The Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet…So Where Does this “(DNA)Fit” In?

So, I have a interesting story for you guys! Right around Christmas, I sent my DNAFit swab away for analysis. I had been wanting to do this test for quite a while, and having spent some time checking out its mostly rave reviews, I was excited to “change the way [I] think about fitness and nutrition forever.” (DNAFit)

For those of you not in the know, this saliva test is used to uncover your genetic profile, one that is specifically geared up to reveal your body’s own unique response to exercise and diet. To be fair, the reports generated – which I received just after New Year – are super neat.

And while they provide you with two healthy volumes on the latter, I feel the third, a one-page overall “state of the union” kind of summary, is really all you need to get straight to the heart of your results.

The Lowdown

Ok, so while the exercise portion gave some seriously nifty info on my recovery speed, injury risk and power/endurance response (almost 50/50!) for example, I wanted to tell you about the food situation. As I said, with this reaching my inbox right around the first week of January, I couldn’t have been more hyped about getting a personalized diet plan.

Having a post-holiday spare tire to shift, I was desperate to get my hands on what I was sure would be the quickest route to deflation!

And hey-ho, with my optimal weight management regimen noted as being “Low-Carb,” I felt assured that science hadn’t failed me. With a reported high “Carbohydrate Sensitivity” and normal (not raised) “Cruciferous Vegetable Need,” I was confident in what I had to change. So…no more bread and refined potatoes (ahem, fries!), and definitely no need for an extra broccoli or sprout boost.

Post Deflate-Gate

All set then, right? Well, with human nature being what it is, it took me some time to get back on track, and while in the middle of getting my resolutions in order, I decided to enroll in, and have now just completed, Cornell University’s Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate.

And oh-boy, what an incredible education that was! Forgetting all about DNAFit’s recommendations, I instead adopted the high carbohydrate/low fat/low protein model as advised by T. Colin Campbell, and have been doing so, with great effect, for the last couple of months.

By great effect I mean, higher energy levels, clearer skin, stronger hair, nails etc., but best of all, is the feeling of being completely satiated after every meal. Yup, all these lovely benefits from a fuel source I was supposed to curb.

Granted, I think we all know by now that a close eye should be kept on refined/processed carb intake, but the sky’s the limit as regards whole grains, and as for vegetables – no increase will ever hurt! I know it definitely hasn’t hurt my scales, with my weight, happy to say, fully recovered from the holiday fall-out.

But, back to DNAFit! With their conclusions once again coming to the forefront of my mind this past few days, I was curious to find out if they even suggested a vegan, or whole-food plant-based option, to their clients. Turns out, they don’t.

Offering only Mediterranean, Low-Carb or Low-Fat plans, a company rep informed me that while their reports do not explicitly cater to herbivores, their separate online meal planning service does allow users to specify dietary preferences, whereby they can then avail of recipes that match their particular needs.

Now this inclusiveness is awesome, for sure, but to me, it just stresses the fact that you really are your own best doctor. I say this, as if you aren’t really in the nutritional know, you might be more inclined to unquestioningly accept the advice as emailed – especially if you’re in the midst of a battle with the scales!

Our “Made to Measure” Obsession

But, don’t get me wrong here, this is in no way a criticism, just an observation based on my own experience, and fresh education on the subject. And, with it under my belt, I think it kind of begs a sincere question i.e. why is a whole food plant-based diet, one that has been proven to be the cure of virtually all ills, not automatically top of the list?

My hunch, here, once again comes back to human nature, and the fact that no one really likes a “one-size-fits-all,” simple, solution. Fancying ourselves as “one-off’s” that require a tailored fix, we are reluctant to accept the fact that as much as our DNA is wholly different, we are, at base, tantamount to the same.

Anyway, each to their own – at the end of the day the DNAFit experience was fun, and informative in many ways. Yet, on reflection, I’m grateful that in the meantime I happened to stumble upon the Center for Nutrition Studies – and I can tell you, with utmost sincerity, that it was this adventure that truly allowed me to change the way I think about fitness and nutrition forever!

In-Text Image Credit: Calum MacAulay / | Peter Belch /

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