Genetics and Weight Loss: Everything You Should Know (2023)

☑️ Scientific evidence-based article.
👨‍💼 Written by Abdur Rahman Choudhury, M.Sc., DN, CFT (Weight Loss Coach)
Published on
Updated on
Reading Time: 13 minutes


Have you ever wondered why some people seem to lose weight effortlessly while others struggle to shed even a few pounds? 

If so, you are not alone. 

Many people have this question in their minds, especially when they are trying to achieve their weight loss goals. 

The answer is not simple, but it involves a complex interplay of factors such as diet, exercise, lifestyle and genetics.

Genetics is the study of how your genes affect your traits and characteristics. [1]

Your genes are inherited from your parents and determine many aspects of your physical appearance, health and behavior. [2]

But how do they influence your weight loss? Can you blame your genes for being overweight or obese? Or can you overcome your genetic predisposition with the right diet and exercise plan?

In this blog post, we will explore these questions and more. 

We will explain the basics of genetics and weight loss, how your genes can affect your metabolism, appetite, body fat distribution and response to different diets. 

We will also share some strategies for losing weight with genetics in mind, as well as debunk some common myths and misconceptions about genetics and weight loss.

By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of how genetics and weight loss are related, and what you can do to optimize your weight loss journey based on your unique genetic profile. 

So let’s get started!

Blue DNA Structure
DNA can influence weight loss outcomes by affecting metabolism, appetite, and fat storage. (Image source: Canva Pro)

Genetics and Weight Loss: The Basics

Before we dive into how genetics and weight loss are connected, let’s first understand what genes are and how they work. 

Genes are segments of DNA that carry instructions for making proteins, which are the building blocks of your cells and tissues. [3]

You have about 20,000 genes in your body, and you inherit two copies of each gene from your parents. [4]

Your genes influence many aspects of your body and health, such as your height, eye color, blood type and risk of certain diseases. [2]

But they also affect your weight loss by influencing factors such as:


This is the process by which your body converts food into energy. 

Your metabolism determines how many calories you burn at rest and during physical activity. [5]

Some people have a faster metabolism than others, which means they burn more calories even when they are not exercising. 

This can make it easier for them to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. 

Your metabolism is partly determined by your genes, but it can also be affected by other factors such as age, sex, muscle mass and hormones. [6] 


This is the feeling of hunger or fullness that signals you to eat or stop eating. 

Your appetite is regulated by hormones and brain chemicals that respond to signals from your stomach, intestines and fat cells. [7]

Some people have a stronger appetite than others, which means they feel hungrier more often or less satisfied after eating. 

This can make it harder for them to control their food intake and lose weight. 

Your appetite is partly influenced by your genes, but it can also be influenced by other factors such as stress, emotions, sleep quality and medications. [8]

Fat storage

This is the process by which your body stores excess calories as fat in different parts of your body. 

Fat storage helps you survive periods of famine or starvation by providing a reserve of energy. [9]

However, too much fat storage can lead to obesity and health problems. 

Some people tend to store more fat than others in certain areas of their body, such as their abdomen (belly fat), hips (pear shape) or thighs (apple shape). 

This can affect their appearance and their risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. 

Your fat storage pattern is largely determined by your genes, but it can also be modified by other factors such as diet composition, exercise intensity and hormone levels. [10]

Gene Therapy
Genes that control metabolism, appetite, and fat storage can impact weight loss efforts. (Image source: Canva Pro)

The Influence of Genetics on Weight Loss

You may have heard people say things like “I have a slow metabolism” or “I have a big appetite” or “I store fat easily” to explain why they struggle with weight loss. 

But are these just excuses or are they based on real genetic differences?

The truth is that genetics can affect weight loss by influencing how your body responds to different diets and exercise programs. [11]

However, this does not mean that you are destined to be overweight or obese if you have certain genes. It just means that you may need to adjust your weight loss strategy according to your genetic profile.

