I want to lose 10kg in a month. The problem is when you don’t achieve them you feel unmotivated. Setting smaller, more realistic goals is much more effective and will help you to stay on track and reach your finish line. When you set goals in stages and celebrate every positive step you take along the way, you’re more likely to reach your ultimate goal.

2. Write them down
Accountability is key to success. Write down your goals and post them somewhere visible in your home. Reading your goals everyday will motivate you to stay on track and remind you to keep going.

3. Surround yourself with positive people
It’s easier to achieve your goals with support from others. Start training with a friend or get your kids or partner involved in your healthy cooking. Surrounding yourself with loved ones will make you feel as though you’re not alone and you’ll have a great time doing it.

4. Find out the best nutrition and fitness plan just for you
Did you know that your genes actually determine how your body processes foods and how it retains fat? Our nutrition and fitness test can tell you exactly what foods and exercises are best for you based on your DNA.

5. Order your myDNA test online
It’s so easy. Order your test online today and get everything you need to get started. All it takes is a simple cheek swab. You then post it back to us in a reply-paid envelope and we analyse your results. You report can be accessed online anytime and your results will have lifelong relevance.

6. Preparation is key
It might seem hard to carve out the time to prep your meals, but it’ll save you lots of time and money! Having your meals and snacks ready to go will help you to avoid temptation. Meal prep for the week can all be done in an afternoon and it’s an important step that will help you stay on track.

7. Track your progress
Now that you’re taking steps towards your goals, it’s time to track your progress. When you track your progress and achieve small realistic goals, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. Your progress tracker is available in the myDNA Explore portal so get online and start recording your progress today.

What’s the evidence for DNA-based diets?

Genetically-tailored health plans may sound like something out of science-fiction, but they’ve become a reality. Genetic testing was once reserved for inherited diseases and serious illnesses like cancer. But in recent years, there’s been a wave of studies investigating how our genes affect our everyday lives. In particular, how our genes affect our response to different diets.

Traditional dietary guidelines are based on the assumption that One Size Fits All, but it’s easy to see that this approach doesn’t work. Every individual is different and each body works differently. A diet that works well for one person can fail for another, and the foods that make one person gain weight might not affect another person in the same way.

Genetics allows us to identify why these different responses exist. These insights can then be used to develop dietary recommendations based on someone’s unique genetic profile.

How do DNA markers make a difference?

One example comes from the FTO gene, otherwise known as the ‘fat gene’. One variant of this gene means that you have a tendency not to feel full after eating and you are more likely to become overweight.

A 2012 randomised controlled trial assigned one of four diets— each with differing proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate— to 742 obese people. They found that people with the at-risk variant of the FTO gene lost more weight on a protein-rich diet compared to people with a different genetic result.

Similar studies have been done for other genes. If you have a variation of the ADIPOQ gene, then the classic method of eating less and moving more is the best way to slim down. But if you have a variant of the PPARG gene, adopting a low-fat diet with emphasis on omega-3 might be more beneficial to help with weight loss . Studies like these are probably just the tip of the iceberg, with more studies expected to accumulate in the near future.

Do DNA-based plans work better?

For some genetic markers there is strong evidence that depending on the genetic variation an individual can lose more or less weight if they stick to a certain diet over a long period of time.

In addition, several studies have examined the topic of personalised dietary advice more generally, and the results look promising. The studies found that people who are given personalised nutritional advice are more motivated to make better choices for their health and follow their health plans. As for any diet, following the plan is essential for it to work.

In the world of sports, it’s also been found that athletes who followed a training plan based on their genetics improved their performance more than athletes following generic plans or plans mis-matched to their DNA.

Despite these encouraging outcomes, there’s an important caveat here. Genetically-tailored plans need to be developed by experienced and qualified professionals. Otherwise, you can end up getting the wrong genetic interpretation and the wrong recommendations. Choosing a trusted company with strong, scientific foundations is the best way to guarantee that a genetically-tailored plan is relevant, reliable and useful.

A Piece of the Puzzle

A genetically-tailored approach can be useful for every single person. We are all different. We eat differently, exercise differently and react to medicines in different ways. The concept of personalised health plans makes perfect sense.

But your DNA is complex because large number of genes can work together to influence an outcome and currently we only have reliable research into a fraction of them.

