Lose weight with exercise: study refutes the common myth

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By: Zana Halberstadt


Analyzing the data, Pontzer found that the calorie needs of marathon runners initially increase, but then decrease and adjust. (symbol image) © Cavan Images / Imago Images

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

Frankfurt – Fasting, low carb, high carb, low fat: There are many recommendations nowadays on how to lose weight more effectively. The possibility of promoting fat burning with the help of some foods is also constantly mentioned. Regardless of diet, it is generally accepted that sport makes you weak. However, according to one researcher, this assumption is a myth.

In his book Burn: New Research Blows the Lid Off – How We Really Burn Calories, Lose Weight, and Stay Healthy, anthropologist Herman Pontzer argues that more exercise leads to higher calorie expenditure and consequently greater loss. of weight. According to the results of research by Pontzer, who is considered an expert on 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 apparently upset some of his colleagues. For example, exercise physiologist John Thyfault of the University of Kansas Medical Center has concerns that this finding could give those who know the diet bad ideas. Others see his excellent work. So does paleoanthropologist Leslie Aiello, who describes his work as “revolutionary.”

Sport as the key to weight loss – study refutes the common myth

A closer look at Pontzer’s search results makes clear what logic his findings are based on: When you exercise, you burn energy. This suggests that the body then needs more energy per day. However, according to the metabolism expert, this assumption is wrong. In various studies, Pontzer found that energy in the body is distributed differently.

An example: Pontzer traveled to Tanzania in 2010 to investigate the energy balance of the Hadza people. These people are hunters and gatherers and are active, as reported by Deutschlandfunk. Women run about eight miles a day, men about 14. That’s more miles than people from the U.S. average on a day, adds SZ. The Hadza people agreed to Pontzer’s request. With the help of double water, he determined CO2 emissions and consequently calorie consumption during an activity. The results surprised many colleagues.

Consumption of calories per day men Women
19 to 25 years old 3000 2400
25 to 51 years old 2900 2300
51 to 65 years old 2500 2000
65 years and older 2300 1800
Source: Stiftung Warentest

Study shows: Sport does not lead to weight loss – energy consumption is simply distributed differently

“Individual hadza sometimes have more or less active days, and some burn ten percent more or fewer calories than average. However, in general, Hadza men and women burn the same amount of energy per day as men and women in the United States, Europe, Russia and Japan, “he reported in the online magazine Plos One in 2012.

This research result was not an isolated case. Epidemiologist at Loyola University in Chicago, Amy Luke, has also found that women farmers in West Africa burn as many calories as women in Chicago. It uses the same method as Pontzer, as SZ writes. However, the results of their research remained largely unknown.

From his results, Pontzer concludes that the body reduces the supply of energy for other tasks in the body during sports activities. He says, “Instead of increasing the number of calories burned per day, Hadza physical activity changed the way they burned their calories.”

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

Further data analysis confirms this assumption, as reported by the statement. In one study, marathon runners were observed who ran 42.6 kilometers six times a week for 140 days. Pontzer and his colleagues found that the runners’ energy needs at the start of the race were about 6,200 calories.

During the race, energy demand fell sharply. In the end it was 4900 calories. From this, the researchers concluded that the body created space for exercise needs and saved in other places.

Studies do not consider that sport has a positive effect on the human body and keeps it healthy. Exercise has an effect on fat distribution and the risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to physiologist Thyfault. Pontzer agrees: “Exercise prevents you from getting sick, but the best way to control weight is diet.” (Fee Halberstadt)

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