Do you carry the gene linked to enhanced fat burning?

Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Author Alex Auld

Woman completing a HIIT workout on a assault bike

Following last week’s update of Saturated Fat Response, our science team have revised another legacy trait: Fuel Usage (UCP2). Rather than focusing on the potentially harmful effects of dietary fat, the Fuel Usage (UCP2) trait uncovers how this macronutrient can be targeted as an energy source.

This blog will provide a short overview of the updated trait before breaking down the three possible results that you carry depending on your UCP2 genotype.


Trait overview

Fat is a fantastic source of energy as long as it can be accessed efficiently. In fact, fatty acids provide the body with up to 3.4x more energy per molecule compared to our primary energy source, glucose.

How effectively you switch from glucose to fat as a fuel source is, in part, influenced by your activity of the mitochondrial protein UCP2.

UCP2 influences this conversion process by suppressing methods of energy production that are dependent on glucose to generate ATP - the energy currency required for a range of cell processes, including muscle contraction during exercise.

By suppressing these methods, the body looks for alternative solutions, including beta-oxidation, where fatty acids are broken down and converted into a substance called Acetyl-CoA, which can then be used to produce ATP.

Greater expression of the UCP2 protein, in part determined by the UCP2 gene variant that you carry, results in greater facilitation of alternative energy production systems, and increased targeting of fat for fuel.


Trait bands

Within the Fuel Usage (UCP2) trait there are three possible results, otherwise known as trait bands:

  • Increased UCP2
  • Moderate UCP2
  • Decreased UCP2

Increased UCP2

The trait band associated with the greatest expression of the UCP2 protein. This genotype is linked to greater use of fatty acids as an energy source during exercise or within conditions of low glucose availability (e.g. fasting).

Moderate UCP2

The trait band associated with relatively average expression of the UCP2 protein. This genotype is not linked to greater use of fatty acids as an energy source.

Decreased UCP2

The trait band associated with reduced expression of the UCP2 protein. As a result, carriers of this genotype are likely to be much less efficient in accessing fat as a fuel source; instead predominantly generating ATP through glucose-lead processes.


How common is your personal trait?

Of the three trait bands, over half of FitnessGenes members (55%) are grouped within the ‘moderate UCP2’ band. Although not necessarily disadvantageous, this population could see significant improvement in how effectively they switch from glucose to fat by following their recommended nutrition and exercise actions.

The greatest improvement potential, however, is carried by those in the ‘decreased UCP2’ band, where we find 15% of FitnessGenes members. It’s of particular pertinence that members who are looking to lose body fat or complete an endurance-based event follow their recommended actions so that they can overcome their UCP2 genetic disadvantage and access fat stores more effectively.

This therefore leaves 30% of FitnessGenes members grouped within the advantageous ‘increased UCP2’ band. While this may go some way to explaining a carrier’s lean physique or endurance capabilities, like with most traits the UCP2 genetic advantage is only activated by a complimentary and healthy lifestyle. Recommended actions are still worth considering by this population to see how they can further unlock their DNA to accelerate their high fat burning potential.


Discover your personal Fuel Usage (UCP2) trait and actions

Yet to view your updated Fuel Usage (UCP2) insights and actions? Login to truefeed now to see if you carry the advantageous UCP2 genotype associated with more efficient conversion of glucose to fat for energy production.

Not yet a FitnessGenes member? Discover your personal Fuel Usage (UCP2) trait, alongside 120+ others, by purchasing your DNA analysis or DNA upload product today.

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