Finally, you must remember that DNA is only one piece of the puzzle. Your lifestyle, environment and history all play crucial roles in determining who you are and how you act. So, even though your DNA can give you insights into what makes you different and what you can do to become the best version of yourself, it’s not a silver bullet.

Once you understand your DNA, you need the dedication and commitment to put your new-found knowledge into practice in order to get the results that you want.

Protein sources for vegetarians

When I talk to our customers at myDNA, I come across many vegetarians or vegans who often ask for advice on how to best reach the protein targets in their recommended diet.

If you’re a vegetarian or someone who’s cutting back on meat or animal-based products you might be wondering if you are getting enough protein?

What are proteins and why are they so important?

Proteins are essential macronutrients that our body needs to function properly. Our body uses proteins as building materials for growth and maintenance, as enzymes, as hormones, as transporters, as antibodies and for many other roles.

Proteins are made up of small molecules called amino acids that are joined together into chains. There are about 20 amino acids that, for humans, fall into two categories: essential and non-essential. Our body can make the 11 non-essential amino acids fairly easily, but we can only get the 9 essential amino acids from the foods we eat.

Any protein that contains the essential 9 amino acids in sufficient amounts is considered a “complete” protein. Plenty of animal products, like meat, eggs and dairy, are complete proteins, but most plant products are “incomplete” because they’ll either be missing some essential amino acids, or they won’t have enough of them. This is the reason people with plant-based diets may need to pay more attention to their protein intake.

So what foods should I be eating?

Although not many plant products are complete proteins, there are a few protein superstars. The oft-mispronounced quinoa (keen-wah) is a complete protein source that’s also packed full of iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, manganese and fibre. A single cup of cooked quinoa is about 8g of protein.

Soy products like tofu and tempeh are also great sources of complete protein. You can experiment with different ways of marinating and cooking them to find a style that works for you.

If you’d rather avoid soy, you can still mix and match foods across the day to ensure that you’re getting all 9 essential amino acids. For example, lots of legumes have high levels of the amino acids lysine and isoleucine, but low levels of the amino acids methionine and tryptophan, whereas grains tend to have the opposite make-up. So, if you wanted to make sure you were getting enough of both, you could try including for example both rice and beans in your diet.

Not every meal you eat needs to have all the essential amino acids, but it’s good to try and make sure you get enough across the day.

In addition to legumes and grains, plenty of other plant-based foods like nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens are full of protein. If you’re eating a varied and well-balanced diet, you should meet your protein needs without too much difficulty. If you’re eating some animal products like dairy or eggs, it’s even easier.

It’s important to keep in mind that, although you should be able to meet your protein requirements on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you also need to pay attention to other key nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and zinc that are essential for your body’s function.

How hard is it to get enough protein?

Despite concerns about getting enough protein from a plant-based diet, it really isn’t that difficult. If you eat enough of the right foods, these diets are also suitable during all stages of life, even for athletes.

Please be aware that in some situations, like in particular stages of life or if you exercise a lot, you may need more protein to sustain growth, repair tissues and build muscles.

If you need help, a nutritionist or dietitian can help you develop a food plan that ensures you get the amount of protein appropriate for your needs.

5 reasons we eat that have nothing to do with hunger

Food gives us energy, brings people together, and makes us feel good. The first bite of something delicious is one of life’s great joys. But this feel-good factor can also have us eating for many reasons other than true hunger.

So, what are some the reasons why we eat?

Reason 1: It’s there

Can’t go to the movies without hitting the candy bar? What about walking past a platter at a party? We often eat not because we’re hungry, but because food is there.

Another problem is right in front of us – our portions. You may be surprised to discover what a recommended portion size actually looks like. Think 100g of chicken, half a potato, or just a quarter of an avocado. Most of us are loading way too much onto our plates.

Studies have also found that the bigger your plate the more you’ll eat. It’s an evolutionary hangover from the days when food was scarce.

So what can you do?

  • Research portion sizes.
  • Use a smaller bowl or plate so your meal looks bigger.
  • Stand with your back to the food at a party.

Reason 2: Stress

Hands up if you take your frustrations out on food? Prolonged high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can increase our appetite and make us crave carbs, sweets and fats. Argh!

