Personalising Athletic Training & Nutrition to DNA

Every athlete is genetically programmed differently. Each has unique physical characteristics that have helped them to reach the elite level of their sport. These genetic differences not only influence their individual physiology and baseline attributes, but also influences how they respond to certain training and nutritional strategies. 

The role of DNA is to code for proteins, and variations in genetic code between athletes determines the proteins they produce, as well as how much of each. By unlocking your athlete’s genetic code and identifying the specific proteins they produce, FitnessGenes can recommend the most optimal training and nutritional strategies for them to follow in order to maximise their results. 

From a single saliva sample, FitnessGenes analyse 43 genetic variations all relating to aspects of training, nutrition and physiology, including:

ACTN3 – A Gene For Speed

The gene that codes for the production of alpha-actinin-3, a protein that protects against fast-twitch muscle damage and has been linked to greater baseline strength and testosterone levels. One variation of the gene (XX) is unable to produce any alpha-actinin-3, putting carriers at a disadvantage for speed/power based training and activities. Influences recommended training volume. 

UCP2 – A Gene For Metabolism

A gene associated with metabolic rate and the conversion of food to ATP energy. Individual variations of the UCP2 gene produce differing levels of the uncoupling protein, UCP2. Higher levels of the UCP2 protein results in a higher uncoupling rate, with more potential fuel being lost as heat rather than converted to ATP. Influences recommended calorie intake. 

PPARA – A Gene For Fat Burning

A gene associated with ‘fat for fuel’ usage and distribution of muscle fibre type. The PPARA protein plays a key role in switching from carbohydrates to fats as an energy source during exercise. Carriers of the genetic variation that produces the highest levels of PPARA are most efficient at making this conversion, and have also shown to have a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibres, suggesting an endurance advantage. 

To learn more about the genes that FitnessGenes analyse and their influence on sports performance, come and meet the FitnessGenes team at stand 3104 on the 7th & 8th. FitnessGenes Lead scientific advisor Dr Stuart Grice will also be presenting the subject ‘delivering precision coaching using genomic technologies’ on Thursday.