How Many Calories Does Muscle Burn Compared to Fat?

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the amount of calories you burn depends on several factors. Physical activity level, resting metabolic rate and genetics can all determine how quickly calories are metabolized, or burned, after consuming food. The more lean body mass you have, the more quickly you will metabolize the calories you consume.

Resting Metabolic Rate

Resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy the body requires to perform basic daily functions such as respiration and digestion, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Resting metabolic rates are specific to individuals and highly dependent on physical activity, genetics and lean body mass. An increase in either physical activity or lean body mass will result in an increase in your daily energy expenditure and will positively affect the resting metabolic rate.

Muscle Metabolism

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Resting metabolic rates are higher in people with more lean body mass, or muscle. Claims have been made that muscle burns fat at rates upwards of 30 times that of fat. However, this appears to not be the case. Fitness author Christian Finn writes that for every pound of muscle you have, your body will burn about 6 calories per day. This is referred to as the daily metabolic rate.

Fat Metabolism

Fat metabolism, or lipolysis, has a daily metabolic rate of about two calories, according to Finn. Therefore muscle has a daily metabolic rate of about three times that of fat. This isn't quite as high as previous claims, however it is still a valid reason to build more muscle and decrease fat.

Improving General Metabolism

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Metabolism is a product of resting metabolic rate. Because resting metabolic rate is influenced by lean body mass and physical activity, increasing these factors will improve metabolism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity spaced throughout the week. A well-balanced exercise program also includes strength training because of muscle's higher daily metabolic rate, the American College of Sports Medicine reports. Strength training can also fight some of the natural muscle atrophy that occurs with aging.

Estimating Your Metabolic Rate

With a simple calculation, you can estimate your resting metabolic rate. If you are a woman, multiply your weight in pounds by 10. If you are male, multiple your weight in pounds by 11. This gives you a rough estimate of the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. By increasing your percentage of lean body mass through exercise, you'll increase you resting metabolic rate.