Being more mindful when we’re eating can helps us to avoid mindless snacking. This means sitting at the table for meals and snacks and eating slowly.

You can also take a break, a few deep breaths and have a glass of water. This will help the feeling of stress and ‘hunger’ to pass.

Reason 3: Boredom

It’s tempting to fill time with food. Instead, follow that old childhood advice and go outside, phone a friend, read a book – whatever you like! Busy hands won’t be as tempted to grab snacks.

Another tip is to avoid eating in front of the TV. If your mind associates the two activities, you could start to feel hungry every time you relax in front of the telly.

Reason 4: Comfort eating

We’ve probably all used food as therapy at some point. When we’re feeling rubbish, it’s tempting to turn to junk food to satisfy our emotional needs. And there’s no harm in the occasional treat.

However, if you are going to comfort eat, try to enjoy healthier snacks, like fruit and nuts, knowing that you’re satisfying a momentary craving and being good to your body too.

If you’re worried about emotional eating, it’s important to seek the advice of a health professional.

Reason 5: Being social

Are we all having dessert? It’s easy to give in to social pressure to order a dessert even if you’d rather not.

A good idea is to order a herbal tea to quench your thirst for something sweet. But if you can’t resist, split a dessert with someone and share the calories too.

Is hunger in your DNA?

Watching what we eat isn’t enough. We need to be mindful of why we eat. There are plenty of emotional reasons for eating, but did you know that your genes could also be behind your insatiable appetite?

A myDNA Nutrition and Fitness report will tell you if you have one of the gene variants that increase appetite and cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Armed with that knowledge, you can take back control of your diet and understand why you eat in a powerful new way.

Disclaimer

This article does not provide medical or dietary advice – it only seeks to provide opinions. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material, contained in this article are for educational purposes only. The content is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of this, or any other blog article on our website.

Two sisters put their DNA to the test

Last weekend, I went to my mum’s house to take a DNA test with my sister. We’ve got no doubt who our parents are, but they still might have some explaining to do…

Growing up, my little sister Rachael was always the skinny one: cute as a button; thin as a rake. But in her early twenties, each year brought extra kilos that have proven hard to shake.

Rachael gains weight easily and struggles to lose it. Annoyingly for her, I appear to be one of those people who can – and do – eat anything they want.

The genetic lottery

How can two people so closely related have such different bodies?

Our dad was always pretty fit. While he sported an 80s beer belly, he was a fierce tennis player, spending hours on court in the scorching summer heat. Mum was also very handy with a racket.

Sharing tall, athletic parents gave us the same genetic head start. But Rachael was the one who inherited their sporting skills; I was never much of a contender.

Rachael also eats much healthier food than I do – it’s all fresh, organic and fairly carb-free in her kitchen. I, on the other hand, was nicknamed ‘chips and dip’. Looking at our diets, you’d expect our body shapes to be the other way around.

A tricky conversation

As Rachael’s weight slowly crept up, her confidence crashed down. As we entered our thirties, I started worrying. I’d read that carrying weight around your belly can cause health issues – even if you’re a normal weight.

Rachael is a sensitive soul, and I have been scared of mentioning her weight for fear of upsetting her. Having avoided the topic for years, can I bring it up now?

Cracking the code

I discovered myDNA through a friend of a friend. She told me about the Melbourne start-up that can quickly and cheaply reveal how your genes influence your health and fitness.

I thought this could be a great way to help Rachael feel empowered to make some lifestyle changes (and start that difficult conversation). DNA analysis would tell her the foods and exercises that would best suit her unique and wonderful self, and she’d never have to be disappointed with diets that weren’t right for her again.

So I casually mentioned taking a DNA test. Rachael laughed and said: “why not!”

Taking the test

As we sat down on mum’s couch to take the test, Rachael suddenly announced: “I don’t want the fat gene!” Only then did it occur to me that I could have the ‘fat’ variant of the FTO gene, and hers could be normal. How would she feel then?

Nevertheless, we decided it was better to know. We were too curious: what do we share? Are our differences as we suspect?

We opened the bright green myDNA diet and fitness test box, swabbed our cheeks, and sent off the sample in the post.

We’ll have to wait another week for our results, but the experience has already brought us closer and we’re now having honest conversations about health and fitness.  It’s a great place to start.

Read about our results in next month’s newsletter.

