I bet you've heard this before:
"Muscles are like the engine of your car, the bigger the engine, the more fuel you burn, so if you have more muscle, you burn more calories."
This is essentially true, but overrated. In reality, gaining a pound of muscle increases daily energy expenditure by 15 to 25 calories, which is not that much. This corresponds to about one third of an apple.
If you gain 10 pounds of muscle mass, it can lead to higher calorie consumption of about 200 calories per day. But it's still not nearly close to what people would believe.
And to be honest, most people do not add 1
The point is that when adding muscle will increase energy consumption, it's not as much as what people think, and does not justify eating like an ogre, "because I have the muscles to it burn."
What extra muscle will do
Adding more muscle makes it easier to become leaner and harder to gain fat. But burning extra calories is not the only (or even most important) reason.
This is also due to an increased storage space. If you gain one pound of muscle, you can store an extra 15-20 grams of glycogen in your muscles. So building 5 kilos of muscle will save you 75-100 grams of glycogen. This means that you can consume more carbohydrates before you save them as fat – the body will fill up the glycogen stores before you turn carbohydrates into fat.
So, strictly speaking, from a mechanical point of view, bigger muscles = more space for glycogen, which means that I can have more carbohydrates daily without storing them as fat.
If you're able to consume more carbs daily, you can keep your metabolic rate elevated because the conversion of T4 into T3 is dependent on carbohydrate intake and cortisol levels. Higher carbohydrates usually mean less cortisol, because the function of cortisol is to mobilize glycogen to increase blood sugar levels. If you consume carbohydrates, the need is lower.
This allows you to eat more carbohydrates with more muscle, which causes your metabolic rate to continue to buzz and make you anabolic to higher insulin levels and IGF-1.
When you have more muscle, the muscles become more sensitive to insulin. This is good for two reasons:
- If you are insensitive to insulin, you will need to produce less insulin to get the job done. If insulin is less elevated, it means that it falls down quickly. As long as insulin is significantly elevated, fat mobilization is less efficient. The faster your insulin drops, the more time you spend mobilizing fat as fuel.
- If your muscles are insulin-sensitive, you can store nutrients better in your muscle than in body fat. Incidentally, Indigo-3G® is so effective by the way: it specifically increases the insulin sensitivity of the muscles.
The analogy of car engines is not terrible, but there is something more than most people know. And you do not actually burn so much fuel when you're building muscle. At least not compared to the calories you stuffed in your throat last weekend.
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