Burn. A book recommendation

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Highly recommend this book for those interested in energy.....

Burn. The misunderstood science of metabolism by Herman Pontzer.

He's an anthropologist. The core of the book is centred on his 10 year study of the Hadza, hunter-gatherers in Africa.

He's been doing the podcast circuit. This one is a good listen. No interview will do the book justice., if the content gets your appetite then get the book for the details.

There is an interview with Neil de Grasse Tyson too on star talk.

It's not a diet book or anything but diet and fitness feature heavily. He gives the paleo high fat narrative a right good kicking with the overall view that we can eat anything.
The Hadza gett 65% of their daily energy needs from carb. 15% of which is honey. They walk a lot. They do more activity in a day than most westerners do in a week. They hunt with bow and arrow, the tension of which is equivalent to a one arm pull up....lots of details like that ....

The key finding though?
He had to check his data and get others to check and double check because it was unexpected.
The Hadza are very active yet their daily energy expenditure is the same as any westerner. He used double labelled water, isotopic water, to obtain precise measurements of carbon dioxide.
And all this information is put together to compare primate metabolism to human metabolism through our evolution and into the present day obesity and climate change emergencies.

"The bottom line is that your daily activity level has almost no bearing on the number of calories you burn each day"

In some ways not that great a revelation to many here.....fat loss happens in the kitchen....but he expands on that on why training and exercise aids a functioning metabolism and health.

A lot of frequent threads are all in the book. It's also a fun and enjoyable read.
 

IMayAgainKnowChris

Level 5 Valued Member
Actually just listened to a Mind Pump podcast talking about the Hadza and how they are active all day but don’t burn any more calories. Pretty interesting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ali

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Although he doesn't use the term 'yo-yo dieting'....weight loss followed by rapid weight gain...he does refer to this as a common occurrence. And in nutritional circles, I think Layne Norton, it is referred to as a set point.
That is your internal hormonal/neural circuitry dialling down energy expenditure when energy is scarce and being reluctant to rev it back up with the same urgency. There are genetic components to this, hard wired evolutionary mechanisms.....leading to constrained energy expenditure within a narrow range.
Yes, really interesting.

The isotopic water use for monitoring energy expenditure is used in lab settings but this is the first time it has been used long term within a hunter gatherer population.

As said, well recommended for a good read covering so many issues/discussion points.
 

GaryT

Level 1 Valued Member
Homeostasis is your h he
Although he doesn't use the term 'yo-yo dieting'....weight loss followed by rapid weight gain...he does refer to this as a common occurrence. And in nutritional circles, I think Layne Norton, it is referred to as a set point.
That is your internal hormonal/neural circuitry dialling down energy expenditure when energy is scarce and being reluctant to rev it back up with the same urgency. There are genetic components to this, hard wired evolutionary mechanisms.....leading to constrained energy expenditure within a narrow range.
Yes, really interesting.

The isotopic water use for monitoring energy expenditure is used in lab settings but this is the first time it has been used long term within a hunter gatherer population.

As said, well recommended for a good read covering so many issues/discussion points.
homeostasis is your huckleberry. I love the science of manipulating BMR. Layne and I go back to dial-up days when he was the student and had yet squatted 425 lbs. He’s done well despite the ….fill in the blank.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ali

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
Another study in South America produced similar findings to the Hadza study. It compared a tribal group, some of whom were living more or less traditionally and others who had relocated to urban centres. The traditional group performed more exercise, ate foods of lower calorific density and had lower body fat yet burned the same daily calories as the urban group that exercised less, ate foods of higher calorific density and had significantly higher body fat.

the study is commented on here:
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
How varied or repetitive was the exercise the populations were doing? How intensive?

I wonder how much the difference comes out due to pure efficiency.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Another study in South America produced similar findings to the Hadza study. It

It was his team who did the study using double labelled water.

I wonder how much the difference comes out due to pure efficiency

There is that of course. It's not addressed directly...in terms of movement efficiency requiring less energy, is that what you mean?

There is a point where it is more efficient to run than it is to walk, in terms of energy cost per mile.
I wouldn't want to reproduce them here for copyright issues but there are graphs showing energy costs.

But yeah, the more you do something the more efficient you become but it amounts to the same thing....to conserve energy, which is under tight control and management by the brain.
The Hadza burn energy looking for energy. We wouldn't be here if in the pursuit of energy there is a greater cost. So there must be efficiency in that pursuit given our need for high calorie.
And that's walking.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@ali I also read this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. In a similar way to how much I liked "Exercised" by Daniel Lieberman, which takes an anthropological look at health. He cites Burn multiple times.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
@wespom9 ....think they have a thing going, Exercised is mentioned a few times in Burn too! Not read it but heard him on a podcast. Actually, been meaning to buy it.

