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  1. #1
    Registered User Janina5309's Avatar
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    How many calories does a pound of muscle REALLY burn

    So I've been reading up on this and I've gotten various answers. One study indicated it was approx 50 calories per pound a day, but this study turned out to be wrong...in a way. It didn't isolate factors like body type (endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph) or activity level.

    Another study said it was 5-6 calories per pound a day, but I believe this might have been for basal metabolic rate only and doesn't take into account activity level. So for a very sedentary person with a desk job, this would be true.

    From my reading, I was sort of under the impression that if you gain a certain amount of muscle in an area, lets say a pound of muscle in your legs, and you were walking around all day as part of your job, thus using your leg muscles (extra pound of muscle contracting all day), wouldn't you be burning much more than an extra 5-6 calories per day??? So before you gained that pound of leg muscle, you burned 2000 calories a day, then you gained that pound of muscle, would you now burn something like 2030-2050 calories? Or would this apply only to anaerobic exercise (like lifting), not aerobic activities?

    It also seems that athletes burn A LOT of calories when they exercise. Isn't this because of all the muscle they have? BUT, I've read that the better shape you are in, the less calories you burn doing the same exercise? These facts don't jibe, it's confusing.

    So how many calories does a pound of muscle REALLY burn? And what factors do you take into account to determine this?
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  2. #2
    Registered User lexinak's Avatar
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    I think what's confusing you here is maintenance calories vs activity calories. Each additional pound of muscle (a standard amount regardless of its location on the body) is going to require a certain number of calories - the conventional wisdom says 50, and any study that takes that garbage "body type" pseudoscience seriously is to be laughed at with great derision - just to maintain that mass.

    The calories that are used to activate and contract the muscle, and repair it after use, are considered in addition to the initial "maintenance" figure.
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  3. #3
    Registered User lexinak's Avatar
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    I think what's confusing you here is maintenance calories vs activity calories. Each additional pound of muscle (a standard amount regardless of its location on the body) is going to require a certain number of calories - the conventional wisdom says 50, and any study that takes that garbage "body type" pseudoscience seriously is to be laughed at with great derision - just to maintain that mass.

    The calories that are used to activate and contract the muscle, and repair it after use, are considered in addition to the initial "maintenance" figure.

    As for your confusion about athletes - yes, their muscles are operating at a higher efficiency, but the overall workouts are harder and more intense due to their fitness levels.

    What I see here is you're trying to turn relative comparisons into absolute conclusions. You're thinking too much. It doesn't matter exactly how many calories one pound of muscle burns unless you're a scientist, in which case you should not be consulting the BB forums for answers...
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  4. #4
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    EDIT: Nevermind just read about 5 more studies about this and it varries from 5 to 60 callories.

    Guess we just had to do some more cardio
    Last edited by EViNCaR; 03-25-2011 at 03:58 AM.
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  5. #5
    Bulking freebirdmac's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EViNCaR View Post
    EDIT: Nevermind just read about 5 more studies about this and it varries from 5 to 60 callories.

    Guess we just had to do some more cardio
    No, you don't need more cardio

    A pound of muscle won't take that much to maintain. It has nothing to do with activity level. It's simply the extra cals the body needs to maintain the muscle.

    As for athletes, yes they burn a lot of cals due to a high activity level. But you have to understand that everything they do is geared towards performing their performance. Not trying to achieve a certain physique. In the fat loss, muscle gain world you do thing differently. Too much cardio can be detrimental to muscle gains and muscle maintenance. What people need to do is stay on course with their diet, throw the damn scale out, and have some patience.
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  6. #6
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    ^ general guideline.

    Not set in stone = as it depends on a LOT of other things (eg: muscle mass turn over / repair, hormone levels, etc etc)

    A few articles:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...057.x/abstract
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14647174
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC296885
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2806748
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18279021
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  7. #7
    Registered User Janina5309's Avatar
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    Thanks Emma-Leigh! I read the articles, the one on skeletal muscle metabolism was really good.

    That pretty much answers my questions.

    After keeping a journal of my daily calories over the last year and a half, I have a reasonable grasp at what my daily maintenance calories are and where my plateaus are. I was having trouble getting to and staying at 118 lbs from 122 lbs, so instead of just trying to lose another 4 lbs again to get to that weight, I was thinking of just bulking and gaining another 4 lbs of muscle, then cutting to 122 lbs, and so was wondering how it would affect my maintenance calories.

    Thanks again!
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  8. #8
    Registered User Iskierka23's Avatar
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    Why not just bulk? Why the 122?
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  9. #9
    Registered User Janina5309's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Iskierka23 View Post
    Why not just bulk? Why the 122?
    Take a look at my progress pics, I just uploaded them

    I know 122 lbs seems really low. I think I just have a small frame or something because I often see other people with my body fat percentage and muscle around the 130 to 135 lb range. I think it's because although my hip size is typical for my height, my shoulders and back are very narrow. My bra strap size is 30, so have to buy my bras online, size 30D does not seem to exist in Canada, it sucks.
    Or maybe I'm just skinny-fat!

