DNA Tests for Weight Loss

Updated August 8, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by Jessica Bucher

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A list of references is also included at the bottom of this article.

DNA testing can provide you with a wealth of information about your health, but in the future, it may provide tools for personalized nutrition and fitness leading to more effective weight management.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

Genetics is a quickly changing topic.

Currently, research suggests that using genetic information to recommend personalized diets is premature.

We’ve got the latest information on fitness and nutrition tests so you can understand the potential outcomes.

A Guide to DNA Tests for Weight Loss

If you’ve struggled with weight loss, tried every diet and workout you come across with little or no results, you might wonder if a DNA test might help you lose weight more effectively.

While our bodies are approximately 99.9 percent the same when it comes to DNA, there are still several million different factors that make us unique.

When it comes to nutrition, weight and health, DNA tests are suggesting that they can offer a better insight into genetic factors that could help you understand the best diet and exercise plan for you.

Genetic testing can identify if certain variations are present that may pre-determine whether your body is prone to storing extra weight.

Certain variations are thought to be related to food sensitivities or trouble processing specific vitamins which can, in turn, affect how your body’s metabolism works 1.

General Fitness and Nutrition DNA Tests

There are a few different fitness and nutrition DNA tests on the market that you can try from companies like embodyDNA, ORIG3N, Arivale and HomeDNA to name just a few.

Each of these brands offers varying levels of information that correlates to your nutrition and health through DNA insight.

They also vary in price, with most tests ranging from $50 to $120, though some can cost as much as $500.

How a DNA Test for Weight Loss Works

To get started with a weight loss DNA test, you'll provide either a saliva sample or a buccal swab (from the inside of your cheek), and mail it back to the company in a pre-addressed envelope.

Once they get your sample, lab technicians process it, looking for a combination of gene variants that are thought to be related to food sensitivities.

The report may also list areas where your body may struggle, like in processing carbs or fats.

Some companies will attempt to develop a diet that’s right for an individual’s body, according to what their DNA reveals 2.

How Does Your DNA Relate to Weight Loss?

Your DNA may relate to weight loss in many ways. Researchers are looking into ways that common genetic variations may predispose individuals to obesity and difficulty with certain types of nutrient breakdown.

However, It is important to understand that many of these genes work together with environmental factors to result in an individual’s weight. Therefore, it is a complicated picture.

At this time, there is not enough research to determine a specific diet or exercise regiment from certain variations.

Actually, an individual can develop deficiencies as a result of following a diet that that is suggested solely on this information.

Therefore, the companies offering this testing indicate that this testing should be used only for educational and informational purposes.

It is not to be taken as medical advice and they cannot guarantee that the suggestions will be effective.

What Will You Learn From a DNA Weight Loss Test?

When your DNA weight loss test is completed, you'll receive a detailed report about the findings.

These results come in a readout that identifies “problem areas” including but not limited to cholesterol, insulin, fat and protein.

Depending on the exact test you take, the results you get will vary. You might get information on some or all of the following:

FTO Gene Variants

Located on chromosome 16, the FTO gene is believed to contribute to the risk of obesity as well as the complications that come along with that 3. Studies have shown that variants may be linked to pancreatic cancer and endometrial cancer 4 as well as other cancers.

How Your Body Processes Certain Nutrients

Do you love carbohydrates? It turns out that your body may not love them back. Certain nutrition genetic tests indicate that the IRS1 gene may relate to the way carbohydrates affect a person’s body, but more specifically relate to insulin sensitivity and production 5.

If you cannot absorb blood sugar, it can lead to an increased production of insulin and cause insulin resistance, which may lead to diabetes.

There are several genes that may be associated with your body’s reaction to consuming high amounts of fat.

How Your Body Reacts to Different Exercises

When you work out, it's always important to include a variety of exercises, rather than focus on a single routine to avoid plateauing. But did you know that your genes actually react to different types of exercise better than others?

For example, your genetic makeup may be predisposed to losing weight faster and more permanently with more cardio, while others might benefit more from strength training.

Customized Nutrition Plans

One thing that many of the weight loss DNA tests offer is information into how your nutrition should look based on their interpretation of variants. Testing companies may say that a high-protein, low-fat diet is best. Or, perhaps a diet high in carbohydrates is better suited for you based on their algorithm.

Are You Predisposed to a High BMI?

The FTO gene may carry information about how resistant your body is to losing weight as well as whether you’re likely to have a higher BMI 6.

What Factors Promote Weight Gain?

There are different factors that can affect your weight.

For example, some people may be affected by carbohydrates while others gain weight when they eat too much saturated fat. Some intolerances may be responsible for the way food is digested, which can lead to poor breakdown and added weight gain.

However, it's important to realize that while your genetics are a large part of the overall picture of weight gain, it's not the only factor. Outside factors including stress, your environment and your sleeping habits contribute to your overall weight as well.

