Recently companies have started to look beyond traditional DNA testing and how to apply this science to enhance fitness. It works similarly to traditional DNA testing as an individual will swab the inside of their checks to get a sample. This sample is then sent off to be analzyed. The company analyzing the sample will look at individuals health risk factors (e.g. cancer) as well as what diet and exercise program is ideal. In regards to exercise here are some of the most common areas that are analyzed:

  • Ability to recover from workouts
  • Muscle fiber type
  • Steady state vs. HIIT training
  • Testosterone production
  • Ideal speed of muscle contractions
  • Soft tissue injury risk

Once armed with these results a fitness professional can more accurately design a program that is ideal for you and your specific genetic make up.  Knowing these factors could significantly help with program design and yield greater/faster results.

So are the tests reliable? While it is a relatively new field it does appear to hold promise, make sense, and many individuals have sworn by it’s effectiveness.

In addition to DNA fitness testing there are tests that can look at nutrition and what foods are ideal for you and your specific body type.  When doing this test a swab of the inside of the cheek is also necessary. Some of the information the nutrition DNA test looks is as follows:

  • Salt sensitivity
  • Carbohydrate metabolism (more or less carbs for you)
  • Fatty acid metabolism
  • Folate metabolism
  • Anti oxidant requirements
  • Lactose intolerance risk

Once you have this information and more exact nutrition regimine can be followed. Having this information can be vital for maximizing health, decreasing risk of disease, and making weight loss easier. There are several companies online that provide these services.


While the idea of being able to use your DNA to individualize your exercise and diet routine is interesting, the jury is still out on it’s effectiveness. Many experts feel it holds the potential to be helpful but aren’t willing to give it a 100% endorsement.  While the jury is still out on it’s complete reliability – it does appear an effective tool that can be used in conjuction with your lifestyle and interests. For those who are serious about their health and fitness and/or those who have been discouraged with their results it could be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Glen Carrigan is co-owner and operator of Freedom 4 Life Fitness with his wife Yvette. Glen & Yvette are dedicated and experienced personal trainers providing residents of Leawood, Overland Park KS, and greater Kansas City with an outstanding fitness experience


As a personal trainer I am often asked what supplements are effective for losing weight or building muscle? While there are a some supplements that can be effective at helping with these goals, today were going to focus on what to look for when choosing supplements. Choosing supplements can be quite confusing and hopefully this blog will help provide some clarity when choosing supplements.

First it’s very important to know the proper doses of particular ingredients. For example you often will find research to back up the benefits of a particular ingredient (e.g. beta alanine), however companies will put in much less than what the studies have shown to be an effective dose. Companies often do this to save money on production costs.
Similar to the problems associated with not having enough of an active ingredient is proprietary blends. Proprietary blends list multiple ingredients but fail to disclose the exact quantities. Companies would lead you to believe their proprietary blend is a magic formula that allows their product to deliver great results – the truth is proprietary blends allow the company to put in whatever dose they want, often falling well short of the amount needed for maximum benefit.
Proprietary blends are useful when it comes to marketing because a company can say it contains effective ingredients without having to disclose the exact quantity. While certain supplements with proprietary blends might be effective, knowing exactly what is in product takes out the guesswork. I rarely if ever will purchase proprietary blend.
Now that we know the amount of active ingredients is important – how do we find objective research that talks about how much of a particular ingredient we need? Unfortunately many websites that praise certain supplements are also ones that have “click here to buy now” links on their page -how’s that for objective? One website that compiles objective research from an unbiased point of view is Examine.com. While it doesn’t provide all the answers it is a good place to start and can end up saving you a significant amount of time.
Even when you have the objective research finding supplements that contain enough of the right ingredients can be challenging. If your having difficulty finding the right supplements there are websites that offer products containing individual ingredients. Purchasing individual ingredients in bulk can be helpful in getting the right amount.
In addition to individual supplements it is wise to choose supplement companies that use high quality products. Some signs to look for are for companies that produce the supplements themselves and don’t use a third party manufacturer. Other things to look for include companies who produces their products in a G.M.P. (good manufacturing practices) facility certified by the FDA and one that also does in house testing.
In review:
1. Know the quantity of the active ingredients
2. Be leery of proprietary blends
3. Check out what the independent research says
4. Buy individual supplements if having difficulty finding the right amount.
5. Choose high quality supplements
If you have any questions about choosing supplements please e-mail me at glen@freedom4lifefitness.com

Breakdown of Popular Diets

There is often confusion about what some of the characteristics of the popular diets. Today we’re going to look at the characteristics, pros, and cons of three of the most popular diets. While we’re not necessarily advocating these – you can judge for yourself if they might be right for you.

