Scientists have found out whether mental activity helps burn calories

07 March 2017, 09:00

Can hard men­tal work replace a work­out at the gym? Sci­en­tists have sug­gest­ed that intel­lec­tu­al stress exhausts the brain in the same way that vig­or­ous exer­cise exhausts the body. In addi­tion, it is known that any men­tal activ­i­ty caus­es an addi­tion­al flow of blood, oxy­gen and glu­cose.

Does mental activity help you burn calories?  - a photo


Even at rest, the brain absorbs an enor­mous amount of ener­gy. But what hap­pens to him in moments of solv­ing com­plex prob­lems? As it turns out, short peri­ods of extra men­tal effort require only slight­ly more calo­ries than the brain needs to main­tain nor­mal activ­i­ty.

Read more: 40 ways to lose weight with­out diet­ing

How many calories does the brain burn?

How many calories does the brain spend - photo

Even though the weight of the brain is only 2% of the total body weight, it takes up approx­i­mate­ly 20% of our basal meta­bol­ic rate. For exam­ple, if a per­son needs 1600 kcal to main­tain life at rest, 300 of them are con­sumed by the brain.

As stud­ies show, intense men­tal work for 1–2 hours requires slight­ly more fuel. Some sci­en­tists still con­sid­er the results of such exper­i­ments to be biased, because the research con­di­tions are too humane. As a rule, par­tic­i­pants are asked to com­plete a sin­gle task of medi­um dif­fi­cul­ty, rather than take many hours of a gru­el­ing exam. It is due to pro­longed men­tal stress and stress that we com­plain about the state of a “squeezed lemon”.

Read more: Found an unex­pect­ed rea­son for short­en­ing life

How to make the brain burn more calories?

How to burn more calories - photo


The more effort you make to con­cen­trate, the greater the ener­gy costs. If you want to lose a cou­ple of pounds with­out get­ting up from your com­put­er, diver­si­fy your leisure time with intel­lec­tu­al pur­suits. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your free time.

1. Think more. Look­ing at fun­ny pic­tures or chat­ting on social net­works will not make your brain burn more calo­ries. Being at the mon­i­tor, read more inter­est­ing and sci­en­tif­ic arti­cles, solve prob­lems, solve cross­word puz­zles. At the same time, the com­ple­tion of each item should take at least 25 min­utes: the longer you are not dis­tract­ed and keep your con­cen­tra­tion on one sub­ject, the more active the brain works.

Read more: Top 10 life hacks to help you burn fat faster

2. Less glu­cose. Intense thought process­es pro­voke a decrease in blood glu­cose lev­els. The brain seeks to make up for loss­es as soon as pos­si­ble, there­fore, after an intel­lec­tu­al load, an increased feel­ing of hunger nat­u­ral­ly aris­es. So, sci­en­tists from a Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ty tracked how many calo­ries vol­un­teers con­sume after rest and after solv­ing math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lems. Par­tic­i­pants in the exper­i­ment who were engaged in men­tal activ­i­ty, on aver­age, ate 200 kcal more than those who did noth­ing.

How to lose weight without getting up from the computer - photo


If you feel men­tal­ly tired, drink a cup of sweet tea. This will be enough to com­pen­sate for the loss­es and feed the brain. You can bor­row healthy snack ideas from Hol­ly­wood stars.

3. Emo­tion­al expe­ri­ences. Of course, you don’t have to try to inten­tion­al­ly dri­ve your­self into a state of stress. Emo­tions, both neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive, cause the brain to burn more calo­ries. This is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to add excite­ment and vivid impres­sions to your dai­ly life.


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The opin­ion of the edi­tors may not coin­cide with the opin­ion of the author of the arti­cle.

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