There are many genes that have been linked to weight loss in various studies, but some of the most common and well-known ones include:

FTO Gene

This gene was the first one to be associated with obesity. 

It affects how much food you eat by influencing your appetite and satiety signals. [12]

People who have a variant of this gene tend to eat more and feel less full than those who don’t. 

They also tend to prefer high-calorie foods over low-calorie ones. [12]

However, this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. 

Studies have shown that people with this gene can lose weight as effectively as those without it if they follow a healthy diet and exercise program. [13]

MC4R Gene

This gene regulates energy balance by controlling how much fat you store and how much energy you burn. [12]

People who have a mutation in this gene tend to gain weight easily and have difficulty losing it. 

They also tend to have higher levels of hunger hormones such as ghrelin and lower levels of satiety hormones such as leptin. [12]

However, this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. 

Studies have shown that people with this gene can lose weight if they reduce their calorie intake and increase their physical activity. [12]

APOA2 Gene

This gene affects how your body responds to dietary fat by influencing your cholesterol levels and inflammation markers. [12]

People who have a variant of this gene tend to gain more weight when they consume high-fat diets than those who don’t. 

They also tend to have higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol when they eat high-fat foods. [12]

However, this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. 

Studies have shown that people with this gene can lose weight if they follow a low-fat diet and avoid saturated fats. [12]


This gene affects how your body uses glucose (sugar) by influencing your insulin sensitivity and fat storage. [12]

People who have a variant of this gene tend to store more fat in their abdomen (belly fat) than those who don’t. 

They also tend to have higher levels of blood sugar and insulin resistance when they eat high-carbohydrate foods. [12] 

However, this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. 

Studies have shown that people with this gene can lose weight if they follow a low-carbohydrate diet and limit refined sugars. [12]

Healthy Life Tips
Genetics can play a role in weight loss, but environmental factors like diet and exercise habits are also important to consider. (Image source: Canva Pro)

Strategies for Weight Loss with Genetics in Mind

You may be wondering: if genetics can affect weight loss, does that mean I have to resign myself to my fate and accept my weight as it is? 

Absolutely not! 

While genetics can influence how your body responds to different diets and exercise programs, they are not the only factor that determines your weight. [14]

You can still lose weight and keep it off by following some simple strategies that take genetics into account.

Here are some of them:

Engage in physical activity

Physical inactivity can take a slight genetic tendency toward obesity and exacerbate it. 

By moving more, you can boost your metabolism, burn calories, build muscle, improve your mood and lower your risk of chronic diseases. [15]

Physical activity can also help you overcome some of the genetic factors that affect weight loss, such as appetite control and insulin sensitivity. [16]

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (such as jogging) per week, plus strength training exercises at least twice a week. [17]

Focus on gut health

Research continues to prove that almost everything is tied to the gut, including both weight and genetic expression. 

Your gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your digestive tract) can influence how you digest food, absorb nutrients, regulate hormones and inflammation. [18]

A healthy gut microbiome can help you lose weight by improving your metabolism, reducing cravings, lowering inflammation and enhancing immunity. [19]

To support your gut health, eat more probiotic foods (such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) or take probiotic supplements; eat more prebiotic foods (such as garlic onion bananas oats) or take prebiotic supplements; avoid antibiotics unnecessary stress processed foods artificial sweeteners etc. [20]

Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can sabotage your weight loss efforts by affecting your hormones, appetite, mood and energy levels. [21]

Lack of sleep can increase your levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and decrease your levels of leptin (the satiety hormone), making you feel hungrier and less satisfied with food. [7]

It can also lower your metabolism, raise your blood sugar, impair your insulin sensitivity, increase inflammation etc. [22]

All these factors can make it harder for you to lose weight especially if you have certain genes that predispose you to obesity. 

