DNA Testing to Improve Performance


#1

Has anyone looked into or tried using DNA testing to help better their performance? I was listening to “Faster” by Flo Cycling Podcast and they mentioned some pretty interesting information. Based on the testing they can help narrow down how to you can fuel with specificity. They also had a section specific to injury prevention. I’m curious if others in this group have already tried something similar. According to the podcast, their DNA products are fairly new. With a 4-6 week return on results, I doubt most have tried the Endurance Performance specific product, but I could be wrong.

Look forward to the discussion.


#2

Yea, I listened to the podcast and it’s very interesting! However, I am skeptical of the value by buying a kit from them. I think they’re kit is what, 157 bucks? I haven’t dug too deep into it, but I think you can get roughly the same and more info for less.

First is to get your DNA test and raw data. 23andme has the ancestry test for a hundred bucks. From there you can download your raw data and plug it into Promethease for 10 bucks? You’ll probably be overwhelmed by the info because even as a professional, I feel like it’s drinking out of a fire hose. Other more manageable analysis mediums can be found. Foundmyfitness with Rhonda Patrick for example.

All these companies run your DNA on a set of commercially available chips and for the most part you can get the same raw data. There are different versions of these chips out there so your mileage may vary. What you’re paying for is their interpretation and it’ll all be more or less the same info.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot of useful information to say it’s a requirement. I did my testing a few years back for even more money and given a chance, I would absolutely do it again because I enjoy this type of info.

Probably the most useful info in the context of being a faster cyclist is knowing your genotype for metabolizing caffeine. Caffeine is one of the more potent performance enhancing drugs and I believe the general dose is 3mg/kg. Knowing if you’re a fast metabolizer is good for dosing purposes. Conversely a slow metabolizer may want to lay off the caffeine in the afternoon if you’re looking for a good night of sleep.

Knowing your genotype also helps for supplementing. For example if you are homozygous for th MTHFR mutation you may want to supplement with the methylated form of folate as you will have inefficient enzymes for folic acid processing. APOE4 genotyping is another big useful one but that has more to do with health in the context of risk for developing alzheimer’s.


#3

Dude…it’s just bike riding!


#4

I did Helix because it was hugely discounted during the Tour de France and I was curious so I said why not. The endurance dna test plus it came with a 30 minute coaching session for $50 so I was intrigued. I did the test and got my results back and they were remarkably average.

I am going to recommend against it, and not because I was upset that I was average (I figured I would be, I was more in it for the coaching session).

When I had my coaching session and they went over my results, the coach essentially told me that the results were pointless without actually saying that. For example one of the data points was your ability to process lactose based on your dna. Mine said that I had a low probability of being lactose intollerant, but he said that he’s met someone with a lower probability that gets sick when they look at milk. He also said that professional athletes have taken the test and have come out as average.

So if you are looking for proof that that you should have rode the Tour de France, this is not the test. I really recommend just saving the money. Or upgrading a piece of kit haha. Not with it.


#5

i was intrigued by that fact as I find myself in constant consumption of coffee. I enjoy the flavor, brewing process, the social aspect of drinking coffee. I have to remind myself to offset the coffee consumption with plain water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

I was also intrigued by the portion about injury prevention. I realize we are all human and the older we get, the more we fall apart and eventually die. However the idea that you could help aid in injury prevention, whether as a placebo effect or not was interesting.


#6

But it’s like drinking water from a fire hose.


#7

Valid point.

As for the argument about using 23andme or one of the ancestry databases, her argument was that each test subjects results were compared to validated finding as opposed to a growing database based on the users who submit their dna. Either way, If someone finds value in a service they will pay for said service.


#8

I was also intrigued by the portion about injury prevention. I realize we are all human and the older we get, the more we fall apart and eventually die. However the idea that you could help aid in injury prevention, whether as a placebo effect or not was interesting.

Unfortunately I’m not sure if the test can give you that much more info about your skeletal system. I’ll have to look further into it, but from the FLO podcast I remember it was a genotype that coded for different types of collagen. Will have to look that one up. I looked at their sample test and am not that impressed really because of the lack of predictive value for performance.

If you’re concerned about health and aging, then using the data from these tests are easily a great bang for the buck and a requirement in my opinion. For myself I am cognizant of my APOE status which is probably the most useful thing to get out this.

see https://promethease.com/ for examples


#9

That’s too bad. I think there’s a lot of good health information you can glean from your genetic test, but unfortunately, as far as athletic performance goes, the caffeine genotype is probably the most useful info you’ll be able to get. I believe the lactose intolerance genotype isn’t deterministic and is more probablistic. Also, not so hard to test. One would know their tolerance by chugging some milk.

I see that helix doesn’t give you your raw data and that’s too bad because there’s a lot of useful information aside from what they interpret for you. A lot of very interesting stuff going on in this space though and there’s a hard push to make it useful for your weekend warrior.


