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The Sports Gene – How Elite Athletes are Using At Home DNA Testing To Improve Performance

Krista H December 12, 2018

A new era in sports performance is about to begin! DNA testing may become the ultimate difference between champions and mediocre athletes very soon. There is a possibility that the future for athletes is going to look very different in the coming years, with major changes being made to diet, training, supplementation, and coaching due to the ability to optimize each athlete’s health based on their own unique DNA profile. Those who learn about this process now and begin to optimize their overall health will gain a significant competitive advantage.

All of these exciting possibilities are due to the emerging possibilities of DNA testing. This personalized health measurement can be used to give an edge in competitions and improve overall performance and functioning based on an individual athlete’s specific body type and other relevant information about genetics can affect blood concentrations of certain hormones and minerals.

Current DNA testing technology allows athletes to increase their performance by analyzing their genetics for certain traits and features. The results can then be calibrated through proper diet and training to maintain optimal performance at all times through behaviors and exercises tailored specifically to each individual. This is becoming the next frontier in giving athletes an advantage based on their relative strengths and weaknesses compared their competition in their respective sport. Anyone interested in athletic performance needs to educate themselves about this process and how crucial it is to the future of sports. The cost of DNA testing will pay dividends long into the career of any athlete, which is worth every bit of money spent.

The rest of this article is a summary of many of the different things which are possible with DNA testing. The possibilities include everything from improved strength and endurance, to customized supplementation plans with appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals tailored to your personal needs. The reason for going through this process is to give a competitive advantage that did not exist until now.

What your DNA Results Mean and Why They Are Important

The results from a DNA test will help aid in recovery, performance, and optimizing your body’s functioning. The findings can be utilized through the calibration of your diet and exercise routines. Your DNA tells us that certain individuals may be predisposed to various health conditions, it may also contain information about your strengths and weaknesses, which can be used to round out your performance through modifications to your workouts or specialized remedial training.

This will become especially important for athletes who need to compete at the top of their sport, where every small modification in performance and speed can be the difference between winning and losing. Athletes who truly want to maintain elite status will need to have their DNA analyzed to stay above the fierce level of competition.

These recommendations for your personal program are based on targeted analyses of bodily processes, such as the particular functions of your cells and larger complex operations within your nervous, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. Your DNA is like a set of instructions which tells all of these systems how to work. The stress of athletic competitions also affects each of these areas differently for certain people and requires matching periods of recovery, which can vary significantly based on each individual athlete.

Sports gene

The Convenience of Home DNA Testing

Your DNA test can be taken at home and mailed out, the intrusiveness and inconvenience of a doctor’s office visit can be avoided. Interested athletes can get their results in the privacy of their own home, and then decide on the best course of action based on the results.

How will my DNA results help my Athletic Future?

Think of the DNA testing results as a roadmap that will help lead to your goal through the right recommendations. There are certain genes which have been consistently identified and associated with endurance and power based performance. While they do not necessarily tell who will become a world-class athlete, they do provide several important pieces of information that can help those who are already involved in athletics.

Genetic Variants

There may also be some correlation between elite athletes and a few crucial genetic variants. Testing will help create a better blueprint for success. This can be used to optimize your specific health traits, along with giving warning signs of potential problems or weak areas that can be remedied through vitamins and supplementation, focused training protocols, and other means which can be discussed with professional help. As this is a relatively new way to gain a competitive advantage, it is important to get a test soon before others catch on and level the playing field as information about the importance of DNA testing for athletes becomes more widely available.

Your results form a profile that gives specific information about how your body is functioning and any unique traits that may help or hinder athletic performance. This can be related to metabolism and digestion, cardiovascular fitness, bone density, and a host of other areas. DNA contains a large volume of information and it gives very specific insights about each person’s unique inherited traits. Vitamins are one important way to improve health, which takes these specific pieces of information into account. Because they are low in cost and readily available, custom vitamin supplementation plans are one of the best ways to optimize performance.

The amount of data provided by a DNA test is far beyond typical morphology observations, which were common in the past as a way of telling young people what sports would best suit them based on height, muscle mass, weight, and other factors noticeable to the naked eye. Preexisting conditions or deficiencies that are discovered through DNA testing will also help avoid any serious health complications.

Test Results And Performance

Do not think of your results as a performance enhancer in the way that supplements or controversial substances change your body’s natural functions to make it more suited to athletic competition. The results are only a blueprint to follow for success because it contains specific information about how your body works. The actual product of a DNA test only contains information, it is up to you to decide how to use it to make your workouts and diet more effective. The results do not do the work for you, and they are not a shortcut, but they will point you in the right direction in terms of how to optimize your body’s unique qualities which can aid in performance, recovery, and a host of other areas which also optimize your overall health.

