Myth: What Is Really True About The Afterburn Effect?

Doing only short, intensive exercise sessions and burning more calories permanently thanks to the afterburn effect?

Is this true or is it a myth that is used to trick people into having a sweet tooth or two?


Hours of endurance training like jogging burns a lot of calories, but it also takes up a lot of time. You have to find that time between your job and the household. Strength training sounds much more tempting: in short, intensive training sessions you burn a lot of calories, build muscle, and automatically increase your basal metabolic rate. And then there is the legendary after-burn effect, which is supposed to boost the metabolism for a few more hours …

Increased Oxygen Demand

The after-burn effect is based on the assumption that the body continues to burn more calories after exercise.

Because even when you have freshly showered again, your body is still working at full speed.

During exercise, the body suffers from an oxygen deficit – gasping and panting, the body is not sufficiently supplied with oxygen.

After training, the body continues to take in more oxygen than it has consumed for quite some time.

So there is no question of a rest period.

Regeneration Costs Energy

After an intense workout, the muscles burn and the body has a lot to do to repair small micro-tears, replenish glycogen stores and break down lactate.

So while you’re enjoying your evening beer (which has an isotonic effect – or does that only apply to non-alcoholic beer?), your body continues to run at full speed.

So the after-burn effect is not a myth, but how many glasses of beer can you drink without undoing the calories burned during exercise?

Contradictory Study Results

Scientists are still arguing about how strong the afterburn effect is.

While some consider the effect to be very effective, some researchers are of the opinion that it is absolutely negligible.

Data on the after-burn effect vary from researcher to researcher and study format, ranging from 24 to 72 hours, but it is highest in the first hour after exercise.

Intensive Training

There is also a consensus on which type of training has the greatest afterburn effect.

And the – sometimes painful – formula applies: The more intense the workout, the greater the afterburn effect.

High-intensity training, in which you work to the maximum in short sessions, is, therefore, the most effective in terms of the afterburn effect.

So you don’t get the calories burnt comfortably on the couch for free, but you have to work hard beforehand.

Well, life isn’t a wishful thinking concert, but is the afterburn effect at least so high that you could maybe even treat yourself to a pizza with your beer, or is the effect much lower?

5 – 30 %

There is no general answer to the question of how effective the afterburn effect is.

In studies, it is measured by the oxygen content in the exhaled air – so at home, it is difficult to know whether the power yoga program has achieved an afterburn effect or not.

However, you can use rough! approximate values: Another 5 – 30 % of the energy used during the workout can be burned off thanks to the afterburn effect.

In concrete terms, this means that if you pushed yourself to the limit during a workout that consumed around 500 calories, the afterburn effect will burn off an additional 100 calories.

Pizza and beer? No way! Nevertheless, after a sweaty exercise session, you can be happy to add a few extra calories to your calorie account – after all, you did work up a sweat.


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