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Status:Closed    Asked:Apr 23, 2014 - 03:31 PM

Is the 'after burn' effect an actual thing? If so, how does it work?

I understand that there is an effect called the 'after burn', in which the metabolism is revved after intense exercise. Is it actually proven? And what is it, exactly, that triggers the metabolism to significantly increase, and how do you trigger it? I was under the impression it was a cardiovascular trigger, while a friend of mine thinks it is triggered by intense muscle use, if it isn't completely bogus in the first place.

If you could get into the nitty gritty physiology of this topic, that would be *amazing*. Or share a link that explains how it works in detail. Thank you!

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What you are referring to is called EPOC – Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. This is seen within the body following a high intensity bout of exercise, generally of cardiovascular nature (although metabolic circuit style training has recently gained notoriety for this as well). This causes more calories to be used after the exercise bout is completed in order to restore the body to homeostasis. This calorie deficit is created by oxygen debt due to the changes in intensity and the body’s inability to supply adequate oxygen in the time given.

EPOC created during high intensity exercise can be compared to using a credit card. When you make a purchase on your credit card, you have gone into debt. If this debt is paid off in full before the next billing cycle, no interested is charged. However, if you keep charging the credit card and are not able to fully pay off the amount owed, you will be charged interest on your purchases. This is very similar to your body using oxygen during exercise. If you keep using high amounts of oxygen for HIIT exercises, you will go in to oxygen debt, or EPOC. This debt must be repaid in the form of calories (with interest) after the bout of exercise is concluded. When engaging in high intensity exercise, an individual requires more time to return to homeostasis. This metabolic effect can be used to combat plateaus in weight-loss progress.

An example of a type of workout that might elicit this effect would be treadmill sprints. Performing 30-60 second sprints, followed by 30-90 seconds rest will force the body into oxygen debt if the intensity of the sprints is high enough. Tabata training is also a way to elicit EPOC. Be careful when prescribing these types of workouts as the intensity can be too much for new exercisers who’s fitness levels may not be ready for such an effort.


Apr 23, 2014 - 03:31 PM

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