Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Quick Wits: Rethinking Exercise and Energy Expenditure for Fat Loss (Herman Pontzer's Constrained Model)

May 20, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Quick Wits: Rethinking Exercise and Energy Expenditure for Fat Loss (Herman Pontzer's Constrained Model)
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Quick Wits: Rethinking Exercise and Energy Expenditure for Fat Loss (Herman Pontzer's Constrained Model)
May 20, 2024
Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer

Today, we're diving into a topic that has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about weight loss and energy balance: the constrained model of energy expenditure, as proposed by evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer.

If you're like most people, you've probably heard the old adage that weight loss is simply a matter of "calories in, calories out." This idea, known as the additive model, suggests that our bodies burn energy in a linear fashion, and that by either reducing our calorie intake or increasing our energy expenditure through exercise, we can create a calorie deficit and lose weight.

But what if this model is overly simplistic and doesn't actually reflect the complex realities of human physiology?

This episode peels back the layers of metabolism and physical activity, as we examine the startling notion that our bodies aim to maintain THE SAME LEVEL of energy output, no matter how much we move.

We'll explore why an uptick in exercise doesn't always translate to the expected calorie deficit and how our bodies compensate in surprising ways. Learn how to navigate this intricate dance of calories and master your physiological responses to achieve physical self-mastery.

--

“Quick Wits” are short mini-episodes between full episodes to give you an actionable strategy or hit of motivation.

These mini-episodes give you practical advice on fitness, training, and mindset based on my everyday experience with clients that you can implement right away.

If you enjoy these bonus episodes or have feedback on how to make them better, just send me a message on IG @witsandweights or hit me up in the free Wits & Weights Facebook community.

📲 Send me a text message!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

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📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

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Show Notes Transcript

Today, we're diving into a topic that has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about weight loss and energy balance: the constrained model of energy expenditure, as proposed by evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer.

If you're like most people, you've probably heard the old adage that weight loss is simply a matter of "calories in, calories out." This idea, known as the additive model, suggests that our bodies burn energy in a linear fashion, and that by either reducing our calorie intake or increasing our energy expenditure through exercise, we can create a calorie deficit and lose weight.

But what if this model is overly simplistic and doesn't actually reflect the complex realities of human physiology?

This episode peels back the layers of metabolism and physical activity, as we examine the startling notion that our bodies aim to maintain THE SAME LEVEL of energy output, no matter how much we move.

We'll explore why an uptick in exercise doesn't always translate to the expected calorie deficit and how our bodies compensate in surprising ways. Learn how to navigate this intricate dance of calories and master your physiological responses to achieve physical self-mastery.

--

“Quick Wits” are short mini-episodes between full episodes to give you an actionable strategy or hit of motivation.

These mini-episodes give you practical advice on fitness, training, and mindset based on my everyday experience with clients that you can implement right away.

If you enjoy these bonus episodes or have feedback on how to make them better, just send me a message on IG @witsandweights or hit me up in the free Wits & Weights Facebook community.

📲 Send me a text message!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Speaker 1:

Is gaining and losing weight really as simple as calories in calories out? And even if it is, do you have much control over the calories outside of the equation? Join me on today's Quick Wits as I explore Herman Ponser's groundbreaking research on the constrained model of energy expenditure and why it challenges the traditional additive model, which suggests that the more activity you do, the more calories you burn. We are going to put that into question today. Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Welcome to another QuickWits where we give it to you straight in as little time as possible. Today we're diving into a topic that has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about weight loss, fat loss, energy balance something that I've been wrestling with for several years now, since the book Burn came out by Herman Ponser, where he introduced to us the constrained model of energy expenditure and if you don't know Herman Ponser, he's an evolutionary anthropologist. I believe he's at Duke. I believe also that Dr Eric Trexler is working in his lab currently.