#10

I got the 23andme health test results and there was a report about muscle composition. It said that there were 3 gene variants that affect power generation capability and that I had a variant that was common in elite power athletes (sprinters, jumpers, and throwers). I got all excited until I looked more closely at the data and discovered that 2 of the 3 variants are common in elite power athletes and that 80% of European heritage 23andme customers have genes with this variant. So, that, in combination with not data about endurance genetics, means, in the end, these kinds of sites are not very useful for predicting performance.

Steve


#11

I have a Dexa body scan, BMR, and DNA test scheduled for Monday. I’m doing three different DNA tests - so it’s a huge package from them. If ya’ll are curious, I can post the results so you can see what’s provided. Maybe I’ll even mark down how I feel like my body performs before hand, to see how closely I align to the results.

I’m mostly curious as to how fast I might process different nutrients. I suffer from cramping issues and I’ve had a hard time nailing down fueling, so I’m hopeful this might help. Also, I’m ambitious this off-season and I’d like to see how much fat loss and muscle gain I can accomplish leading up to the Breck Epic next year.


#12

The biggest issue with all of these things is understanding that a ‘label’ due to your genetics isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to explaining variation in any trait.

For each genetic test you have to ask yourself, “What is the delta/change in actual terms of the parameter between people who have different genetic variants?”. I.e. how different are you to someone with ‘different’ genetics? Typically, these single variants explain a very very small percentage of the variation seen. That’s before we get into ‘epi-genetics’ where environmental influences can modulate the specific levels of gene expression independent of the genetic code itself…

Secondly, these genetic variants don’t operate in isolation. You may have a genetic variant that alters caffeine metabolism but have another one that alters your sensitivity to the actual drug. The system needs to be looked at as a whole.

Not saying that these are all worthless but some critical background reading and understanding is needed - up to you if you spend your cash out of interest but I’d just say be careful of drawing conclusions and making serious changes from a shiny brochure.


#13

Good info! I admit that I’m a bit naive when it comes to genetic testing and how to consider the results. I started just wanting the Dexa scan and RMR, but threw on the DNA stuff because it was there and it looked very intriguing. I’ve been lucky enough to not have any medical issues in the last few years and using my HSA money on all of this doesn’t hurt the bottom line at all.

This thread doesn’t seem encouraging with the athletic DNA results. I’m curious if there have been anyone at all that’s had a positive experience from doing athletic DNA tests. Something that helped provide them insight into their training or nutrition that had positive and noticeable differences.


#14

Blockquote[quote=“utahbiker, post:13, topic:3297”]
This thread doesn’t seem encouraging with the athletic DNA results. I’m curious if there have been anyone at all that’s had a positive experience from doing athletic DNA tests. Something that helped provide them insight into their training or nutrition that had positive and noticeable differences.
[/quote]

I had positive experiences but I didn’t use a cookie cutter genetic test. I did my own deep dive. With the caffeine metabolism information I changed my behavior in caffeine consumption and avoid it in the afternoons as the half life of caffeine is 5-6 hours and mine is likely longer. As sleep is the major component of recovery, I am looking to improve my sleep quality as much as possible. I have felt fresher for my workouts as I tend to not get enough sleep. When the time comes, I will be looking forward to follow a protocol of weaning myself off daily caffeine consumption to maximize my race day caffeine effectiveness. Due to my genotype, I know I have to give my body a little more time to do this form of periodization.

With the other genotype information I am paying close attention to, I know to check my homocysteine levels to make sure there isn’t a deficiency. Vitamin D is another factor to look for when I run my labs. With proper diet and supplementation, this has not been a problem.

Combined with familial and genetic risks I’ve found, I should be concerned with my increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. I am more careful with my diet and although I am young and healthy, I pay attention to the glycemic load of my meals by glucose testing and am making sure I am earning my carbs as coach Chad always says. Glycemic load is personalized and a potato or banana may have very different effects between individuals.

I am an APOE3/APOE4 genotype which gives me a lifetime probability of Alzheimer’s of about 30%. Current science is showing a link between diet, diabetes and Alzheimer’s risk. It is possible that a lower carb diet is more suitable for long term health and I take the base building phase of training seriously to make sure my fat metabolism is more efficient.

I didn’t need a genetic test to know I am ALDH2 deficient, but I am. I like beer/whisky but my ability to break down the acetaldehyde byproduct is diminished because of the mutation. I can’t consume as much alcohol as others without training repercussions because of the mutation. I didn’t need the genetic test because I already knew from experience but It’s just cool to just know. Also, risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, stomach cancer is increased as evidenced in epidemiological studies. Mechanistically it’s probably the acetaldehyde increasing the risk as it’s a carcinogen. Just something to keep in the back of my mind when troubleshooting my health sometime down the line. I’m not the hypochondriac type but I am mindful that I shouldn’t ignore signs and symptoms too. I like to know the odds.

Soooo yea, that’s just off the top of my head but there is a lot to be gained from the test. The data is there, but it’s ultimately up to how you use it. Unless you have some sort of nutritional deficiency, it’s unlikely you’ll see immediate results. I find that it may be a powerful tool to provide objective data to modify your behavior to optimize your training regimen.