What Is FitnessGenes?
By analyzing your DNA and creating customized nutrition and training plans based on the results, FitnessGenes promises to help you get fit and lean, burn fat and lose weight, build muscle, and lead a healthier, longer life—without wasted time or guesswork.
After receiving your DNA test, you’ll take a saliva sample and send it back to the company. They’ll then create a genetically optimized diet and exercise plan that’s available in your Member’s Area, which—if followed—their site claims can help you "realize your full genetic potential in the sports you enjoy, with the physique you desire.”
And as the science evolves, your results, workout, and nutrition advice will be updated accordingly, so the information available to you will always be up to date.
There’s no doubt that science is revealing more information about our genetic makeup every day, which is potentially useful in a variety of scenarios. But is fitness and weight loss one? Even then, is FitnessGenes necessarily your best option?
Let's go ahead and dive right into the meat of the matter to answer some fundamental questions. Then, we’ll explore how this relates to FitnessGenes.
What’s the Relationship Between Genes, Fitness & Weight Loss?
A quick and painless science lesson: Shaped like a double helix, DNA is a molecule that’s made up of four nitrogen bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).
Inside these helixes, each of base connects to another base, thereby creating pairs. And the order in which these base pairs are assembled creates sections of DNA called genes. In turn, each of our 25,000+ genes instructs a specific protein how to behave, which then determines our appearance and bodily function.
With this in mind, genetic testing companies like FitnessGenes claim to analyze specific genes associated with characteristics like strength, muscle recovery, metabolism, whether or not you respond to longer endurance workouts or shorter interval sessions, speed, blood pressure, and so forth.
Then, based on the results, coupled with your body composition goals and lifestyle data, they create a customized plan.
But according to Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., and director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, not enough is understood about underlying science behind most of these direct-to-consumer tests to provide valid recommendations.
“When it comes to these current genetic tests for fitness and performance, they have almost zero predictive power,” he says.
The author of this Self article also points out that “A group of 23 geneticists from around the world agreed, as they wrote, along with Bouchard, in a consensus statement in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in September. The key takeaway: Although this field has grown tremendously in recent years, the science is still in its earliest stages, and at the moment, tests relying on it hold no value.”
With this said, as we learned after interviewing professionals in Is Genetic Testing Right For You?, genetic carrier screening is successfully used day in and day out to help identify genetic mutations in parents and children, along with Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) for mothers. However, these types of tests don’t promise to provide benefits beyond identifying genetic abnormalities.
Now that we’ve covered these basics, let’s look at how the FitnessGenes process works.
Which Genetic Workout Systems Does FitnessGenes Offer?
Regardless of the kit you order based on your specific goals and experience level, it will arrive in three to five days. Once received, you’ll provide a saliva sample according to the included instructions, which FitnessGenes will use to extract and analyze DNA from your cheek cells.
This analysis typically takes two to three weeks, after which you’ll receive a notification once your genetically tailored diet plan and personalized workout advice is available. And during the process, your data is protected using bank-level AES encryption.
Inside FitnessGenes’ Member’s Area, customers will be able to view their customized workout and nutrition strategies, and gain access to a support library. Image credit: FitnessGenes Limited
If you need assistance choosing which diet and exercise program best fits your needs, the company offers a Plan Advisor that uses criteria like your goals, body type, the type of exercise you currently perform most (HIIT/weights, cardio, or none), the number of times you workout per week, and for how long.
Whether at the gym or at home, FitnessGenes tells us that this system is geared toward improving fitness levels and losing a couple of pounds. This includes a healthy, sustainable nutrition plan that features the “right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to support your progress.”
It's also advertised as a great start for beginners, or for those who are already fit and need an efficient system to remain that way. The system’s three versions include:
Starter – DNA Analysis & 4-Week Plan: Targeted toward those who are new to exercise and healthy eating.
Keep Fit – DNA Analysis & 8-Week Plan: Promises to help change body composition, health, and overall well-being.
Complete – DNA Analysis & 12-Week Plan: The full program for those looking for maximum results.
