Losing weight with exercise – a study that clarifies the myth

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to: Ferry Halberstadt

A study shows surprising results. According to her, sports are not the way to lose weight. (Iconic image) © Jens Kalaene / dpa

There are many different ways to lose weight: diet, exercise or fasting. But sport alone does not achieve what many believe.

Frankfurt – Fasting, low carb, high carb, low fat: Nowadays there are many recommendations on how to lose weight more effectively. The possibility of increasing fat burning with the help of certain foods has also been mentioned time and time again. Regardless of diet, it often means: exercise makes you thin. However, this assumption is a widespread myth and is incorrect.

Several researchers explain why: Hermann Pontzer is a well-known expert on human metabolism. His book Burn: New Research Blows the Cover – How We Really Burn Calories, Lose Weight and Stay Healthy was published in March 2021. He denies that more exercise leads to higher calorie consumption and therefore greater weight loss. Of course it is not without some research. One might assume that people who move around a lot need more energy than those who sit all day. But according to Pontzer, this assumption is incorrect, as reported by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. These findings seem to have upset some of his colleagues. For example, exercise physiologist John Thyfault of the University of Kansas Medical Center has concerns that this finding might give dieters bad ideas. Others find his work excellent. So did the paleoanthropologist Leslie Aiello: “His work is revolutionary.”

Exercise as a key to losing weight – a study that refutes this myth

A closer look at Hermann Pontzer’s research reveals what he alludes to. Exercise burns energy. This indicates that the body then needs more energy per day. However, this assumption is wrong. In various studies, Pontzer has found that energy in the body is distributed differently.

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Hermann Pontzer refutes the myth that exercise alone leads to weight loss
Analyzing the data, Pontzer found that marathon runners’ calories first need to be increased, but then decreased and adjusted. (Iconic image) © Jürgen Ritter / imago

Example: Ponzer traveled to Tanzania in 2010 to investigate the energy balance of the Hadza people. These people are hunters and gatherers and are therefore active, as reported by Deutschland Funk. Women run about eight kilometers a day, and men about 14 kilometers, which is more than the number of kilometers people from the United States cover on average in one day, adds SZ. The Hadza people agreed to Pontzer’s request. With the help of double-labeled water, it can measure carbon dioxide2 The resulting and thus also calorie consumption during the activity. The results surprised many colleagues.

Study shows: exercise does not lead to weight loss – energy intake is simply distributed differently

“Hadza people sometimes have more or fewer active days, and some burn 10 percent more or fewer calories than average. In general, however, Hadza men and women burn about the same amount of energy each day as men and women in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Japan ,” as reported in the online magazine PLOS ONE in 2012.

This was not an isolated case. And Amy Locke, an epidemiologist at Loyola University in Chicago, has also shown that women farmers in West Africa burn as many calories as women in Chicago. It uses the same method as Pontzer, SZ wrote. However, the results of their research remained largely unknown. From his findings, Pontzer concludes that the body reduces the energy supply for other tasks in the body during sports activities. “Instead of increasing the number of calories burned per day, physical activity for hunchbacks changed the way they burned their calories,” he says.

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No myth: exercise is good for your health and protects against diabetes and heart disease

Further data analysis confirms this assumption, as reported in The Mirror. In one study, marathon runners were observed running 42.6 kilometers six times a week for 140 days. Bonzer and colleagues found that the energy needs of runners at the start of the race were about 6,200 calories. In the course of racing, the power requirements have dropped significantly. In the end it was 4900 calories. This follows the conclusion that the body created space for training needs and had to provide elsewhere.

However, it should not be overlooked that sports have a good effect on the human body and maintain its health. Exercise has an impact on fat distribution and the risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to exercise physiologist Thyfault. Pontzer agrees: “Exercise keeps you from getting sick, but the best way to control weight is to diet.” (Fee Halberstadt) * fr.de is an offer from IThe media.

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