What Genes Are Analyzed With a DNA Test for Weight Loss?

There are several hundred, perhaps thousands of genes that may be associated with how your body processes food, sensitivities, nutrients and how it reacts to specific types of exercise.

For a list of the specific genes and variants that each company tests for, it's best to visit their website for thorough information.

DNA Test for Weight Loss Accuracy

Like any other DNA test, there is always the wonder of just how accurate the results you receive are.

It's important to note that these tests are not meant as a diagnostic tool, but rather informational in nature, so no medical decisions should be based solely off the results you get.

Can DNA Tests for Weight Loss Be Wrong?

Just like other laboratory tests, there is always the potential for your DNA results to be inaccurate. Sometimes it occurs due to the contamination of a sample or a mix-up in laboratory samples, both obvious examples of human error.

Other times the sample is improperly analyzed or gene variants are missed in the analysis. Use it as an informational tool rather than a be-all, end-all guide to your body and weight loss.

Can a DNA Test Really Help You Lose Weight?

The test itself is not going to help you lose the weight.  Research is still needed to determine if nutrigenetics or exercise recommendations based on genetic testing is useful.

Analyzing Your DNA Test Results

When you get your DNA test results, depending on the company you chose, you'll receive a detailed report that analyzes your genes, variants and proteins, as well as any mutations you might have inherited.

These are all broken down into easy-to-understand terms that you can use to make the appropriate lifestyle changes.

How Long Does it Take To Get Results From a DNA Test for Weight Loss?

The results typically take a few weeks to process, but you can reasonably expect to hear back within 4 to 6 weeks from the time your sample is received. Some companies offer the weight loss test as an add-on to your ancestry package and therefore, can offer results in as little as 48 hours after you order.

This is only for those who have an active DNA sample on file already. No further samples are required in this instance.

What Information Is Included in Your DNA Test Report?

You’ll get a glimpse into possible food sensitivities, such as whether you’re potentially glucose or lactose intolerant, as well as any deficiencies that you may be prone to. In addition, if your test contains a fitness component, you’ll get insight as to which types of exercise your body may respond to better, as well as tips to implement those exercises in your workout routine.

Finding the Best Diet for Your DNA

One of the main reasons people decide to take the DNA test for weight loss is to find the best diet for their biological makeup.

What is a DNA Diet?

A DNA diet is one that is custom tailored to your possible genetic predispositions. For example, if your analysis shows a sensitivity to carbohydrates, your DNA diet will not include many of them.

It eliminates problem foods that could lead to weight gain and includes healthy foods that will help to boost your metabolism and help with vitamin absorption.

How Do You Use Your Genetic Data for Weight Loss?

Further research is needed and it is unclear if this is possible.

Where to Buy a DNA Test for Weight Loss

The best place to buy a DNA test for weight loss, currently, is online through various retailers.

You can find them for sale on the company's website, or sometimes through third-party sellers such as Amazon and Helix.

Are There At-Home DNA Test Kits for Weight Loss?

Yes, there are direct-to-consumer kits that are mailed to your home where you can collect the sample on your time frame. The test kits are shipped to you right away and arrive in a matter of days.

There are also test kits available and some retailers like CVS and Walgreens. With these, you typically pay for the kit in the store and then pay a separate processing fee directly to the lab company.

Can Your Doctor Test Your DNA for Weight Loss?

Certain providers may offer to order a DNA test for weight loss. However, these tests are not likely to be more helpful since current research is premature.

How Much Are DNA Tests for Weight Loss?

DNA tests for weight loss vary widely depending on the company you choose. They can be as low as $49 or as high as several hundreds of dollars.

Will You Ever Need to Be Re-Tested?

If you get your results and the information in the detailed report is educational for you, then there is no need for you to do the testing again since the information is not clinically based.

DNA tests may change over time as additional research identifies more genes that could tell us more helpful information. Additionally, larger research studies may help us understand if this information is useful. Therefore, different testing may be available in the future.

How to Determine if DNA Testing for Weight Loss is Right For You

If you are curious about the information the test has to offer and you are aware of the limitations, you may be interested in taking this test.

However, it is not to be used as medical advice and the results are not guaranteed. 

Best DNA Tests for Weight Loss

If you're interested in taking a DNA test for weight loss, you might be overwhelmed at the sheer number of tests on the market.

We've dialed it down to a few of the top options to help you compare the features and prices for each, which are current as of January 2019.


The test from embodyDNA works to give you a total overview of your macronutrients, suggested foods to create a diet with, genetic reports that identify how well your body processes the food you eat, as well as how fitness works for you. The report will include a list of 21 genetic traits.

All of the results of embodyDNA's test are backed with scientific facts that are easily broken down and explained so you can understand what the different factors and genotypes mean. You can order it on the company's website for $89.99.


ORIG3N offers two different tests that fall into the weight loss category: nutrition and fitness. Each individual test costs $149.

