Study explains common myth

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to: Ferry Halberstadt

Analyzing the data, Pontzer found that marathon runners’ calories first need to be increased, but then decreased and adjusted. (avatar) © Cavan Images / Imago Images

There are many 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 is generally accepted that sports make you thin. However, according to one of the researchers, this assumption is a myth.

In his book Burn: New Research blows the lid – How We Really Burn Calories, Lose Weight, and Stay Healthy, anthropologist Hermann Pontzer argues that more exercise leads to more calorie expenditure and therefore greater weight loss. According to the research findings of Pontzer, who is considered an expert in human metabolism, it is not true that people who move a lot need more energy than those who sit all day, reports the Süddeutsche 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, who describes his work as “revolutionary.”

Exercise as a key to weight loss: Study debunks a common myth

A closer look at Pontzer’s research findings illustrates the logic behind his findings: When you exercise, you burn energy. This indicates that the body then needs more energy per day. However, according to a metabolic expert, this assumption is wrong. In various studies, Pontzer has found that energy in the body is distributed differently.

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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 per day, and men about 14 kilometers, which is more than the number of kilometers people travel from the United States on average per day, according to SZ. The Hadza people agreed to Pontzer’s request. With the help of double-labeled water, determine the carbon dioxide emissions and, accordingly, the calorie consumption during the activity. The results surprised many colleagues.

Study shows: exercise does not lead to weight loss – only energy intake is 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.

The result of this research was not an isolated case. Loyola University Chicago epidemiologist Amy Locke has found 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. Hence the researchers concluded that the body created space for training needs and saved them elsewhere.

Studies do not consider that sports have a positive effect on the human body and keep it healthy. 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)

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