Does Thinking Hard Burn More Calories

Thinking is tiring, it’s not the same as a workout at the gym, but spend an hour and a half doing complex maths and I’m sure you’d be very worn out. The question this brings to mind is, does thinking hard burn more calories than doing nothing?

Burning calories

Our body burns calories to make energy that the body needs to keep going, and none needs more than the brain which takes up about 10-20% of the bodies calories when its at rest. It stands to reason then, that when we think really hard and use our brains more, then more calories will be burned up for use in energy to support this.  At rest, our brains use about a fifth of a calorie every minute.


A lot of the energy used by the brain goes into the manufacture, release and reception of neurotransmitters, neurological chemicals that carry information from one synapse at the end of a nerve to another. They essentially transmit neurological information. these are transmitted more often when thinking so scientists decided to test this theory and see just how many carries the brain could burn while thinking harder.

Studies carried out did show that more glucose travelled to the brain when test subjects had to think very hard, it also showed levels of blood glucose dropping at times like this, meaning it was being sent to the brain for energy. This proved the brain does need and use more energy while thinking, but the amount was hardly something to stop going to the gym for.

The conclusions were that while the brain does burn more calories from thinking, these only really add up to a maximum of about 50 a day, so maybe we shouldn’t sit around eating and thinking to get healthy.