Can DNA provide a personal fitness blueprint?

A Dallas-based company says genetic testing can provide a personal blueprint for fitness.

Jeremy Schwartz has never been able to find a middle ground with his diet and exercise. He would go hard — then give up.

"I would wake up one day and say, 'I can't do it any more! I want a pizza!'" Schwartz said with a laugh.

But after emergency quadruple bypass surgery, he was faced with a reality check he couldn't ignore.

"I would go to the gym for two hours, two-and-a-half hours, just sweating," he said. "[I was] trying to do all kinds of stuff, but it just stopped after a certain point, the progress did."

That's when he turned to Simplified Genetics, a company that used his own DNA to tell him what to do, what to eat, and what to take.

"It totally works," Schwartz said. "Within two weeks I lost almost 15 pounds, like really quickly... it just came off."

"It is literally the blueprint for your life," said Kurt Johnsen, co-founder of Dallas-based Simplified Genetics. He says by doing a full sequence genetic analysis, it takes the guesswork out of trying to get fit.

"If I was trying to find a house... if I had the neighborhood but not the address... I could drive around weeks trying to find it," Johnsen said. "What we do is give you that map. Genetics don't change; you get tested just once, and you have your roadmap to get exactly where you need to go."

It's a simple procedure. All you have to do is use a Q-tip-like swab to collect DNA samples from both sides of your mouth. Then you pack it up mail it to a lab at Louisiana State University. Results come back in about three weeks.

Sending your swab to the lab costs almost $500, but Johnsen said that cost delivers accuracy on what stimulates your body.

"We look at the coded and non-coded forms of DNA," he said. "We do each individually; if they don't add up, if they aren't equal, we start over."

Schwartz, for example, doesn't need to work out for two hours; 35 minutes of high intensity activity and a long walk twice a week is sufficient. It all comes down to the heart rate.

"Getting your heart rate up is good advice; knowing how long to have to get your heart rate up for you personally is the best advice you can get," Johnsen said.

The report outlines a list of supplements Schwartz should take, depending on deficiencies in his body. And it breaks down his diet, too — meaning what percentage of fat to carbohydrates and protein he should eat.

"How can there be fat marathoners if it's all about calories?" Johnsen asked. "Fat cross-fitters, they really work hard, but they are doing the wrong thing."

He insists that the Simplified Genetics report is not a gimmick. "The Science is hard core, and it's undeniable," Johnsen said.

Ann Simmons is a genetic counselor at Baylor Dallas. She hasn't seen the inner workings of Simplified Genetics, but she urges caution about its recommendations.

"There is hope with genetic testing, but we are still in the infancy stages of what we can tell you from your results," Simmons said.

She also warns of pop-up labs trying to make a quick buck."The FDA is not monitoring any of these laboratories, so they can do and say what they want — no one is keeping track of them," Simmons added.

Johnsen uses the the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center at LSU for its work, and he says the proof is in the results.

"We've had multiple people lose over 100 pounds; we had a 70-year-old lose over 40 pounds. It works for everyone of all ages because it doesn't change," Johnsen said.

Twenty-five pounds later, Schwartz isn't a yo-yo anymore. He said he's working smarter — not harder — thanks to his body's new instruction manual.


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