    I've already gained approx 3-4 lbs of muscle. I feel that my hamstrings/quads are on the verge of getting to bulky. Just my personal preference. However, I do want to bulk up my calves, arms and back. As you can see, they're kinda sad looking. That's where I'm getting only another 4 lbs of muscle from.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Freak17's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by freebirdmac View Post
    What people need to do is stay on course with their diet, throw the damn scale out, and have some patience.
    THAT... Really answers every question. :-)
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  11. #11
    Bulking freebirdmac's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Janina5309 View Post
    Take a look at my progress pics, I just uploaded them

    I know 122 lbs seems really low. I think I just have a small frame or something because I often see other people with my body fat percentage and muscle around the 130 to 135 lb range. I think it's because although my hip size is typical for my height, my shoulders and back are very narrow. My bra strap size is 30, so have to buy my bras online, size 30D does not seem to exist in Canada, it sucks.
    Or maybe I'm just skinny-fat!

    I've already gained approx 3-4 lbs of muscle. I feel that my hamstrings/quads are on the verge of getting to bulky. Just my personal preference. However, I do want to bulk up my calves, arms and back. As you can see, they're kinda sad looking. That's where I'm getting only another 4 lbs of muscle from.
    I really would dump the scale. It shouldn't be a target. Looking at your photos you have a great shape! My suggestion would be to work the shoulders and widen the back. This will help balance the hip width. Of course continue to work legs.

    I also wouldn't get to attached to a maintenance number. Each day can be different. Trying to manage your calories so precisely is an exercise in torment. Ball park will still get you where you want to go.
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  12. #12
    Registered User Janina5309's Avatar
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    Counting calories really is torture. That and the scale was pretty much an obsession, but it got me to where I needed to go initially. I was really too lazy to exercise much before.

    However, since I've decided to bulk a couple weeks ago, I have been avoiding the scale and the calories and it's been such a relief. I'm seeing much faster results compared to the "lose weight and gain muscle" crap I believed in before, that was just too much work for such small muscle gains.
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  13. #13
    Get back to this ↓ hieronymous's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh View Post

    ^ general guideline.
    Wow, so how does one go about bulking their liver, brain, heart and kidneys? They burn a lot!
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  14. #14
    Registered User Janina5309's Avatar
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    Yeah, and I wonder if you get a kidney removed, that you'll burn a lot less calories!
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    Originally Posted by hieronymous View Post
    Wow, so how does one go about bulking their liver, brain, heart and kidneys? They burn a lot!
    Liver - drink lots of beer (alcohol induced hepatitis)...
    Heart - and some more beer again (dilated cardiomyopathy secondary to alcohol)...
    Kidneys - don't pee after drinking said beer (obstructive nephropathy / hydronephrosis)... [ouch]
    The brain - be in so much pain from not peeing that you stumble over a bar stool and hit your head on the side of the bar, causing intracranial haemorrhage and brain swelling...?

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  16. #16
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    ps - interestingly enough - rather than trying to INCREASE muscle mass, you could actually increase your calorie expenditure MORE by chopping off your legs

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1237638-overview

    Adaptive Strategies of Those Who Have Undergone Amputations

    People who have undergone amputations have incorporated different muscles and adaptive strategies to ensure a smooth and well-coordinated gait pattern. An important concept must be remembered in analyzing any pathologic gait (including the gait of those who have undergone amputations): an individual's gait is optimized to use the least amount of energy to cover the greatest distance.4,5,6,7,12

    Several factors need to be accounted for when thinking about the energy costs of prosthetic ambulation. One is the actual metabolic costs (peak exercise oxygen consumption [VO2] in mL/kg/m) of the person who has undergone amputation. Metabolic cost is based on the metabolic oxygen consumption in relation to the distance walked. Clinically, metabolic cost is a gauge of endurance. In the healthy intact person, walking is more efficacious at self-selected walking speeds. The metabolic cost rises at slower or faster rates of ambulation. Comparatively, persons who have undergone amputations exhibit the same correlation between metabolic cost and ambulation speed, with the metabolic costs exceeding the norm at any given walking speed. The increased metabolic cost for persons who have undergone amputations means that the gait is less efficient than that of healthy intact persons, who require less endurance for any given distance.

    Additional energy expenditures by those who have undergone amputations are as follows:

    Those who have undergone traumatic transtibial (TT) amputations use at least 25% more energy during gait.12,13,14,15,16,17
    Those who have undergone a vascular TT amputation have at least a 40% increase in energy expenditure.12,13,14
    Those who have undergone a traumatic transfemoral (TF) amputation use at least 68% more energy during gait.7,18,19,20
    Those who have undergone a vascular TF amputation uses at least 100% more energy.7,18
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    ^^^I don't even Lift^^^ LiftRforLife's Avatar
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    according to NCSF 10-15 calories per pound of lean muscle. But i dont hav any studies besides ther text book.
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    hmmmm

    so does that mean regular high intensity cardio that increases heart health will also increase heart size and therefore cals burned?
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    Registered User CreativeRick's Avatar
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    There are way more many variables than just an easy scale saying 1 lb muscle = 10 cals. The human body is a very advanced organism. Trying to read random articles on studies done on a small scale with a small sample size will not give you a good understanding of how the body works.

    I'd stick to the knowledge that people have now, and not try to over complicate any phase of lifting, cardio or nutrition.
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  20. #20
    Get back to this ↓ hieronymous's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh View Post
    ps - interestingly enough - rather than trying to INCREASE muscle mass, you could actually increase your calorie expenditure MORE by chopping off your legs
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    i would love to know the answer to this as well
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