@Don Fairbanks, is that Lustig the endocrinologist guy? Read one of his books some years back. I'll look into that one.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@ali highly recommended. I do think that the anthropological look at health behaviours are important. Something to be said for what evolution has found works for our species. Not saying we all need to become hunter-gatherers, but if our bodies have been "tuned" over time, I think it makes sense to understand this in relation to our current society and what we can do to help. I know you know all this too, so I think you'd enjoy it!
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Absolutely @wespom9 .
The issue with evolutionary theory....regarding our behaviour not evolution itself!.....is the multi variable inputs and how easy it is to cherry pick and form a handy scientific viewpoint for whatever you fancy.
The difference with Burn and the application of testable, repeatable scientific analysis and data to a single variable, especially so when the results were not as expected, presents hard data to speculative reasoning, evidence from untestable variables and evidence from other scientific disciplines to gain more knowledge from our past behaviours.
I study physics and energy in my ripe old age and there are laws that cannot be broken.
Human metabolism doesn't break them but adapts and shifts.
We really are remarkable machines.
 

Don Fairbanks

SFG II
Certified Instructor
@wespom9 ....think they have a thing going, Exercised is mentioned a few times in Burn too! Not read it but heard him on a podcast. Actually, been meaning to buy it.

@Don Fairbanks, is that Lustig the endocrinologist guy? Read one of his books some years back. I'll look into that one.
Correct. Robert Lustig Website | Promoting global metabolic health and nutrition.

Cliff-notes of Lustig book: Eat real food, avoid sugar/processed food, exercise, take good care of your liver and gut.
 
Last edited:

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
"The bottom line is that your daily activity level has almost no bearing on the number of calories you burn each day"

Still working through the podcast/interview, but this quote keeps drawing me back.
If I stop exercising and keep my diet the same I will rapidly put on fat. In fact I'd say I need to drop at least 300-400 cals/day or within 14 days it will become visible around my midsection. Likewise if I don't increase cals when resuming, I'll start to drop weight.
 

Pete L

Level 4 Valued Member
Still working through the podcast/interview, but this quote keeps drawing me back.
If I stop exercising and keep my diet the same I will rapidly put on fat. In fact I'd say I need to drop at least 300-400 cals/day or within 14 days it will become visible around my midsection. Likewise if I don't increase cals when resuming, I'll start to drop weight.
My conclusion would be that neither your activity levels nor mass coincide with the evolutionary habitat of your forefathers.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Still working through the podcast/interview, but this quote keeps drawing me back.

I know. Bit of a head scratcher.

My conclusion would be that neither your activity levels nor mass coincide with the evolutionary habitat of your forefathers.

Indeed.
That is/was the thinking.
Unexpectedly, the results and data suggest otherwise, the findings of which are presented in the book.
Difficult to summarise as a soundbite. It seems, or it is suggested by the evidence, that
a constrained energy system doesn't devalue exercise and activity. Far from it, it keeps you healthy, functioning and alive.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@North Coast Miller that's interesting you see the change that rapidly.

@ali I also got the same summary, that while exercise isn't the best plan for weight loss, there are obviously ++ benefits and everyone should participate
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
@North Coast Miller that's interesting you see the change that rapidly.
Here's another example, my favorite snack when I get home from work is toast with butter - about 400 to 450 calories. I normally carry a few lbs of fat on my belly and hips, enough that it pushes out over my belt a little. If I cut out that snack for one week I see a difference and in two, three weeks tops that bit of chub is mostly gone. In a month without a trace.

A single 12 minute session of HIIT and a 25 minute metcon added to my week's training will likewise eliminate that even with the snack, and in fact within a month or two at most I'll have to start adding additional calories between breakfast and lunch or I'll start to lose weight. When I "bulked" between age 51 and 52 I had to cut out the HIIT and metcons and just do strength work to keep the lean mass increasing at a reasonable amount of food intake.

When people say that exercise alone can't make you lose weight I have no idea why not. Or when they say you can't out exercise a bad diet I'm thinking "how bad are we talking here?" Granted it will be a very slow transition, but there's a balancing point for every amount of energy in/ energy out.

That doesn't tell the whole story I'm sure. Currently the way I'm training if I were to increase calories in form of protein or lean carbs I'd probably start gaining muscle, but I'm not losing weight either.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Fascinating. Most research shows ~5% weight loss can be done with exercise. I think the problem comes when people use exercise as the main way - it becomes wildly unsustainable, especially as the dose needs to get higher and higher to see an effect. So I always tell people you CAN exercise to lose weight, it's not the BEST way
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Fascinating. Most research shows ~5% weight loss can be done with exercise. I think the problem comes when people use exercise as the main way - it becomes wildly unsustainable, especially as the dose needs to get higher and higher to see an effect. So I always tell people you CAN exercise to lose weight, it's not the BEST way
Fair to say I wouldn't have the results I do if my diet weren't fairly consistent/energy balanced.
 
Top Bottom