The Shit Truth About The Afterburn Effect


the afterburn effect

High intensity interval training is top notch for fat loss.

But if you’ve ever heard these myths about The Afterburn Effect, you have been lied to.

In fact, it is nowhere near as effective as some trainers claim.

You see, it’s not uncommon to hear people blaring on about “burning fat on autopilot for 36 hours” as a result of doing a five minute session at home with no equipment.

Pick up any fitness DVD and you’ll see claims of how this crucial training ingredient is the missing link between a regular body and a ripped, lean body.

But the reality of the afterburn effect is far different to the sales package.

In fact, it’s not even close.

The Gimmick

The reason it’s hyped into oblivion is because it has become a sales gimmick.

I’ve seen tons of people greatly exaggerate the EPOC phenomenon and use it as a marketing tool, without any research to back up their claims.

Heck, these are just a few statements I’ve seen over the years:

  • “You will become a fat incinerating machine for 36 hours following every workout!”
  • “Our fitness class will boost your afterburn effect x5 over any other class!”
  • “For every 1000 calories you burn with this workout, you’ll go on to burn an additional 500 calories after the session!”

Let’s take a moment to smash our head off a desk before moving on.

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Dismantling The Gimmick

Time to get real with these statements.

They are lying to you.

  • “You will become a fat incinerating machine for 36 hours following every workout!”


36 hours?

So if I do three workouts in three days, I’ve already added three 36 hour bouts of pure fat burning, right?

I can take the week off!

You sir, have unlocked the miracle fat burning system that genuinely allows people to lose weight by doing barely any exercise and not even fucking mentioning diet.


After a very hard HIIT session, the afterburn effect can last for up to 14 hours. (1)

Not 24. Not 36. Not 48.

the afterburn effect

  • “Our fitness class will boost your afterburn effect x5 over any other class!”

This one is pure marketing hype.

They are merely trying to say our class is better than their class. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be done by fabricating what their sessions will do for you.

Quite frankly, it would also be impossible for them to measure the resulting difference in the afteburn effect versus another class.

High intensity interval training, and the resulting EPOC phenomenon it generates – that’s the science name for the afterburn effectare all about manipulating your heart rate.

It doesn’t matter where you do it.

It doesn’t matter what equipment you use to do it.

It doesn’t matter whose name is on the fucking door of the class.

Providing your are performing HIIT to your maximum effort, you will see results.

Fuck this broscience.

the afterburn effect explained

  • “For every 1000 calories you burn with this workout, you’ll go on to burn an additional 500 calories after the session!”

This is not so much marketing hype.

It’s just total bullshit.

That would give you a 50% rate of EPOC – a figure unheard of in any study on high intensity interval training. Ever.

In fact, review studies covering the full body of research on HIIT training report the afterburn effect to typically fall between a 6% – 15% increase in EPOC. (2)

Not 50%.

Quite frankly, if you burned as many calories as some of these people were suggesting, you’d be dead.


How To Maximize The Afterburn Effect

The afterburn effect is 100% real.

And it sure is useful.

But it is not, and never will be, the missing link between doing five minutes of exercise per day and getting ripped.

It’s not the “secret fat loss formula” that many dishonest trainers make it out to be.

But, as with most things in fitness, it’s only so long before they become packaged as some kind of miracle pill aimed at cashing in on weak-willed people who want great results without great effort.

So it pays to do your research.

This article will teach you about how HIIT works.

If you are performing HIIT – whether it is outside, in a gym, in a class or at home – you still need to work hard and you still need to watch your diet in order to lose fat.

That said, those 6% – 15% boosts in fat burning activity following each session might not sound like much after they were previously hyped as 50% spikes, but they sure do add up over the course of a couple of solid months of consistent training.

Instead of the quick fix it’s often billed as, the afterburn effect is genuinely a long-term concept.

And the stronger you become over time, the faster your metabolism will be in general.

So that’s a win/win.

Also, one of the major benefits of HIIT which is very rarely mentioned is the fact that it has been shown to significantly blunt hunger pangs. (3)

In a great 2014 study published in the Journal of Obesity, research team from the University of Western Australia discovered that subjects who performed HIIT were able to resist the urge to over-eat versus a group performing regular aerobic cardio.

And when it comes to fat loss, that’s your real secret weapon!

afterburn effect training

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1. Knab, A. M., et al. “A 45 minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Sep;43(9):1643-8.

2. LaForgia, J., et al. “Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.

3. Sim, A. Y., et al. “High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake.” Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Mar;38(3):417-22. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.102. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

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