Some examples may be a new diet to increase muscle mass without adding too much fat, or a need for certain vitamins to compensate for natural deficiencies. This can be done through personalized vitamins, new training programs, and other means that you are probably familiar with. However, with personal information that matches your own DNA, your time will be used much more effectively.

Your test results may also save you time by avoiding injuries or even identifying serious medical conditions. Most athletes have a predisposition to certain kinds of problems such as muscle tearing, weaker bones in a particular spot, or even latent cardiovascular problems which may go undetected and lead to serious heart issues. This is especially important for younger athletes, so any problems can be identified before these medical conditions become a problem. Your test results can raise awareness of these issues, and along with professional guidance, you can also alter your diet and training to minimize the risk of injuries and other serious health conditions. You may also need to seek professional treatments for any abnormalities which are found. This is a potentially serious way of avoiding health problems and keeping athletes safe through a better understanding of their own bodies. Trainers and medical staff can be informed of specific traits or conditions and use their professional knowledge to form better, more individualized relationships with their athletes. Ideally, this kind of genetic-based information can revolutionize healthcare and sports because of the depth of personalized assistance that can be provided.

Core Areas of Performance

Performance areas for athletes are divided into a few categories based on the type of bodily processes at work. Most sports only emphasize a few of these at a time, and the relevant skills necessary to compete at a high level should be identified and practiced. The most common are related to either strength and power, or endurance and aerobic fitness. Most sports combine these activities to some degree, with auxiliary concerns about related processes used at the same time such as flexibility, agility, and mental focus. Your genes can tell a lot about how your body handles each one of these activities, along with how to exploit each to your advantage.

Muscle strength is the ability to force a certain object. This is usually measured in one or more repetitions within a certain time frame. Some athletes are more genetically predisposed to strength sports due to a muscular frame, stronger bones, and a body type that naturally adds and maintains large amounts of mass. When competing, the ability to optimize the amount of force applied in weightlifting or pushing another player is often the difference between winning and losing. While all athletes involved in strength athletics will work on resistance training and related areas to perform consistently, a DNA test will help a competitor get an edge through specific information about their muscles and what changes in diet and training can emphasize strengths and minimize deficiencies. Muscles that are developed and functional are crucial in all sports.

Aerobic endurance is focused on areas such as running, sprinting, or competing in distance based events without getting too fatigued. This can involve repetitive motions over very long distances. Athletes who want to improve their endurance usually have to carefully manage their diet and metabolism, especially to avoid the onset of fatigue, dehydration, or cramping during competitions. By having a personalized DNA assessment, aerobic athletes can find out what vitamins and supplements will help in this process and sustain energy levels. There may be also specific dietary needs which involve increasing certain food groups or avoiding others. Bodily performances such as oxygen uptake and proper breathing are also important for athletes in endurance competitions, and DNA testing along with other health assessments can help maximize these processes.

Personalized Vitamins

Personalized vitamin plans are one of the most basic and effective ways to help optimize athletic performance based on the results of a DNA test. Vitamin packs can be designed with each athlete’s body and genetics in mind, to make sure any deficiencies are cured as well as giving enough supplemental minerals to meet the demands that stress and sweating cause over the course of a lengthy athletic competition. A shortage of certain vitamins and minerals can make someone more susceptible to sickness, especially with the added wear on the body caused by events which can last for hours. A brief survey of some vitamins and minerals which are crucial to athletes can help explain why you should care about your vitamin intake and how things can go wrong without enough of the right nutrients.


Vitamin B

For the first example, B vitamins are necessary to process sugars and carbohydrates. These vitamins help turn food into energy for the body. B vitamins also help form some of the building blocks of proteins, which is important for maintaining and creating new muscle. Athletes will obviously need more of these than most people, because muscles are constantly torn and need to heal from training and competing. Another fact about B vitamins is that they also have names such as folic acid, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. After a DNA analysis, the results can help determine exactly how well your body is processing energy from food. Any deficiencies with these vitamins or slow metabolism of them can obviously affect performance and cause feelings of fatigue. B vitamins are one of the most essential nutrients in the human body, especially for athletes.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that is also important for protein metabolism and collagen formation. These are important substances in the body which are utilized more heavily by athletes due to the increased use of connective tissue and constant muscle breakdown. Over the years, there has been experimentation with very high levels of vitamin C to increase immunity and produce antioxidants. Antioxidants may help prevent or delay the onset of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Any of these problems can lead to significant career interruptions because they are major health events. Vitamin C also aids in general immunity, which will prevent sudden bouts of less serious illnesses. A diet that is high and fruits and vegetables normally will give enough vitamin C for most people, however, athletes need higher intakes, which can be customized based on DNA results.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is less readily available in food than many others, and it has some unique properties. This vitamin requires sunlight exposure to be produced by the body. Because vitamin D is important for bones and calcium metabolism, athletes need to be aware of their intake to help prevent broken or fractured bones, which can be serious injuries for athletes that take months or longer to heal. Vitamin D also reduces inflammation, which can be helpful for the body in withstanding the wear caused by athletic competition. This vitamin can be one of the most helpful ways to avoid missed time due to injury during the season.


