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Window of Opportunity

As we start a new work week filled with new opportunities, I thought I’d offer yet another motivating factor to make exercise a part of your daily routine: Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. If one of your fitness goals if body fat reduction, consider EPOC your new best friend.

In the simplest of terms, EPOC is the state in which the body’s metabolism is elevated after exercise. During this period of time, the body burns more calories than it did before you started your workout. (Many fitness professionals refer to this as exercise or caloric afterburn.)  Since body fat reduction involves burning more calories than you consume, isn’t it good to know that burn doesn’t stop when your total body conditioning class is over? Thanks to EPOC, the burn goes on -which makes it the perfect time to recharge with a healthy meal.

Why does the body need more oxygen after exercise? The main reason is so it can get back to its resting state which involves:
1. Replenishing energy stores (ATP and muscle glycogen)
2. Re-oxygenating the blood
3. Restoring tissue temperature
4. Restoring pre-exercise respiratory and heart rates

There is conflicting information about the duration of EPOC and whether gender factors into the time limit.  In my personal experience, my favorite group exercise instructors and personal trainers have given me an EPOC window of 90 minutes. That means I make it point to eat a healthy meal within that timeframe.  After getting the heart racing and muscles moving, why waste the chance to burn some extra calories?

I should point out EPOC in itself isn’t the sole reason for body fat reduction or weight loss, but for someone new to fitness, it’s a big boost. As your fitness level increases, so should your exercise intensity, and you will also want to consider adding variety to your routine. For example, many studies show instead of relying solely on the treadmill for your cardio workout, circuit training could be a new way to add variety and intensity to your routine, leading to greater levels of EPOC and strength.

Regardless of your fitness level, I thought it would be helpful to shed some light on why you should take advantage of your post-workout window of opportunity when it comes to re-fueling with food. It’s good to know that once you make the commitment to take care of yourself, the body possesses its own physiological phenomenons to help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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