When I was growing up, my parents used to drive an old dark blue Saab 900.
It was a great snow car, but it took forever to cool down after even a drive to the store. Even 15 minutes after parking it, you could still hear it hiss and ping while risking burning your hand on the hood.
There is a theory in fitness that the human body works the same way. The idea is that after your workout your body is still torching calories and fat for hours afterward.
It’s a very apealing concept. It’s almost like free money you don’t have to work for after you punch out for the night.
Some marketers have used this notion of the after burn to hock and sell all sorts of stuff from exercise programs to supplements.
The unfortunat thing here is that the after burn (or excessive post exercise oxygen consumption or E.P.O.C.) is largely misunderstood.
Just a quick Google search reveals lots of debate about the topic. Some claim weight training is best. Others claim intense cardio is best.
Some claim the after burn can last for as long as 48 hours and others claim you would be lucky get get 25 minutes.
To compound the issue, even my own personal experience is confusing. Sometimes I can do a workout and feel like a blast furnace for yours afterward. Other times, I just feel like my old self.
To complicate things even further, we can look at all of the millions of factors that might alter the so called after burn. – calorie consumption
- macronutritnet content
- meal timing
- workout intensity
- workout durration
- current energy levels
- stress levels
- exercise selection
- routine program
- exercise pace
These are just a few of the things that may have a significant effect on any possible after burn effect. Not to mention any of these things can easily be in a state of flux and trying to maximize them, and get all of your ducks in a row, may become incredibly taxing.
Finally, we come to the idea that few people can even hazard a guess for how many extra calories you may be burning to begin with. Some say you can burn hundreds of extra calories while others claim even 30-40 would be a stretch.
So here is my recommendation:
Don’t worry about the after burn at all. Don’t even give it a second thought. If it does exist, and it does burn hundreds of extra calories then it’ll be a nice bonous.
However if it is something that’s been blown way out of proportion you may be pinning your hopes of that guilt free slice of cake on smoke and mirrors.
Best not to take the chance. Train hard, eat well and let the cards fall where they may when it comes to the after burn.