EPOC-Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

In The Truth-It’s Bad…I mentioned how I could track EPOC when checking my BodyBugg program on an exercise day. When sitting at my desk or on the couch, my minute-by-minute caloric burn jumped to 1.5 cal over the standard .8.

After aerobic or resistance training, your body continues to require more oxygen in order to heal the muscles and expel the lactic acid built up in the muscles.  This extra oxygen consumption increases caloric burn.  And that is the essence of EPOC.  This is also the reasoning behind High Intensity Interval Training -which by nature of its intensity increases EPOC.

There are too many studies of this for me to cite them all – or discuss their various conclusions.  I’ve spent most of this week reviewing these studies trying to find some kind of common thread -a real nugget on knowledge to share with you- to no avail.  The conclusions just don’t wrap things up into neat little packages.

  • Yes, EPOC creates higher caloric burn, but the total may only be about 10% of what occurred during the exercise itself.  Burn 400 calories in a HIIT session?  In one study, you could then expect to burn an extra 40 afterward.
  • Women seem to have much shorter periods of EPOC than men- sometimes only 60-90 minutes instead of the 48 hours promoted by a number of fitness specialists.  —Or did the testers only measure for this period of time?
  • Women DO burn more calories from circuit training than from running intervals and seem to demonstrate EPOC for slightly longer.  But the total number of calories when you do the math?  Maybe 20-50 total.

Do you have a headache yet?

That is why I appreciated seeing the numbers recorded on my BodyBugg.  I could determine the changes that took place and see the effect of EPOC on my day.  For me- for this one day- it resulted in approximately an additional 200 calories burned.  Much more than any of the studies suggested.  Even more significantly, when I was active after my exercise routine, it increased the burn of simple activities like grocery shopping.

I believe you could see this same effect if you were wearing a heart rate monitor.  I don’t own one- but I think it would be fun to compare the bodybugg with a HRM.  Maybe sometime in the future I will indulge my geeky side and give it a try.

Do you have any personal observations about EPOC?  Any questions?

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One response to “EPOC-Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

  1. Deb – Great post! You have been studying ;-)
    I love that you watched your gizmo to see what was happening with you after a workout. I’ve got a HR monitor (love it – uh – but can’t find it right now) and I’ve thought about doing that. Hmmmm – I think I will!

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