Renowned metabolism expert Herman Pontzer has challenged the common belief that exercise leads to significant weight loss.

In his book "Burn: New Research Blows the Lid Off How We Really Burn Calories, Stay Healthy, and Lose Weight," Pontzer presented compelling evidence that exercise alone is not sufficient for shedding pounds. As an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology and global health at Duke University, Pontzer argued that while exercise is crucial for overall well-being, it does not lead to sustained weight loss in the long term.

According to Pontzer's research, individuals may experience initial weight reduction through exercise for approximately 10 months. However, their weight tends to revert to its original level, regardless of continued adherence to the exercise regimen. This phenomenon occurs because the body has evolved with a predetermined energy expenditure, and it readjusts to this baseline after the initial period, compensating for any exercise-related influences.

Contrary to intuition, intense workouts do not significantly increase energy expenditure beyond the sedentary state. In other words, despite rigorous treadmill sessions, the actual energy burned remains comparable to the energy expended while engaging in sedentary activities like watching television.

This finding holds critical implications for weight-loss strategies. Pontzer contended that if exercise, which represents energy expenditure, does not impact weight, the primary factor must be energy intake — food consumption. Therefore, the key to weight loss lies in controlling one's dietary choices.

Pontzer's lecture, titled "Healthy as a Hunter-Gatherer – Insights From Small-Scale Societies," emphasized the historical shift toward reduced physical activity in modern life. The prevalent notion suggested that decreased physicality, coupled with higher calorie intake, contributes to weight gain and the obesity epidemic, according to the South China Morning Post.

As an evolutionary biologist, Pontzer investigates the impact of our species' past on present health and physiology. His research delves into the physiology of humans and primates, exploring how ecology, lifestyle, diet and evolutionary history influence metabolism and overall well-being. Understanding the root causes of the obesity problem is among Pontzer's primary objectives.

The transformation of food production methods over the past two centuries played a pivotal role in the rise of obesity, according to him. Processed foods, characterized by their calorie-dense nature and reduced satiety, contribute to overconsumption. Pontzer suggested that the industrialization of food processing significantly altered our dietary habits, leading to weight gain.

Despite his concerns that knowledge of exercise's limited impact on weight loss might discourage people from being physically active, Pontzer emphasized that exercise remains crucial for various aspects of human health, including mental well-being. He underscored the importance of exercise in promoting overall longevity, despite its limited effectiveness as a weight-loss tool.