Does Building Muscle Burn Fat?

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One of the most asked questions in the fitness world is, “Does building muscle burn fat?” There are a variety of factors that need to get taken into consideration when answering this common question, and this article is going to outline them for you.

So, can you expect to shed those excess pounds while getting shredded? Let’s find out by looking at some information from Visual Impact Fitness.

What Is Metabolism?

To get things started off, it’s imperative that you understand what your metabolism is and how it works. The word metabolism itself is derived from the Greek word “metabole,” which literally means change.

Metabolism is the sum of the anabolic and catabolic process that is happening in your body consistently. No matter what you do, there’s no stopping a metabolism.

What Is Metabolism

Because your body is in a constant state of change, energy gets used up to break down the molecules. However, it is possible to have a slower metabolism than others, and if you have a slow metabolism, it’s likely that you have more weight on your body than someone with a fast one.

  • The anabolic process is where the larger molecules get made up of smaller ones. As an example, building muscle (proteins) from amino acids is part of the anabolic process.
  • The catabolic process is where the larger molecules get broken down into smaller ones. As an example, breaking down muscle tissue into amino acids is part of the catabolic process.

Parts of Energy Expenditure

While the above information on metabolism is informative, it doesn’t specifically answer whether or not does building muscle burn fat, nor does it clear things up for you if you aren’t familiar with other concepts of the body and how they work.

When the majority of people talk about metabolism and how it works, they are actually referring to your body’s metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate (RMR,) which is broken down into one of four components below.

  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

RMR is the energy that’s needed to maintain your body’s primary functions while at rest, and it’s what the majority of people refer to as your metabolism.

  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

TEF is the number of calories that get burned during your digestion and absorption process. The food that you eat plays a significant part in how it’s digested and absorbed.

  • Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

TEA is the energy that your body expends during any physical activity that’s in the form of proper exercise.

  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

NEAT is the amount of energy that your body expends during everything that doesn’t fall into the above concepts. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis happens when you fidget, shiver when it’s cold, maintain posture, or do anything else that your body doesn’t pick up as proper exercise.

Now that you have a brief understanding of your metabolism and how energy expenditure within your body works, we can move on to answering your original question. It was vital that you understood the above information in order to understand the concept of muscle burning fat.

Do Muscle Building Burn Fat

Does Building Muscle Burn Fat?

It’s possible that you’ve heard that building muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), and that consequently, your body is going to burn more fat and calories while it’s at rest just due to the growth of muscle mass. In truth, this is very accurate.

There’s also a chance that you heard that one pound of muscle could burn an additional 50 to100 calories each day while at rest. Even though that concept is ideal and makes life easier for a lot of people, unfortunately, it’s very far from the truth.

It is believed that the number of calories that get burned by one pound of muscle during the rest phase is closer to six calories each day—not 50 or 100. What that means, for example, is that if you manage to put on an additional 10 pounds of muscle, then your resting metabolic rate is going to increase by approximately 60 calories a day.

In regards to body fat, it’s also not entirely true that you are metabolically inactive because you have body fat. What many don’t realize is that one pound of body fat burns approximately two calories each day during the resting period.

As a comparison, one pound of heart or kidneys burns about 200 calories each day while it’s at rest, one pound of brain burns about 110 calories at rest, and one pound of liver burns about 90 calories during rest.

Building Muscle to Increase RMR

While building more muscle doesn’t increase your RMR per se, it is believed that training for your muscle growth does raise your body’s RMR for hours after the exercise session. Heavy resistance training, for example, can significantly raise the oxygen levels for about 38 hours after the exercise.

The elevation in oxygen consumption, which is commonly referred to as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) is due to an increase of activity in your sympathetic nervous system, and that prompts a rise in your fat-burning metabolism, increases phosphagen, increases the rate of lactate removal, and changes the levels of glycogen in your body.

The simple answer to the question, then, is yes. According to Visual Impact Fitness, when you lift heavy weights, you do burn more fat because your metabolism is increased while your body recovers in the hours following the lifting.


Your body burns fat during the resting period as it’s trying to recover, but muscle actually has little to do with the metabolic rate itself. However, any amount of high-resistance training is going to help you shred the excess pounds.

You can find out additional information on how building muscle can help the fat burning process with Visual Impact Fitness. The advanced techniques and professional knowledge are constantly available to you if you need questions answered.