Do you want to continue burning calories well after you’ve finished exercising? There’s no need to finish burning fat as soon as you finish your workout. You could burn extra calories and fat for hours, or even up to a day or two after your workout. It’s all possible through a process called EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.
When we work out, we use oxygen to fuel our muscles. There’s a reason why you start breathing harder as you exercise. The harder you exercise, the harder you breathe, and the more oxygen you use. This oxygen deficit that you created during your workout needs to be replenished post-workout.
Not only this, but other processes are occurring in your body as well including:
Bringing the heart rate back to a normal resting rate – How high did you get your heart rate up to during your workout? Your heart is beating out of your chest because it needs to supply blood, nutrients, and energy to your muscles. Your heart rate doesn’t just return to normal as soon as you’re done. It takes time (hours), and during that time, you continue burning an elevated amount of calories.
Re-oxygenation of blood – During exercise we use oxygen to fuel many cellular processes. Once we’re done exercising, we need to re-oxygenate our blood. This oxygen debt we created needs extra oxygen and calories to reach homeostasis – the EPOC effect.
Replenishment of muscle glycogen – If you work out hard, muscle glycogen will be your primary source of fuel. It takes energy, and therefore calories, to replenish these energy stores.
Cellular repair – You just broke down your muscle tissues during your workout. It’s time to build it back up. Building muscle (cellular repair) takes a massive amount of calories – the afterburn effect in its purest form.
All of these processes need oxygen and fuel to be performed. What kind of fuel? Fat and glucose. Fatty acids are mobilized to help in the recovery process. This is what the afterburn effect is all about – creating an environment that causes your body to need additional fuel to recover from an intense workout.
Think about this the next time you walk into the club. Will you spend 20 minutes on the treadmill or will you do something to create this afterburn effect?