Did you know that you burn calories, even when you’re doing absolutely nothing? And what would you say if I told you you can increase the amount of energy your body burns, simply by building more muscle?!
Pretty neat, isn’t it?
Wanna know how that works? Here’s a quick overview:
Muscle vs. Fat:
Before we dive into how muscles and fat burn energy, let’s understand their fundamental differences.
Muscle: Muscles are active tissue. They’re responsible for movement and support the structure of your body. The muscle fibers need to contract and relax for us to be able to move.
Fat: Fat, on the other hand, stores energy. It is mainly an energy reservoir.
Now, let’s see why muscles burn more calories than fat.
Why Muscles Burn More Calories
Muscle Tissue is Metabolically Active:
What does that mean? When you move or exercise, muscles use energy to contract and do their job.
That energy comes from the calories in your food and even when you rest, they need energy to maintain their structure and function.
This contributes to your basal metabolic rate or BMR: how much energy your body needs, at complete rest, for just the basic functions (breathing, body temperature, blood circulation, etc).
Fat tissue on the other hand is less metabolically active, meaning it requires fewer calories to maintain itself.
The Minimum Amount of Calories You Burn a Day
The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF):
The TEF expresses how much energy is expended when the body digests and absorbs nutrients.
Muscles are mostly made up of protein, which has a higher TEF than carbs and fat. That means the body expends more energy processing and using protein – potentially burning more calories during digestion if you have more muscles.
Muscles Need Maintenance – Fat Doesn’t:
To maintain muscle mass, your body has to continually use energy. Fat, on the other hand, simply sits in storage until it’s needed for energy.
Exercise Makes Your Muscles Work Harder:
Regular strength or resistance training builds muscle, but it also makes them more efficient at burning calories! (They become more metabolically active and this raises your resting metabolic rate.)
What this means in conclusion:
Muscles burn more calories (even at rest) than fat does because they need energy to be maintained and to function.
So when you increase your muscle mass, you help boost your metabolism. That in turn can help with weight management (together with a healthy and balanced diet, plenty of rest and recovery, and regular training).