Do Overweight People Burn More Calories?

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing such diseases as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and certain cancers. But take heart from the silver lining in this cloud: The heavier you are, the faster you burn calories.

Estimating Calorie Burn

The American Council on Exercise lists a number of activities according to how many calories they burn per minute, depending on your body weight. A 20-lb. weight difference can translate to a more than 10-percent increase in calories burned for some activities. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., you'll burn about 10.3 calories per minute swimming the crawl at a moderate pace. However, if you weigh 180 lbs., you'll burn about 11.6 calories per minute.

Fat vs. Muscle

Although heavy people do burn more calories than light-weight people, muscle still burns more calories than fat. If a 200-lb. man with high body fat and a lean, muscular 200-lb. man work out together at the same intensity, the muscular man will burn more calories than the fat man -- every pound of muscle contributes actively to the calorie burn, whereas body fat is just dead weight.


If you're envious of a heavy friend's calorie-burning ability, wear a weight vest during low-impact, weight-bearing cardio activities like walking. Carrying the extra weight will increase your workout intensity, which means you burn more calories per minute, too.

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