The afterburning effect – how exactly does that work?

after burn effect

Are you involved in different types of strength and endurance sports? Then you have probably heard of the myth of the afterburning after exercise, or the afterburning effect. In this article you can read what it is and how it works exactly. 

After a workout, relax on the couch to give your muscles a well-deserved break and still burn calories. Losing weight without doing anything? That sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Maybe, but it is possible. Thanks to the afterburn effect.

What exactly is afterburning?

The afterburn effect continues the increased calorie expenditure after the workout. The scientific term for this is Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC.

Sounds complicated? Fortunately it is not!

As soon as you start exercising, your muscles need more energy . In addition to carbohydrates and fats, you need oxygen in the first place to get energy. That is why your breathing becomes more and more intense during exercise. Your heart will beat faster and your heart rate will go up, in order to keep supplying your muscles with sufficient oxygen . In short: all parts of your body have to work harder than at rest. And that is why your calorie consumption increases .

After-burn: heart rate and calorie consumption are linked

Depending on how hard and for how long you train, and which sport you do, both your heart rate and your calorie consumption will rise sharply. With moderate running you do not bring your body to its limits so quickly. In proportion you do not burn a lot of calories in this way.

On the other hand, if you do intensive strength and fitness training, for example a HIIT workout or tabata training , your heart rate will rise quickly and reach its maximum. After such an intensive load, your body takes a long time to return to its normal state. This reset means working. And you burn calories in the process. That is now the afterburning effect .

The effectiveness of the afterburner depends on the training load

The size of the after-burning effect depends on your training. The effect with, for example, a HIIT training is quite large. Your basal consumption during a HIIT workout increases a lot faster compared to a normal workout and then takes much more time to get back to the normal level. As a result, you burn more calories in total than with a regular run. Your fat burning also runs at high speed .

Our tip : a boost  before your workout gives your circulation a good energy boost during the workout, while the caffeine allows you to push yourself to push your limits.

Course of the afterburning

The after-burning effect is noticeable up to 48 hours after your workout . This period can be divided into 3 phases in which your body burns more calories.

  1. This is the phase immediately after an intensive training and lasts approximately 1 hour . Your body is now full of stress hormones. It is in the process of bringing your circulation back to its normal level. Include your breathing , heart and blood circulation and your overall metabolism .
  2. Finally your metabolism has calmed down. Now the loaded muscles are rebuilt. In addition, you use more calories in the processing  of protein for your muscles .
  3. The after-burning effect lasts up to 48 hours after your workout. This is primarily due to the increased muscle tension that you have caused during the training. Your calorie consumption has increased slightly in this time frame.

What do you eat during the after-burn?

There is a myth that goes, “Carbohydrates stop the after-burn after exercise.” That is not true. It doesn’t matter whether you eat carbohydrates after your workout or not. The afterburn effect just does its job. The myth arose because after-burning was confused with fat metabolism.

It is true that carbohydrates after your workout have a negative effect on your fat metabolism . Proteins after your workout, on the other hand, are very important for muscle building. You should consume about 20 grams of protein after your workout. Your body cannot process much more at once.

Depending on your personal sporting goals, you will also need to plan your meal after your workout. Do you want to gain weight, but are you usually not hungry after a workout? Then our Whey Protein protein shake helps to support your muscle building with sufficient protein. You have to make sure that you also consume enough calories.

If you want to lose weight, it is wise to eat fewer carbohydrates after your workout to save calories.

This produces the after-burning effect

The exact number of calories you burn through the after-burn depends on various factors. Your age , height , weight , gender and your training level play an important role. But the most important factors to influence the after-burn effect are the duration and intensity with which you train.  

The guideline here is that the after-burning effect comprises approximately 10% of your calorie consumption after your workout. If you burn 500 calories during a workout, 50 calories are added. That doesn’t sound very impressive at first. But it is well worth it .

For example , if you do 3 training sessions per week and burn an extra 50 calories each time, that equates to 150 calories per week. That’s 600 calories per month and a total of 7200 calories per year. If you have a healthy and low-calorie diet, then that comes down to one kilo on your scale at the end of the year.


  • The afterburning effect comprises an average of 10% of your calorie consumption during training.
  • The effect lasts up to 48 hours after your workout.
  • The effect of the afterburning is initially limited, but certainly noticeable in the long term.
  • It is a handy way to burn extra calories without extra work.

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