FTO gene: An introduction
The FTO gene, nicknamed as the 'fatso' gene, codes for the enzyme alpha-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase.
Functionally, it is an mRNA demethylase enzyme.
Also called the fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO), it is found to have an association with obesity in humans.
The FTO gene is present on the 16th chromosome and is one of the most extensively researched genes for its weight gain/loss association.
Functions of the FTO gene
The FTO protein is primarily involved in breaking DNA strands.
In technical terms, it is called a demethylase.
It is also studied to be expressed more, or upregulated, in the hypothalamus during periods of starvation, which can result in increased consumption of high-calorie foods.
Thus, this gene has been negatively associated with inducing over-eating.
How does the FTO gene influence weight gain and weight loss?
Carbohydrate intake and weight gain tendency
A study has found an association between rs8050136 and intake of carbohydrates, where individuals with the A variant were found to have a higher risk of obesity than ones with the CC wild type.
Several other studies have also established a direct relationship between the SNP rs1558902 and an increased BMI.
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Hand-picked content for you: Know Your Genes: FTO “Fat Gene.”
Fiber intake and weight loss tendency
A significant association has been found between rs11076023 and dietary fiber intake.
A research study has reported that individuals who carry the AA genotype, exhibited lower waist circumference than the T allele carriers on a high fiber diet.
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Protein intake and weight loss tendency
Scientists studied the effect of the A variant on two groups of people; one on a low-protein high-calorific diet and the other on a high-protein low-calorific diet.
It was found that the second group had better control over food cravings than the first, in the presence of A allele compared to TT genotypes.
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Saturated fats intake and weight gain tendency
The risk allele carriers of rs9939609 consuming a higher intake of saturated foods were found to be at an increased risk of obesity.
But similar findings were not observed for a lower intake of saturated fats.
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How does the FTO gene cause obesity?
The relation between the FTO gene and obesity is not direct.
Having a "faulty" FTO gene does not make one fat; it merely predisposes an individual to consume calorie-rich foods.
These individuals may have increased sugar cravings, which in turn could lead to weight gain, obesity, etc.
Can a DNA test help you lose weight?
The conventional diet plans and workout regimes architected for weight loss need not help everyone achieve their desired goals.
There is a multitude of factors that influence weight loss, including a person's lifestyle, genetic makeup, and the environment.
Your genes can influence how you metabolize the nutrients you get from your diet. This directly has a role to play in weight gain/loss.
For instance, some people may possess a genetic variant that aids in the faster metabolization of carbohydrates, while others may carry a variant that will help in faster break-down of saturated fats.
Such genetic information can be leveraged to adopt a practical and personalized weight loss plan.
While genetic tests may not lay out the A-Z of weight loss, it certainly helps you pin the right path for your weight loss journey.
You might also be interested in: Optimize Your Weight Loss Plan With Your 23andMe Raw Data
What is the best diet for weight loss?
An ideal diet should be flexible, balanced, and wholesome.
There are different diet types that an individual could opt for, but each has its shortcomings.
But we have a few FTO gene-based weight loss hacks that can save the day for you!
Include some protein in your diet
FTO gene variants have been linked to a lower risk of obesity and decreased food cravings when on a low-calorie diet with adequate protein intake.
Some common food sources of protein include cottage cheese, chicken, fish, and eggs.
Get some cardio!
If in case you carry a risk variant of the FTO gene, the negative effects of it can be alleviated by putting in a few hours of cardio every week.
Adopt a well-balanced diet
A well-balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet, can be very effective when it comes to weight loss. Mediterranean diet is not just well-balanced but is also a heart-healthy diet plan.
If you are an avid meat-eater, this diet may not be for you as it is a plant-based diet.
Inclusion of fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and kicking out the red meat is what is outlined in this diet.
Do you have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage?
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Our Gene Nutrition Report covers 33+ categories including tendency to regain weight, iron needs, tendency to overeat, etc.