7 easy food swaps for a healthier you

When you begin to make healthy changes to your diet, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you try to make radical changes to your diet, lifestyle or exercise routine overnight, it probably won’t work. But there are some small and easy changes that you can make today that will get you moving in the right direction.

1. Swap crisps for homemade popcorn

If you love having something to snack on while you go about your day, it might be tempting to reach for a pack of crisps. But you might not realise that even a small packet is almost 300 calories! Try a cup of homemade popcorn for an easy, healthy alternative that is only a third of the calories ! Just make sure you choose air-popped popcorn instead of the salty, sugary varieties that are cooked in oil.



Crisps
300 calories



Popcorn
100 calories

 

2. Swap full cream milk for skim milk

If you’re a coffee fiend who can’t start the day without a hit, there might be small changes that you can make to start the day on a healthier note. If your order of choice is a medium cappuccino, you could save around 70 calories by using skim milk instead of full cream milk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even want to try almond milk and save over 100 calories! With a myDNA Caffeine report, you’ll get access to our Caffeine Calculator.



Full cream medium cappuccino
165 calories



Skim milk medium cappuccino
95 calories

 

3. Swap a medium coffee for a small

If you don’t like the taste of skim milk, you can always downsize your order from a medium to a small to keep the caffeine but cut the calories. You still get the same great taste, but your waist might thank you later on. This approach can be used for plenty of other foods as well!



Medium latte
170 calories



Small latte
125 calories

 

4. Swap fruit juice for fruit

You might think that fruit juice is a healthy way to start your day, but it’s often jam-packed with sugar and empty calories. 250ml of apple juice can be up to 150 calories! What’s worse is that, although it might give you a nice sugar rush, it probably won’t make you feel full. Instead of pouring yourself a glass of juice in the morning, try reaching for an apple instead. You’ll get less sugar, more vitamins, minerals and fibre, and you’ll save at least 50 calories each time.



Apple Juice
150 calories



An Apple
100 calories

 

5. Swap muffins for raisin toast

Muffins are often a quick and easy snack to have when you want something sweet, but did you know that a single store-bought muffin can have over 500 calories? Instead, try having 2 slices of raisin toast to sate your cravings for carbs. You’ll be cutting the calories in half and avoiding heaps of sugar and saturated fat as well.



Muffin
500 calories



Raisin Toast
250 calories

 

6. Swap biscuits for muesli bars

If your midday snack is usually a couple of biscuits, you might want to consider swapping for something healthier. Just three chocolate-coated biscuits can be 225 calories and over 5g of saturated fat. Try a fruit and nut muesli bar to have less sugar, less saturated fat, more protein, and more natural ingredients. Just make sure you keep an eye on what’s in your muesli bar! Some companies are notorious for pumping them full of sugar and processed ingredients. Homemade muesli bars are the best way to go if you want to be sure that they’re healthy.



3 Biscuits
220 calories


Muesli Bar
125 calories

 

7. Swap soft drinks for water

Soft drinks are full of sugar but don’t really have any nutritional benefit. They can also be over 150 calories a pop! If you drink them often, the calories can add up quickly. Even if you’re drinking zero sugar alternatives, they can still negatively affect your metabolism and you’re probably better off giving them a pass. Water has no calories but is essential for your body. You can flavour it with citrus fruits, cucumber or anything you like. If you feel like you want a stronger flavour, you can also try herbal teas.



Soft Drink
150 calories


Water
No calories

Carbs are not the enemy

They’ve been blamed for everything from the obesity epidemic to our skyrocketing rates of diabetes and heart disease. But do they really deserve all the bad press they’re getting? What are carbohydrates and why are they getting such a bad rap?

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates are one of the main types of macromolecules that your body needs to function properly. They’re found in all fruits and vegetables, as well as pasta, bread, legumes, dairy and any foods that have sugar. Like the other main macromolecules— fat and protein—your body breaks down and processes carbohydrates for a range of different purposes. Most importantly, carbs are broken down into simple sugars like glucose that your body uses as its main source of energy.

Carbs. It’s complicated.

There are two types of carbs: simple and complex.

Simple carbs are small and easy for your body to process. Lots of processed foods contain them because they enhance flavour and help foods to last longer. When they’re in processed foods, simple sugars can make your blood sugar spike, which makes you feel drained and craving even more sugar.

