by Scott Tousignant · Filed Under: Home Workouts
There’s no doubt that you’ve come across hyped-up claims from fitness marketers telling you that their workout program will melt fat 9 times faster and will have you burning massive amounts of calories for 48 hours after your workout, which they refer to as the “Afterburn”, or in scientific terms EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). These so-called “fat loss guru’s” are passing this information off as fact, and in a very clever and convincing way to the general public. Unfortunately, if you have bought into their claims, you have been mislead and I’m about to show you how.
You will often times hear the “Afterburn” claims from programs that involve HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), regular Interval Training, and most recently Metabolic Resistance Training. I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not against these types of training. I have personally incorporated them into my training for nearly a decade.
What I am against is the false, EXAGGERATED claims and misuse of cherry picked data in order to get you to buy into a certain program. Frankly, I feel that there are many fitness professionals whom would benefit a great deal from taking a business ethics 101 course.
The purpose of this post is to set aside the hype and uncover the truth, so you can make an informed decision about the next workout program that you choose to follow.
Exaggerated Claims Based On Flawed Research
According to some cleverly marketed workout programs, you’ll be burning hundreds of calories post-workout all thanks to the afterburn of their high intensity workout. The truth is, that the “Afterburn” that follows a high intensity workout is very minimal. If you are lucky you may burn 50 extra calories and that’s if you are well trained and can actually last through an entire workout at the level of intensity that’s required. The duration that is required to experience this kind of afterburn is not exactly short either.
Now don’t get me wrong, you better believe that any extra calories, even if it is just 50 calories, that I may burn as a result of an afterburn is totally welcome in my eyes. But to me, I’d rather not count on those extra calories being burned and I certainly won’t calculate them into my daily caloric expenditure. Instead, I think of any afterburn effect to be a bonus and don’t really give it a second thought.
…and that’s exactly what I encourage you to do. If you are focused on creating a caloric deficit through exercise, you need to realize that it’s the calories that are being burned during the workout that make the greatest impact. In other words… get your butt moving!
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
I encourage you to educate yourself from a variety of reputable sources who truly dive into this research in a meaningful way… not just to serve their marketing message.
Lyle McDonald is one of the guys whom I trust when it comes to devouring research, explaining it in real world terms, cutting through the B.S. and helping you make an informed decision. I highly recommend that you take a moment to read this article of his where he dissects a study on EPOC…
Now what about these workouts supposedly burning fat 9 times faster?
The study that is often referenced when a fitness marketer talks about 9x faster fat loss is one done by Tremblay, Angelo, et al. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. Vol 43. no 7 (July). Pp 814-818. 1994. They came to this 9 x faster conclusion in a rather odd manner to say the least. Rather than go into the odd conclusion in this post, I recommend instead that you take a moment to read how Tom Venuto author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle explains it in great detail within this article…
Tom brings up a great point in the above article about how this flawed research is often used… You never hear any of the “fitness guru’s” tell you, that although this study came to the conclusion that Interval Training produced 9x greater fat loss… the results were only .2 pounds in 20 weeks!!!
Holy moly does that ever make me want to do Intervals
Losing .2 pounds in 20 weeks is definitely not sexy, but hey, “Let’s cherry pick some numbers from this study and just roll with the 9x faster fat loss, even though how they arrived at that conclusion is quite frightening.”
The thing that really gets me is that these fitness marketers will use this 9 times greater fat loss from this study which had the participants performing intervals on a cycle ergometer and say that their new breakthrough workout program that includes whacky circus moves will burn fat 9 times faster as well.
Where do they get off making this comparison? As I have mentioned before, I’ve been a participant in one of these University studies on the cycle ergometer and most of us participants felt nauceous, some of us puked, and some of us fainted after the experiment. Needless to say that the workload was extremely intense.
Unless these fitness marketers put their program under a closely monitored study itself and compare it to other programs that have been studied, then you simply cannot say that your program burns ___ times more fat than another program. So basically, the study that they quote is irrelevant to their program.
In the article above, Tom also mentions that you could use this very same study and come to the conclusion that steady start cardio produces 5 times greater weight loss, because the steady state group lost 1.1 pounds during the same 20 week time period.
Obviously in both counts the weight loss or fat loss is not significant. I’m certain that one of the reasons that the loss in body fat or body weight was not significant is because diet was not controlled in this study and very rarely ever is. I guess that you could say that this also proves just how important diet is when it comes to fat loss.
Let’s Put Things Into Perspective
There’s no doubt that the harder you work during a training session, the greater EPOC you will experience.
