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Burning Pyre

Friday, June 24, 2016

Were you aware that you burn calories even after your workout has ended? Pooja Salvi attempts to explain what the afterburn effect is and how to benefit from it

We do so much to stay slim (maybe even healthy while we’re at it) and look good. We hit the gym, eat right and are careful about our health. We do everything we can to achieve Instagram-worthy bodies. However, have you thought about the effect of an afterburn? It sounds perfect — after all, who wouldn’t want to burn extra calories after a workout? We tell you how this happens and how you can harness the power of the afterburner in you to get the most out of a workout.

The afterburn effect
The afterburn effect results from what it is more technically called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (or EPOC), and here’s how it works. Think about the engine of your car after a long road trip. It doesn’t go from hot to cold in an instant. In fact, it takes a long time to cool down completely. This is exactly what happens to your body! After a workout session, your body continues to burn calories while it is resting. When you think about it, this isn’t a ground breaking discovery — it’s actually quite logical. You can’t expect your body to go from high intensity to resting metabolism in a matter of minutes, can you?

Harness the afterburn
Several studies suggest that there is a strong correlation between the number of calories that you burn after your workout and the intensity of the workout. To put it simply: the more intense your workout, the more oxygen your body consumes afterwards, thereby burning more calories, even after you’ve finished working out.

The internet is overflowing with tips and tricks, showing you how to alter your workout in order to prolong the afterburn effect. And, research has found that people who cycled vigorously for 45 minutes burned roughly 190 calories more during a 14-hour period after the workout, than on days when they didn’t work out at all.

This research shows that intensity and the duration of a workout are the factors that are linked with afterburn. They suggest that the longer and more intense your workout is, the more calories you will burn after the session. And, this is exactly where short, high-intensity workouts come into play. There are several exercise routines trending on the internet that suggest doing a 20-second, all-effort workout, followed by a 10-second rest period — which is one of the easiest ways to trigger your afterburners.

The verdict
Vigorous exercise helps you to burn more calories, several hours after you finish your workout session, which is a beneficial situation for you. There are also other benefits of the afterburn effect, including helping you to lose weight faster, building your muscle strength and increasing your aerobic capacity. However, if you have already made up your mind to work out in this manner, make sure not to hit the gym too hard every day. Allow your body at least 48 hours to recover from a high-intensity workout, or simply engage in this type of workout no more than two or three times a week.

We spoke to celebrity fitness trainer Vinod Channa to know more about exercising and the afterburn effect. Here’s what he had to say:

“If you do weight training while working out, you’re breaking down muscle fibres which need 48 hours to recover, provided that you supply your body with proper nutrition. This recovery process is called the afterburn effect and your body burns calories to recover — for one day of weight training, your body gets two days of afterburn. The afterburn effect also depends on the intensity of the workout and it is more beneficial than cardio exercises, where you’re burning energy only during the workout.”

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