The nutrition test analyzes your DNA to profile your possible nutrition by several factors including what your body may easily metabolize, your hunger and weight predisposition, and its ability to absorb certain vitamins.

The fitness test claim to give you insight into which types of workouts might yield the best results, what your genes may say about your muscle and joint strength, as well as how quickly your muscles might recover after any period of exercise.

Healthy Weight DNA Insight

Healthy Weight DNA Insight takes a health screening a little bit further by including nutrigenetics in its evaluations along with medication response and the risk factor of common conditions and diseases.

The website lists several variants that it looks for including those that may indicate vitamin deficiencies, decreased or increased risk of your two cholesterol levels and triglycerides. If you’ve ever been curious about what your biology says about your eating behaviors, this test claims to provide more information about this.

Additionally, it analyzes several factors that may be attributed to your weight and diet, including metabolism, obesity and your propensity for regaining lost weight. The test costs $300.

DNAFit Test

The DNAFit Test from Helix DNA bundles diet and fitness into a single package that costs approximately $120. Not only does it claim to identify food sensitivities, but it also may determine if you need more antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

If you’re curious about which style of exercise is better for your body, this test will suggest it, breaking it down into high- or low-intensity recommendations and will outline your possible risk of muscular injury.

The report will outline suggested best practices for recovery as well as the types of exercises that will reap the most benefit.

Important Note: Be aware that these tests are not available in New York and Maryland, due to stringent state restrictions, and some tests may not be available in all states.

Taking a DNA test for weight loss is quickly becoming the trend as more people want to be aware of the biological factors that affect their overall nutrition and diet. However, scientists are still researching the many genes, variants and mutations associated with weight loss.

The practical application of nutritional genomics more research to validate that personalized recommendations result in health benefits to individuals and do not cause harm 7.

Additionally, The companies typically include disclaimers on their website indicating that genetic information provides limited insight into health and fitness and should not be assumed conclusive. Additionally, the companies indicate that they do not guarantee the effectiveness of any course of action.

This information is intended for research, information, and educational purposes only, and has not been clinically validated. They also indicate that health, fitness, nutrition, or wellness behaviors should not be altered solely by this information and referral to a healthcare professional is recommended.

Learning about one’s Genetic Information is not for everybody. In some cases, Genetic Information may provide knowledge and information that may be unexpected or cause distress. You should consider the impact the information may have on you before using these services.

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Referenced Sources

  1. Gene-Diet Interactions on Body Weight Changes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
    Ruth J.F. Loos, Tuomo Rankinen. 2005.
  2. Improved weight management using genetic information to personalize a calorie controlled diet. Nutrition Journal.
    Ioannis Arkadianos, Ana M Valdes, Efstathios Marinos, Anna Florou, Rosalynn D Gill and Keith A Grimaldi. 18 October 2007.
  3. A Common Variant in the FTO Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Predisposes to Childhood and Adult Obesity. Science.
    Timothy M. Frayling, Nicholas J. Timpson, Michael N. Weedon, Eleftheria Zeggini, Rachel M. Freathy, Cecilia M. Lindgren, John R. B. Perry, Katherine S. Elliott, Hana Lango, Nigel W. Rayner, Beverley Shields, Lorna W. Harries, Jeffrey C. Barrett, Sian Ellard, Christopher J. Groves, Bridget Knight, Ann-Marie Patch, Andrew R. Ness, Shah Ebrahim, Debbie A. Lawlor, Susan M. Ring, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Ulla Sovio, Amanda J. Bennett, David Melzer, Luigi Ferrucci, Ruth J. F. Loos, Inês Barroso, Nicholas J. Wareham, Fredrik Karpe, Katharine R. Owen, Lon R. Cardon, Mark Walker, Graham A. Hitman, Colin N. A. Palmer, Alex S. F. Doney, Andrew D. Morris, George Davey Smith, Andrew T. Hattersley, Mark I. Mccarthy. 11 May 2007.
  4. “Association between FTO Gene Polymorphism (rs9939609 T/A) and Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis.” European Journal of Cancer Care 26, no. 5. Huang, Xiaoyi, Jian Zhao, Mingyuan Yang, Ming Li, and Jianming Zheng. September 2017.
  5. IRS1-Independent Defects Define Major Nodes of Insulin Resistance. Cell Metabolism.
    Kyle L. Hoehn, Cordula Hohnen-Behrens, Anna Cederberg, Lindsay E. Wu, Nigel Turner, Tomoyuki Yuasa, Yousuke Ebina, David E. James. 2008.
  6. Association of the FTO Gene With BMI.
    Steven C. Hunt Steven Stone Yuanpei Xin Christina A. Scherer Charles L. MagnessShawn P. Iadonato Paul N. Hopkins Ted D. Adams. 06 September 2012.
  7. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutritional Genomics - ScienceDirect. Accessed May 23, 2019.