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Does Post-Exercise ‘After-Burn’ Really Help Burn Fat?

Previously we’ve discussed how your HIIT workout will make you burn more calories for the rest of the day. Sounds too good to be true, right? Keep reading to learn what EPOC can do for you.

This is the concept of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which has been described as a benefit of high-intensity exercise and a major player in weight management and weight loss.

What is EPOC? Does it really turn us into calorie-burning machines? And, if so, how can we train to get the most out of it?

𝗘𝗣𝗢𝗖 𝗘𝗫𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗜𝗡𝗘𝗗-

EPOC is the amount of oxygen our body consumes following an exercise session that is in excess of the pre-exercise oxygen consumption baseline level. Essentially, our body uses more oxygen after exercise than before exercise, and we expend more calories during our recovery from exercise than we do before exercise.

𝗪𝗛𝗬 𝗗𝗢𝗘𝗦 𝗘𝗣𝗢𝗖 𝗢𝗖𝗖𝗨𝗥?

After exercising, our body has to restore itself to homeostasis, or its resting state. This recovery process requires energy, which is why we see an increase in calories expended post-exercise compared to pre-exercise. Reynolds & Kravitz (2001) state that the following occurs during EPOC: replenishment of energy resources, re-oxygenation of blood and restoration of circulatory hormones, decrease in body temperature, and return to normal breathing rate and heart rate.

𝗛𝗢𝗪 𝗟𝗢𝗡𝗚 𝗗𝗢𝗘𝗦 𝗘𝗣𝗢𝗖 𝗟𝗔𝗦𝗧 𝗔𝗙𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗘𝗫𝗘𝗥𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗘?

While it has been stated that the body can take 15 minutes to 48 hours to fully recover from exercise (Vella & Kravitz, 2004), researchers have not been able to definitively answer this question. The majority of studies have indicated that oxygen consumption (and thus, caloric expenditure) may be increased for up to 24 hours after exercise.

𝗗𝗢 𝗘𝗣𝗢𝗖 𝗖𝗔𝗟𝗢𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗦 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗙𝗔𝗧 𝗕𝗨𝗥𝗡𝗘𝗗 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗟𝗬 𝗠𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝗔 𝗗𝗜𝗙𝗙𝗘𝗥𝗘𝗡𝗖𝗘?

The exercise after-burn, or EPOC, is the number of calories expended above resting values after a workout. Although intensity dependent, both aerobic and resistance training programs may elicit an EPOC from 65-200 (primarily fat) calories post workout. Some fitness professionals suggest that since one pound of fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories, EPOC is an insignificant factor in the fat burning process.

However, if someone exercises 5 days/week, over the course of the year EPOC would be calculated as follows: 5 workouts per week x 52 weeks x 100 EPOC calories per workout totally 26,000 calories or 7 lbs of fat––that’s a meaningful amount of fat to lose for anybody.

𝗪𝗛𝗜𝗖𝗛 𝗘𝗫𝗘𝗥𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗘𝗦 𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗗𝗨𝗖𝗘 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗦𝗧 𝗘𝗣𝗢𝗖?

High-intensity and/or longer duration cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise seem to elicit the greatest EPOC response. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the intensity (and the more the exercise disrupts our homeostasis), the greater the magnitude and duration of EPOC following exercise.

Though longer exercise sessions have been show to elicit a greater EPOC response compared to shorter sessions, exercise intensity is suggested to be the main contributor to EPOC.

𝙎𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙚𝙭𝙚𝙧𝙘𝙞𝙨𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙢𝙖𝙭𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙯𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙀𝙋𝙊𝘾 𝙚𝙛𝙛𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙨. 𝙑𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙖 & 𝙆𝙧𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙯 (2004) 𝙣𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙨𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡, 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜:

-𝙏𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙤 𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜

-𝙃𝙞𝙜𝙝 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙖𝙡 𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 (𝙃𝙄𝙄𝙏)

-𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙮 𝙍𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜

-𝘾𝙞𝙧𝙘𝙪𝙞𝙩 𝙍𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜

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