Welcome back to Weekly Wellness. In my first article, I talked about the importance of body recomposition over the idea of losing weight. The main reason I use the term “body recomposition” is to underline the importance of maintaining a healthy level of lean muscle. Let’s take a look at why building lean muscle is very important to your body’s metabolism.
Metabolism is measured by a metric called Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, RMR is the amount of energy the body requires to perform basic daily functions such as respiration and digestion. Performing these functions leads to the body burning calories, leading to better opportunities to burn fat.
In general, metabolism is affected by a few elements:
• Your gender: men generally burn more calories at rest than women due to more muscle mass
• Your age: metabolism naturally slows about 5% per decade after age 40
• Proportion of lean body mass: the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be
What that means is that an increased level of lean muscle will lead to a faster metabolism. Having a strong resting metabolic rate will result in burning more body fat around the clock, as you will burn more calories during the day while you are resting. I’ll set up an example to show how this plays out in the real world.
Let’s assume that Person A and Person B are the same height, gender and each weigh 200 lbs. However, Person A has 10% body fat, meaning they carry 20 lbs of body fat. Person B has 30% body fat, meaning they carry 60 pounds of body fat. Since a pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day at rest and Person A has 40 more lbs of lean muscle, Person A will burn 240 more calories at rest over a 24 hour period than Person B. Over one week, with all other things being equal, that adds up to Person A burning 1,680 calories more than Person B.
THE TAKEAWAY: The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. That will lead to burning more calories when you are resting. That means you don’t always have to focus on burning fat while at the gym. Remember, the goal is not to lose weight, but to lose fat and gain lean muscle.
Next week, we will talk simple and effective ways to build lean muscle by making some easy changes to your workout routines.
Matt Gallagher is the Fitness Director at MFC Sports Performance in Darien, which specializes in functional training for both adults and younger athletes. You can reach Matt by emailing him at Matt@MFCSportsPerformance.com.