Body Blog: Feel The (After)Burn?

"I'm running for the pizza. I'm running for the pizza!"

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….



  1. Dirkius Digglius says:

    The human body won't up its consumption after LSD (ie riding a freakin' stationary bike for an hour); in fact it will attempt to burn as little fat as possible to get the most 'mileage' out of it. HIT training will provoke the 'afterburn' effect that you are seeking.

  2. Casey says:

    All of these "new studies" are so stupid! They aren't fool proof and the so called "scientists" don't seem to even have a grasp on what they're trying to experiment on. Can we stop wasting our money already!?

  3. Charlotte says:

    He says in one sentence that losing weight is all about calories in vs calories out (which is true) but also that working out at a LOWER intensity, which burns calories at a lower rate than higher intensity, is better for weight loss?

    Pretty sure you're better off doing intervals or high intensity steady state cardio and burning 500-600 calories than staying within your fat burn and burning only 300.

    It's worth noting that it doesnt say here what type of training the test subjects were doing. There is an afterburn associated with doing higher intensity cardio, especially interval work where you are essentially working at your max during the workout. Working so hard forces your body to adapt, and changes to your body take energy (afterburn).

    It's not like you can eat a free 400 calorie meal after but I would argue there is a slight afterburn after hard cardio.

  4. Nora says:

    does anyone else find this kind of thing SO depressing?

  5. NightWalker says:

    It was rather interesting for me to read the article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Best regards

  6. My72Dart says:

    Charolette, as far as your question about lower intensity burns more. What happens over a period of time…not over night…if you train your body for a hour at 4-6 instead of 6-8 your legs and lungs are able to go longer while still pumping your heart at a higher rate. What this does, like most endurance athletes like Lance Armstrong and short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, is it trains your heart to pump more efficiently while resting. Over time while working out AND resting it takes your heart less effort to pump the same volume of blood which means increased endurance allowing you to go longer and harder so as to burn more fat. You may have heard that endurance athletes have a LOW resting heart rate…Lance’s is 32-36. Yes, they ride and train 6-8 hrs a day, but for someone who works out 3 days a week for 30 mins on a treadmill you never change your heart or metabolic rate. Hope that helps you to understand why in the beginning training at a lower intensity is better for weight lose. Jumping in to a work out like cardio 101 or advanced yoga won’t do as much for you but make you more flexible and waste your hard earned tuition/work money and time.

    Ok, just a few suggestions. It’s been proven in studies that by increasing your intake with smaller meals increases your metabolism and will increase your chances of the “afterburn effect”.

    “So what happens to your body from starving yourself?

    From reading the above you now know that your body stores fat. When you don’t eat your body goes into “starvation mode” and holds on to every single piece of energy it can get to allow you body to function. So if you don’t eat consistently your body will store the fat. Can you see where this will lead?

    If your body is always in “starvation mode” you will gain weight and your body will not be able to function properly. It’s a viscous cycle of starving your self and gaining weight and ultimately you will end up doing more harm than good.BOTTOM LINE: Eat to lose weight.”

    check out the whole article…—Starving-Yourself-To-Lose-Weight&id=599587

    Also, if you don’t want to increase your food intake a simple thing like increasing water will also increase your bodies metabolic rate and improve fat burn.

    “There are many forms of metabolism going on in your body right now, but the one everyone is talking about it the metabolism of fat. This is actually something that the liver does when it converts stored fat to energy. The liver has other functions, but this is one of its main jobs.

    Unfortunately, another of the liver’s duties is to pick up the slack for the kidneys, which need plenty of water to work properly. If the kidneys are water-deprived, the liver has to do their work along with its own, lowering its total productivity. It then can’t metabolize fat as quickly or efficiently as it could when the kidneys were pulling their own weight. If you allow this to happen, not only are you being unfair to your liver, but you’re also setting yourself up to store fat.” Check out the rest of the article here…if you don’t believe me.

    So, before you start the “master cleanse”, starve yourself or go on the “Taco Bell drive Thru Diet” (which is a load of horse crap!!!) try enjoying some water with a little lemon for flavor and make it 6 small meals w/ exercise instead of 2 or 3 big ones. Hope this was a little helpful for those not looking to spend HOURS in the gym to shed a few of those unwanted pounds…but that would definitely help;-)


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