When we want to lose a few pounds we usually increase our physical activity. We may kick up our current routine or put ourselves on a new plan to take off the added weight. It could be walking, cycling or the gym whatever is less painful and hopefully enjoyable. Along with the increase in physical activity we try to make healthier food choices. This makes logical sense and both will improve our physical and mental health.
When we think of burning calories we typically don’t think about our brain. But our brain- unlike any other body party- runs exclusively on sugar or glucose, and strenuous cognitive activities require more glucose than simple ones.
So this brings up the obvious question. Do we burn more calories trying to solve a complex puzzle than we would sitting and watching T.V.? The answer to this question is yes. Ewan McNay’s study as published in Time states.
“You will, in fact, burn more energy during an intense cognitive test than you would be vegging out watching Oprah. But in the context of the average person’s overall energy expenditure, the difference in calorie burn from one mental task to another is a tiny amount.”
So burning more calories while using our cognitive or thinking brain sounded pretty good but unfortunately the increase in calorie burn is minimal.
The brain is actually a big energy burner in the grand scheme of things. It has the constant job of sustaining our alertness, monitoring the environment for our safety while managing many other mental activities.
The Brain takes up about 20% or 300 calories of a resting body’s 1300 calories a day. So our brain requires a lot of fuel daily just for managing our safety and other mental activities. If we do engage in strenuous mental activities the incremental change is only 20 to 50 calories.
Although thinking more won’t make us thinner or allow us to eat more it still makes sense to use our brainpower.
Reading, thinking and planning are still great activities required to live a healthy balanced life.
Remember “Image is Everything”.