ATKINS – low carbohydrate, calories are not specified…pros include early weight loss, good satiety and taste…cons difficult to sustain, nutritionally deficient (especially fiber and fruits).

PALEO – low carbohydrate, calories not specified, adherents aim to eat the way hunters/gathers did – limiting sugar, dairy, legumes, grains and emphasizing meat, fish, poultry, fruits/veggies….pros include discourages heavily processed/refined foods….cons are it is restricted, may lead to nutrient insufficiencies, and expensive.

Weight Watchers – uses point systems to determine food intake; point systems loosely translates into calories….pros include no food restrictions and emphasizes vegetables and fruits…cons include having to track calories daily and expense.

The Bottom Line

We have had clients who have been successful on three of these types of eating plans. Everyone’s likes/dislikes will vary and there are multiple factors that will contribute to a specific style of eating, however after looking at the research of those successful with weight loss as well as working with individuals for 25 years we can make a few generalizations about what is effective:

  1. Keeping Track of calories – whether it’s meal planning or calories counting – it is imperative to know how much food your consuming.
  2. Accountability – knowing someone is going to be asking you about your nutrition is quite helpful.
  3. Balancing carbs/proteins – this is even more important for those who tend to be significantly overweight. Individuals who have struggled with weight tend to do better on a lower carbohydrate lifestyle.
  4. Eating Frequently – don’t skip meals and while you can lose weight eating 3x a day, many experts believe eating 4-6 small meals is more effective for sparking metabolism/weight loss.
  5. Eat Plenty of Fiber – Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, makes you feel fuller longer, and slightly blocks the absorption of extra fat/calories.
  6. Drink Plenty of Water – Helps flush out of system and sometimes when people think their hungry – they actually just need water.

Does The Paleo Diet Work For Seniors?

Many believe that people digest food differently as they age and therefore the breakdown of calories should change. For example digesting milk can be problematic for seniors. We also know that as individuals age their metabolism slows down and therefore they need less calories.

Because the calories needed for seniors is less combined with the digesting certain foods is more challenging – the Paleo lifestyle can be an appropriate choice for seniors, This diet focuses on meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds while avoiding most starches, sugars, and processed foods. Incorporating these into the diet leads to lower calorie intake and foods that process well. It is also a great way for reducing body fat and increasing muscle – something that almost everyone on the planet should strive for. According to Dr. Loren Cordain (author of the book, The Paleo Diet) clinical trials have shown this diet an effective way to reduce markers of inflammation, weight loss, blood pressure, and help with athletic performance.

While there are multiple benefits – there are some drawbacks. First, the typical American diet is far from the Paleo lifestyle and this can make choices more difficult. In addition eating large quantities of red meat is quite controversial and can lead to heart disease (even though some recent research refutes this). Also, individuals trying to gain weight and/or younger individuals might not receive enough calories – making it challenging for families with different age ranges and/or health and wellness goals.

For a very thorough review of the Paleo lifestyle please check out www.thepaleodiet.com.


Having difficulty building muscle and/or losing fat. While you might be exercising – the right exercise combined with nutrition and supplementation might help boost those levels to where they need to be. Here’s a list of some do’s and don’ts for keeping our hormones at optimal levels:

  1. Shorter intense exercise is better for increasing human growth hormone and testosterone whereas longer runs can decrease testosterone and increase cortisol.
  2. Clean & Jerks, Dumbbell Shoulder Presses, Bench Press, Squats, and Deadlifts have a favorable effect on growth hormone and testosterone.
  3. Cortisol increases dramatically after hour of exercise which can cancel out the positive effects of testosterone.
  4. Get plenty of rest as lack of sleep can limit testosterone. Having just 5 hours of sleep can cause your testosterone to nosedive 15% the next day (Journal of American Medical Association).
  5. Consider Zinc, Magnesium, Iodine, Vitamin D, and branch chained amino acids as these might play a positive role .

Also if you suspect your hormonal levels might be off consider having them checked. There are some mail-in tests kits or you can have them checked by your physician.