Exercise will keep you alive, says the professor, but it won’t help you lose weight

While it seems counterintuitive, when you’re pushing hard on the treadmill, after a few months you’re actually not burning much more energy than if you skipped the gym and watched TV on the couch instead.

This has important consequences for weight-loss strategies, Pontzer says.

If the energy out the energy you expend during exercise doesn’t affect your weight, it must be the energy in that is making you fat. What’s happening is food. So the only way to lose weight is to take control of what you eat, he says.

It’s a long-held view in public health that one of the long-standing changes in modern life is the reduction of physicality, Pontzer says at a conference titled Healthy as a Hunter-Gatherer Insights From Small-Scale Societies, organized by the British magazine New scientist. .

The Hazda, a hunter-gatherer society in Tanzania, live a rigorous lifestyle, getting up to 10 times more physical activity than most people living in the United States.  Photo: Shutterstock

The Hazda, a hunter-gatherer society in Tanzania, live a rigorous lifestyle, getting up to 10 times more physical activity than most people living in the United States. Photo: Shutterstock

That is, the modern industrialized population is less active than their ancestral counterparts, so they burn fewer calories, burn less energy each day. Because the calorie reduction is lower, we burn fewer fat calories and therefore gain weight. Because of this, we have obesity, he says describing the conventional wisdom.

The problem with this theory, Pontzer says, is that his research with the Hadza, a physically active hunter-gatherer society in northern Tanzania, showed that their energy expenditure is no different from the energy expenditure of their sedentary counterparts in the United States. United.

Despite a rigorous lifestyle, from hunting game to foraging for plants with five to ten times more physical activity each day than most women in the United States or Europe, the Hadza burn astonishingly the same amount of calories as their counterparts. more sedentary in the West.

Processed food makes you fat
Herman Pontzer

The difference is that the tribe spends more calories on activity and fewer on other unseen tasks in the body like fighting inflammation, reacting to stress, and other things that make us sick.

[The research showed that] there’s no difference in total daily energy expenditure in calories burned per day among physically active people compared to people in the United States, Pontzer says.

While energy expenditure is roughly the same in the two groups, obesity is rare in societies such as the Hadza. The key factor, she concludes, must be their diet.

Members of Hazda society consume the same amount of energy as sedentary people in the United States, says Professor Pontzer.  Photo: Shutterstock

Members of Hazda society consume the same amount of energy as sedentary people in the United States, says Professor Pontzer. Photo: Shutterstock

Pontzers’ work as an evolutionary biologist explores how our species’ past shapes our health and physiology today, and investigates the physiology of humans and other primates to understand how ecology, lifestyle, diet and developmental history affect metabolism and health.

One of Pontzer’s primary concerns is the obesity epidemic.

I study how our bodies evolved and how evolution brought us to the bodies we have today, looking at metabolism, exercise, activity and diet from an evolutionary perspective, he says.

The background of Pontzers’ research dates back to 2.5 million years ago, when our species, homo sapiensthey became hunter gatherers, foraging for wild plants and hunting animals for food.

This has been successful and has shaped our evolution, defines our species, he says. Our bodies evolved in certain ways to support our hunter-gatherer lifestyles for 2.5 million years.

Then came the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, followed by a more sedentary lifestyle and supermarkets. Our bodies have not yet evolved to accommodate this recent lifestyle change in evolutionary terms. And as a result they are confused.

The cover of the book by Herman Pontzers.  Photo: Amazonia

The cover of the book by Herman Pontzers. Photo: Amazonia

Maybe the recent changes are the reason we get sick in these weird ways. Hunter-gatherers don’t get sick from the things we get sick from, Pontzer says, noting that heart disease, obesity and diabetes they have a low prevalence in hunter-gatherer societies.

The way we make our food today injects it with a lot of energy, i.e. calories, and it’s also less filling, so we eat more calorie bombs that cause us to overeat, he says. This could be at the root of the obesity problem.

The dramatic change in our diets has only happened in the last 200 years or so, with industrialization, he notes. Once we started processing our food and producing it in factories, we started pouring all sorts of energy into it. Processed food makes you fat.

Exercise, especially walking, is the major contributor to health in hunter-gatherer societies, it is great for nearly all aspects of human health, including mental health
Herman Pontzer

AS what should we eat? In line with thinking about gut flora, variety is important. Pontzer is fierce modern paleo diet regimens who try to formalize what our ancient ancestors ate and says Paleo diets actually varied from region to region, and even from day to day people only ate what was available, he says.

Hunters shared their loot with gatherers, so everyone ate a little bit of everything, he explains.

Fiber is also important because it fills you up, so you eat less. The Hadza, he notes, chew on stringy, stringy roots, and the vegetables they eat tend to be stringy rather than meaty like the supermarket versions.

Once we started processing our food and making it in factories, we started pouring all sorts of energy into it, Pontzer says.  Photo: Shutterstock

Once we started processing our food and making it in factories, we started pouring all sorts of energy into it, Pontzer says. Photo: Shutterstock

Pontzer is not a supporter of entirely plant-based dietsobserving that our ancestors certainly ate meat when they could kill something or steal it from another predator, so we evolved to eat meat.

But the availability of plants in most regions meant they ate more plants than meat. Hunter-gatherer diets feature a huge variety of plants and berries, he says, noting that this isn’t a high-energy food, so it won’t lead to weight gain.

Pontzer fears that knowing exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss will cause her to stop working out. This shouldn’t be happening. Exercise especially walking it is the major contributor to the health of hunter-gatherer societies.

Emphasize: Exercise will keep you alive.

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