Physical Activity Burns Fewer Calories Than You Might Think, Says New Research - msnNOW
Sep 24, 2021 1 min, 51 secs

The study published in Current Biology found that, if you exercise, your body may actually burn fewer calories during the rest of the day than would be expected — specifically, about 28 percent less.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from 1,754 adults, looking specifically at how many calories they burned at baseline (aka their basal energy expenditure or basal metabolic rate, which, is the number of calories your body needs to simply function) and how many calories they burned overall during the day.

Researchers then subtracted their basal metabolic rate from their overall calories burned, and figured out how many calories people burned from exercise and general activity (such as walking, working, etc.).

That figure was then compared to the number of calories that people theoretically should have burned (according to commonly accepted formulas for estimated calorie burn) based on their basal energy expenditure and which activities and workouts they did that day.

While everyone's metabolism and calorie-burning abilities are slightly different, the researchers found that, overall, only about 72 percent of the calories that people burned from exercise and general activity actually translated into extra calories burned that day.

It's not that their workouts "didn't count" but rather, their bodies actually "compensated" for the increased effort of exercise by reducing their basal energy expenditure when they weren't being active, therefore they burning fewer calories at rest.

For example, let's say your basal energy expenditure is about 1,400 calories/day, you burn about 300 calories on a 30-minute run, and you burn an additional 700 calories doing other various tasks for the day, such as cooking, cleaning, walking, and working?

In people with higher amounts of body fat, their bodies were more likely to "compensate" to conserve energy and burn fewer calories at the end of the day compared to those with lower body fat levels — in some cases, up to 50 percent less.

Not to mention, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so by building more muscle, you're setting your body up to burn more calories even when you're doing nothing (though it's unclear how that might interplay with this energy compensation phenomenon).


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