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Genetic Study Shows Over 5% of Us Gain Weight Through "Hidden Calories"


The genetic reason behind your tendency to graze

Losing weight is never an easy process. Whether your kryptonite is salty snacks, fast food, desserts, or always snoozing your alarm instead of going to the gym in the morning, weight loss can often seem like an impossible goal.

But what if you’re packing in “hidden calories” that you’re not even aware of? These hidden calories could be sabotaging your weight loss plan without you even realizing it. And actually, there is a genetic reason you’re drawn to these hidden calories.

According to research just released by the DNA Company, more than 5% of people gain weight through hidden calories. They have the dysregulated version of a gene that controls how satisfied they feel after eating. This leads to difficulty losing weight because of the unhealthy snacks they consume to satisfy their cravings.

How to find the hidden calories

Maybe you’re doing all the right things in terms of eating three nutritious meals a day and exercising every morning, but you’re still struggling to lose weight–or you’re confused that the scale continues to rise even with all the effort you’re making.

It’s possible that you’re indulging in hidden calories without being fully conscious of this habit. You might be grabbing a handful of chips here, a cupcake there, and a half-bag of pretzels a few hours later. It doesn’t seem like these little snacks are doing any harm, but they actually add up.

You might even be meticulously keeping track of everything you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with your exercise routine each day. But you’re forgetting to take into account the snacks you tend to sprinkle throughout your day.

The first step to uncovering your weight loss problem is to realize you have an issue with hidden calories. Next, you can attempt to trace it to your genetics so you can understand the underlying cause of the issue. Your genetics test will give you personalized ways to deal with your grazing problem.

The role of genetics in your snacking habits

What’s the main difference between a person who is satisfied with three square meals a day and someone who constantly grazes throughout the day? It probably comes down to their genes. The gene that’s primarily responsible for your snacking habits is called the MC4R gene.

The main role of the MC4R gene is to signal to your brain that your body is hungry. When you have the version of this gene that regulates your hunger properly, you eat when you’re hungry. It’s as simple as that. Having a dysregulated version of this gene, on the other hand, can cause problems with your eating habits.

When you have the irregular version of the MC4R gene, your mind doesn’t know when to send hunger cues. Even after you finish a big meal, you might feel like your appetite is not satisfied. This can lead you to eat small snacks throughout the day because you crave a certain type of food to make you feel satisfied.

These behaviors can be exacerbated by the emotional susceptibility caused by other genes. One gene in particular, known as 5HTTLPR, determines how high your serotonin levels are. With low serotonin levels, you’re more likely to rely on comfort food when you feel stressed or moody.

If you have low serotonin levels from your 5HTTLPR gene combined with the suboptimal version of the MC4R gene, you’re at an even higher risk of developing dangerous snacking habits. Not only can these habits lead to weight gain, but they can also cause cardiovascular health concerns, particularly for those who gravitate toward sugary or fatty foods.

Case study: Ingrid

Weight management poses a unique challenge to each individual, which is why a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t always work. People are told to get serious about exercise and dieting, but sometimes they still find it difficult to meet their weight goals even when implementing these strategies.

Take Ingrid*, for example. From the outside, it appeared as though she was doing everything right to lose weight. She ate nutritious meals, exercised regularly, and didn’t have any hormonal problems. Sadly, she was still unable to tackle her weight issue.

When we started analyzing Ingrid’s genes, we found that she had a suboptimal MC4R gene. It turned out that she was doing everything right in her core meals but ignoring the negative impact of the snacks she was choosing.

Once we uncovered the issue, we recommended that Ingrid begin preparing healthy snacks that fulfilled her cravings for textures and flavors. With these kinds of snacks, she began to feel satisfied and no longer felt the need to eat unhealthy snacks throughout the day. After making these changes, Ingrid was finally able to meet her weight loss goals.

How to lose that extra weight

When it feels like you’re doing everything you possibly can to lose weight and it’s just not happening, you can start to get frustrated. That’s when you know it’s time to look into your genes. Once you have a fuller picture of your genetics, there are some steps you can take to lose weight efficiently:

  • Eat a healthy snack after each meal to make you feel satisfied
  • Drink a glass of water mixed with a little apple cider vinegar to curb your appetite
  • Look for other fun activities to relieve your stress instead of eating, such as traveling, sports, or hobbies
  • Make sure your diet consists of a variety of foods, such as salty, sweet, sour, crunchy, and nutty foods
  • Stop keeping junk food in the house
  • Try sticking to meals that combine a variety of flavors and textures such as Thai curry and Mexican enchiladas

Are you wondering whether you’re genetically predisposed to gain weight through hidden calories? The best way to find out is by decoding your genes through our 360 DNA Report. You’ll discover whether you have the suboptimal version of the MC4R gene as well as 37 other custom reports surrounding sleep, diet, nutrition, hormones, fitness, cardiovascular health, immunity, and behavior.


Each custom report includes your genetic tendencies as well as practical steps you can take to optimize your health and wellness. You are a unique individual, and you deserve health strategies that reflect your unique genome. Get started today.


*Client’s name is withheld to protect her privacy.

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