Every fitness-lover can attest to the feel-good feeling they get straight after a workout.
The endorphins are flying and you are riding the high, knowing that you have just done a good thing for your body and mind.
When you have completed a particularly intense workout, your body will have burnt a lot of calories.
This is one of the driving forces behind why so many people partake in exercise in the first place, as it helps them to stay trim, fit, and healthy.
What’s more, your body may actually continue to burn calories after you have completer certain working outs.
We know, pretty cool, right? To find out more about this post-workout phenomenon, this article will deliver the facts and dispel the myths that surround burning calories after a workout.
Do You Burn Calories After a Workout?
Everybody knows that our bodies burn calories during a workout. Burning calories is one of the biggest reasons why we tie our sneaker laces up and hit the trails in the first place.
However, as we previously hinted, our bodies have the miraculous ability to burn calories after we have finished our exercise as well.
This phenomenon is known officially as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), but most people tend to call it the “afterburn effect”.
What Is the Afterburn Effect?
The afterburn effect is the body’s way to cool down after a workout. In essence, it is extra energy that your body will expend after exercise to help it recalibrate and rebuild.
After you have completed a workout, your body will use additional oxygen and calories in order to remove the lactic acid that has built up during your workout.
This ties into afterburn’s technical term – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
Along with helping to remove lactic acid build-up in muscles, this extra oxygen that is getting pumped to your muscles will help them to repair as well. What’s more, an afterburn will also help to replenish your muscles’ creatine stores.
The afterburn effect of the human body can also be likened to a car.
After a particularly long drive, your car’s engine will be hot to the touch for a good couple of hours and will carry on making noise for a little while too.
This is your car cooling down gradually. Your car isn’t going to go from full intensity to being completely cool instantly, and neither does your body.
What Type of Workout Will Give You an Afterburn?
As you may or may not already be aware, your body will use its oxygen stores to create energy while you exercise.
It is, therefore, safe to say that workouts that require you to produce more oxygen to finish will, in turn, produce more energy and, subsequently, burn more calories.
This chain of effects in the body means any workout that is of high intensity will serve you an afterburn.
Examples of such high-intensity workouts can be anything from swimming, running, cycling, interval training, and strength training.
Of course, a light jog or a casual bike ride has no chance of producing the same afterburn as spring training and hilly mountain biking will.
With this in mind, make sure your exercise counts if you desire the knock-on effect of an afterburn.
One of the best workout ideas for people with busy work and family schedules is a HIIT workout.
Standing for “high-intensity interval training” HIIT workouts are a really great way to get an intense workout in a short amount of time.
HIIT workouts are widely popular with personal trainers and people who take their exercise seriously because they have the ability to work the cardio and offer strength training at the same time.
This kind of workout will give you the best chance of getting some bonus afterburn after the sweat has poured.
How Long Can an Afterburn Last?
It may astonish you to know that your body can burn excess calories for a very long after you have completed your workout.
Of course, it goes without saying, that an afterburn will last longest after a particularly intense workout, while a mid-intensity workout may only produce a short afterburn.
As a general rule of thumb, after an intense workout, you can expect your body to burn calories for up to 72 hours.
The first-hour post-workout will see your body burn the most calories, and it will slowly tapper off after that.
Regardless, the thought of your body burning even a few calories from a single workout up to three days later is very impressive.
How Many Calories Can Your Body Burn in a Post-workout Afterburn?
This is another hard question to answer as it really does depend on the intensity of the workout that you subject yourself to.
If you are a fit person who likes pushing your body to its limit and breaking through it during a 45+ minute workout, your body may burn up to an extra 200+ calories after the fact.
If, however, your idea of an intense workout is a quick 20-minute routine to keep the body moving and burn some calories, you should expect the after-burn to be a lot less.
If you are lucky, after 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, your body may burn additional 100 calories in an afterburn.
Whether you are at the higher end of this intensity measuring stick or the lower end matters little.
What does matter is you have already decisively decided to put your health first by exercising on a regular basis. And for that, we salute you.
As you are now well aware, our bodies are capable of not only burning calories during a workout but after it as well.
Whether you already partake in a high-intensity training regime or you are about to take on the challenge, we hope this article has inspired you to keep crushing your exercise goals, one workout (and afterburn) at a time.