If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, get stronger, and maybe get that body you have always wanted, new studies show that personalized nutrition programs garner better results than traditional diet and fitness trends. In part, because personalized nutrition is not a trend at all. A review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition investigated whether personalized nutrition plans are more beneficial than generalized diet advice and protocols, and the results suggested that they are.
Diets provide short term results, that are predictably unsustainable. 95% of all diets fail and most will regain the weight they’ve lost within 1-5 years.
With the advances in data metrics and analytics, using tools and apps, like your apple watch and WHOOP to track activity, caloric intake, heart rate, sleep, food tracking apps, and DNA testing kits to identify food allergies, and sensitivities, fad diets are quickly becoming a way of the past.
With the help of science and the new age of data, personalized nutrition may be able to help us better understand how to control blood glucose, fat oxidation, cholesterol, food sensitivities, and what types of training will provide the most benefit.
What Is Personalized Nutrition
That’s where it gets complicated. There is no official agreed definition of personalized nutrition. In general, personalized nutrition is defined as using an individualizes unique characteristics to develop a targeted nutrition approach. A publication in Good Nutrition describes personalized nutrition as an approach that “assists individuals in achieving a lasting dietary behavior change that is beneficial for health.” Furthermore, personalized nutrition is described with related terms such as precision nutrition, nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, nutritional genomics.
Precision nutrition uses quantitative understanding of an individual to derive the complex relationship between that individual and their health and nutritional needs, based on phenotype, preferred food consumption, and nutrigenomics.
Personalized Nutrition Vs Diets
Diet’s take a one-size fits all approach to nutrition. Keto, for example, applies a simple principle, of eating more fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates. This approach may work for some to lose weight in a short period of time, however this diet approach does not several factors into consideration, such as phenotype, food preference, diet restrictions, food sensitives, preferred training protocols, or performance-based goals.
Carbohydrates provide fuel, in the form of glycogen for energy and muscle recovery. Protein, is used for increased amino acid utilization to stimulate the muscle building process. Without these two critical macronutrients, performance athletes, cannot perform to their highest potential. Furthermore, those with body aesthetic goals, would have a difficult time building muscle without higher amounts of protein.
Personalized nutrition takes all variables and individual characteristics into consideration when designing a custom nutrition program, to help that individual find more long term success and sustainability, through food optimization and behavior change.
Studies have shown that mean or average differences between diet protocols, whether it be high-carbohydrate or high-fat diets, that induce equal caloric deficits have been reported to be small; however, the individual weight loss response varies substantially within diet groups, suggesting that different individuals react differently to high-carbohydrate or high-fat diets [R].
In a systematic review, researchers evaluated 11 studies investigating the effect of personalized nutrition compared with general diet advice on healthy adults.
The researchers concluded that those who received personalized nutrition advice, were more likely to improve their diets than those who received more general guidance [R].
The Food4Me study, the largest randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of personalized nutrition examined two key questions [R].
Is personalized nutrition more effective in changing diet than a conventional one-size-fits-all approach?
Does the basis used for personalization matter? (With particular interest in the benefit of personalization based on phenotypic and genotypic characteristics)
Adults from seven European countries were recruited to an internet-delivered intervention (Food4Me) and randomized to either (1) conventional dietary advice (control) or to PN advice based on: (2) individual baseline diet; (3) individual baseline diet plus phenotype (anthropometry and blood biomarkers); or (4) individual baseline diet plus phenotype plus genotype (five diet-responsive genetic variants).
After 6 months, the results were clear. 1269 study participants completed the study and concluded that personalization of dietary advice and accountability measures, improved and motivated consumers to eat healthier and follow a healthier lifestyle in comparison with “impersonal” or conventional dietary approaches.
Personalization based upon consumers current dietary preferences was more effective to make a sustainable dietary and habit-based change in nutrition.
Personalized Nutrition: Takeaway
The evidence is clear, personalized nutrition is far more effective than traditional diet protocols, to help produce better dietary outcomes and behavioral changes. With an obesity rate of over 42%, data and metrics provide critical information for understanding our behaviors, eating patterns, and ways to make optimal nutrition choices. Personalized nutrition can help you get better results. It’s not just about weight loss, and with traditional diets, that is a common problem. An individualized approach with a customized plan will help you get the results you want.
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Walter Hinchman is the Founder and CEO of Swolverine. He is a NESTA and ACE certified trainer and holds a Masters Degree in Business and in Finance and Economics.