Burn Book Summary By Herman Pontzer

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Burn (2021) is a book that explores the science of metabolism - how our bodies use energy.

By drawing on some of the latest metabolic research and studying the evolutionary history of humans, this book provides readers with memorable insights and facts.

It's packed with information that will help you to better understand your own body and how it uses energy.

From understanding the roles of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to debunking some of the misleading myths surrounding weight loss and nutrition, this book provides an in-depth look at metabolism that is both educational and enjoyable.

Whether you're looking for ways to improve your own health or just curious about the complexities of human metabolism, Burn (2021) is sure to be a great read!

Burn Book

Book Name: Burn (The Misunderstood Science of Metabolism)

Author(s): Herman Pontzer

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 28 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio

Herman Pontzer is a renowned expert in the field of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health.

An Associate Professor at Duke University, as well as an Associate Research Professor at the Duke Global Health Institute, Herman has developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise in researching topics such as human metabolism, health and behavior from an evolutionary perspective.

He is best known for his book "Burn" - which explores the effects of low-calorie consumption on human health.

With his scientific background and findings, he hopes to encourage individuals to pursue healthier lifestyles through evidence-based practices.

Unveiling The Science Behind Metabolism: What Tanzanian Hunters, Apes, And Candy Bars Can Teach Us

Science Behind Metabolism

Have you ever really stopped and thought about how the human body works? It’s amazing, isn’t it? Our bodies contain around 37 trillion cells, each acting like a little factory.

Not only do they power us, but they also produce enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters that are essential for our survival.

And the energy that fuels this work comes from the calories we consume each day.

This amounts to our cells burning enough energy to boil 8 gallons of ice water daily!

As incredible as this process is, there is still much to learn about metabolism and its effect on energy consumption.

It’s time to learn more about how our bodies truly work.

Let’s explore what Tanzanian hunter-gatherers can teach us about human evolution; why food sharing set humans apart from apes; and how you can actually lose weight while eating candy bars.

By uncovering these insights into the human body, you will discover how it really works!

Life Emerges From Inanimate Matter Through Metabolism

The old adage “You are what you eat” is truer than ever in the modern age.

Louis Pasteur’s discovery of pasteurization revolutionized food safety and also exposed an ancient belief to be false – that life could come spontaneously from inert material.

In reality, complex organisms like us require specific energy intake to give them life and health.

Our bodies are made up of thousands of different molecules such as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, DNA, etc.

That’s why we need cells to process the nutrients our body needs from the food we consume and convert them into useful things like hormones or other compounds that facilitate different reactions in our bodies.

This is known as metabolism, which is a process that uses energy so that we can continue living and functioning normally!

That’s why it’s so important to nourish correctly what goes inside our bodies because, after all, you truly are “what you eat – literally.”

Work And Energy Are Convertible – How Metabolism Relates To This Law Of Physics

Work And Energy

Metabolism is a key concept in understanding the body’s energy expenditure and it applies to all living organisms.

In simple terms, metabolism is a measure of the body’s energy use – and that energy comes from breaking down molecules in order to do work.

It’s essentially how efficiently cells use the energy from their food sources.

Through studying physics, we know that work and energy are inseparable; they are essentially interchangeable terms which can be measured using the same units.

Work is done when you throw a baseball for example – what propels the ball forward is your exerting of energy and once the ball leaves your hand, that energy converts into kinetic energy or movement.

Heat too is an everyday example of releasing stored up energy; think about when you warm milk in a microwave, its temperature increase indicates how much electromagnetic energy has been absorbed.

The same scientific laws governing physics applies to our bodies as well – energy consumed is equal to both work done and heat gained.

This means that if we want to maximize the benefit of taking turmeric supplements for example, we need to make sure our bodies absorb as much curcumin as possible.

That’s where BioPerine comes in handy; its patented black pepper extract helps absorption by 2000x more than regular turmeric capsules alone!

Tracking Energy Expenditure Is All About Counting Atoms

Finding out how much energy the body is expending is all about counting atoms.

This was discovered by Nathan Lifson, a physiologist at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.

He found that tracking CO2 production in people could reveal how active they are, as when people burn energy it releases carbon dioxide.

To do this, he had to track both hydrogen and oxygen molecules entering and leaving the body.

Hydrogen molecules always leave as water, but oxygen molecules can also leave when carbon-based molecules are metabolized and form CO2.

So an atom from the body’s water gets replaced with an atom from the new CO2 molecule that gets released in our breath when we exhale.

The Key Message In This Section Is: Metabolically, We Are Just Like Our Ancestors


Metabolically, we are just like our ancestors.

This is the conclusion of new evidence that challenges a common theory which suggests that modern weight problems are due to industrialization causing us to be less physically active with food available at convenience stores, cars and office jobs.

To prove or disprove this hypothesis, researchers looked at energy expenditure in modern hunter-gatherers who live like early Homo sapiens did.

The Hadza of northern Tanzania were studied in this case, whose life is composed of long days spent digging tubers from the ground and picking wild berries for women, and men scavenging for game through 12 miles of sun-scorched savanna and climbing 40-foot trees to harvest honey.

