I am new to this site, but have read several questions and answers here that are related to this question and have found different contradictory answers. Some say that the only effect is that a larger lean muscle mass will burn more calories. Some say the extra lean mass will burn a lot more calories, other answers say that the lean muscle mass effect is small, such as only 10 calories per extra pound of lean mass per day. Some answers say that only intensive cardio exercise will increase the BMR, others claim there is no significant effect from cardio exercise.

So, please don't make just state an opinion or make general qualitative statements. How does actual quantitative research answer this question? Where are the studies and data?

2 Answers 2


In a sense, yes it does. It's not a permanent increase, you simply keep on burning more calories than your resting rate until your body returns to baseline. The type of exercise (the shorter, higher intensity workouts are better) also influences how long this occurs.

In this study : http://www.mendeley.com/research/postexercise-energy-expenditure-response-acute-aerobic-resistive-exercise/ they used 90 minute, high intensity strength workouts, and still after 15 hours, the metabolic rate was elevated. However, this only translated to about 150 calories burned.

Here: http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/52A/6/M352.short is a study showing a BMR increase in older men, and here: http://jap.physiology.org/content/75/4/1847.short is another study showing a BMR increase post exercise.

Plenty of studies around showing this effect.


This is a complex question, and no one has the complete answer, but a recent study compared the metabolic rate of a hunter gatherer culture still in existence with the metabolism of sedentary westerners and found that "daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners". Similarly, a study found that the metabolism of obese sedentary women was quite high, refuting speculation that weight gain was caused by slow metabolism.

We know intuitively that exercise can stimulate appetite, but some people gain greater control over appetite when exercising regularly.

Most people know someone who has lost a lot of weight through exercise, and probably someone who has gained weight when they added exercise. I was around a group that was training for a marathon, and among that group, some people gained weight, some lost, and some stayed the same. They all were increasing their distances and trying to eat well.

You are getting contradictory answers because there are contradictory things going on in the body and people are getting contradictory results. In the end, your question really is "Will I lose weight from exercising?" and the answer is maybe; some people do, and some don't. What you probably don't want to do is link some sort of exact calorie expenditure to an exact intake. There are too many hormonal things going on to make that calculation.

  • Thanks. I agree that one should not increase caloric intake when trying to use exercise to lose weight...
    – FrankH
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 7:10

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