Do You Burn More Calories When You Are Studying: Can You Lose Weight?

No doubt studying can make you expend more energy when your mind is at ease. For instance, taking on more complicated topics—such as trigonometry and aerospace engineering—relates to exhaustion and mental fatigue, which typically shows how much energy you use. But Do you burn more calories when you are studying?

young student studying

Studying can help burn calories, but science has shown that the impact is usually insignificant. The energy you spend when studying is only sometimes sufficient to result in substantial weight loss unless you combine the practice with other techniques, including exercising and dieting.

As a scholar, you may wonder whether or not studying so hard can help you to lose weight and burn calories. This article comes in handy to acquaint you with every essential information bit you should know.

Studying and Brain Energy Expenditure: An Insight

It’s beyond doubt that the brain gets overly worked when you study, and the aftermath is that you may feel exhausted. This feeling typically indicates brain activity that expends energy, which plays a minute role in your weight loss. Some of the brain activities and processes that lead to energy expenditure include the following:

  • Neural Signaling: Studying and cognitive tasks involve the transmission of electrical signals between neurons. Neurons typically communicate amongst themselves through neurotransmitters’ release and reception.

These processes require energy to maintain the electrical potential across cell membranes and to facilitate neurotransmitters’ release, reuptake, and recycling. Also read Here: Does Thinking Help You Lose Weight?

  • Synaptic Plasticity: Studying and learning usually form sturdier connections between neurons. This process requires energy as it involves molecular changes at the synapses, including the synthesis and transport of proteins, activation of signaling pathways, and structural modifications.
  • Neurotransmitter Production and Release: Neurotransmitter chemicals transmit signals between neurons, and their synthesis, packaging, and release require energy.

Different neurotransmitters, including glutamate, GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, play a vital part in various cognitive functions and contribute to energy expenditure when you study.

  • Ion Pumping: Maintaining the proper ion balance across neuronal membranes is crucial for generating and propagating electrical signals. Ion pumps, such as the sodium-potassium pump, actively transport ions across cell membranes, which requires energy in the form of ATP.

These ion pumps play a significant role in establishing and maintaining the resting membrane potential and supporting neuronal firing.

  • Action Potential Generation: Action potentials are brief electrical impulses that allow neurons to transmit signals over long distances.

The generation of action potentials requires energy to open and close ion channels, allowing the influx and efflux of ions across the cell membrane. This energy expenditure is essential for the propagation of signals along neural pathways.

Cellular Metabolism: Brain cells—particularly neurons—have high metabolic demands to support their functions. These metabolic pathways generate ATP, the energy currency of cells, and provide the necessary energy for studying and cognitive activities.

does studying burn calories and help you lose weight?

Evidence has shown that a 155-pound individual can burn about 100 calories studying per hour. However, some gaps still need filling to make the conclusions more comprehensive. Also Read: Does Leg Jiggling Burn Calories?

Studying to lose weight, nonetheless, should be a different option than your go-to option if you want more tangible weight loss results, even by taking on the most challenging topics and studying hard.

Ideally, losing a pound of weight requires burning about 3,500 calories. For a 155-pound individual, you may have to spend 35 hours to lose a pound of body weight, which can be a lot to ask.

That speaks it loudly that studying may not be your best option for losing weight if you want to achieve your goals quickly. However, if you aren’t rushed up, you could still find studying for weight loss feasible.

Does brain activity burn calories? Can Complicated Topics Engage Your Brain More?

Studying comes in various levels, from only skimming pages to getting more focused on a topic that’s a bit more complex. The latter requires more time and effort to read out and internalize messages, sometimes rounding up with some practical studying.

Taking on complicated topics can engage your brain more and get you to expend more energy. The reasons studying complex topics usually engages your brain include the following:

  • Cognitive Effort: Complex topics often require more profound analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Engaging with intricate concepts, theories, or unfamiliar subjects or requiring abstract thinking can demand more cognitive effort.

Your brain must actively process and integrate new information, make connections, and understand the complexities involved.

  • Working Memory Load: Complex topics can place a higher demand on your working memory. Working memory is the cognitive system responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information.

When studying complex subjects, you may need to hold numerous pieces of information simultaneously, compare different ideas, or engage in mental simulations or calculations. That increased working memory load can lead to heightened brain engagement.

  • Higher-Level Cognitive Processes: Complex topics often require the application of higher-level cognitive processes, such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creativity.

Engaging in these cognitive processes involves activating multiple brain regions and networks, leading to increased brain engagement. These processes go beyond rote memorization and encourage more profound understanding and the development of critical thinking skills.

  • Neural Plasticity: Studying complex topics can induce neuroplastic changes in the brain. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new connections between neurons.

Engaging in challenging cognitive tasks, such as studying complex subjects, can stimulate the growth of new neural connections, strengthen existing ones, and enhance overall brain connectivity.

  • Emotional Engagement: Complex topics often evoke curiosity, interest, and a sense of intellectual challenge. Emotional engagement plays a significant role in cognitive processing and memory formation.

When you find a subject matter intriguing or challenging, it can increase your attention, motivation, and overall brain engagement during studying.

Do Weight Loss Results from Studying Last Long?

Weight loss results from studying are usually minimal and short-lived, so it should be something other than a technique you should rely on. It’s easy to gain more weight than you’d lose when studying unless you make more permanent lifestyle and dietary changes. It takes way too long to achieve less weight loss results, which, without a calorie deficit, the results may not be worth the salt.

Additionally, weight loss achieved through studying alone is not targeted or specific. Weight loss should ideally involve reducing body fat while preserving lean muscle mass. If feasible, engaging in physical activity, including resistance training and aerobics, is crucial for maintaining muscle mass and supporting healthy body composition.

Is There a Way of Studying without Expending Energy?

Studying may not fit well in the class on practical weight loss techniques in the first place. And if a way to study without losing weight exists, that’d depend on how you generally perceive studying as a weight loss option. However, it’s still possible to study without using energy if you use the following techniques:

Focus and Concentration: Enhance your focus and concentration during study sessions to maximize energy expenditure. Minimize distractions, create a conducive study environment, and practice mindfulness techniques to improve your attention span.

Time Management:

  1. Plan and organize your study schedule effectively.
  2. Allocate dedicated study periods when you are well-rested and mentally alert, as this can improve your focus and productivity.
  3. Avoid cramming or overloading yourself with long study sessions, which can lead to mental fatigue.

Active Learning: Engage in active learning techniques promoting active participation. That can include summarizing information in your own words, teaching concepts to others, participating in discussions or study groups, or using mnemonic devices and visual aids to aid memorization.

Active learning promotes efficient information processing and retention, making studying more effective.

Effective Study Techniques: Utilize study techniques known to be efficient and effective, such as spaced repetition, retrieval practice, and interleaving.

These techniques optimize learning and memory formation, allowing you to achieve better results with less studying time.

Optimal Rest and Recovery – Sleep sufficiently and taking breaks during study sessions are crucial for consolidating information, enhancing memory retention, and maintaining cognitive function. Fatigue can hinder your ability to study effectively and may lead to diminishing returns.


Does studying burn calories and help you lose weight? Studying can help you burn calories, but realizing tangible weight loss results takes much effort. Ideally, you need about 35 hours to burn a pound of weight, which you can quickly gain less time. The effort may not be worth it, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making more reasonable diet choices can help keep the results.

Medical Discalimer: The information provided here On Geeks Health website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Reliance on any information in this response is solely at your own risk.
Vanessa Roberts
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