Fruit and dairy also contain simple carbs, but the sugar that comes from these enters the bloodstream more slowly, so you don’t get that nasty spike in blood sugar. These foods also have vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and protein that are essential for your body, so they’re normally pretty healthy.

Complex carbs, like the name suggests, are more complex. They’re chains of sugars that have been linked together. Complex carbs include starch and fibre, which are found in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. These carbs take longer to break down, or can’t be broken down at all, so they don’t raise your blood sugar levels as much, and they can help you feel full for longer. Foods that have complex carbs also tend to have lots of beneficial essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Why the bad reputation?

The trouble with carbs is that it’s easy to eat too much of them. Pizza, pasta and rice are the kinds of foods that people like to indulge in. If you regularly eat a restaurant-sized serve of pasta, you will put on weight. It takes will-power to limit portion sizes and that is at the heart of the battle with carbs.

Also, some people only associate carbs with unhealthy, processed foods and refined grains like those found in white bread. They might not realise that fruit, vegetables and dairy also have them.
Your body needs the glucose that comes from carbs, but not all carbs are created equal. The types of foods that you get your carbs from can make all the difference.

So What’s the truth?

The truth is that it’s okay to eat most foods in moderation. Cutting out an entire food group from your diet may work for your short-term goals, but such a restrictive diet can be difficult to maintain, and it can ultimately be unhealthy if you’re not careful.

It’s important to keep in mind that people will process carbohydrates differently depending on a huge range of factors, including their lifestyle, microbiome (their gut bacteria) and their genetics. A diet that works for one person may not work for someone else. It’s worth taking the time to figure out what works for you.

Stay friends with carbs

If you aim for a balanced diet, keep track of your portion sizes and focus on eating fresh, unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits, wholegrains and legumes, then carbohydrates can be an enjoyable part of every meal.

To find out more about your unique needs, order a myDNA Nutrition & Fitness Report.

Disappointed with your DNA? Here’s what you need to know

Let’s be honest. No one wants the fat gene. No one gets excited about having the low energy gene either. But if these traits come up in your myDNA Nutrition and Fitness report, should you despair? No. Here’s why…

Discovering you have one of the ‘less favourable’ gene variants is actually a good thing. It means you also get to find out which foods and exercises will work best for YOUR body.

Maximise your potential

What you draw in the genetic lottery is entirely down to your parents. Everyone has two copies of each gene: one inherited from their mother; one from their father. And you can’t change it. Your DNA is set for life.

Your DNA does influence your health and fitness, but through DNA analysis you can learn how to maximise your strengths and overcome any weaknesses.

A myDNA nutrition and fitness report explains the likely affect your genes will have on your health and fitness. But it also tells you what’s been scientifically proven to improve the health and wellbeing of others who share your specific gene type. In other words… what you can do about your DNA.

The fat gene

Let’s start with the gene many people fear: FTO.

Commonly called the fat gene, FTO is linked to body size, fat storage and obesity. Certain FTO variations can make you more likely to reach for the biscuits. But will the fat gene automatically make you fat? No chance.

On average, people with a variation in their FTO gene tend to be a bit heavier than those who have the ‘normal’ version of the gene. But this is an average – not a guarantee.

Some people show no obesity risk factors in their genes but they’re still overweight. Others show an increased risk yet they’re supermodel skinny.

It’s your lifestyle, what you eat and your environment – together with your genes – that determines the number on your bathroom scales. So if you have a less-than-ideal FTO result (and a surprising number of us do*), eating more protein combined with regular exercise may help you fight it and keep hunger at bay.

Results that stick

In fairness, the FTO gene doesn’t entirely deserve its bad reputation either; there are many genes that combine to affect your risk of obesity.

For instance, the MTIF3 gene is another that could be making your jeans feel tight. People with certain MTIF3 gene variations are more likely to be bigger than others, but they’re also more likely to maintain any hard-earned weight loss over time. There’s some great motivation!

Make the switch

Feeling flat? It could be your PPARGC1A gene (that’s the one that helps regulate our energy). Naturally, the more energy you have, the easier exercise is going to be – and the longer you can do it.

