Boosting Metabolism with Muscle

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Posted on December 21st, 2009

Boosting Metabolism with Muscle

Gaining muscle (fat free mass) is a highly promoted concept for improving your metabolism and efficiency for losing body fat. Understanding this concept and some of the myths are important when working towards adding an exercise routine that builds fat free mass.

First off, all tissues in the body require a constant flow of energy contributing to resting metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the energy that body consumes when the body is physically inactive - all basic processes used to maintain bodily functions (not including digestion). The higher our daily RMR is, the more overall calories we more effectively consume without the aid of exercise - basically, when we increase RMR, this is a bonus consumption of calories when we are trying to manage body composition.

Muscle consumes approximately 6-10 calories a day per pound with daily RMR. In comparison, the brain consumes 109 calories pound, the heart and kidneys each consume 200 calories per pound. Since organs can not be increased in size, our best option for increasing caloric consumption with RMR is by increasing muscle mass. One popular myth is that muscle burns 50-100 calories a day per pound. Studies have indicated that increases in muscle mass add increased calorie burning with numbers ranging from 20-90 calories per pound per day. But questions have risen asking if the increase in calorie expenditure was because of the extra muscle alone or if other factors were involved.

Experts then concluded that 10 calories per pound per day is a more reasonable estimate versus the 50-100 calories per pound. By gaining even a small amount of extra muscle mass like 5 pounds can increase your daily calorie consumption automatically by about 50 calories. By the experts figures, this works out to 1500 calories extra a month. To lose a pound of fat requires a net loss of 3500 calories, therefore, this extra 1500 calories via muscle gain can be a very helpful method to reaching the 3500 calorie goal for fat loss.

Morale of the story: if you are working to improve your ability to manage your body composition or to loss weight, it is important to add some exercise activities that will increase your muscle mass. Dieting alone often results in an undesirable decrease in muscle mass and with little fat mass loss - when you exit a diet, your caloric burning capacity is diminished and you will likely gain even more body fat.

Will Yoga add muscle? Yoga can add muscle for those who have been sedentary and beginning a fitness program. Yoga will help maintain fat-free mass for those who are already well conditioned with fitness. Progressive and muscle loading postures will engage large muscle groups and contribute to improving muscular strength, endurance and toning.

Here are some ideal Yoga poses that work large muscle groups:

  • Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana)
  • Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  • Plank Pose / Push up transitions (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  • Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  • Bridge Pose and Spinal Lift Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Another key myth especially for women is the fear of looking bulky and masculine with increased muscle mass. An addition of 5-10 pounds of lean muscle mass distributed over the entire body would be quite insignificant in terms of showing as bulk and for woman, this would be more represented as a more 'toned' image. Consider that 5 pounds of fat has a much greater volume than 5 pounds of muscle. By replacing 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle, you would effectively decrease your body size and enjoy a more toned physique. Putting physical attributes aside, the gain in muscle mass will also be beneficial in generating more supportive tissue around joints thus balancing the increase in flexibility you gain from Yoga.

Again, challenging another myth, increasing muscle will NOT decrease your range of motion and flexibility as long as you remain consistent in your Yoga practices and train without producing injuries or deep muscle soreness. Finally, increasing muscle mass likely involves generating weight bearing stress on the bones. This loading effect on the bones contributes to improved bone health and reduced development of osteoporosis.


Tags: Yoga, Fat Free Mass, Metabolism, Resting Metabolic Rate, Warrior Pose

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