Dr. Herman Pontzer: “Burn” And The Shocking Truth About Human Metabolism And Fat Loss


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“Lifestyle does not affect energy expenditure the way we think,” says Dr. Herman Pontzer."

Get ready for a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Herman that will truly keep you on your toes and challenge everything you thought you knew about exercise and energy expenditure. His work is centered around studying the physiology of both humans and apes in order to gain a much deeper and nuanced understanding of how ecology, lifestyle, diet, and evolutionary history affect metabolism and health. Here to talk about his sensational new book, Burn, and deeply driven by his interest in anthropology and evolutionary biology, Dr. Herman shares some incredibly thought-provoking insights during this episode. You’ll surely want to order your own copy of Burn to read, as it will expose you to many surprising truths about the way your body functions that will inspire you to completely overhaul the way you work out, especially after you hear that humans burn the same number of calories every day, regardless of exercise habits.

In this episode, you’ll learn about metabolic diversity, the difference between being a high calorie burner and having a fast metabolism, and why we should rethink why we exercise. You’ll also learn why metabolism is closely linked to longevity, why workouts don’t matter when it comes to trying to drop excess body fat, and the secret, sensible method for successful fat loss. Dr. Herman also gives some beautiful commentary towards the end of this episode about how his time with the Hadza people has profoundly impacted his perspective on life. If you want to give back to the amazing Hadza community and help protect their health and culture, please click here to learn about The Hadza Fund.


New research blows the lid off how we really burn calories, lose weight and stay healthy. [01:52]

Your daily activity level has no bearing on the number of calories you burn each day. [06:07]

If you exercise more, your body compensates by turning energy expenditures and other tasks down. [11:17]

What’s the use of exercising if we don’t burn any more calories and lose weight than when we sit around? [13:40]

Of course, exercise is an important activity for your health and longevity. It just doesn’t show as a number decreasing on the scale. [19:04]

You can eat carbs, turn them into fats and then burn the fat. [22:29]

If you want to manage your weight, focus on diet. [23:51]

The Hadza, who eat off the land don’t go hungry. [28:23]

If someone goes on a crash diet trying to starve for weight loss, the body puts the brakes on everything with metabolic adjustments that don’t last. [30:28]

What is the recommended strategy to drop the excess pounds in Herman’s opinion? Find a diet that makes you feel full on fewer calories. [32:13]

If you cut out the added sugar and processed foods that most people eat, it is a great start. [35:26]

There was a study determining how full someone felt after eating various types of food. The best predictors were protein levels and fiber levels. [37:06]

Exercise is very important, not for burning calories but for general well-being. But social connections have an effect on how your body functions, too. [39:39]

There really is no easy way to go about this. There are many “experts” talking about things that are not scientifically based. [42:15]

What is metabolic diversity? Two people can be the same size, same body composition, same lifestyle and be very different in their calorie burn. [43:59]

Our paleolithic brain is not built to handle the processed foods we have today. [49:13]

It’s important to go slow with your new dietary changes. [50:30]

Are the Hazda getting too much of the outside world from researchers? [52:29]

What has Herman taken away from his studying the Hadza? [01:04:10]


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