How The What IF Plan works

You do a quick saliva swab at home, send it to our UK lab in a pre-paid envelope for DNA testing and analysis and within 4-6 weeks you can start the What IF Plan.

We only examine the most recently researched genes connected to weight loss in our test. All of the included genes have to pass a strict protocol to be included. See how we handpick our genes below.

Genetics, nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics are just one piece of the jigsaw. It’s gaining insight into your genetic profile, your goals, lifestyle and environment which all contribute to a new, healthier you.


The science bit

Despite being nearly identical, there are variations (called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs) in every gene. That means the genetic make-up in every person is different – some differences are obvious, like eye colour. Others are harder to spot, for example how we process toxins, how much exercise we need to burn fat or how our body responds to carbs or caffeine.

The genes selection process

We’re very picky about the genes we test and only the best will do. First, we systematically search through all the hundreds of published scientific studies into ‘candidate’ genes. We then class the research based on most relevant, choosing ones with a significant sample size and that have been published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal. Only then are the genes deemed worthy to include in the What IF Plan.

Why Intermittent Fasting?

If you would like to learn more about Intermittent Fasting benefits (IF), there are lots of interesting, scientifically backed studies available. We think this adds weight to how effective Intermittent Fasting is, and shows that is has been tested and studied and, most importantly, that IT WORKS!

These peer-reviewed scientific studies, and the academic rigour behind them, are a key feature of the What IF Plan. We wouldn’t have included Intermittent Fasting in our weight loss programme if we didn’t believe that it truly worked.

Studies in favour of Intermittent Fasting

Here’s some more technical stuff about some of the most revealing studies:

In one 2015 study by Patterson et al. where the main objective was to examine the effects of intermittent fasting on weight management and health, the authors found that out of the 13 human trials – known as ‘intervention studies’ – 85% of participants lost weight (see Table 1, below). Of the 13 studies, 11 (84.6%) noted significant weight loss varying from 1.3% (crossover trial, 2-week intervention, Le Cheminant et al., 2013) to 8% (single arm study, 2 months intervention, Johnson et al., 2007).

Table 1. Patterson R et al. 2015. Intermittent Fasting and Human Health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. P1206-1207.

In an earlier study Carlson et al., (1994), conducted a trial where six men were instructed to fast for 60 hours. Blood samples were measured every 12 and 60 hours, and at 60 hours plasma glucose had decreased by 30% and insulin had decreased by 50%. Lipolysis and fat oxidation increased 2.5 fold (P=0.05), and during fasting there was a 50% increase in proteolysis. The increase in fat oxidation presents as the substrate for gluconeogenesis and allows for the decrease in carbohydrate oxidation and gluconeogenesis, subsequently resulting in a switch of metabolic fuels (Carlson et al., 1994).

A meta-analysis consisting of 30 cohort studies (which included both sexes with no health issues) investigated if when fasting during Ramadan other biomarkers may be improved, as well as weight loss (Kul et al., 2013). The main finding was that in both sexes, blood glucose levels and LDL cholesterol were reduced. Aksungar et al., (2007) and Faris et al., (2012) also reported considerably decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and TNF-a post fasting during Ramadan. Additionally, Davies and Efthimiou (2012) also found IF lowered visceral fat levels, IGF-1, TNF-a, IL-6 and leptin.

Tests on intermittent fasting also found that it impacted the metabolism via the gastrointestinal microbiota, lifestyle behaviours and circadian rhythm (Patterson et al., 2015). Negative changes in these systems can produce an adverse environment, which can lead a risk to individuals of obesity and Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and other chronic diseases (Patterson et al., 2015).

Several studies propose that alterations and changes in the balance of gut bacteria and role of the gut in obese individuals may endorse those with an “obese microbiota” to yield more energy from food intake than a lean individual, with “lean microbiota”. This would impact the intake and output of energy and also energy storage (Ridaura et al., 2013, Turnbaugh et al., 2006 and Tilg et al., 2011). Additionally, changes in the gut flora of obese individuals may result in intestinal permeability, leaky gut and bacterial translocation to encourage a state of inflammation, which is indicative of obesity.

It should be acknowledged, however, that a significant degree of the literature suggests that further investigation is required. Also, there has been no research conducted on people who are underweight (BMI (<18.5), very old (>80) or very young (<18). These groups may be at higher risk for experiencing negative consequences of fasting and therefore, should not undertake The What IF Plan.

In addition, ethical and logistical pressures have limited the majority of studies to 6 months or less. Therefore, RCTs on a larger scale, studying adults undertaking IF regimens are required of at least 12 months duration to identify whether adherence, behaviour and metabolic changes are able to be sustained, and if they have long-term effects on insulin and fasting glucose levels and weight. Additionally, it should be acknowledged there might be current studies being conducted that have not yet been published.

Fascinating studies

We use hundreds of studies on intermittent fasting benefits to bring you the most state-of-the-art genetic and intermittent fasting information in your personalised What IF Plan report. Find out more about the fascinating world of nutrigenomics, IF and weight management here.