T Nation

1lb of Muscle Burns 30-50 Cals/Day?


According to this:


  • One pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 Calories a day
  • One pound of fat burns only 3 Calories a day

And of course, factoids like these have been circulated elsewhere, including authors and posters on this site, with varying specific numbers.

Does anyone know where this comes from? A study? Is it true? How can this be verified? I was recently told that this was a myth, with the actual caloric demand of muscle being 6 calories per pound per day.

Does anyone know where I can find out whether this is true?


I did a significant amount of research on this a while back. The short answer is no one knows for sure. Answers I found varied from as low as 6 kcal/day to as high as 100. The most common answer was around 40, and that was also the average of all the answers. Watching my own calorie intake and lean body mass numbers, this seems to be about right. I'd say it's a good guess, but don't build too high of a house of cards around it.


Thanks for the response. Do know of any studies? Or is this all hearsay?


There are some studies, but the methodology was such that it was difficult to draw any kind of accurate conclusions. (Either they weren't specific to the question, or the testing was set up poorly so as to make any conclusions you could draw not very helpful). Try pubmed.

The good news is, it doesn't really matter. You can determine calorie expenditure experientially by deriving it from the slope of your weight trend line.