Ooook so this has been a bit delayed…my DNAFit results and review.
**Full Disclosure: I bought DNAFit myself and have not been asked to write a review.**
I first heard about DNAFit in RunnersWorld magazine (possibly an online article, possibly in the magazine, I can’t remember). At first I was like “this is weird” and then “is this legitimate…and safe?” but because it was in RunnersWorld I was instantly intrigued and reassured of it’s legitimacy (I know, I’m a sucker for good marketing!).
I could send off my DNA to be tested and be told a whole host of things about my genes regarding fitness.
I chose the DNAFit Lite.
As someone who has been plagued by injuries in the past, I was curious to know really how weak my body was. Was I predisposed to getting injuries just because that was who I was or was it really all in my head? We all know our own bodies fairly well so I was pretty sure what to expect from the results…but just to have the confirmation, or more in depth information was tantalisingly tempting. As it was my birthday my parents agreed to contribute to the cost and I made up the rest (happy birthday me!).
I didn’t need a VO2 Max potential as I’d already suffered gone through that VO2 test last year and though more information would have been nice on my genotypes and the athlete comparison, I wasn’t willing to pay £30 more for it.
Inside are very helpful and straight forward instructions about how to collect your DNA. It uses a mouth swab which you then send back in a pre-paid secure envelope. It advised swabbing first thing in the morning so I did just that, while feeling like a criminal 😉
It didn’t hurt and was very simple and easy. They emailed me to let me know when they’d received it and then the waiting game began. I was really excited to hear my results, desperately hoping I was actually made of steel and my injuries were all in my head.
Less than 10 days later I received an email telling me my results were in. Wheee!
I won’t lie, when I first looked at my results it was literally a quick scan to see the main points. I was also a little disappointed to find how much of it I really understood and how much I really got from it. Science lessons were a while ago now! Saying that though, after I read it a few more times and asked the company a few questions, my understanding increased and I felt like I got a lot of information.
Power Endurance Profile
I was highly surprised by this result. I really thought it would come back and say I was most suited to endurance activities. I love long distances and find them easier than shorter, sharper activities. It’s nice to know that my body seems attuned to both. I suppose this could make sense as when I put my mind to it I can do well (relatively speaking) at shorter distances, it’s just psychologically more work and less enjoyment.
As well as that overall summary it also goes into detail about different variants of genes. This is where my understanding started to waver. But after sending a query to the DNAFit people they quickly came back and explained it to me:
“The effect is shown by the presence of ‘-‘, ‘*’, ‘**’, “+”, and “++”. When there is just a dash, that means that the version of that gene is not associated with an effect in this particular part of the report. Then the presence of one asterisk’*’ means it has an effect, and two asterisks means that gene variant has a particularly strong effect on the marker in question…and two plus signs = very strong, one plus = strong.” (From DNATFit advisor)
Basically you’re given a list of the variants they examine and then marks them as to how much effect they have on your body. There are different strengths of associations and some variants might not have any effect at all, while some are really strong.
I also found that I have a better VO2max response to training and lower levels of inflammation after hard training sessions, leading to quicker recovery times.
Again I was nicely surprised by this result. I assumed I’d get a slower recovery speed, but medium is good so I’m quite happy with that! I like how it suggested things for me to do to improve on my recovery. Since doing the Simply Supplement review in May I regularly take omega-3 tablets so I feel quite smug about this 😉
From my gene variants it seems I potentially have more free radicals post-exercise because I lack the part of the gene associated with their removal (I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about…). And I apparently experience “higher levels of inflammation after strenuous exercise”.
One of the benefits of getting these results back around the time of my marathon was that it could inform me of the best way to come back to running sensibly. During the week after the marathon when all I wanted to do was run I remembered these results and held myself back. I was sensible with what I ate, I wore compression socks and I was gentle with myself. It was almost like I could validate my rest (and convince myself not to run) because I knew my body needed it.
This was the one I was most interested about. Injuries plague most runners, but I feel like I’ve had more than my fair share in comparison to others.
No surprises there whatsoever. I did feel somewhat depressed by this result though. But it does make sense that genes have an effect on these things. I’m sure we all know those people who can run stupidly high mileage every week, never stretch, never foam roll and never get injured. I’m sure those are the low injury risk people.
I also apparently have an increased risk of tendinopathy and osteoarthritis and a moderately raised risk of tendon and ligament injuries in sport. And a susceptibility of increased inflammation after a hard workout.
After understanding the results more, I feel quite happy with my results. It’s very complex obviously, with what genes affect me, the strength of that effect and then the variants within that gene. It does take a bit of careful reading and re-reading!
But what DNAFit also stress is that your genes aren’t everything. They’re the foundations to your house, but how you build to that house and furnish it is up to you. Last year I was stupid with my training. I didn’t do enough strength training for my body and when I got injured I didn’t take the time off to properly recover and then to gradually come back. It was more of a case of “I feel OK now, what race is next?” and jumping back into my training plan that I abandoned just before the injury.
One of the pointers DNAFit advisers me from my results it that I need to “undertake prehabilitative exercises relevant to the sport and consider nutritional support for connective tissue”. Since before Christmas I’ve been doing just this and it’s clearly working. They stress that my injury risk is based only on my genes, but that I can make changes in my environment to reduce this injury risk. Like our biology lessons taught us, genes aren’t everything – it’s a combination of genes and environment. I’m sadly not one of those people who can just run. I’ve got to strengthen and protect my body, and then take the time to rest and recover properly.
Is it worth it? Though DNAFit confirmed many things I already knew about myself, it was nice to get an insight into the details and know a bit more about myself. Would I recommend it? It is expensive and if you’re already well-tuned to your body, I’d say you probably don’t need it. But if you’re like me and want to know a bit more about yourself and help work out what you really need to do for good training (for example, I can’t run six days a week regularly – my body needs more recovery) then go for it. Ideal birthday or Christmas present!
Would this interest you?
Have you ever done a VO2 test or a DNA test like this?
How much recovery do you think your body needs?