By Makena Nixon, CPT, EP
The human body is similar to a car in the sense that it burns fuel (in the form of calories) to keep it running. Not only does the body burn extra fuel during activities such as exercise, but also research has shown an elevated need for fuel even after a workout has ended. Comparable to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over, the body’s metabolism will continue burning more calories than when it is at complete rest. Commonly this is referred to as the “afterburn effect” which is scientifically known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the amount of oxygen your body requires to restore it back to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (homeostasis) that is needed for the body to survive.
Your body is continually burning calories as fuel to keep the heart functioning, liver detoxing, brain sending signals and all other countless activities of the human body. In reality it has been found that roughly 60% of the energy produced from the food we consume is used to keep the body alive and organs functioning normally. The remaining 40% of the energy is burned during other activities such as walking, running or other day-to-day things. That is why if a person does not utilize 35-40% of the energy from the food he or she consumes on a regular basis, it will remain in the body eventually leading to weight gain.
However, you do not need to spend hours upon hours in the gym to burn that extra 40% of energy! If you workout effectively you will burn those calories in the gym as well as outside the gym for up to 48 hours after. EPOC is more affected on the intensity of the workout, not the duration.
Which types of workouts keep the body burning calories after the workout ends? Any type of workout that involves the entire body, short periods of rest and is designed to push the limits of your body to build strength and endurance while getting toned. This looks different for every person depending upon his or her fitness level. As long as you are pushing yourself to your own personal physically safe limit involving most parts of the body, and keeping rest periods at minimum; leaving you breathless and pleased with your workout!
Strength training in the form of a circuit or a high intensity interval training (HIIT) style of workout is the most effective when it comes to creating an afterburn for up to 48 hours proceeding the workout. Incorporate compound, multi-joint, weightlifting and plyometric exercises into your workout using your own bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, stability balls, resistance bands, sandbags and other pieces of fitness equipment. This leads to a greater demand on the involved muscles and body as a whole- ultimately providing a higher intensity workout in a shorter amount of time.
The benefits of exercise on your metabolism do not stop there! Recent research performed by UT Southwestern Medical Center found that a single bout of exercise can boost the activity of the neurons associated with reducing a person’s appetite, lowering blood glucose levels and increasing energy burned. Exercise inhibits the opposing neurons that increase one’s appetite and slows down metabolism activity. This is why many people do not feel hungry immediately after a workout. Overall, exercise helps improve your metabolism and health inside and outside of the gym! The important part is that you do not waste hours on end figuring out the perfect and most effective workout, instead do a little bit of research or get in touch with a trainer today!
If you would like to complete a fitness assessment or schedule an appointment with one of our personal trainers please stop by the Fitness Desk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.