…But, that EPOC is not nearly as significant as some “fitness guru’s” have led you to believe.
What really matters is the overall calories being burned. Because many of the proponents of these claims are recommending abbreviated workouts as the solution, let’s say that their 20 minute workout burns 250 calories and the EPOC, if they pushed it really hard, is 30 calories. That’s a total of 280 calories.
Now let’s compare it to someone who performs a low intensity workout for 60 minutes and burns 500 calories with next to no EPOC. The low intensity workout still comes ahead by 220 calories… mind you, they had to exercise 3 times as long… and that’s where the appeal is. If you are absolutely pressed for time, than short bouts of high intensity exercise is a great solution for your lifestyle.
The Big Picture
There are some fitness marketers who say that I am wasting my time going for a 30-45 minute daily walk because there is no “Afterburn”. What they fail to recognize is that my daily walk is soooo much more than just a task to burn calories. I walk for active recovery from my strenuous weight training sessions. I walk for stress relief. I walk to prepare for my day. I walk for pure enjoyment.
With the calming and recovery effect of walking I could very well be creating a better environment within my body to burn fat than if I were to do Intervals instead.
If the great Hercules himself, Steve Reeves was still alive I’d love to see these fitness marketers approach him and tell him that walking is a waste of time
Steve, who arguably has one of the greatest natural physiques of all time, was a huge proponent of power walking and even wrote a book on it.
What’s The Best Solution?
The truth is that there is no “BEST Program”. There’s probably thousands of GREAT programs, but what it really boils down to is following a program that suits your lifestyle, personality, and goals.
I’ve personally gone through a variety of training protocols over the years, and all of them were based on my lifestyle and goals at the time. In my teens it was all about bodybuilding. In my mid 20’s it was all about breaking my workouts into small manageable chunks to fit into my hectic work schedule and busy family life. That was when I created the Fat Loss Quickie 10-Minute Metabolism Booster program. The reason that it was so effective for Angie and I was because it was super easy for us to stick to for the long term. It was easy to be consistent with our workouts, which is really the key to long term success. Yes, these workouts provided a nice metabolic boost twice per day, but we sure as heck don’t go around making hyped up and exaggerated claims about the afterburn effect.
The Fat Loss Quickie workouts were first designed for Angie and myself and then we packaged them together for our busy friends who also wanted to get in great shape. But they don’t compare to the results that you would get from my Metabolic Masterpiece Body Sculpting Program, which requires more time investment in the gym, allowing for more exercises to be incorporated into sculpting your body into a work of art.
Metabolic Masterpiece is best suited for someone who enjoys spending 45-60 minutes of focused time in the gym four days per week and posses a type of personality that is fascinated by their ever improving physique. Not only do they want to look amazing, but they want to feel strong as well.
If you love Interval Training, chances are greater that you’ll stick to an interval training program better than any other program. If you love Yoga, you’ll stick to that better than any other program. I really wish we would break free from this, “Mine’s bigger than yours” mentality and do what’s in the best interest of the general public.
Make Nutrition a Top Priority
As demonstrated in the research study above, it doesn’t matter whether you do interval training or low intensity exercise… if your nutrition sucks you can’t expect great results. The nutrition principles that I personally follow are based on the teachings in Tom Venuto’s Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. It’s a system that I’ve applied for nearly a decade and I can customize to meet my goals.
Once again, here are two must read articles on the topic of EPOC that expose the myths and lies that are being pushed on you…
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy these previous posts where I brought some clarity to other over-hyped claims in the fat loss industry…
I’ve got your best interests at heart. I’m looking out for you. Not much upsets me more than seeing you being mislead by a self proclaimed fitness guru.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask. I’m here for you.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on the topic, I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure that a post like this will ruffle some feathers.
Once again, I’m not against Interval Training or Metabolic Resistance Training in any way shape or form. They are fantastic and fun ways to exercise for many people. What I am against is exaggerated and misleading claims about their effectiveness.
With that being said… train hard, stay focused, and enjoy the journey.
To achieving your limitless potential,
About The Authors
Scott and Angie Tousignant have been helping busy men and women, just like you, transform their body and life for over a decade. This dynamic duo prides themselves on providing a balanced and practical approach that will motivate and inspire you to become the best YOU that you can be.
Scott and Angie have dedicated themselves to sharing their exact workouts, what they eat, and how they stay motivated to continue transforming their body’s and life.
We’re excited to share in you successful body transformation!