Each week of this system involves 3-5 days at the gym, where you’ll focus on exercises that promote fat burning and strength training. One to two days per week will involve power walking for cardio, along with 1-2 rest days.
Regardless of the exercise, you’ll start with full-body workouts and progress to ones that focus on specific muscle groups—including increasing the number of sets you perform.
From a nutrition perspective, FitnessGenes' Lose Weight system will provide customized, crystal-clear advice regarding optimal calorie and macronutrient intake, as well as effective strategies that can deliver sustainable weight loss:
Starter – DNA Analysis & 4-Week Plan: Considered a first step to losing weight.
Momentum – DNA Analysis & 8-Week Plan: Claims to help you “love your reflection.”
Complete – DNA Analysis & 12-Week Plan: Combo nutrition & exercise plan.
A high-intensity system that combines elements of resistance, cardio, circuit, and HIIT training, to help you get ripped and lean. Specifically, the website indicates that you’ll be able to boost metabolism, increase fat loss, build well-defined muscle, and improve your overall level of fitness.
Nutrition-wise, FitnessGenes tells us this system can help you better understand “how your body metabolizes carbs and fats, [that] can give you a genetically optimized diet that gives you the lean physique you (and others) crave while maintaining balanced hormonal health”:
Starter – DNA Analysis & 8-Week Plan: A shorter plan that still contains all the elements that can help you shred fat and build muscle definition.
Plus – DNA Analysis & 12-Week Plan: Helps you get ripped, since it “periodizes functional hypertrophy and metabolic resistance training.”
Complete – DNA Analysis & 20-Week Plan: The most complete nutrition and exercise combo plan.
According to FitnessGenes, this system is ideal for those looking to optimize their size and strength. The first six weeks will involve strength exercises, while the second half involves “genetically tailored hypertrophy workouts optimized for maximal time under tension with tempo dialed in by your genetics.”
Customers will also receive a nutrition plan that utilizes progressive caloric load, along with strategies to increase testosterone levels, and supplementation advice. Each day, you’ll receive breakdowns for macronutrient consumption and timing, which can help maximize your workouts and enhance recovery.
Starter – DNA Analysis & 12-Week Plan: Helps you get big and strong by decoding your DNA.
Scott Herman – DNA Analysis & 8-Week Plan: Implements the Scott Herman Genetic Workout System.
Complete – DNA Analysis & 20-Week Plan: The most complete nutrition and exercise combo plan.
How Much Do Fitness Genes’ Products Cost?
If you’re still unsure which FitnessGenes system you’d like to order, you can purchase a standalone DNA analysis for $199 and then upgrade once you’ve made a decision. When purchasing the analysis as part of a program, you’ll pay:
- Get Fit – Starter: $229, Keep Fit: $259, Complete: $289
- Lose Weight – Starter: $229, Momentum: $259, Complete: $289
- Get Lean – Starter: $259, Momentum: $289, Complete: $329
- Build Muscle – Starter: $289, Scott Herman: $389, Complete: $449
After swabbing your cheek cells, you’ll send the sample back using the same box in which it arrived. Pre-paid postage is included for orders within the U.S., Canada, or U.K.
Per the company’s terms, all orders come with a seven-day refund policy, less S&H charges, as long as the testing kit has not been opened. To request one, you’ll need to reach out through the contact form on their site.
What Can We Learn From FitnessGenes Customer Reviews?
On DNATestingChoice.com, more than 250 reviewers gave FitnessGenes an average rating of 4.5 stars, with common compliments citing great customer support, informative reports, and effective results.
On the other hand, common complaints (what relatively few there were) frequently referenced that the reports need a little decoding, so it might be especially helpful for them to hire staff that can provide one-on-one consulting.
In 2016, Self’s Anne Machalinski ordered one of FitnessGenes’ tests and reported that most of her report provided “essentially common sense [advice] of the eat less and move more variety—plus a push for resistance, strength and high-intensity interval training.”
Despite this, she found that the test motivated her to make some lifestyle changes that benefitted her, including running more frequently and changing up her workout routines. These resulted in her losing seven pounds, an inch from her waist, and one percentage of body fat—without making any significant changes to her diet.