Speaker 1:

Now, if you're like most people, you've probably heard the old adage that weight loss is a matter of calories in calories out right, you can change your body mass, your weight, up or down, simply by changing the intake, as well as how many calories you burn. And the idea that the more you move, the more exercise you do, the more calories you burn, is known as the additive model. It suggests that our bodies burn energy in a linear fashion, that by either reducing our calorie intake or increasing our energy expenditure through exercise, we create a calorie deficit and lose weight. But what if this model is overly simplistic? What if it doesn't actually reflect the actual realities of human physiology and our hormones and how our bodies conserve energy? And that's where Ponser's constrained model comes in, because, based on his extensive research on the energy expenditure of hunter-gatherer populations and other physically active groups, as well as normal sedentary groups that we're probably part of in the Western world and everything in between, ponser argues that our bodies have evolved to maintain a relatively stable level of daily energy expenditure, regardless of how much we exercise.

Speaker 1:

And it was shocking the first time I learned this a few years back. But just hold on, because there's a huge amount of truth to this, uh, and it doesn't mean the end of our control over our bodies. There's, there's some power behind this. So Just to explore this a little bit more instead of burning calories in a linear way, right, we increase our activity, our calories go up, our bodies adapt, they compensate. We've talked about this in one way or another for quite a while on this podcast, and I talk to my clients all the time about this idea that any stressors we put on our body, anything where we try to do more, our bodies will try to bring us back to homeostasis and compensate by reducing energy expenditure in other areas, such as our resting metabolic rate, right At the cellular level, the mitochondria level, or by making us just move a little bit less. Our small unconscious movements, our fidgeting, tends to decrease, and this is why, during fat loss, some people their metabolic adaptation is even faster than expected, partly because they're actually moving less and they don't realize it.

Speaker 1:

And so, according to Ponser, you know, exercise by itself isn't enough to drive significant change in your energy balance, and for a lot of people, that means they're trying to lose weight, but regardless it doesn't drive a significant change In the short term. It might right If you go from running, if you go from being sedentary to running two miles a day, you'll get a calorie deficit from that because your body's going to just ramp up its energy expenditure. But then it's going to adapt and body mass, we're improving our body composition, we're training and all that. It means that instead of just trying to move more and by more I mean like full-on exercise right, we're not talking about walking, we're talking about running and higher intense versions of cardio, basically, which many of us become what's been called chronic cardio, which many of us become what's been called chronic cardio instead of doing that, we now get to focus on optimizing our metabolism, our metabolic rate, our energy balance in other ways, through nutrition, through having higher protein. We know that simply consuming more protein can improve your fat loss independent of other factors. Dr Bell Campbell's team has shown that in the research as well. And so strategies like nutrient-dense whole foods, high protein we want to regulate our hunger, satiety signals, manage our stress and sleep.

Speaker 1:

All of these support healthy hormonal function, along with, of course, building muscle mass and regular physical activity for the health benefits, not for the calorie burn. Right For the health benefits, not the calorie burn. There is a small window, however, of walking and some forms of cardio, strategically incorporated, that will increase calories burned within a sweet spot, right when the trade-off is worth it. Above that, the trade-off is no longer worth it. So being patient, being realistic with these expectations goes a long way, but also knowing that we don't have to chase like rapid, unsustainable weight loss through extreme calorie restriction or excessive exercise and cardio. We can instead relax a bit and aim for that slow and steady but very effective approach that works with our bodies and its beautiful ability to adapt, and then we can maintain the healthy body composition and the weight that we're looking for over the long term.

Speaker 1:

So, again, this doesn't mean that the basic principles of energy balance don't apply. Calories in, calories out, still 100% applies. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you are still going to have your body mass go down, but knowing the calorie outside of the equation that our bodies will constrain that the more that we push it, the more that we stress it, we can instead have a more nuanced and effective approach that takes into account that complex interplay and you don't have to understand all the biology. All you really need to know is you train, you lift weights, you walk, you do a moderate amount of strategically incorporated cardio, you focus on nourishing foods and your metabolic health, and that's it.

Speaker 1:

Until next time, I want you to keep an open mind about these things. I want you to stay curious. That's what we're here for. Stay skeptical and never stop exploring this fascinating science of human biology, physiology and performance. Thanks again for tuning in to another episode of Quick Wits. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Quick Wits. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits and Waits. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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