Excess Post Exercise Consumption (EPOC): What Is The Afterburn Effect

You may have heard the term EPOC, or the “afterburn” effect thrown around in the gym or in your HIIT class by your trainer touting the fat-burning effects after your workout is over. Excess post exercise consumption (EPOC) is one of the many ways your body uses energy after training, that can support your weight loss and body optimization goals by revving up your metabolism and torching some calories.

What Is Excess Post Exercise Consumption (EPOC)

EPOC is the result of an increase in oxygen consumption and oxygen metabolism raising your resting energy expenditure post workout. The extent and duration of EPOC depends on your workout intensity. However, your metabolism will stay elevated, and your body will continue to burn calories for a period of time. Usually, the afterburn effect accounts for anywhere between 6-15% of total calories burned during your workout.

How Does EPOC Work 

Physiologically, EPOC is component of exercise induced thermogenesis. Exercise burns more calories. Burning calories comes from the thermodynamics your body produces from the activity you engage in.

Aerobic metabolism, requires oxygen and uses either fats or carbohydrates to produce energy, required for low-intensity activity. Anaerobic metabolism converts carbohydrates to ATP when energy is required more rapidly.

EPOC occurs once you hit 50% of your VO2 max, which will recruit energy from both your aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.

Caloric burn post workout occurs due to several biological pathways, such as the re-synthesis of lactate to glycogen, increased respiration and heart rate, elevated core temperature, and re-oxygenation of myoglobin in muscles and hemoglobin in the blood.

How Long Does The Afterburn Effect Last

The afterburn effect can last anywhere from 3-24 hours, dependent upon your maximal heart rate while training and duration of exercise. Different exercise modalities require more energy and exertion. For example, an hour HIIT or CrossFit class is going to require more energy than 30-45 minutes of steady state cardio, or resistance training.

Post workout your body is still experiencing heightened levels of energy consumption through several mechanisms such as higher body temperature (thermogenesis), increased lactate metabolism, protein synthesis, and fat oxidation as it produces more energy or ATP to replenish the energy you burned during exercise. 

Afterburn Effect: Takeaway

Post exercise, your body is still working for you with extended caloric burn through excess post exercise consumption, by increasing the thermic effect, metabolism, and re-oxygenation of muscle tissue. Although it only accounts for 5-16% of total calories burned during exercise, every calorie counts. 


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