To get enough sleep aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night; follow a regular sleep schedule; avoid caffeine alcohol nicotine heavy meals blue light etc before bed; create a comfortable dark quiet cool sleeping environment etc. [23]

Reduce stress

Stress can also interfere with your weight loss goals by affecting your hormones, appetite, mood and energy levels. [24]

Chronic stress can increase your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can promote fat storage especially around the abdomen (belly fat). [25]

It can also trigger emotional eating, binge eating cravings for high-calorie comfort foods etc. [24]

All these behaviors can make it harder for you to lose weight especially if you have certain genes that make you more susceptible to stress-induced obesity. 

To reduce stress practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing meditation yoga tai chi etc; engage in enjoyable hobbies such as reading music gardening etc; seek social support from friends family therapists etc; avoid unnecessary sources of stress such as toxic people negative news clutter etc. [26]

Drink more water

Water is essential for life but also for weight loss. 

Water helps you stay hydrated which is important for optimal body functions including metabolism digestion detoxification immunity etc. [27] 

Water also helps you feel full which can prevent overeating, reduce calorie intake, enhance satiety signals etc. [28]

Water may also help you overcome some of the genetic factors that affect weight loss such as fat storage, glucose metabolism, cholesterol levels, inflammation markers etc. [29]

To drink more water aim for at least eight glasses of water per day. [30]

You can drink water before during after meals snacks exercise etc; flavor water with lemon cucumber mint berries etc; replace sugary drinks such as soda juice sports drinks energy drinks coffee tea alcohol etc with water or unsweetened herbal teas

Find supportive weight loss coaching

Sometimes losing weight on your own can be challenging especially if you have genetic factors that make it harder for you. [31]

That’s why finding supportive weight loss coaching may be helpful for creating an individualized approach to weight loss based on your unique genetic profile.

A weight loss coach can provide you with personalized recommendations for diet type, calorie intake, nutrient needs, exercise type, exercise intensity, exercise duration etc based on your DNA test results, medical history, lifestyle factors, food preferences, weight loss goals.

A weight loss coach can also provide you with ongoing support, accountability, feedback, motivation and guidance throughout your weight loss journey. 

A weight loss coach can help you overcome any challenges or obstacles that may arise along the way and help you adjust your plan as needed. 

A weight loss coach can also help you celebrate your successes and maintain your weight loss long-term.

These are some of the strategies that can help you lose weight with genetics in mind. 

Remember that genetics are not destiny and that you have the power to change your habits and behaviors to achieve your weight loss goals. [32]

By following these tips and working with a healthcare professional and a weight loss coach, you can create a personalized weight loss plan that works for you and your genes.

The impact of genetics on weight loss is still being studied, and more research is needed to fully understand its role. (Image source: Canva Pro)

Genetics and Weight Loss: Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths and misconceptions about genetics and weight loss that can make people feel frustrated or hopeless about their weight goals. 

Here are some of the most common ones and why they are not true.

Myth: Losing weight is all about willpower.

Reality: Losing weight is not just a matter of willpower. 

It is also influenced by many factors beyond your control, such as your genes, hormones, metabolism, microbiome, environment and lifestyle. [33]

Some people have genetic variants that make them more prone to gain weight or have difficulty losing it. [32]

This does not mean that they cannot lose weight at all, but they may need more support and guidance than others.

Myth: Your genes determine your weight and there is nothing you can do about it.

Reality: Your genes are not your destiny when it comes to your weight. [32]

While they do play a role in influencing your weight, they are not the only factor.

You can still modify your environment, lifestyle and habits to improve your health and well-being. [34]

For example, you can choose foods that suit your genetic profile, exercise regularly, manage stress, sleep well and seek professional help if needed.

Myth: There is one best diet for everyone.

Reality: There is no one-size-fits-all diet for weight loss. 

Different people may respond differently to different diets depending on their genetics, preferences, goals and medical conditions. [35]

The best diet for you is the one that you can stick to long-term, that meets your nutritional needs and that helps you achieve your health outcomes. [36]

The bottom line is that genetics do affect your weight loss journey but they do not determine it entirely. 

You can still take charge of your health by making informed choices based on scientific evidence and personal experience.


