One of the most important pieces of information you will get if you start reading about the relationship between muscle mass and the body’s ability to burn fat is this: the body needs to burn more calories to maintain a pound of lean muscle than it needs to maintain a pound of adipose tissue. In other words, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn, even during inactive periods, so the simple answer to the question in the title is yes, building more muscle will help to burn more fat, indeed.
However, the issue is a bit more complex than that–here is how things go.
Basal Metabolic Rate and Other Magic Words
Your body uses energy to keep you alive, which means that it burns a certain quantity of energy even if you stay in bed all day. The rate of energy expenditure measured in resting periods is called your basal metabolic rate and it provides important information that you can use for calculating how many calories you need a day to put on weight, to lose weight or to maintain your current weight. The basal metabolic rate is higher in the case of people whose lean muscle percentage is higher. If we take two individuals of the same sex, the same age and the same height, the more muscular body will have a higher BMR and will burn more calories while doing nothing at all than the body that has a higher percentage of adipose tissue.
How Many Calories Does Muscle Burn?
One pound of lean muscle requires 75-150 calories per day to be able to function properly and to maintain its volume, while the same quantity of fat runs on only 3 calories a day. And to give you another surprising fact, to be able to shed a pound of fat a week, you need to create a deficit of around 3,500 calories during that seven days period. Unfortunately, this does not mean that you can simply reduce your daily calories intake by 500 calories a day- cutting back on calories does result in weight loss, but the weight you lose is not all fat, you will inevitably lose some of that precious muscle mass as well.
On the other hand, burning the same amount of calories through work-out, especially if you choose targeted muscle building exercises, will most probably result in a leaner,more trimmed and more toned you, but will not bring about the same weight loss results for the simple reason that muscle is heavier than fat tissue. If you exercise and build muscle, you may burn those 3,500 calories that is the equivalent of one pound of fat,but if you will probably become heavier, not lighter.
As you see, muscle building and fat burning are in a close and very complex relationship, so the best method to increase your muscle mass while also reducing your fat percentage is to combine a targeted diet that contains lots of protein and only a very small amount of carbs with targeted exercising that combines cardio and resistance training.