Is it genes or the gym that makes great athletes? Well, a bit of both. To maintain optimal fitness, you need to stick to an adequate exercise schedule, eat healthy food, and maintain healthy lifestyle habits. But that’s not all. It is a well-known fact that our genetics play a significant role in our ability to stay fit and healthy.
Scientists have identified certain genes that influence our strength, endurance, and our ability to burn fat and build lean muscle mass. This article contains a quick review of a few genes that could possibly influence your performance at the gym and your progress towards your weight management goals.
1. ACE — The Endurance Gene
Have you ever felt envious of the strength and endurance of Olympic-level cyclists, runners, and rowers? Well, most of them are genetically gifted individuals who have a particular gene that makes them naturally better at activities that require great muscle strength and extreme endurance. Labeled ‘ACE’, this gene is available in two different forms, the deletion (D) version and the insertion (I) version. Those who have the I version of ACE gene are likely to perform better at activities that require extreme endurance because of their low ACE activity levels.
2. ACTN3 — The Speed Gene
A number of research studies show that certain polymorphic forms of ACTN3 gene affects athletic performance in both men and women. The polymorphic forms provide protection against muscle damage and are responsible for generating force at high velocity in fast-twitch muscle fibers. This, in turn results in forceful muscle contractions, enabling an individual to perform better at speed and power sports.
3. PGC1A — The Aerobic Capacity Gene
Those with a high aerobic capacity are able to work out for a long time without feeling drained and lethargic. While training can help improve aerobic capacity, there are some of us with a particular variation of the PGC1A gene that is associated with better aerobic fitness. This variant is responsible for the production of an enzyme that’s important for cellular respiration, which in turn provides us the fuel we need to perform at the gym.
4. UCP1, UCP2, & UCP3 — The Metabolism Genes
Genetic variations in uncoupling protein (UCP) 1, 2, and 3 are known to influence the metabolic rate. There is a particular variant of the UCP2 gene that accelerates the metabolic process, thereby reducing an individual’s risk of weight gain. Similarly, UCP3 influences our ability to metabolize fat and build muscle.
This was a quick overview of how genes influence our athletic performance and our ability to maintain a healthy weight. There are a number of other genes that influence our fitness and overall health in a variety of ways. To learn in detail about how your genetic makeup influences your performance at the gym, opt for Pathway FIT — a nutrigenomic test that will provide you personalized advice regarding your nutritional and workout needs.
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