Can my genes really affect my ability to lose weight?

Yes, genetics play a role in determining your weight, but they are not the only factor. Your environment, lifestyle and healthy choices also contribute a lot to how much you weigh and how your body uses energy and burns calories.

Should I get genetic testing before starting a weight loss program?

Genetic testing can be useful for creating an individual approach to weight loss. However, genetic testing is not necessary or sufficient for losing weight. You still need to follow a balanced diet and an active lifestyle that suits your needs and goals.

If I have “bad” weight loss genes, does that mean I’m doomed to be overweight?

No, having “bad” weight loss genes does not mean you are doomed to be overweight. Genetics can make it harder or easier for some people to lose weight, but they do not determine your destiny. You can still overcome your genetic predisposition by making healthy choices and finding what works best for you.

Can personalized diets and exercise programs really make a difference based on my genetics?

Personalized diets and exercise programs can help you optimize your weight loss results based on your genetics. By knowing how your body reacts to different foods and activities, you can tailor your plan to suit your preferences, needs and goals. However, personalized diets and exercise programs are not magic bullets. You still need to follow them consistently and adjust them as needed.

Genetic Engineering, Genetics,
Environmental factors, such as diet and exercise habits, also play a role in weight loss, in addition to genetics. (Image source: Canva Pro)


In this post, we have learned about the basics of genetics and weight loss, how genetics influence weight loss, strategies for weight loss with genetics in mind, and myths and misconceptions about genetics and weight loss. 

We have seen that genetics do affect our weight, but they are not the only factor. 

We can still take control of our health by making positive changes in our environment, lifestyle and habits.

Understanding our genetics can help us create an individualized approach to weight loss that suits our needs and goals. [37]

For example, we can choose foods that make us feel full and satisfied, exercise regularly to boost our metabolism and burn calories, manage stress and sleep well to balance our hormones.

Losing weight is not easy for anyone, but it is possible with the right knowledge, support and motivation. 

Remember that you are not alone in this journey. There are many people who share your struggles and successes.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and learned something new. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. We would love to hear from you!

I have a question for you: what is one thing you learned from this post that surprised you or changed your perspective on genetics and weight loss? Comment down below. I want to know.


This article is backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance.

You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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  5. Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories[]
  6. BetterHealth: Metabolism[]
  7. Cleveland Clinic: Ghrelin Hormone: Function and Definition[][]
  8. PubMed Central: Stress and Eating Behaviors[]
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  10. PubMed Central: Determinants of body fat distribution in humans may provide insight about obesity-related health risks[]
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  17. Mayo Clinic: Exercise: How much do I need every day?[]
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  19. WebMD: Gut Microbiome Could Make Weight Loss Easier for Some[]
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  21. PubMed Central: Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance[]
  22. Sleep Foundation: Sleep & Glucose: How Blood Sugar Can Affect Rest[]
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  25. PubMed Central: Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?[]
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  28. Medical News Today: 6 reasons why drinking water can help you to lose weight[]
  29. NCBI Bookshelf: Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies – Weight Management[]
  30. Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?[]
  31. PubMed Central: Why Weight Loss Maintenance Is Difficult[]
  32. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Genes Are Not Destiny | Obesity Prevention Source[][][]
  33. CDC: Behavior, environment, and genetic factors all have a role in causing people to be overweight and obese[]
  34. NIDDK: Changing Your Habits for Better Health[]
  35. Time: A Study on Twins Offers Proof That We All Need Personalized Diets[]
  36. Examine: The best diet is the one you can stick to[]
  37. GenoPalate Inc: Genetic Weight Loss: How to Personalize Your Weight Loss Experience. Accessed on 4th March 2023[]

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About Author

Abdur Rahman Choudhury

Abdur Rahman Choudhury is a nutritionist and biochemist who specializes in PCOS research. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry from The Burdwan University, India. He also has a diploma in nutrition and several certifications from reputable institutions. Abdur believes in the power of home-cooked meals and weight training to stay healthy and fit.

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