Minerals are also important for athletes to get through supplementation, as the body loses them through sweat and athletic individuals are often deficient in essential minerals from constantly training and competing. Chromium is the main mineral necessary for glucose metabolism. This is important in sustaining energy levels and breaking down sugars from food. Iodine is important for maintaining the right balance of hormones and keeping the metabolism functioning properly. While testosterone is associated with strength and aggression, getting optimal levels of all hormones and the minerals which help produce them is important for consistent performance. Iron can improve the quality of the blood and add additional protection against illness and disease by increasing immunity. Athletes who are susceptible to iron deficiencies may get sick too easily and lose valuable time and money. Magnesium is another mineral which helps metabolize sugars and synthesize proteins. Taken together it is apparent that many of these minerals are crucial for athletes to avoid injuries and sickness, along with maintaining adequate muscle mass and energy levels.

After a DNA test, there will be an abundance of information about how a personalized vitamin supplementation plan will help address all of these issues and improve on many different levels. Certain individuals may have natural deficiencies in one or more vitamins and minerals, which can be corrected through supplementation. Your body may also experience problems with metabolizing and getting enough of a certain vitamin, which can be corrected through changes to diet and other means. Appropriate vitamin and mineral intake should not be overlooked by anyone involved in sports.

Concerns with ethics and technology

Any kind of testing or experimentation involving DNA and genetics has caused some controversy over the years. This has included everything from cloning, to stem cell research, to attempting to engineer children who are healthier and more attractive. Unlike some other controversial methods of helping athletes get an edge, DNA testing should become normal due to its ability to help athletes avoid injuries and health problems. This is not some kind of dangerous experiment, but a real way to help improve overall performance and general health. Much of the controversy around DNA testing came from a place of fear about new technologies and information.

DNA testing has benefits off of the field of play through improved quality of life. This can be achieved by focusing on a person’s natural strengths and identifying problem areas at an early age, before they become serious medical conditions. There has been some research regarding the possibility of severe health conditions affecting young athletes and even causing death in some cases. While these conditions are rare, it is important to be aware of them from an early age. DNA results combined with regular checkups from a doctor or other healthcare professional can help minimize the risk of tragic incidents. Over time, DNA testing can also help athletes age well and maintain their health even after transitioning out of sports. This technology will not go away and may even become a more general part of regular health checkups in the future.

There are concerns that DNA testing among athletes may turn into a kind of profiling where certain players are excluded from teams based on their genetic information. Teams may want to automatically disqualify players with certain conditions. There may be the unwillingness of sports teams to deal with negative if an athlete discovers a serious condition. There may also be battles over who owns the right to access a player’s genetic information if the team is paying for the testing and the player’s salary. However, most of the concerns surrounding DNA testing can be avoided if basic rules of privacy are applied. Sports teams will also want to develop a reputation of treating their athletes with care based on this new type of information. There may be some issues that need to be sorted out, but if everyone’s genetic information is treated with care and professionalism, this technology will be here to stay.

To conclude, DNA testing has the potential to unlock new levels of athletic performance never seen before. This can be done naturally and safely be optimizing an elite athlete’s innate potential, rather than resorting to drugs and supplements which may be unsafe or have little support for their effectiveness. The potential drawbacks of this new method of reaching elite performance levels are minimal, and DNA testing may ultimately help improve everyone’s health and avoid injury. As long as new technologies are used ethically, they can improve life and sports to create a better future with better overall health for everyone.

Krista H
Krista majored in psychology and neuroscience, focusing on degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. As she continued her research, she began to study the complex relationship between lifestyle variables and neurological health, including the impact these variables have on mood disorders and general wellness. She currently specializes in all aspects of neurological and physiological health, especially in relation to nutrition.
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