Hang around on the sofa exhausted after sports and still keep burning calories? That really does exist. We explain what the afterburn effect is and how you can use it most effectively for your goals.


What is the afterburn effect?

The afterburn effect is the increased calorie consumption after a workout. The scientific term for this is "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption," or EPOC. The explanation for the after-burn effect is actually quite logical: When you exercise, your body's basal metabolic rate of energy increases. All metabolic processes and oxygen consumption skyrocket. After training, these do not immediately decrease again, but remain elevated for a while and consume more energy than usual, which then leads to the afterburn effect. 


What factors influence the afterburn effect?

To achieve an afterburn effect, your heart rate during the exercise session is crucial and must be high enough. From 80 percent of your individual maximum heart rate you train in the anaerobic zone, in which your muscles can no longer be directly supplied with oxygen. The lack of oxygen supply must be compensated for after the workout, which creates the afterburn effect.

An afterburn effect can therefore be observed particularly well during interval training (e.g. HIIT or interval runs), during which your heart rate briefly skyrockets. But also steep ski or snowboard descents, strenuous parts of a trail run or a ski tour can really get you out of breath and create this effect.

How many calories you eventually burn after exercise varies from person to person and depends on factors like age, weight, fitness, etc. A study by the University of South Australia has proven that in the time after an intensive endurance training up to 30% of the calories are burned that were consumed during the training itself. 


How does the afterburn effect work?

Phase 1: Immediately after exercise

In this phase, your body works at full speed to replenish the energy consumed, which is why the afterburn effect is the greatest. The production of energy and muscle proteins, and generally the regernation program burn a lot of calories. 

Phase 2: A few hours after exercise

Your metabolism has returned to normal levels and your body must now rebuild muscle by converting proteins to amino acid compounds. This also consumes many calories.

Phase 3: Up to 48h after exercise

Up to two days after your workout, you burn more calories than usual due to the afterburn effect. This comes primarily from the increased muscle tension.


What should you eat after exercise?

You may have heard that carbohydrates stop/prevent the afterburn effect after exercise. This is a myth and not true. Carbohydrates do not influence the afterburn effect. You should generally pay attention to enough food after training and especially to enough proteins for muscle building. The recommendation is 20-30 grams after training, more you can not process at once.


The afterburn effect is extremely effective to burn additional calories and can last up to 48h. In interval sports, and short, intense sessions where the pulse increases sharply, you still burn the most calories. In any case, make sure to provide your body with enough energy through food during this phase.