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6 Factors That Can Affect How Many Calories You Burn

You’re likely to have seen the screen display everyone’s heart rate and estimated calorie burns. This is a common problem in group fitness classes. You may have noticed that women tend to burn more calories than men. Have you ever wondered how different people can burn calories at different rates even when they are doing the same exercise?

Metabolic is a broad term that covers all metabolic processes that take nutrients from your body to make energy and fuel growth. It is not easy. Anya Rosen, RD is a virtual functional medicine practitioner based out of New York City. She says that there is a constant ebb-and-flow of reactions that build or rebuild our bodies (anabolism), and those that breakdown food and energy for fuel (catabolism). She adds that it is a complex topic and is difficult to research. There are many factors that influence how fast or slowly you burn calories. These are the six factors that experts believe have the biggest impact on how much calories you burn when you exercise.

1. Body weight

Kyle Gonzalez, a certified strength and conditioning specialist in San Francisco and a performance coach at Future, says that the more you weigh the more calories you will burn. “Calories are simply a measure how energy is used. So if you have two people who are different in weight, the one with more calories will burn more calories. This is because they expend more energy when moving.

Larger bodies tend to have more internal organs. These organs include the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. This is an important factor in how much calories are burned at rest and exercise. A study showed that 43 percent of variation in total calories burned between people could be attributed to differences in their internal organs’ sizes.

This is one reason why weight loss can be so difficult. As your weight drops, your body burns less calories. This can cause weight loss plateaus or even weight regain. It’s not the only reason. As we have previously discussed, weight loss can also trigger physiological adaptations. This includes increased hunger due to higher levels ghrelin and lower levels of leptin.

A registered dietitian can help you reach your weight loss goals in a healthy, sustainable manner if you have reached a plateau in your weight loss efforts. You can find one at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Remember that exercising is good for your overall health, regardless of how much weight you have lost. According to a review published in IScience in October 2021, increased exercise is not associated with long-term weight loss. However, better cardiorespiratory fitness has been linked to improved health outcomes and lower risks of premature death.

2. Muscle Mass

This is where things get more complicated. A person with more muscle mass will burn more calories that someone who is the same weight but has less. Jenaed Brodell RD, a private London-based sports nutritionist, says that muscle tissue burns more calories then fat tissue. However, claims about the number of calories that a pound muscle will burn are often exaggerated. Evidence suggests that a pound if muscle burns approximately five calories per day while a pound if fat burns around two calories per.

Muscle mass can increase your calorie burn by increasing your exercise intensity. This is because your body requires more energy to contract your muscles at a faster rate. Strength training is a great way to increase your calorie burning. Brodell says that evidence shows lifting weights burns more fat than cardio exercise and has better long-term results. However, Brodell stresses that every person’s goals and abilities are unique and that it is up to them to decide how they exercise.

3. The Birth Sex

Gonzalez states that men generally burn more calories when they exercise and at rest than women. There is no magic to why this happens. It’s because men are larger than women and have more muscle mass than their female counterparts. Gonzalez states that males burn between 5-10 percent and 10 percent more calories at rest than females, and that this percentage increases with exercise.

While women can gain muscle mass by strength training, there are physiological differences that mean women cannot be as lean and muscular as men. Brodell explained that women are genetically predisposed towards storing more fat in order to support hormone production and childbearing.

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, body fat is essential for key functions like energy storage, protection of internal organs, and support of growth, immunity, reproduction, metabolism, and other important functions.

According to the American Council on Exercise, men require at least 2 to 5% body fat for health support. Women need 10 to 13 percent. These minimums may not be enough. Although there is no standard for the optimal body fat percentage, the most widely cited study says that an ideal range for adults under 40 years old is between 8 and 20 percent for men (and 21 to 33 percent in women). The relationship between body fat and health is complicated and still not fully understood.

Instead of worrying about how your birth sex impacts your calorie burning, you should focus on what you can control. Gonzalez states that both men and women should work together to build muscle and improve cardiovascular health through a well-balanced cardio- and strength-training program.

4. Age

Brodell states that as we age, our muscle mass tends to decrease. Brodell says that after age 30, we lose 3 to 5% of our muscle mass each decade. A review published in July 2017 by Ageing Research Reviews suggests that the body’s resistance to hormones that encourage protein synthesis, which is key to maintaining muscle health, may be the reason. Your metabolic rate, which is the rate at which calories are burned at rest and exercise, decreases due to this loss of muscle mass.

The August 2021 issue Science published a study on human metabolism. It found that the metabolic rate does not decrease throughout adulthood. Instead, it plateaus between 20 and 60, then starts to decline. The study measured energy expenditures of 6,421 people between 8 and 95 years of age using the doubly labeled technique. This is the gold standard in this type of measurement.

This doesn’t mean that every person’s calorie consumption will remain the same throughout their lives. Rosen states that while the study of daily energy expenditure over the course of a person’s life is fascinating, it does not prove that we understand metabolism correctly. He also says that it is impossible to quantify metabolism. There are many changes in the human physiology that accompany aging, some of which can’t be adjusted even by experts.

Gonzalez states that although you cannot stop your body aging, regular strength training can help you preserve and even increase your muscles mass. Strength training can increase your resting metabolic rate which will help you burn more calories over time.

5. Fitness Level

It seems easier to do a particular type of exercise if you do it more often. Gonzalez says that your body will adapt over time to make things easier. This is a positive thing. This means you will be able run faster and for longer with practice. Your muscles will also be able lift heavier weights with proper training.

It also impacts your calorie burning. Gonzalez states that your body will adapt to training and you will burn fewer calories doing the same workouts. Gonzalez says that your body adapts to training, so you will burn less calories if you do the same exercise for years.

6. Training Intensity

It is possible for two people to do the same exercise and burn different calories. This could be because they are doing different workouts. Brodell explained that exercising at high intensity (meaning you are breathing hard and cannot carry on a conversation) can result in twice the calories being burned. You may be working at the same intensity, but not because you are covering the same distances as another person.

The Department of Health and Human Services states that running and walking have many of the same benefits in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. However, a previous study showed that those who walked for one mile burned approximately 89 calories while those who ran the same distance burned about 113 calories.

According to the DHHS, a goal of 150 minutes of low intensity exercise per week can yield many health benefits. These include reduced anxiety, better sleep, reduced blood pressure, and reduced risk of developing certain chronic conditions. Incorporating high-intensity exercises into your exercise routine will increase your calorie burning and enhance these benefits. ACE suggests increasing your intensity and range of motion for your strength-training sessions.

It is important to not worry too much about what is beyond your control. There are many benefits to exercising beyond the fact that it burns calories. The most important thing is finding ways to make exercise enjoyable and sustainable. Brodell states that the type of exercise that works best for someone depends on their goals, abilities, and physical condition.

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