Exercise Won't Overcome Overeating

by William Thomas August 02, 2012

We all know it's true, good physiques start in the kitchen, not the gym. (And not the drive-thru either!) But that doesn't stop a lot of self denial and justification. I know I've given into temptation before when the little voice inside my head was telling me "it's alright, we really kicked ass in the gym today!". I'm betting you have too.

Well, the good news is that a few indulgences here and there won't derail the train, your body is a remarkable machine that isn't going to torn apart because you ate a greasy cheeseburger or an ice cream cone. The real damage is done with a slow and steady drip of bad food choices. And according to this new report, it turns out that even a full day of walking, hunting and gathering won't change that.


Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity

Abstract Top

Western lifestyles differ markedly from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and these differences in diet and activity level are often implicated in the global obesity pandemic. However, few physiological data for hunter-gatherer populations are available to test these models of obesity. In this study, we used the doubly-labeled water method to measure total daily energy expenditure (kCal/day) in Hadza hunter-gatherers to test whether foragers expend more energy each day than their Western counterparts. As expected, physical activity level, PAL, was greater among Hadza foragers than among Westerners. Nonetheless, average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners after controlling for body size. The metabolic cost of walking (kcal kg−1 m−1) and resting (kcal kg−1 s−1) were also similar among Hadza and Western groups. The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure. We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences.

Full Report -

William Thomas
William Thomas