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The Truth About Exercise Afterburn

Who doesn't like the concept of something for nothing, especially when it comes to exercise and calories burned? I am talking about "exercise afterburn" the concept that the body keeps burning extra calories post workout. It is true that we burn extra calories after exercising and it even has a very official sounding name: excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC for short. It just seems that some of the claims about EPOC are wildly exaggerated, so let's set the record straight.

When you workout, your cells are essentially working out too. Post exercise, the cells need to restore their functioning to pre-exercise levels and that requires oxygen, which takes energy, aka calories. This cell restoration burns calories but not nearly as many as you might have heard. During an interview on the Fitness Rocks podcast, renowned sports physiologist Dr. Len Kravitz (not to be confused with renowned rocker Lenny) explained the afterburn phenomenon. Truth is that it really only lasts for two hours post workout.

To learn how many calories you burn, just


You only burn an additional 15 percent of the total calories expended during your workout. So if you burned 300 calories actively exercising at the gym, you will burn about an extra 45 calories over the next two hours. This figure of "15 percent" is on the high end as well.

While 45 calories may not sound like much, all those calories do add up. If you burn 300 calories three times in one week that is an extra 135 calories and that does feel a little like you are getting something for nothing. So work it, just don't rely on the afterburn. Just because you are exercising doesn't mean you can eat everything you want.


Join The Conversation
annalia05 annalia05 9 years
I had also always thought that adding muscle was a good way to burn more calories while inactive too. But I just read in an NY Times article that said that number is greatly exaggerated too. Just more reason to work harder!
pandaluck pandaluck 9 years
Does it depend on what type of exercise you do? Cardio or weight lifting?
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Wow! That is pretty sweet!
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
I try and NOT think of the after calorie burn so that I don't get lazy at the gym.. =)
bizzybee bizzybee 9 years
45 is still 45 calories burned, baby!
michlny michlny 9 years
It's ok, I work out for the after exercise high! there's nothing like the adrenaline rush!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
i love this! when i first realized this concept years ago, I was hooked! THIS is my #1 motivator! To know that I am actually burning (more) calories just by sitting on the couch after a work out, when compared to sitting there pre-workout is amazing!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
It may not be as much as some people said it was, but hey an extra 45 calories is an extra 45 calories! I am OKAY with that!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I like this!
rumpel2 rumpel2 9 years
thts great...i love complimentary stuff...hehe
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