If you’re someone with low endurance, you’re not alone – more than one in seven of us share this result*. While this genetic variation is rare in endurance athletes, it’s actually quite common in power-lifters. So perhaps you should forget about setting marathon records, and try keeping up with the best at CrossFit?

You’ve got the power

Do you feel the need for speed? That’s the ACTN3 gene, which builds a protein that allows your muscles to work faster and harder.

If you don’t produce ACTN3 protein, you probably won’t win many races and may get sore or injured after intense training. This isn’t ‘weakness’ – it just means your body is better suited to low-intensity training, like swimming, a brisk walk or yoga.

Find what works for you

These are just four of the 14 genes that myDNA tests to compile each personalised nutrition and fitness report.

You can’t change your DNA if you don’t like it, but understanding your unique genetic makeup on the inside makes it a lot easier to change and improve what’s on the outside.

* myDNA nutrition and fitness reports include the percentage of the Caucasian population (the largest ethnic group in Australia) that shares your gene variation.

How I lost 15kgs and improved my heart health with myDNA

The classic yo-yo

I grew up thinking that carbs and food in general were the enemy, as my mother and I both seemed to gain weight so easily.

By the time I’d finished high school I’d already tried several diets, including slimming shakes, caloric restriction and cabbage soup. You could say I was the classic yo-yo dieter: I would diet, lose weight then gain it all back again!

Last year I was about 10kgs heavier than I wanted to be. At the time I was thinking, it can’t get any worse than this! My personal trainer was worried because although I wasn’t particularly huge, I was carrying a lot of weight around my middle, which is the most dangerous place to carry it. I have quite a history of heart disease in my family so I really felt like I had to make a change.

Following the fad

Then I heard about keto (a high-fat diet). I thought, I can do that, smashed avocado for breakfast sounds great. I continued my usual exercising 4 times a week at the gym, but I was hungry all the time. I’d have protein for breakfast and by the time I arrived at work I was hungry again. I also had intense cravings which would lead to “binge-eating” foods that this diet restricted me from eating.

Within two months I had gained another 6kgs and it wasn’t all muscle.

Early adopter

As luck would have it, I was working at myDNA and I became one of the first to get access to the myDNA Nutrition Report in July 2017.

My results came back and I was recommended a higher protein/ lower-fat diet. Even though it was rich in protein, the thing that surprised me most was that this diet included 55% carbohydrates. The same carbs that I had avoided for the last 10 years.

Heart health warning

I was also shocked to learn that I have several genetic markers that mean I’m more likely to have elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. This made sense given my family history of heart disease. I once had a blood test which showed that I had raised cholesterol when I was 16. At the time we thought it was a random hormonal spike, but after I got my DNA results I realised I have some ongoing risk factors.

After I got my report I went to the doctor and found that my cholesterol and triglycerides were still raised. I’m only 26, so I’m way too young to have these issues.

I had all the motivation I needed to put my report into action. The serving size guide was a bit of an education, so I adjusted my portion sizes and became familiar with what 65g of steak looks like, versus 100g of fish in a single serve. I learnt that 1 potato = 1 bag of spinach. Instead of a whole avocado, I eat a quarter.

After a few months I had my bloods tested again and they were down to a safe level.

Now I know that each day I’m making decisions about my heart health and that’s helping me to make healthier choices.

Shaking the kilos off

Sarah standing alongside Holly Louise – The Fit Pharmacist

And I’m thrilled to say that I’ve lost 15.5kgs so far. The first 5kgs came off in the first 8 weeks. Since then I’ve been losing a steady 250g per week, most of the time. With my wedding coming up next year I’m glad to be a healthier, slimmer me.


Sarah’s Tips for putting your myDNA Diet into action

Make it personal

  • Because I’m gluten intolerant and lactase deficient I had to adjust some of the recipes to suit me. An example of this is porridge. Instead of skim milk I use almond milk.
  • I also choose to eat more of my carbs in the morning and fewer in the afternoon or evening as that’s what feels good to me.
  • I’m on the road a lot, so I prefer to eat six smaller meals throughout the day. This keeps my energy levels on an even keel. I have each small meal in a different container. I’m like a hobbit with my breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.

Be prepared

I do most of my meal planning and prep on a Sunday. I usually cook up something that can last me a few days and which I can pair with different side dishes (like salad or quinoa) on different days.

