How Much Do Genetics Affect Your Weight Loss Prospects?

Millions of people all over the globe are trying to lose weight. According to research, most of these weight loss attempts are unsuccessful or short-lived, with the majority of people gaining weight back almost immediately.

Although weight loss is often presented as a mere matter of diet and exercise, the one-size-fits-all approach simply is not successful. According to an article about HCG, factors that impact the specifics of your weight loss plan include body type, current level of fitness, and family history. So, could your genes actually be working against you?

Calories In and Calories Out: Is There More to Weight Loss?

Many people in the weight loss community believe that weight is a simple matter of thermodynamics. Eating more than your body needs will lead to fat storage while eating less will lead to weight loss. While technically correct, this approach is overly simplistic. It does not take into account how complex our bodies are. For example, hormonal levels determine not just when we are hungry, but also how our energy is used.


Put simply, a calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. One pound of fat is worth approximately 3500 calories. These are simple facts of physics that cannot be disputed or changed. How calories are used in our body is not as standardized.

Our body uses calories through a variety of metabolic pathways, some more efficient than others. More efficient people often have bodies that convert calories to usable energy, thus remaining slender.

Other people have hormonal structures that encourage the conversion of calories to fat storage, leaving them feeling tired and depleted even when taking in enough calories. If your body is metabolically primed to use the calories you eat in fat storage rather than for energy, you are naturally going to have a harder time losing weight without help.

Your Genes and Your Body Type

The heritability of body type has been scientifically proven since the 1990’s. Researchers noted that identical twins usually had very similar body types and weights, even when raised apart and not in contact with each other. In addition, the rate at which you build muscle is hugely affected by heredity.

This is crucial to weight loss because muscle burns more calories at rest than other types of tissue. People who build muscle more easily will have a higher resting metabolic rate and burn more calories even without exercise.

In addition, the way you carry fat appears to be inherited. Whether you are a natural apple shape or a perfect hourglass depends more on the natural shape of your parents than on any other factor.

This is important to weight loss because an apple shape has been linked to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which can affect hormones so that weight loss becomes more difficult.

Is Hunger Hereditary?

In addition to affecting our natural shape and our level of muscle, our genes can also impact how much we eat. People who have lower overall levels of hunger naturally will have an easier time conforming to diets that restrict calories. Researchers have identified a gene that appears to be extremely important in regulating both hunger and waist circumference, which is called Neurexin 3.

Around one-fifth of the population carries Neurexin 3. These people simply have a larger appetite. In addition, this gene can trigger binge eating when people who carry it lose even ten percent of their weight. This may be the reason that so many people perceive their body as having a “set point.” They simply cannot lose a meaningful amount of weight before the food cravings kick in and the pounds begin to return.

Hormones and Obesity

In addition to making us feel hungrier, hormones can have other effects on weight gain and weight loss. Heredity contributes heavily to how hormones are produced and used, which explains why obesity has been found to be inheritable.

People who are obese are more resistant to insulin. This means that blood sugar is not taken up by cells that need it for energy, but rather used to create more fat storage. As people become more overweight, they often become more insulin resistant.

This leads to an upward spiral of weight gain that can only be stopped with dramatic lifestyle changes and, in many cases, medical assistance. This is just one of the many hormonal differences that contribute to and help to support weight gain.

Lifestyle: An Important Part of the Picture

Although new knowledge about heredity and weight suggest that genes are important, lifestyle changes still are an essential part of health. If two people with the same genetic makeup eat substantially different amounts of calories, they will be different weights.

Ultimately you cannot store calories as fat if you do not eat them. Even if your body has more difficulty putting on muscle, it will still burn the calories needed to sustain life.

In many cases, hormonal balances that keep people from gaining weight are more common and more severe in people who are obese. Thus, the earliest days of a new diet can be very difficult, but it gets easier with time and weight loss. Having strategies to get through these early days can make a huge difference in success.

If you want to find a weight loss program that works, it is important not to take a one-size-fits-all approach. You need a system that will help you from your own personal starting point, not vague advice that doesn’t meet your needs.

This can mean eating in ways that change your natural hormonal structure, or focusing on muscle gains rather than aerobic activity because you build muscle in certain ways. Many people have to try several different approaches before they find the one that is perfect for them.

Every person has a unique genetic makeup that contributes to their unique body shape and size. Changing this size and shape successfully and for the long-term requires a uniquely tailored approach. No one should accept a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting and weight loss. You deserve more and need more, for your lifelong health and well-being.

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