Do DNA Diets Really Work?
Updated on March 18, 2024
Back to top
back to top icon
DNA Testing
Do DNA Diets Really Work?

While a lot of people tend to ask, “Do DNA diets work?” it’s not that simple.

As of right now, there is no solid scientific evidence that proves that DNA-based diets work.

While it would make sense to tailor your diet to your unique genetic makeup, results are still inconclusive about whether DNA-based diets work.

There’s no definitive evidence that the weight you lose when following a DNA-based diet is purely the result of the diet itself and not just because you’re eating healthier.

Some people have found DNA diet-based recommendations vague, while many scientists also point out the numerous factors that go into diet and lifestyle, not just genetics.

Not every diet is one-size-fits-all, so one that targets how your body works, metabolizes and interacts with nutrients is more appealing. There can be some scientific merit to the idea of altering your eating habits to work best with how your body operates, but there’s nothing conclusive just yet.

Do DNA Diets Really Work? 3

Are DNA-Based Diets Scientifically Based?

Yes, but studies are still very young.1 Some scientists and dietitians say that a lot of nutrigenomics is still not precise enough and often just regurgitates general lifestyle recommendations.1,2

In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is still hesitant to promote any kind of diet based on genetics. Their reasoning is that a lot of commercial genetic testing is not as regulated as they’d like, which may lead to unbeneficial or even inaccurate personalized plans, so these studies may still be premature.3

Are There Studies On DNA Diets?

While the evidence is still not sound enough, some studies are making small steps to better precision.

One study revealed that those with specific Melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R) and Fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) genetic variants have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Based on this information, a diet that is low-sodium and low-fat may be more appropriate.1

Again, however, there are still too many factors that can contribute to these predispositions aside from genes. A DNA test alone will not be able to determine how we can best tailor our dietary regimens for optimal health.

So, while there is science behind the diet, there are still far too many forces at play to make any definitive conclusions that they work.3

Know Your DNA Reviews

Best DNA Kit

Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Read our best DNA test page to find the best one for you.

How Does a DNA Diet Work?

A DNA-based diet supposedly works by evaluating your DNA via tests to see what genetic factors influence your nutrition and metabolism.

Once you get your results and health reports, they’re supposed to reveal what kind of inclinations or predispositions your body has so you can change your diet and exercise habits.

This kind of diet supposedly reveals more information about personal weight gain, your bodily processes, and the genes related to how your weight fluctuates.

It’s true that your genes influence how much weight you put on or lose, given certain factors like calorie intake, metabolism, and even genetic predispositions to specific conditions like obesity. So, a DNA diet works to determine the best course of action exercise and diet-wise for you.

A DNA diet can supposedly provide you with a diet plan and exercise routines or recommend food groups to help you avoid negative health conditions and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Many DNA-based diets are offering the broadest of strokes in terms of advice, things you probably could have learned on your own with a quick Google search or a trip to the doctor. And you don’t need to shell out money on the DNA tests either.

While your genes do influence how your body processes food and sheds or gains weight, other factors are still just as important, and their interactions with each other are far more complex than scientists can comprehend. In short, nothing’s final yet.

Do DNA Diets Really Work? 4

So while a diet based on DNA results probably isn’t the best answer, it doesn’t mean personalized nutrition won’t yield results either.2

Instead, focus on observable results you notice about your body with the dietary and lifestyle changes you do make. Getting advice from your dietitian or any healthcare professional who knows your nutritional history best is also ideal.

Dietitians should be able to give you personalized weight loss advice based on their own findings, genetic data notwithstanding.

How Does DNA Affect Nutrition?

DNA supposedly affects nutrition because your genes may dictate how your body absorbs nutrients, metabolizes, and even responds to food-related stimuli.

The study of DNA and nutrition is still in its infancy, so there is no solid correlation between the two just yet. It’s called nutrigenomics, and researchers are trying to see if there are precise, personalized plans they can come up with to tailor to your genetic makeup.

Some scientists believe that our genes and food consumption are related, and if they unlock how our genes interact with food, they can create precise dietary advice. 

However, all of the research is still in the works. Nothing has been considered conclusive yet, given the complexity of both genetics and the breakdown of food in our bodies.1

In fact, some people who have tried them have been sorely disappointed, given that the recommendations they were given were vague. Despite being “personalized” to her DNA results, they all sounded like generalized advice any dietitian would give just about anybody.1 

What Can My DNA Tell Me About My Nutrition?

Your genes can tell you a lot about how your body processes food, reacts to certain ingredients, or even metabolizes what you eat.

The genes you inherit from your parents can make you susceptible to certain food intolerances or even how your body will use specific nutrients.

Genetic variations can influence the kinds of food you like or dislike, even how we perceive the tastes of certain ingredients (like coriander and how liking its taste sometimes depends on your DNA).4

Your genes can even determine or heavily influence your metabolism, as well as your predisposition for conditions such as:4

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Type I and type II diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Lactose intolerance or malabsorption (as well as other intolerances)
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Addiction (especially alcohol or other vices)
  • High blood pressure

Knowing that you may be at risk of developing any of these conditions can be helpful when shaping your dietary regimen and lifestyle, but there’s still no precise way of knowing with absolute certainty if they will occur and if a change in diet is what will stop them.

Know Your DNA Reviews

The Best DNA Test

Looking for a DNA test that's accurate and can tell you about your health and heritage?

Updated on March 18, 2024
Minus IconPlus Icon
4 sources cited
Updated on March 18, 2024
  1. Should You Try a ‘Personalized’ DNA Diet?” Self.
  2. Personalized Nutrition: The Latest on DNA-Based Diets.” Scientific American.
  3. The Truth About DNA Based Diets.” The Nutritious Life.
  4. Genetics and Nutrition.” Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk.
Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Kelly Brown
Kelly Brown
Content Contributor
Kelly has experience working with clients in a variety of industries, including legal, medical, marketing, and travel. Her goal is to share important information that people can use to make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. From choosing the best treatment programs to improving dental and vision health to finding the best method for helping anyone who is struggling with health issues, she hopes to share what she learns through informative content.