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Between the Paleo Diet and Whole30, gluten-free and intermittent fasting, it’s hard to know which weight-loss trend is the right one. However, a new nutrition program offered by the Canyon Ranch wellness resort gives you insight into what diet is best for your body.
With locations in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts, Canyon Ranch is offering what they call “Nutrigenetics for Personalized Weight Loss,” a program that looks at an individual’s DNA to determine their ideal nutrition and fitness plan. Though it’s marketed as being for someone seriously aiming to lose weight, be it those few final vanity pounds or a more significant amount, my recent experience proved that Nutrigenetics is useful for anyone wanting to learn more about how their body works.
It started with a quick saliva swab at my apartment in New York, which I shipped back in time for the resort’s onsite nutritionist, Debbie Straub, to review my results before I arrived. Two weeks later my husband and I pulled up to the foothills of Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains, the setting for Canyon Ranch Tucson. We had three full days to enjoy the amenities, which would involve all-inclusive meals, unlimited yoga and fitness classes, morning nature walks, and afternoon laps in the pool.
When Straub and I met the next morning, she began by giving me the takeaway, my proposed diet’s modifications in fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Straub explained that there are ideal percentages for each of these, and they differ for every person. According to my genetic profile, my body is slower to process fat than the average person, even the good kinds from foods like avocados or olive oil, so I need less of it—just 20% compared to the USDA’s recommendation of up to 35%. So despite the full-fat fad of late, I was advised to stick to low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt, to choose lean proteins, and to watch it when it comes to healthy, but high-fat items.
Then we got into the nitty-gritty of my individual genes, and suddenly a lot of my eating behaviors made sense. Straub told me that my FTO gene, for example, which relates to hunger and satiety, is “unfavorable,” meaning it doesn’t work quite the way it should. Apparently my particular gene variant is associated with increased activity of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which means the hungry-signal is being sent out more often than necessary.
“Ghrelin is produced by your digestive tract, and it sends a signal to the hypothalamus in your brain that says ‘I’m hungry,’” Straub explained.
My results suggested that I was probably hungrier than the average person, and tending not to be as satisfied with what I’ve consumed. Straub asked if that tracked with my experience. Flashbacks of me polishing off two lunches in high school floated across my mind, as did a memory reel from pretty much any party I have ever been to, when I’ve had that third (or fourth) drink. The answer was yes.
“A lot of the guests I work with will say, ‘Oh, gosh, that’s why I’m this way,’” said Straub. “It takes the burden off of judging yourself.”
We moved down the list, noting which of my genes were “favorable” or not. Thankfully, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. As Straub pointed out, traits usually balance each other out, so where I was unfavorable on some, I was favorable on things like body set point (I’ve been essentially the same weight since college), my desire for sugar (not high), and the fact that I love broccoli and I don’t spit kale across the room when I taste it.
Test and consultations, $727.