According to anthropologist Hermann Pontzer, the only way to lose weight is through diet. Sports and exercise hardly help.
Durham – If you want to lose weight, you have to diet and exercise. At least that’s what many guides want to support us in the fight against the pounds say. Professor Hermann Pontzer, a biological anthropologist and professor at Duke University, and his team use a method from physiology to measure the total energy consumption of humans and animals in different areas of life. They came to a surprising conclusion: it is said that exercise does not help much when losing weight.
Experts Debunked Diet Myth: Exercising Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight
Many colleagues consider Pontzer’s work to be revolutionary. In their eyes, it debunks outdated myths about the consumption of human energy. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to develop a new understanding of evolution and physiology. “We now have data that gives us a whole new way of thinking about how humans adapt to energy limits,” said paleoanthropologist Leslie Aiello, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Because the Pontzer investigations showed that exercise alone does not contribute to burning more energy on average. For example, sedentary office workers in the United States use no less energy than fishermen in Africa, and pregnant women use no more calories per day than other adults.
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Researchers study the total energy expenditures of humans and animals
For this purpose, Pontzer examined total energy expenditure (TEE), that is, the number of calories burned by human cells in 24 hours. It was already known that the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which the body uses for energy at rest, accounts for only 50 to 70 percent of total energy expenditure. This is how human and animal calorie consumption was measured when walking and running on a treadmill.
Using a urine sample from an orangutan, the anthropologist found that the animals used only a third of the energy he thought for mammals of their size. Other studies with monkeys confirmed this finding. Studies have also revealed that among the great apes, humans consume more energy per day than other apes, adjusted for body mass. For example, they consume 20 percent more than chimpanzees, 40 percent more than gorillas, and 60 percent more than orangutans.
At the same time, great apes gain more fat than other apes. According to Pontzer, excess body fat may have developed due to our faster metabolism. Thus, fat acts as a fuel reserve because it burns less energy than lean tissue. “In millions of years of evolution, our metabolism has definitely not been established for a beach-friendly bikini body,” says Bonzer. However, we humans have the ability to convert food and fat stores into energy faster than other apes. This gives us an advantage over animal apes, as we have more energy every day with which we can supply our brains, for example.
Hunters and pickers use no more energy than office workers
When Poonzer measured the energy consumption of the Hadza people in Tanzania, this study brought him other surprising insights. Hadza women walk about five miles a day, and men nine miles, to share and distribute food. So you move a lot more than the average American does in a week. Despite the differences in activity levels, Hadza men and women generally burn about the same amount of energy each day as men and women in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Japan, as explained in a 2012 report.
The results were confirmed by further studies. Pontzer suspects that people’s bodies use fewer calories to perform other unseen tasks such as the immune system or stress reactions, thus preparing themselves for more activity. According to Pontzer, it did not increase the calorie consumption of foreheads per day, but the physical activity of the Hudas “changed the way they burn their calories.” Another study of marathon runners found that runners burn fewer and fewer calories over time.
Exercising doesn’t help you lose weight, but exercise is still important for good health
For people trying to lose weight, Pontzer’s results are arguably shocking. However, the scientist affirms that exercise and sport are fundamental to good health. Finally, it reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. According to experts, sports also help in maintaining weight and not gaining weight. However, Pontzer concludes, “Exercise keeps you from getting sick, but the best way to control weight is to diet.”
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