More Muscles = Better Metabolism?
Let's first understand the struggle of building muscles before diving into the concept of how it actually affects your metabolism.
Whenever the relationship between muscle and metabolism is discussed, there are usually two kinds of groups that have been seen very often over the years; The first group belongs to those people who strongly believe that metabolism starts working at a much better rate when a person has grown the muscle size. While the second group belongs to those, who believes that more muscle doesn't contribute much to developing a better metabolism (burning more calories).
If we take things in a more technical manner, then both groups are right.
I bet you weren't expecting such a grey-layered conclusion, but don't worry. Science has established what is likely the best for your body if you wish to burn more calories (better metabolism), shed some of that fat, or maintain a perfectly healthy weight.
What's The Amount Of Calories That Your Muscles Can Burn? (Caution: Disappointment Ahead)
It has been established in multiple studies in the past that by gaining 1 pound of muscle, your body can burn an extra 50 calories. Sounds amazing right? Imagine, you'll be able to burn 100 extra calories on a per day basis by just gaining 2 pounds of muscles, isn't it like a dream come true?
Unfortunately, it's not true, and it's because of this kind of belief that people on a large scale have consumed more calories than they should be consuming just because they believe that their extra muscle gain will neutralize the extra calories by burning them.
While the research, on the other hand, has established that 1 pound of muscle is more likely to burn just six calories daily. While, adding a pound of fat will help burn just two calories a day.
After reading this, you must have chosen the second group to be the winner of this argument, but what if we told you that how many calories a muscle can help burn is just the tip of the iceberg?
Your curiosity must have spiked through the roof already; try to hold your horses a bit more because before learning the impact of muscles on your metabolism, you need to understand the struggle it takes to build muscle.
Can Muscles Contribute To Improving Your Metabolism?
Before moving forward, let's be clear that building muscle and contributing to our metabolism are two different things.
Gaining 5 pounds of muscle may take a long time, and burning only 30 more calories per day doesn't make much sense. However, all the hard work behind gaining and maintaining those extra muscles can still positively impact your body and metabolism.
Research has shown that resistance training can burn more calories than expected. Moreover, the metabolism level is increased for up to 48 hours after a weight training session.
Due to the "after burn" effect, some research has shown that 90% of the calories we burn when we do resistance training may happen after our workout is over.
While the concept of "after burn" certainly holds a factual truth, but that also certainly doesn't establish that you can't burn up many calories while training. Research has also shown that by building muscles, our body processes carbs more adequately as our insulin sensitivity improves, also reducing our chances of getting diabetes. As we start gaining muscles, our body requires more energy to repair, grow, and maintain those muscles, so it won't be wrong to say that adding more muscles alters the metabolic response of our body towards food. Therefore, as our body's metabolic processing of food and calories improves, adding more muscle reduces the likelihood that more calories will be stored as fat.
Want to learn about how to gain weight?
Can You Achieve Fat Loss Without Working Out?
Burning calories is not only limited to the movements that we perform in the gym, even by sitting and standing up burns calories which clearly states that their not just one but many ways to burn calories, still many studies have been done and concluded that if your goal is to lose weight or fat, then making certain necessary changes in your diet like maintaining a certain level of deficiency in your daily calorie consumption is very important. Even though gaining those muscles through sheer hard work may not help in burning calories throughout the day, it still holds a crucial role throughout your fat loss journey.
There is a study that was done on many individuals, in which they were divided into groups – First group exercised 3 times per week their sessions involved both cardio and resistance training, second group also exercised 3 times per week with just cardio sessions and the third group just followed diet and didn’t trained at all
It is true that weight loss is calorie dependent, but significant decrease in fat mass, i.e. 40%, was observed in individuals who also engaged themselves in resistance training. Interestingly, both the cardio-only group and the cardio and resistance training group were granted with the same time duration for their workout sessions. This research concluded that the individuals who engaged themselves with the resistance training saw a better level of weight loss as compared to the group who just performed dieting alone. Moreover, the group who performed resistance training were even able to preserve and gain muscles.
What Can Be Done To Boost The Metabolism?
When we talk about the most complex and misunderstood topic of the fitness industry, I think that no topic can be compared with metabolism. Even burning calories on a daily basis isn't majorly exercise dominated, as your body requires around 50 to 70 per cent of your daily calorie intake for basic functions like powering your organs to stay alive.
The size of a human being also plays a partially important role in the basic functioning of metabolism. Calorie expenditure is relatively high for individuals who are bigger in size or weigh more than most average-sized human beings. The most baseless myth that exist is that thin people have a faster metabolism, as our body weight is directly proportional to the calorie expenditure of any human being who lives and breathes on this earth.
Your macronutrients also have quite an influence on your metabolism; around 10% of the human metabolism depends upon what and how much macros you are consuming in your overall diet, AKA "thermic effect of food". Thermic effect of food explains that when you consume any number of calories, your body uses a certain amount of energy (calories) to burn the calorie that you've consumed. This is why, the number of meals that a person consumes doesn't have much of an influence in the process of weight or fat loss and why protein has been the king amongst the other macro nutrients when it comes to losing fat because protein has the highest thermic effect amongst all the macros (protein: 20 – 30%, carbohydrate: 6 – 8%, fats: 3 – 5%).
Although, working out will never be the main reason for your metabolism, still, around 20 to 40% of our metabolism is dependent upon the physical activity that we do in our day to day life, which consists of simple walking, standing up, sitting down, etc. Science has also given proof over the year through many studies that hypertrophy (the process of building muscles or maintaining muscles) holds a significant command over the effects on our metabolism, which helps us in the process of fat loss as well.