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Does More Muscle Mass Really Increase Metabolism? How Much Does Muscle Improve Metabolism?

May 10, 2022
tattoo woman lifting weights

We’ve heard it many times before: build more muscle to boost your metabolism so you can eat more.

 

But is it true? How much exactly does increased muscle mass affect your metabolism?

 

Let’s take a look at the facts…

 

Body tissue requires calories (energy) to exist and function. 1kg of fat burns 4 calories per day while 1kg of muscle burns 12 calories per day.

 

Let’s say you gain 10kg of muscle and lose 10kg of fat - which, by the way, would be no mean feat - it would take about 1.5-2 years of hard training as it takes training 3-4x per week for 2 months to gain just 1kg of muscle.

 

With that extra 10kg of muscle and 10kg less of fat, you would burn just 80 calories extra per day! That’s only 1.5 Oreos extra per day!

 

SO HOW DO PEOPLE WITH MORE MUSCLE MASS EAT WAY MORE CALORIES?

 

They cultivate a new lifestyle that matches it. They usually eat a higher protein diet. Remember that high protein intake boosts metabolic rate by about 100-250kcals/day.

 

A healthy diet typically associated with working out also means plentiful micronutrient intake which helps optimize metabolic hormones like T3 and T4 in the thyroid.

 

Higher calorie intake often means you feel like you have more energy to take part in intense workouts and NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis - the more subtle, non-exercise related movements we make in the day). They’re less sedentary essentially. This can account for an extra 100-300kcals/day utilized. 

 

Some more intricate reasons why those with higher muscle mass get to eat more food…

 

A meta-analysis of 34 studies showed that structured exercise improves sleep quality - it’s a bi-directional relationship. So improved sleep quality also leads to greater intensity workouts too. Remember also that poor sleep leads to a 5% reduction in metabolism and 20% lower after meals. It also leads to lower basal fat oxidation.

 

This improved metabolism is also compounded by the fact that improved sleep quality and exercise then reduce cortisol long term. We know that high cortisol can lower metabolism by up to 100kcals/day!

 

So to conclude - while increasing your muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate, the main reason for the boost in metabolism of high-muscle-mass individuals is mostly down to the lifestyle that they live.

 

If you'd like to learn how to lose body fat in a healthy, sustainable way that doesn't take over your life - take a look at Sustainable Fat Loss.

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