Herman Pontzer: “The Data Always Wins”


Manage episode 291482526 series 2421902
By Brad Kearns. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The one and only Herman Pontzer, author of the transformative and life-changing book Burn, is back to share more mind-blowing insights in another hard-hitting show about energy expenditure.

This episode will open your eyes to the real reasons that make exercise so beneficial for your body, especially when it comes to how it both prevents and mitigates chronic inflammation. I manage to ask Herman a question he has never been asked before, and he explains why he tries to make sure most of his active time is spent outside and why maintaining meaningful connections with friends and family is an important part of any health routine.

Herman also illuminates how our individual levels of energy expenditure affect how our bodies react to different stimuli by using the example of how public speaking prompts the body to go into fight or flight mode. As he explains, everyone’s heart rate rises while public speaking (no matter how calm and cool you feel about it), and that reaction costs your body energy. However, the amount of energy that it takes your body to “go back to normal” post public speaking is directly affected by exercise. If you regularly work out, you will experience a different reaction compared to someone who does not; your response will be “blunted,” meaning adrenaline and cortisol levels will not rise as much as someone who is inactive. So while you will recover back to baseline faster, an inactive person will experience both a bigger bust of cortisol and adrenaline, as well as take longer to return back to a normal baseline. This goes back to the great point he made during his last episode, when he said that you exercise for everything you don’t see, because regular activity gives your body so many more benefits than just an aesthetic one.


The average daily caloric expenditure in the human does not change regardless of our activity level. [01:43]

We are burning energy at about 20% more per day than chimpanzees and Bonobos which are our closest relatives. [09:14]

The variation in brain caloric expenditure is minimal. Most of your organs are burning calories at rest. [13:19]

So, we burn calories at rest, what happens when we exercise? [15:41]

Chronic inflammation is your immune system run amuck. [21:13]

In studying the Hadza, do you see explosive activity? [23:49]

The reason we, as an advanced society, do all these competitive things is not trying to improve the human ability, it’s just for fun and self-satisfaction. [28:02]

With Herman’s research in mind, what is the best way to longevity? You can’t ignore the genetics, but you can create a lifestyle that will help you live to the fullest. [29:27]

Your body is going to make you balance out the exercise with the rest period. [37:31]

Fat really doesn’t burn many calories. [42:44]

The insulin-based view of obesity doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. [45:52]

If you are hungry all the time, your diet is not working. There is no one size fits all. [50:53]

To beat the obesity epidemic, start with the kids. It is hard to change when you are older. [53:48]

If you are unhappy and miserable with what you are doing, it is not going to work. You need to find what works for you. [56:22]


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313 episodes