Recently we received the following question from one of our clients after a one of our many sweaty heavy sessions:
“I’ve always thought that adding muscle speeds up your metabolism. But then I read this isn’t correct. So what is the truth: Does increasing your muscle mass really increase your metabolism?”
For as long as we have been in the business, a lot of people have believed that for every 1 kilogram of muscle you gain, your body burns an additional 50 calories. On paper, this sounds awesome. But unfortunately, it’s not true.
Does Increasing Muscle
Mass Increase Metabolism?
The answer is “yes, but not by a whole lot.”
Research shows that every kilogram of hard-earned muscle burns about an additional 4-7 calories per day. Translation: if you wanted to burn 100 calories extra per day, then you need to add a solid 5 - 10 kilograms of muscle to your body — and that’s a lot of muscle.
But Here’s The Good News
Let’s start with basics: even if you were able to add 5 - 10 kilograms of muscle (and that would take you years, not months, to do), that extra 100 calories burned per day still wouldn’t give you the fat-burning capabilities of a furnace on high in December at the north. But gaining that muscle would still be very helpful for your body — and your fat loss goals.
More Muscle Moving Means
More Calories Burned Faster
While the caloric burn of a single kilo of muscle at rest is very much overstated, the work you’d need to do in order to build that muscle would still create positive changes for your body. And then when the now-more-muscular you exercises, you’d be able to burn more calories faster.
So the big outline of this is that adding muscle mass on its own won’t help you to burn a lot of calories, but can help you to do more work, which is what will actually burn more calories.
While adding more muscle doesn’t speed up your metabolism as much as you’d like, don’t over-stress the impact on your baseline metabolism. Instead, realize that there are many good reasons to exercise and add more muscle (and drop fat) as a means to being healthier and looking better.