Ever wonder why those treacherous treadmill sessions haven’t turned you into the next Gisele?
Are you one of those people who thinks that you can eat a slice of pizza after leaving the gym because the body is supposed to burn more fat on days that you exercise?
Well, step away from the pizza, woman.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, the commonly held belief that you continue to burn calories for hours after exercising (commonly known as “afterburn” — you know, the idea that you get a “free meal” that day because you burned 400 calories on the elliptical) is actually a myth!
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver observed a number of different groups of people ranging from athletes to people that were both sedentary and obese to see how their bodies use calories and if the processes were different. Each group spent 24 hours in a room called a calorimeter (a special room that measures calorie burning activity) followed by riding a stationary bike for the same amount of time at the same level of aerobic intensity.
After all that was done, the scientists found that none of the groups (even the athletes, who are believed to have higher metabolisms after years of intense exercise) experienced afterburn, and surprisingly, most of the subjects burned slightly less fat on the days that they exercised.
“The message of our work is really simple,” lead researcher Edward Melanson told the New York Times. “It all comes down to energy balance,” which means that unless you burn more calories through exercise than you eat, you are not going to lose weight. Melanson went on to state that people burn an average of 200 to 300 calories per session, which is less than a bottle of Gatorade and just a little more than a bottle of the misleadingly-named Vitamin Water. Just a little somethin’ to think about.
Melanson also reported that working out at an low intensity (ie. riding the elliptical at an intensity of 3 instead of 10, so you feel the burn less but move your legs more often and quickly) burns more fat calories than working out at a harder intensity. Furthermore, it’s important to keep your heart rate between 105 and 134 beats per minute, which marks the parameters of the fat burning zone.
So the next time that you think you get a “free” lunch, think again!
You may also wanna switch that post-workout beverage to G2….