I’ve found ways to prepare my protein without oil and to make sure that it’s still full of flavour.

As one example, I marinade chicken breasts and I cook them on baking paper, with a foil cover on top. This means that the chicken basically steams and ends up juicy and delicious. You need to make sure that you let it rest afterwards to that the juices don’t evaporate.

Change it up!

Change it up each week! By eating a varied diet, I have found it so much more sustainable as I’m not bored and I’m not starving my body! If you need some meal inspiration you can check out the sample meal plans on the myDNA patient portal.

About Sarah: Sarah works for myDNA. She started here in the admin team and has risen to be a leading sales person out on the road. Part of the secret to Sarah’s success in selling myDNA is her own story of using her DNA results to radically improve her life. While she eats like a hobbit, she doesn’t look like one.

Please note: a myDNA test does not reveal if you are gluten intolerant or lactase deficient. A myDNA test will reveal what your DNA says about your risk of elevated cholesterol of triglycerides, but a blood test is required to reveal your actual current levels.

All fat sources are not the same

What makes Omega-3 different from other fats?

Fats are generally made out to be the bad guys, but it’s not really fair to lump them all together. They come in many varieties and our body is able to handle some types better than others.

Breaking down the fats

Our body breaks down saturated fats into fatty acids that our body can use. The

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are much easier to process and do a lot more than store energy. A good diet will ensure a balance of both of these healthier fats. Because our diets tend to include less Omega-3, it deserves some special attention.

The superiority of Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in several areas; heart health, brain function and in controlling inflammation. Not having enough Omega-3 can contribute to health problems including heart disease, arthritis and cancer. These essential fatty acids are also connected to intelligence and mental health, which makes it unfortunate that they are often lacking in modern diets.

A diet that is rich in Omega-3 has a lot of benefits, but not all sources are the same. There are several types of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Where to find good sources of Omega-3?

If you love seafood then you’ll be glad to know that salmon, anchovies, oysters and cod liver oil are rich in EPA and DHA, two important Omega-3 fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the body.

If you are a vegetarian, plant foods like spinach, soybeans and walnuts, and oils like flaxseed oil and canola oil, are rich in ALA. This is a unique Omega-3 fatty acid that our body can’t produce. Instead, it needs to come from our diet, and be processed before it can be used.

Which Omega-3 is beneficial depends on your DNA

Your body’s ability to process ALA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, depends on the variant of the FADS1 gene you possess. If you don’t have the normal variant, then the related enzyme may not function optimally, and you may not benefit as much from plant-based Omega-3.

You may also have weight-loss benefits from having Omega-3, if you have a certain variant of the PPARG gene. So, before planning out your Omega-3 rich diet plan, it makes sense to find out if you have the right gene variations through a simple cheek swab test.

Let your genes help you

The myDNA Nutrition Report can tell you if you possess the normal variant of the FADS1 gene, and whether Omega-3 is beneficial to your weight-loss plan. This can help you make more confident diet choices.

Fresh hope for weight loss for one Melbourne mum

Robyn Datt is in her late forties and she found the kilos weren’t shifting as easily as they used to.

She explains, “I had tried high fat low carb diets but I was never able to lose weight. I’ve been visiting doctors, seeing dietitians and really nothing was working.

“I was getting kind of desperate and I found out about myDNA and I thought, let me try it,” says Robyn.

She recently lost 5kg in two months with a myDNA Nutrition & Fitness Report by following the diet and fitness plan tailored to her genetic make-up.

A Melbourne start-up, myDNA is breaking new ground in the field of health genetics.

Allan Sheffield is managing director of the company behind the technology. He says, “It’s a simple cheek brush, it’s non-invasive. You then send off the sample in the post. It comes to our lab and within 7-10 working days your results are available via a secure online portal.”

Robyn also struggled with a thyroid condition that has made losing weight even more difficult. But after putting her report into action she’s feeling healthier.

Her results showed that she doesn’t process fats well and she tends to store fats easily. But she benefits more than others from using Omega-3 rich fat sources to keep her weight under control. She was recommended a calorie-controlled low-fat diet that favours Omega-3 rich fat sources.

And with a personalised plan for her exercise, she finds she’s a slimmer and fitter mum.

