VITL offers health advice, blood and DNA tests designed to help you understand how your DNA influences your body’s response to environmental factors like diet or lifestyle. I was excited to take the simple VITL DNA test to learn more about my genetic traits and how I could use this information to improve my nutrition and training approach.
The test itself was very simple: it involved just a saliva swab around the inside of my mouth, securing the swab in a tube and mailing it to VITL’s lab in a pre-addressed packet. I then waited a few weeks for the swab to be processed and my results to be available online in my personalised VITL account.
VITL DNA test results
The results are clearly summarised in a dashboard on my VITL account, by categories which you can click in to and learn more about.
What the VITL DNA test taught me about my nutritional needs
The findings which I found most useful were those that confirmed (or informed) things I have been wondering about myself. It was reassuring to have science backing up how I feel about myself. The mantra ‘listen to your body’ exists for a reason!
As an example, I’ve had several experiences lately where I’ve felt low in energy and fatigued for no apparent reason. It turns out I am slightly more likely than average to have low vitamin B12 absorption – and this vitamin is crucial for maintaining energy levels (as well as other biological processes). B12 is only found in animal products. I recently significantly cut-back on eating animal products and therefore perhaps this has affected me in this area.
The results also flagged a tendency to have slow caffeine metabolism and propensity for digestive issues / IBS (which may be related to one another). If I have coffee after midday, then at 10/11pm when I’m trying to sleep, I have a hard time doing so.
I LOVE coffee, but as a consequence of these findings, I am reconsidering the amount of coffee I drink and also reviewing what else I am eating or drinking which can give me digestive issues more frequently than desired.
How the VITL DNA test has influenced my training approach
Apparently, I am slightly less likely to use fat for fuel and will more likely store it instead. I also have a predisposition towards building slow-twitch fibres and am less likely to develop muscle in response to strength training.
I carry fat around my waist, hips and thighs and find it hard to shift. It seems my genes aren’t helping me do so!
The results are somewhat confusing though. As someone with a predisposition to developing slow-twitch muscle fibres I am therefore perhaps built more for endurance, rather than speed. However, if I have a tendency towards storing fat, rather than burning it as fuel, then how does that help me with endurance running? It seems I will have to work harder to train my body to burn fat on those long training runs and races. Maybe this is also the reason why I have to keep eating on long runs to avoid being reduced to a premature walking pace as a result of a big drop in energy levels.
‘Food’ for thought
The results of my VITL DNA test have certainly given me some food for thought. I’m considering what changes I can make in my diet to make sure I am getting enough of the right nutrients, as well as rethinking my training approach to tap into that body fat as an endurance energy source.
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