Samples from the Hadza’s urine were sent to a lab in Texas for analysis.

The results showed that the Hadza men on average consumed and burned 2,600 calories a day while women ate 1,900 calories a day -the same amount as those living sedentary lifestyles in Europe and the United States..

This research study shows us that even though physically there may be stark differences between consumption habits options today versus before industrialization; metabolically we’re exactly the same as our ancient ancestors – suggesting an alternate explanation as to why so many Westerners suffer from obesity.

Humans Have A Fixed Or Constrained Metabolism And Obesity Cannot Be Blamed On Sedentary Lifestyles But Rather Gluttony

Humans have a set amount of calories that they burn on an average day and it doesn’t matter where you live or how much physical activity you do.

This is something that has been supported by multiple studies over the years, including research conducted by Amy Luke at Loyola University Chicago and Lara Dugas at Loyola.

Luke found that women living in rural Nigeria burned the same amount of energy each day as African American women in Chicago and Dugas analyzed data from 98 studies around the globe to come to a similar conclusion.

The body’s metabolism is constrained in its energy expenditure and there are some strategies it uses to get around this.

Highly active people tend to save energy through subtle changes such as sitting instead of standing or sleeping for longer periods and reducing cellular housekeeping tasks like immune system inflammatory response or hormone production.

Studies have also shown that beyond a certain level, energy expenditure plateaus so those who are more active don’t necessarily burn more calories than those with slightly less activity.

The findings suggest that our species has evolved ways to manage its daily energy expenditure, which could have significant implications when it comes to public health issues like obesity.

It may not be our sedentary lifestyle making us fat, but rather consumption – illustrating the importance of maintaining conscious calorie control when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.

Our Evolutionary History Explains Why We’Re So Prone To Obesity

Humans have developed a faster metabolism than other primates, making us more prone to obesity.

This is because our bodies require more energy to function than apes.

As Charles Darwin put it in The Origin of Species, “to spend on one side, nature is forced to economize on the other side.” Because of this, even relatively small changes in caloric input can lead to weight gain.

To combat this extra energy demand, humans evolved a way to store calories for later use by using fat cells – something that other apes are not able to do effectively.

In addition, humans reproduce more often and have larger babies compared to primates which also increases caloric demands.

These evolutionary features make humans very susceptible to becoming obese in an environment with easy access calories compared to otherprimate ancestors millions of years ago who wasn’t as exposed and hence had smaller chances of getting obese due their scarcity when it concerns food/calories.

Sharing Fueled The Metabolic Revolution In Human Evolution

Human Evolution

Humans are social animals, just like apes, and it’s been an integral part of our evolution.

One key difference between humans and apes is that humans share food with each other.

This simple act of cooperation changed the course of human evolution by fueling the metabolic revolution.

Sharing was what motivated humans to hunt for bigger game and gather enough fruits and vegetables for everyone in the community.

As a result, more people were able to survive and this allowed for more babies to be born.

It gave humans the energy they needed to spend more time on experimenting with tools – something that aided in their development as a species over time.

This activity also helped speed up metabolism which ultimately led to the development of the brain – an organ which sets us apart from other species.

All of this started because our ancestors decided to share their resources with each other.

Thanks to their cooperation, humanity has evolved into what we are today!

The Takeaway Is That All Diets Work As Long As You Control Your Calorie Intake

The key message to take away here is that you don’t have to stick to a particular diet in order to lose weight as long as you burn more calories than you consume.

Recent research has demonstrated that the amount of calories people burn has remained largely stagnant since the Paleolithic era, much like hunter-gatherers.

This means that, no matter what type of exercise we do, our bodies will not be able to burn significantly more calories than normal.

However, if we reduce our calorie intake below what we burn on a daily basis, then losing weight is possible!

This was evidenced by a 2005 study conducted by Michael Dansinger where 160 adults were randomized into 4 different diets – low fat Ornish diet, low carbohydrate Atkins diet, Weight Watchers and Zone – and over those 12 months those who stuck with their respective diets lost an average amount of weight.

Furthermore, Mark Haub from Kansas State University disproved any existing myths about being limited to only certain types of foods for weight loss.

By limiting himself to 1,800 calories per day (consuming junk food only) for 10 weeks he managed to lose around 27 pounds.

Therefore regardless of what type of food someone does pick – if it’s within his/her calorie budget then losing weight is possible.

Wrap Up

Burn Book, written by Christopher Kelly, provides a comprehensive summary of how human life functions and is affected by calories.

In Paleolithic times, our metabolism has remained at the same rate.

Therefore, regardless of whether someone leads a sedentary lifestyle or is active, people burn the same amount of calories.

This suggests that obesity is more related to gluttony than laziness which implies that physical activity may not influence calorie burning.

Overall, Burn Book highlights our current understanding of metabolism and its limitations with regard to controlling weight loss through exercise.

It provides an interesting perspective that disregards the traditional influences on energy expenditure in order to look deeper into successful methods for controlling weight loss and proves critical knowledge for anyone interested in learning about health habits.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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