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Genes Controlled by Diet and Exercise

Fitness for mind and body.

The PROP Gene

The PROP gene - more formally, 6-n-propylthiouracil - determines the sensitivity of our taste buds. People who have high amounts of this gene are "super-tasters" while people with low amounts are "non-tasters". Both categories have their advantages and disadvantages regarding weight loss.

Eating a Carrot

For example, super-tasters may eschew some foods as being too greasy or sweet but also shun broccoli or cabbage because they taste particularly bitter to them. Non-tasters do not have these aversions to these vegetables, or high-sugar and high-fat foods. "Tasters" are somewhere in between.

Some experts suggest super-tasters eat less bitter vegetables such as Carrots, or make the bitter vegetable less so by squeezing lemon juice on them. Non-tasters just need to be aware and exert control.


Leptin is a hormone that releases from your fat cells after a meal stimulated by glucose from the food. Leptin travels to receptors in your brain, inducing satiety. Thus, low-calorie diets decrease leptin, and make you feel extremely hungry. Those on vegetarian diets do not tend to feel overly hungry because they claim one can eat so much on a vegetarian diet.

Could Your Genes be the Fault of Your Sweet Tooth?

Sugar Cubes If you have a tough time controlling your sweet tooth, University of Toronto researchers think they know why. In a study, people with a genetic quirk drank 44 percent more sugary drinks, ate 34 percent more sweets, and consumed 100 to 200 more calories a day from the extra sugar. Not surprisingly, these people weighed more and had bigger waists. The gene variation may make it hard for the body to sense blood sugar changes, so your brain doesn't get the signal to stop eating. A good remedy? None, so far. But try carefully counting your overall calorie intake so you have room for an occasional slice of heaven.


LPL (lipoprotein lipase) is an enzyme that sits on the outside of your fat cells. LPL grabs post-meal fat from your blood and stores it in your fat cells. When you eat a lot of fat, it helps you store more of it in your body. You can decrease LPL expression with exercise.


Insulin is necessary to shuttle glucose into the cells of the body after a meal. In the liver and muscles, glucose forms into glycogen -- a storage form of energy. Forming glycogen causes our cells to release calories . This is coined the thermic effect of food, or TEF. The TEF is high for most carbohydrates and low for fatty foods. Thus, high-fat diets result in less calories burned.

Furthermore, chronic consumption of a high-fat diet will impair insulin function and result in high blood glucose. This "tricks" the body into releasing more insulin -- a futile effect. Adding insult to injury, high insulin levels will shut down the fat-burning machinery. Low fat, high-fiber diet can improve insulin function.

Muscle Cell Type

People have two types of muscle cells: Type I, and Type II. People have different proportions of each, according to their genetic type. The Type I muscle-cell has a good blood supply and plenty of LPL. This is good, because muscles cannot store fat -- they can only use it for energy. Thus, individuals with more Type I cell usually demonstrate more endurance during athletics. Unfortunately, you cannot change your muscle cell types. Regular exercise will increase circulation to every muscle cell, thus making Type II cells more like Type I's.

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