Myth Bustin: The “Big” EPOC AFTERBURN

What is EPOC?

It stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and it is the term used in the fitness industry to describe the increased calorie burning effect that happens after you stop exercising. Everyone knows that exercising increases body temperature and depletes energy stores or calories, but not everyone knows that it takes the burning of even more calories to cool the body down to a normal temperature, replenish nutrients and rebuild muscles.

The Controversy

The power and importance of EPOC has been a big marketing claim for some workout programs and fitness studios. They make a big deal about how their workout burns calories up to 36 hours afterwards through EPOC science.

Wow doesn’t that sound amazing? Is it true? Is it special? Let’s take a look.

There is no denying EPOC exists; there is plenty of research to show that it does.  However, the impact of it and what type of exercise is best to spark it has been an ongoing debate, generally between weight training versus running.

It is also a little dangerous in the weight loss world because some people hear about EPOC and use it as a reason to eat more after a workout.

Here Are the Facts:

  • EPOC is Measurable – The human body burns five calories per one liter of oxygen consumed. So when you breathe heavier after exercising, that is EPOC.
  • Intensity Matters – Exercise that requires greater oxygen consumption burns more calories after you stop exercising. As we said before, it is the huffing and puffing of intensity that matters so high intensity cardio intervals and heavy weight training sessions have a greater effect on EPOC than slower, longer workout sessions (such as endurance running). But looking at running, doing one mile in six minutes results in a higher EPOC than running one mile in 12 minutes.
  • Exercise Time Matters More – However, do not forget that when you run two miles you will burn more calories during that exercise than if you ran one mile in six minutes even with the EPOC benefits. You get a little bump of calorie burn, which makes the high intensity more efficient but not enough to compare with exercising longer. You need to take lots of factors into account in your workout plan.
  • As You Get Fitter, EPOC Drops – The fitter you are, the lower your EPOC effect becomes, which is great news for beginners but not for those already in shape.

How Many Calories Are We Talking About?

Does EPOC really earn me the right to get that Starbucks caramel mocha?

According to most studies on EPOC you may experience an additional 50 to 150 calories burned over the 24 hours post exercise, which is entirely dependent of how long and how intense you exercised. 

This isn’t quite as exciting as the big marketing headlines, is it? Which is why they don’t list the specifics in their claims. I mean, the impact of 50 to150 calories over 24 hours (on average) is minimal. That’s about one cookie so it’s not a boon to people trying to lose weight.

At Unite Fitness we always talk about nutrition as the focal point for body transformations; it is much easier to make or break your weight loss goals by small adjustments in your diet.

How to Measure Effort

It is easy to know when you are doing high intensity workouts: You breathe hard.

However if you measure your heart rate you will most certainly make a little extra effort to be sure you are hitting the higher intensity zones. Unite Fitness uses MyZone wearable technology, which connects with your smart phone to translate your workout into heart rate zones and ultimately MEPs, or MyZone Effort Points. The higher the point total of your workout, the greater the effort and time spent in high intensity and hence the higher the EPOC.

The big takeaway here is:

Every workout has an EPOC effect.

Higher intensity workouts have a bigger impact, but that includes any workout that achieves this, which could be jumping rope at home, power lifting, boot camps, spin, etc. There is no special workout that can claim EPOC. Regardless, this caloric burn is a bit too small to be thinking about or calculating it into your weight loss plan.

If you want to talk about nutrition, workout routines, EPOC, etc. or try out our heart rate monitors please shoot us an email at