Did you know some workouts can leave you burning calories even after you’ve stopped moving? The best part is that some sessions may leave you burning fat after a training session has finished all together! You might be asking, “but how?” I’ll tell you exactly how you can burn fat after you’ve left the gym, but let’s first look at the difference between burning calories and fat. Calories vs Fat Calories and fat are two different things – calories are a unit of energy and they come from carbs, protein or fat. Fat is a type of energy. All types of exercise, including walking, cycling, lifting weights and taking part in a group training class require energy (calories) and the intensity at which you’re working will determine the energy source your body uses for that activity.
For example, when you exercise at a high intensity – during a HIIT session for example – your body will go to carbohydrates stored in your muscles as its fastest energy source. Those carbohydrates are called glycogen. Glycogen stores won’t last forever during a workout and as you continue to exercise your body will start burning fat. It is the burning of carbs and fat during exercise that equate to a big calorie burn.
Albert Matheny, a registered dietician and trainer at SoHo Strength Lab in New York, says: “it doesn’t matter if the calories you burn are from carbs or fat during training, because after you burn a ton of calories from stored carbs during intense exercise, your body goes into overdrive to replace those carbs and repair your muscles, and it does that by breaking down fat and burning even more calories – the afterburn effect.”
The process of the body burning fat after exercise is more commonly known in the fitness industry as the afterburn effect, a process also known as Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). The afterburn effect is essentially your body recovering from exercise and repairing itself – and several studies suggest the more intense the exercise, the more oxygen your body consumes afterwards to get back to its original (pre-workout) state. What are the best exercises for continued fat burn?
Studies suggest High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) keeps your body in a fat burning zone long after training has finished, due to its intensity levels. In one study, participants who cycled vigorously for 45 minutes burned roughly 190 calories more in the 14 hours after exercise than on days when they didn't work out at all. In a Journal of Sports Science and Medicine study, runners who performed high-intensity sprints lost more belly fat than those who work out out for the same amount of time each week but stuck to low-intensity running. HIIT is a simple concept of work phases partnered up with rest phases. If you’re a beginner to HIIT, try starting with 30 second work phases and 20 second rest phases. You can increase to 45 second work phases with 15 second rest phases and then step it up to 50 second work with 10 second rest phases.
Don’t forget the more lean muscle your body has, the harder your metabolism has to work (at rest) to keep that lean muscle. Building muscle is important if you want to continually lose fat so make sure your training program includes some heavy lifting. Group Fitness fan? Add a BodyPump or Grit Strength class to your weekly workout schedule, or simply incorporate some big movements that target big muscle groups, for example deadlifts, squats, push press, pull ups and hip thrusts. If I don’t know about you, but a body that burns fat for me even when I’ve stopped exercising is definitely on my wish list!