Does Building Muscle Increase Metabolism?

hypertrophy metabolism Jun 03, 2022

IMAGE: UNSPLASH / Alonso Reyes

Does building muscle mass make you a calorie burning machine?

The answer is yes, and no. In order to understand whether or not muscle can increase your metabolism we need to start with your basal metabolic rate. 

Basal Metabolic Rate, or how many calories you burn in the day just laying around is what we call “Metabolism."

Let’s say that an average guy decides to lift weights for a year and gains 10 pounds of lean body mass. 

  • This 10 pounds of lean mass includes increases in muscle, water, bone, skin, and anything else in the body that is not fat. 
  • He did not build 10 pounds of muscle, probably closer to 3-4 pounds (~2kg) of muscle tissue, which is a lot for 1 year!
  • The metabolic rate of muscle is roughly 13 calories/ kg muscle/ day, so an increase of 2kg of muscle = about 26 extra calories burned per day. He can now eat an extra half a kiwi per day!

Muscle burns more than fat, but...

Yes, 1 pound of muscle burns roughly 3x as many calories as 1 pound of fat.

Yes, increasing lean body mass can increase metabolism.

No, you really aren’t vastly changing your metabolism from building muscle.


There are other factors such as hormonal health (thyroid hormone, testosterone, cortisol, etc.) that can impact calorie burn, but that information will come in a later blog.


Building muscle improves your metabolism in the long term

Building muscle over a long period of time can increase your metabolism by 30-100 calories/day. 

Don’t discount that because that can be the difference between successful weight loss and a plateau

That being said, be careful in fully jumping on that “spring break 30-day metabolic burn instant results” challenge expecting true metabolic change.

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