The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

North Adams Weather


  • 4 AM
    54 °
  • 5 AM
    55 °
  • 6 AM
    57 °
  • 7 AM
    59 °
  • 8 AM
    60 °
  • 9 AM
    61 °
  • 10 AM
    62 °
  • 11 AM
    65 °
  • 12 PM
    67 °
  • 1 PM
    68 °
  • 2 PM
    68 °
  • 3 PM
    69 °
  • 4 PM
    67 °
  • 5 PM
    65 °
  • 6 PM
    63 °
  • 7 PM
    60 °
  • 8 PM
    57 °
  • 9 PM
    55 °
  • 10 PM
    52 °
  • 11 PM
    52 °
  • 12 AM
    51 °
  • 1 AM
    50 °
  • 2 AM
    50 °
  • 3 AM
    50 °
  • 4 AM
    50 °
May 28
69°/ 50°
Patchy rain nearby
May 29
66°/ 43°
Patchy rain nearby
May 30
66°/ 39°
Sunny
Advertisement
Advertisement

Unveiling the Mysteries of Human Energy Expenditure: Reflections on Andrew Best’s Colloquia Presentation

Photo of Best, sourced from mcla.edu
Photo of Best, sourced from mcla.edu

In a captivating session held on Wednesday, March 6th, at MCLA’s Murdock 218, the Mind’s Eye hosted a thought-provoking Work-in-Progress Colloquia featuring Andrew Best, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at MCLA. The event, titled “Feel the Burn: What are the limits to human energy expenditure?” brought together students, faculty, and enthusiasts eager to delve into the fascinating world of human physiology. Best’s multifaceted background, spanning 15 years as a high school biology teacher before earning his PhD in Biological Anthropology in 2021, coupled with his extensive research portfolio in human sweating evolution and energy expenditure, set the stage for an enlightening exploration of the topic.

Best’s presentation offered a glimpse into his current research project, which centers on unraveling the intricate limits of human energy expenditure. Delivered with a blend of scholarly depth and accessibility, the talk engaged the audience with foundational questions: What are the sustainable limits of human energy expenditure, and what factors dictate these boundaries? Drawing upon his collaborative efforts with researchers at Duke University, Best provided insights into their methodology for measuring energy expenditure in elite ultra-endurance athletes—a population known for pushing the physiological envelope.

At the heart of Best’s inquiry lies a commitment to holistic understanding, weaving together insights from exercise physiology and evolutionary biology. His research confronts the paradoxical relationship between endurance training specificity and the benefits derived from strength training—a phenomenon that challenges conventional wisdom in exercise science. By illuminating the complex interplay between human biology and evolutionary pressures, Best seeks to reconcile these apparent contradictions and uncover the underlying mechanisms driving human performance.

For one of his research, he focuses on unraveling the complexities of the “endurance training specificity paradox,” where improvements in endurance sport performance gained through strength training defy the specificity of training principle. While the immediate mechanisms behind how strength training enhances endurance are increasingly understood, the ultimate causes of this phenomenon have remained unexplored. Best’s approach integrates exercise physiology and evolutionary biology, offering a holistic perspective to reconcile this apparent paradox. By examining the interplay between these disciplines, Best argues that we can uncover the underlying factors driving the unexpected benefits of strength training on endurance performance.

Through his research, Best reveals that competing selective pressures, inherited mammalian biology, and millennia of living in energy-scarce environments have shaped human evolution as endurance athletes. These factors have not only constrained our evolution but have also endowed us with high muscular plasticity. This plasticity, honed over generations, allows for adaptations that exceed the immediate demands of our evolutionary past. Thus, while our ancestors may have faced energy constraints, modern humans possess the capacity to enhance endurance performance beyond what was traditionally necessary for survival.

As a lifelong competitive endurance athlete, Best’s personal journey adds a compelling layer to his scholarly pursuits. With notable achievements including three top-20 finishes at the USA Mountain Running Championships, Best brings a unique perspective shaped by firsthand experiences of physical exertion and athletic achievement. This synthesis of academic expertise and athletic prowess infuses his research with a depth of insight that resonates with both scholars and practitioners in the field.

The impact of Best’s research extends beyond the confines of academia, offering practical implications for athletes, coaches, and enthusiasts alike. By gaining a deeper understanding of the physiological limits of human energy expenditure, individuals can optimize their training regimens and enhance performance outcomes. Best’s work serves as a beacon of exploration, inviting us to push the boundaries of human potential and unlock new frontiers in athletic achievement.

In retrospect, Andrew Best’s presentation at MCLA’s Work-in-Progress Colloquia stands as a testament to the power of interdisciplinary inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. As we reflect on the insights shared and the questions raised, we are reminded of the boundless possibilities that lie at the intersection of science, athleticism, and human curiosity.

 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Karen Yamada, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

All The Online Beacon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *