FOX59’s Tanae Howard tests custom fitness plan based on her DNA

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The human body is made up of about 20,000 genes and decoding the secret that lies within could be the key to helping you get lean and strong.

"I think the industry lacks personalization at the moment, which is obviously where fitness genes come in. They are able to tailor workouts, nutrition plans and things like that," said Dr. Daniel Reardon, Fitness Genes CEO.

Fitness Genes is one of many companies looking beyond the surface and cracking the code to your chromosomes. Reardon says this method allows for a custom plan with custom results.

"We committed to some research and developments and we realized actually ‘yes we can do that,’" Reardon said.

We wanted to try it out, so FOX59 bought a kit, supplied a DNA sample from our own Tanae Howard and shipped it back overseas.

The team uses genetic sequencing technology to test 41 cells specific to fitness. Some results for Tanae showed she had the gene for endurance and increased muscle strength. She also carried a gene that makes her more likely to overeat.

The DNA results include a detailed workout plan based on the results all the way down to how many sets and reps, and the style of workout she should perform for the best results. For about four weeks, Tanae performed a full body workout with a mix of strength training and cardio.

A personal trainer reviewed the results, and applied the suggested workout three times a week for 30 minutes. The suggestions weren't too different from a boot camp style class.

"I think that all of the information they sent you, you could easily find on the internet for free, that you wouldn't necessarily have to pay for it, might just be a matter of knowing where to look," said Carla White, Owner of Completely Fit said.

The nutrition plan was less detailed than the workout. Based on Tanae's height and weight, it broke down how many calories she should eat and how to portion out protein, fats and carbohydrates.

We went over the recommendations with registered dietitian Staci Small.

"I thought it looked very reasonable. I thought it looked very similar to something I might recommend to my clients based on your activity level and some of the anthropometrics I know about you," said Small, Owner of The Wellness Philosophy Inc. 

After fully reviewing Tanae’s fitness genes, Staci Smallsays she's just not sure the science is there to support this method.

"Well I think it's nice to have recommendations that are tailored to our specific genetics. I just haven't seen the research to necessarily support that that's a really accurate way to do some of this. I'm sure that will be evolving over time," Staci said.

Tanae saw the biggest changes in the food department. In the first week, she dropped four pounds. So if nothing else, it was fuel to keep going after seeing what really happens when you get a plan and stick to it.

This was the most in-depth DNA test related to fitness, so the plan has allowed Tanae to test areas where she can push and other places where she should cut back, like in the caffeine department since she carries a gene that causes her to process caffeine slowly.