The Blonde Ethos tested out several DNA testing kits back in 2015, including FitnessGenes. Although she didn’t provide insight as to whether or not the company’s report impacted her health in the long run, Duncan French, technical lead of Strength and Conditioning Coaching at the English Institute of Sport, had this to say about these types of reports:
“For the general person, it might give you some insight, but it’s hard to find a suitable person to interpret what the results mean. It’s not that simple. There are so many other variables to fitness and sports performance.”
From a company perspective, FitnessGenes was co-founded in 2013 by CEO Dr. Dan Reardon and CSO Dr. Sam Decombel. Previously, Dr. Reardon worked as an emergency doctor for the NHS, as well as a science editor for Muscle & Fitness Magazine. Dr. Decombel worked as Director for PlayDNA and as CEO of MuscleGenes Limited.
FitnessGenes vs. 23andMe & Other Genetic Testing Companies
According to Global Industry Analysts, the genetic testing industry is projected to reach $10.3 billion by 2024. And the result is that dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of companies have entered the market to meet the expected demand.
While many of these involve screening, such as for genetic diseases, an increasing number are marketed toward everyday consumers. Most are niche-specific, such as 23andMe (ancestry and lineage), TeloYears (cellular aging), and uBiome (gut bacteria), to name just a few.
But, are there any other fitness or weight-loss-specific genetic testing programs competing with FitnessGenes? And if so, how do they compare?
|Company||Price||What’s Included In the Report?|
|FitnessGenes||$229-$449||Fitness and nutrition plans to help you achieve your goals; exact details vary by system|
|DNAFit||$199-$299||Fitness and diet, sports performance, and vitality and wellbeing; exact details vary by system|
|AnabolicGenes||$134-$279||Fitness training and nutrition analyses (e.g., muscle fiber composition, VO2Max, fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism, etc.); pharmacogenetics, skin, and wellness testing|
|DexaFit||$229-$289||Analyzes 40+ genes to provide personalized training plans|
Given their relative similarities, how can you choose the right service?
In our Is Genetic Testing Right For You? guide, we learned from professionals that if you’re thinking about ordering one, the first person you should talk with is your physician. This is the case whether you’re interested in screening for genetic abnormalities or a consumer-level test like FitnessGenes.
Pro tip: Perhaps the biggest difference between genetic screens and at-home ‘entertainment’ tests is that the former are frequently covered under insurance, whereas the latter typically aren’t.
If your doctor recommends moving forward, when researching different companies, it’s also recommended that you verify what security measures they have in place, what happens with your data, whether or not a subscription is required to continue accessing your report(s), and the level of support provided should you need assistance.
Our Final Thoughts About FitnessGenes
While many of FitnessGenes’ systems were priced meaningfully higher than much of the competition, and they don’t provide any support for decoding your report’s results, they seemed to have mostly positive online customer feedback. And even if you place an order and change your mind, the company stands behind their product with a seven-day refund policy.
With this said, it’s important to balance these pros with the fact that, according to several of the professionals quoted earlier, the scientific community currently doesn’t understand enough about the genome to accurately ‘decode’ many of the factors advertised by at-home testing companies. As such, we think it’s important that you maintain realistic expectations.
Even if there were reams of clinical evidence that these reports provided 100 percent accurate decoding, though, another important consideration is that it will be up to you to implement the diet and exercise recommendations they contain. But on average, is this something consumers stick with?
Returning again to the Self article cited earlier, Theresa Marteau, Ph.D., and director of behavior and health research unit at the University of Cambridge in England, was senior author of a March 2015 review study published in the British Medical Journal.
In it, “researchers found that when people had personalized genetic information about their disease risk, plus knowledge about how to lower that risk (quit smoking, eat less, move more, etc.), they were no more likely than the general public to make those changes.”
But if you stick with their fitness and nutrition advice, it’s very likely that you’ll see some results using one of FitnessGenes’ systems. Whether or not their genetic component will provide more insight than a standard workout or nutrition plan, though, remains to be seen.