How to Lose Weight When Your Genes Are Working Against You

We’re thrilled to inherit our mother’s blue eyes or her jewelry, but her struggle with being overweight? Well, not so much.

Genes play a huge role in everything, even the way you lose weight. For example, identical twins that share 100% of their genes are more likely to have the same BMI than a pair of fraternal twins who share around 50% of genes.

Studies of families estimate that over half of the population’s variation in BMI can be attributed to genetic differences in individuals, explains Dan Belsky, Ph.D., an assistant research professor at Duke University Social Science Research Institute.

So the reality is that DNA is not destiny.

“The percentage of people who are obese has risen dramatically, but the genomes haven’t changed,” says Belsky.

Obesity has increased from 11.6 percent in 1990 up to 29.4 percent in 2014. The increase is due to the evolution of the environment and our response to it-not a change in the DNA.

One study published in the journal “PLOS Medicine” shows that the predisposition to obesity can be reduced by 40% by only exercising.

R.D Elyse Sosin says that if you have trouble losing weight, then you should re-evaluate your training routine.

“Be honest: Are you getting the CDC-recommended 150 to 300 minutes of exercise per week? Also, ask yourself when you last changed your exercise routine. When you get used to the routine, you adapt, and you don’t get that same rev [in your metabolism]. And remember: Muscle is more efficient than fat in terms of metabolizing calories, so be sure to incorporate strength-training into your routine,” explains Sosin.

Don’t forget that you also need to have a healthy diet. All experts recommend cutting down sugar because it’s linked with obesity and many diseases.

The conclusion is this: You have the power to control your habits, no matter what your genes say. You might need to put a little more effort, but you can change your weight.

Make food at home

Homemade food is almost always lower in calories than frozen or prepared food. Tell your parents you want to pack your own lunches. If your parents buy a lot of take-out, ask them if you can all start taking turns making dinner several nights a week.

Eat regular meals

Skipping meals will make you gain weight. Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with some healthy snacks in between.You will overeat if you get too hungry. Try keeping a few snack bars, nuts, apples, and other filling snacks in your locker or backpack so that you can eat when you’re hungry.

Beware of dieting

Dieting can actually make you gain weight. Most diets will cause you to lose weight at first, then gain it all back. The best way to have a healthy weight is to eat a healthy diet, get ordinary amounts of physical activity, and feel fine about your body and your habits.


Get into a regular exercise routine so that you get fit and stay fit. Aim for an hour of physical exercise a day. Consider trying out for a team sport, like swim team or volleyball.

Lose weight gradually

If you lose a ton of weight all at once, your parents will notice and you’ll damage your health. If you lose a few pounds a month, you’ll be losing weight safely, it will be easier to keep it off, and nobody will worry. It’s safe to lose 1-2 pounds a week any more than that is hard to keep off, and may damage your health.


Getting a healthy amount of sleep every night will help you regulate your weight. If you’re a teenager, aim for 9-11 hours of sleep a night. Naps can’t make up for lost sleep, so try to go to bed at a reasonable time every night.

Get offline

Being on your device can cause you to zone out and lose track of time. Try replacing your online time with sleep, reading offline, and activities that involve movement walking, cooking, making art, exercising.

Look out for yourself

Remember that your brain and body are developing. If you restrict too many meals, you can damage your future health and intelligence. You can also lower your current concentration and self esteem. Too much focus on weight loss can lead you to be unhappy and ill.

Talk to your parents

You’ll scare your parents if you start eating less or exercising too much, and you’ll scare them if you aren’t honest with them about your diet and your worries. If you are trying to lose weight without your parents knowing, ask yourself why. If you’re really doing something harmless, why is it a secret?

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