How Many Calories Do Muscle and Fat Actually Burn?

You have probably read in many health and fitness books and magazines that building muscle is very important (which is true). You may have also heard that for every pound of muscle you add, you will increase your metabolic rate (again, this is true). Eventually, you’ll come across in those same books, that each pound of additional muscle that you add, burns an about 50-75 calories. That fact, however, is false.

Importance of Muscle

Research now shows each additional pound of lean muscle tissue requires about 6-7 calories/pound/day to maintain. Adipose tissue (fat) on the other hand requires only 2 calories/pound/day. I like to think of it this way.

  • A pound of muscle burns three times more calories than a pound of fat. Muscle has greater density but manages to take up 1/3 less space compared to fat.

This is why you look better after months of consistent exercise even if you didn’t lose much weight (hint: it’s not about bodyweight; it’s about the ratio of muscle to fat).

What is Sarcopenia?

You might be asking yourself at this point – is it even worth it to start or continue on with a strength training routine? I’m here to tell you YES IT IS !! Your goal – at any age – is to increase the amount of muscle you have. Why? Because you start to lose it as you age. This results in a decrease of strength and power, while concurrently your functional ability diminishes. The name associated with this muscle loss is called sarcopenia. As we age, we’ll continue to lose about 0.5 to 0.8 pounds of lean muscle tissue each year after age forty.

Research (Nair, 1995) has shown muscle loss can occur at a rate of 3-5 percent per decade starting at age 30 for individuals who have been inactive. If you’re in the age range of say 40 to 55 that is about 5-8 pounds of metabolically active muscle tissue that you’ll no longer have. As you get older the loss becomes even more pronounced.

  • By the time you reach age 70, the muscular system has undergone a 40 percent loss of muscle mass and a 30 percent decrease in strength.

It has been said that the best medicine is prevention. To help prevent the loss of muscle mass, start or continue with your weekly strength training sessions, using Jefit app. You will be glad you did …especially later in life!


Nair, K.S. (1995). Muscle Protein Turnover: Methodological Issues and the Effect of Aging. The Journals of Gerontology 50A:107-114.

Roubenoff, R. (2001). Origins and Clinical Relevance of Sarcopenia. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology 26(1):78-89.

Porter, M. (2001). The Effects of Strength Training on Sarcopenia. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology 26(1): 123-141.

Rogers, M. A., & Evans, W. J. (1993). Changes in skeletal muscle with aging: Effects of exercise training. In J. O. Holloszy (Ed), Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

Try Jefit App Today!

Jefit, named best online strength training choice for 2022, in an article published by the University of Colorado at Boulder. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

Michael Wood, CSCS
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