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What is After Burn?

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  • Written By: Kimberly Coghlan
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The phrase after burn is fitness jargon for the biological process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The theory behind this process states that the body continues to consume oxygen at an elevated level even after a workout is complete. In essence, this means that the body continues to burn fat or calories after a workout, even when little or no energy is being expended. This process is triggered by an elevation in the body’s metabolic rate, and the time and duration of after burn depends upon the duration of the workout.

Many studies have been conducted to determine which exercises actually initiate EPOC and whether or not some exercises produce a greater and longer period of after burn. Though some experts disagree about how many calories are actually burned after various workouts, most experts do agree on a few solid principles. For cardiovascular or aerobic activities, the more intense the workout is, the greater the EPOC will be. In addition, the EPOC will also be more significant if the aerobic exercise exceeds 60 minutes in duration.

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In some studies, resistance training has shown to produce the greatest amount of EPOC, but the intensity of the after burn still depends on the duration and intensity of the workout session. Researchers have long studied the effects of increased muscle on the body’s resting metabolic rate. The resting metabolic rate determines the amount of energy that is consumed when the body is in a natural resting state. In other words, the body still burns a certain amount of calories even when a person is sitting on the couch while watching TV. The controversy, however, is associated with determining how many calories are actually burned during a period of rest.

A common myth in the fitness community suggests that for every new pound of muscle, 50-100 calories are burned a day in a rested state. Unfortunately, there is a significant amount of evidence to refute this claim. Though the findings of experiments have varied, most researchers believe that this claim is overly exaggerated. In reality, most researchers believe that the resting metabolic rate burns about 10 calories per kilogram of muscle, which is less than five calories per pound.

Much of the research about after burn varies. Factors such as age, sex, activity level, and hormone production all contribute to EPOC. The core of the research does presume some conformity, though. After burn is a biological process that does exist. The longer and harder a person works, the more calories he or she will burn after the workout is over. Plus, muscle produces a greater amount of after burn than fat.

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anon944143
Post 4

As with most cycling groups, mine stops for a break (usually coffee) on long rides. When we get going again, I experience an agonizing burn that lasts for a few Kms until I warm up again. I understand the need to warm up but do not believe what I am experiencing is normal compared to others. It is debilitating. I can't even stop at traffic lights for too long. Can you explain and if so, is there any solution?

literally45
Post 3

There is really no point in trying to figure out calories burned from EPOC. For most people, it's a very small amount and it's not really relevant when trying to lose weight. Professional athletes or trainers might be paying more attention to this because they workout a lot and experience greater after burn. But for the rest of us, it's not worth bothering about.

ZipLine
Post 2

@fBoyle-- There is definitely something called after burn, but whether it occurs or not depends on many different factors. These include the type of exercise, the intensity, the duration, as well as the person's weight and eating habits. Those who eat healthy and do an intense aerobic or cardio exercise for long enough will certainly experience after burn. So the claims of the exercise videos you mention may be true. I think one has to try it to find out.

For some reason, this topic is discussed a lot. But most people try to prove that either after burn doesn't exist or that it exist in all circumstances. Both are incorrect. After burn exists but it might not occur after each type of exercise.

fBoyle
Post 1

There are many exercise videos out there and many claim that these exercise routines continue to burn fat for up to 48 hours after the exercise. I've always found these claims exaggerated. Is there any truth to these claims?

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