The misunderstood science of metabolism - Prof. Herman Pontzer

This week on the podcast Mikki talks to Herman Pontzer, anthropologist and author of Burn: the misunderstood science of metabolism.

He was awesome to talk to as we discuss his research looking at the impact that energy expenditure (IE the exercise we do) has on our overall metabolic rate, how little this actually contributes to our overall metabolism (which was so different to what we expected) and what this means for our ability to improve body composition. Make no mistake: exercise is actually king with regards to its health-related benefits) but Herman's research really opened our eyes to the caloric expenditure that does (or doesn't) occur because of it.


Herman Pontzer is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University and Associate Research Professor of Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute. He is an internationally recognized researcher in human energetics and evolution. Over two decades of research in the field and laboratory, Dr. Pontzer has conducted pathbreaking studies across a range of settings, including fieldwork with Hadza hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania, fieldwork on chimpanzee ecology in the rainforests of Uganda, and metabolic measurements of great apes in zoos and sanctuaries around the globe. Dr. Pontzer’s work has been covered in The New York Times, BBC, PBS, Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, Scientific American, and others.


  1. The Exercise Paradox is a great popular-press article by Dr. Pontzer in Scientific American

  2. IS THERE A LIMIT TO HUMAN ENDURANCE? SCIENCE SAYS YES: Some say the breaking point is all in your head, but new research suggests it’s also in your gut

Find all of Dr. Pontzer peer-reviewed publications HERE on PubMed