Everyone knows some people who can eat ice cream, cake, and whatever else they want and still not gain weight. At the other extreme are people who seem to gain weight, no matter how little they eat. But why? What allows one person to remain thin without effort but demands that another struggles to avoid gaining weight?
On a very simple level, your weight depends on the number of calories you consume, how many of those calories you store, and how many you burn up. But each of these processes is influenced by a combination of genes, the environment you’re in, and other factors that will contribute to and determine your weight.
All of them can affect our physiology (such as how fast you burn calories), as well as our behavior (the types of foods you choose to eat, for instance).
Examples of environmental factors
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Diets high in processed foods, sugar, and fat
- Oversimplified weight-loss strategies and fads
- Health conditions
- Psychological factors
Many researchers agree that, in order to see success in your weight-loss strategies, you must take an approach that accounts for your genes and lifestyle factors.
The success equation 🤓
The balance of calories stored and burned depends on your genetic makeup, your level of physical activity, and your resting energy expenditure (the number of calories your body burns while at rest).
If you burn all of the calories that you consume in the course of a day, you will maintain your weight. On the other hand, if you consume more calories than the ones you expend, you will gain weight.
But, how is it influenced by our genes?
First of all, you might know what a gene is, but still, we would like to give you a brief review… A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Simply put, genes are made up of DNA. 🧬
Your DNA determines your hair color, nose shape, and eye color, so it makes sense that your genes play a role in your weight as well. Part of your ability to lose weight is encoded in your DNA, which is why everyone reacts differently to diets and workouts.
To date, more than 400 different genes have been implicated in the causes of overweight or obesity. Genes contribute to the causes of obesity in many ways, by affecting appetite, satiety, metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress.
The strength of the genetic influence on weight disorders varies quite a bit from person to person.
How much of your weight depends on your genes? 🤔
➕ Genes are probably a significant contributor to your obesity if you have most or all of the following characteristics:
- You have been overweight for much of your life.
- One or both of your parents, or several other blood relatives, are significantly overweight.
- You can’t lose weight, even when you increase your physical activity and stick to a low-calorie diet for many months.
➖ Genes are probably a lower contributor for you if you have most or all of the following characteristics:
- You are strongly influenced by the availability of food.
- You are moderately overweight, but you can lose weight when you follow a reasonable diet and exercise program.
- You regain lost weight during the holiday season, after changing your eating or exercise habits, or at times when you experience psychological or social problems.
These circumstances suggest that you have a genetic predisposition to be heavy, but it’s not so great that you can’t overcome it with some effort.
The good news comes now…
Your genes and your lifestyle both play a part in your weight, but your lifestyle is controllable, while your genes are not. With this in mind, you should focus on what you can control, which is the development of healthy habits.
No matter your genetic risk of obesity, you can overcome this risk by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen that works for your current physical condition and any health problems you may have. This will give you peace of mind knowing you’re doing everything you can to be your healthiest self. 💪🏼