Robyn’s goal is to lose 15kg, but 5kg is a good start, “I’ve adjusted the foods that I eat and so far, it’s still early days but I am seeing some results. I’ve also adjusted the exercise that I do at the gym and I’m already starting to see some of the results.”

This new approach from myDNA offers a scientific alternative to just following the crowd, opting for the latest fad diet or exercise approach.

Allan Sheffield says: “One diet program might work for some people but others might not lose weight or could even put on weight. What we can do now is a simple DNA test that can work out which diet plan or exercise plan is right for you. We have curated the evidence and the scientific studies that are out there. We look at studies that show that a person with a certain genetic type will do better on one diet or another. That’s the information that we use as the basis of our reports.

The appeal of a DNA test is that a person’s DNA results stay the same for their whole life and the recommended diet is safe to be followed for the long term.

This genetic information used to be available in laboratory settings only, but now the cost has come down significantly and a nutrition and fitness report is now available for $99.

What is coffee doing to your body?

It’s fair to say that a lot of us are obsessed with coffee. Its rich, aromatic scent and diverse flavours delight millions across the globe every single day.

For some people, it’s a social badge of honour. They meet their friends over a hot cup of coffee, scour laneways and city streets for the best brews, and pride themselves on their fair-trade, single-source coffee beans. Deciding whether to buy a cafetière, espresso machine or coffee pot is a very serious decision, indeed.

We hail caffeine as a remedy for fatigue. It improves our concentration, focus and memory and gives us some extra get-up-and-go to help tackle the day ahead. It’s the same reason that people love tea, chocolate and energy drinks.

But why does caffeine cause this energy rush? And why, if you have too much of it, can you start feeling jittery, on-edge and agitated?

To find out, let’s look to the science.

How Caffeine affects the Body

Caffeine works in our bodies by preventing the breakdown of a molecule called cAMP. One of cAMP’s tasks is to tell the body to make more adrenaline and noradrenaline.

When cAMP doesn’t get broken down, the body produces more of these chemicals than it usually would. This kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode and causes your heart to beat faster and harder, pushing oxygen through your brain and body.

This helps you to feel energised and seize the day.

How Caffeine Affects the Brain

A lot of the benefits we get from caffeine also come from the effect it has on our brain. As each day progresses, a chemical called adenosine starts to build up in our brains. It binds to specific receptors and kicks off a chain reaction that primes the body for sleep, making us feel tired.

Like most drugs, caffeine uses the bloodstream to hitch a ride into the brain. Once it’s there, it starts working as a gatekeeper at the adenosine receptors. It stops adenosine from binding to the receptors, which means the normal chain reaction that causes us to feel drowsy and drained never gets started. This helps us to stay alert and focussed.

Does it affect us all the same way?

Unfortunately, if you drink too much coffee, you can end up feeling jittery, tense and even nauseous as the body’s fight-or-flight response goes into overdrive. Although a lot of people will experience these sensations if they drink more coffee than they’re used to, some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine’s effects because of their genes.

The ADORA2A gene controls how your brain copes with the caffeine that floods into it after you drink a cappuccino or a coke. Some people have a variation of this gene that makes them feel jittery more easily than those with a different version of the gene. Caffeine can make their reasoning, problem solving and reaction times worse and might not be such a bright idea if they’re trying to get through some difficult work.

Fortunately, it seems like most people can adjust to increased levels of caffeine. So, if you’ve developed a taste for espresso or flat whites, you don’t have to go without. Your body will eventually acclimatise to the new levels of caffeine and you’ll probably start feeling less jittery.

Interestingly, the ADORA2A gene seems to be a double-edged sword. People who have been spared from the genetic curse of feeling on-edge when they drink coffee are actually more likely to have problems sleeping if they drink it too late in the day. They wake up more easily during the night, have worse quality sleep and sometimes struggle to fall asleep in the first place.

What else comes into play?

Although our genes play an important role in determining how caffeine affects us, there are many other factors that also play a part. A person’s age, diet, medications and even smoking status can influence how quickly they metabolise caffeine.

For some people, it’s also an interaction between their genes and their environment. If you have a particular version of the CYP1A2 gene, then you can speed up how quickly you metabolise of caffeine by eating certain foods.

Discover how your body processes caffeine with a myDNA Caffeine Report. Included in all Nutrition, Fitness, and Nutrition & Fitness bundle kits.

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