Busting the Myth of Metabolism: the Truth About Fat Loss


It’s been too long since we’ve been hearing about how we exercise and burn calories because our ‘metabolism becomes faster’ or we somehow ‘increase our metabolic rate’.

Whereas research done and published by author and anthropologist, Dr. Herman Pontzer has clearly established exactly what does and doesn’t work for fat loss. He’s clarified that the fitness industry has been lying to us to get us to believe their programs are what’s making the difference.



In a nutshell, in his book, Burn, Dr. Pontzer mentions his research that involved analysing the metabolic rate of individuals ranging from urban civilisations’ couch potatoes and fitness freaks to rural civilisations’ hunters and gatherers that stalked and preyed and lived a comparatively more active lifestyle.

The good doctor has answered a very simple but essential question, “Does the modern human being burn as many calories as the human beings from the Palaeolithic era?”

And the answer is yes. The average number has been around the same for everyone.

As per the research, the increased spike in metabolic burnout is only temporary and even then, it isn’t as simple as eating a chocolate bar today and going on a run tomorrow.

Regardless of whatever you choose to do, you’re going to be burning no more than 3,000 calories per day.

For details, read below.


The Research

The research conducted by the Duke evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Pontzer and his team has been explained in the book titled, Burn, which was published this March.

The book tells of the data gathered by the team when they observed the metabolic rates of the Hadza tribe, a group of hunters and gatherers who still lived life like it was lived in the early ages.

After they had substantial data from one side of the equation, they studied people from around 26 countries, making a total of 6,600 individuals whose metabolic rates were measured and compared.


The Theory

As explained above, the idea that exercise helps us lose fat has always made sense to most of us. Even though it’s nowhere near the truth, which is that our bodies are much more complex than we know.

Think about all the things that someone living a sedentary lifestyle is doing. More often than not, the time and energy they’re not spending on working out or engaging in some activity are being spent elsewhere.

Regardless, as the research shows, even if you exercise today and burn 500+ calories over the amount you’re normally burning, e.g. 2500, you’ll burn around 3000 today.

However, follow this routine for a week and you’ll find that your metabolic rate is still going to be 2500.

While you may seem to be spending more energy daily, your metabolism doesn’t care what you do.

So long as you’re intaking the same amounts, you’re going to be burning the same amounts.

The Findings

To sum up, what the research says, our metabolism has evolved throughout the ages with the primary motive to survive.

And in order to do that, it’s wired to keep on accumulating fat as a means of energy to be used in times of need.

This accumulation of fat has helped us survive but it also works terribly against us because it leads to several cardiovascular problems as well as other medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, etc.

This is where the confusion lies and the groundbreaking research makes a clear distinction.

Exercise and physical activity aren’t instrumental for losing weight or burning more calories, rather, they are helpful in reducing the inflammation levels of the body.

This is important because inflammation is a huge factor that makes it possible for the above-mentioned diseases to affect us.

However, the findings still report that the amount of activity you engage in does not affect the number of calories you will burn. In the long run, you’re not going to lose weight just because you exercised 20 times a day.


What Does This Mean for Exercises?

As soon as this research came out, the only question on people’s minds was whether exercise is actually good for them at all Because most people only go for workouts because they want to get in shape.

So, let’s break it down.


Can exercise help you lose weight?

No. Exercise might cause a temporary spike in your metabolic rates but it will not matter in a term longer than a week. Because in about that time, the metabolic rate will adjust to your daily activity.

Can exercise help you get in shape?
Yes. There’s a difference between losing weight, i.e. burning carbs and fats, and getting toned, ripped muscles with hard pecs and abs. Your workouts aren’t wasted, they just don’t factor into you losing fat like you thought they did.

This means that you will need to exercise in order to gain strength, endurance, and flexibility that are required to keep you functioning for a longer period in your life. So, don’t put up your running clothes in the closet just yet.

Moreover, exercise is influential in reducing stress, inflammation levels and reducing the chances of injuries. In all its effectiveness, exercising for a few minutes every day will not result in you losing pounds but it will benefit your health in a number of other ways.

The Only Way To Lose Weight

Now that we have a handle on what doesn’t work for weight loss, let’s take a look at what does.

As the research has made it clear, we can’t rely on exercise as a means to burn our calories. And if we’re bound to burn the same amount of calories over time, does this mean cutting back our intake will work?

In a way, yes. The primary concept of weight loss, given contemporary research, does boil down to the question of what your diet is. Inevitably, we all need to make sure that we are eating less, and eating the best foods that help burn belly fat.

These foods need to be rich in protein, healthy carbs, fiber, and calcium rather than the trans-fats-rich foods that we usually eat (e.g. fast food, quick-meals, off-the-shelf products, etc.)

Cutting off food doesn’t mean that you should go on an extreme fasting diet that involves severe cutbacks because this will inevitably result in a disastrous loss of health rather than weight loss.


There is no easy way to say this but, there is no shortcut or short-term solution to weight loss.

You will need to cut out unhealthy foods and incorporate a regimen that includes green vegetables, whole-grain foods, and healthy drinks that can substitute sodas and other harmful beverages in your daily diet.

While this doesn’t guarantee or provide a fixed time for the pounds you’ll lose, it is the only sure way to lose belly fat that science has. Researches are still underway to further elaborate on what Dr. Pontzer’s work has just scratched the surface of.

It’s clear that what we’ve been sold online with regards to weight loss has been nothing but consumerist propaganda to try and get us to buy fitness programs that were inevitably fruitless from the start.

All in all, exercise and physical activity is good for your health, but not for weight loss. You will need to rely on your diet to lose weight.


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