EPOC – Your Best Ally for Fat Loss
Clients come to us with multiple goals, but it seems like most of you have a common goal: losing weight. Regardless of how much weight you want to lose, the advice I usually give is the same: calorie deficit and consistent exercise. Without a doubt, proper nutrition is, by far, the most challenging aspect for most of us. However, I am not going to get into that right now. In this article, I am going to talk about how to get the absolute best out of your workout so we can potentiate fat loss. Please keep in mind that the caloric deficit is the most important aspect of weight loss and that what I am about to discuss is just a complementary touch that will help you get rid of fat quicker.
Okay, now let’s get to it. Most of you might be wondering what EPOC is, so let’s start there. EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. This just refers to the number of calories your body uses to restore oxygen and fuel levels back to normal (pre-workout levels). But how does this relate to fat loss? Well, the type of workout you do will determine how long it will take your body to return back to its resting state after you are done with your session. The higher EPOC is, the more calories we burn! So what this means is that we want to have a high EPOC so that we keep burning a lot of calories even at rest.
So now you are probably wanting to ask what type of exercise will help you get a higher EPOC, and the answer is pretty simple: high-intensity interval training or HIIT. You have probably heard of it. This type of exercise makes you work hard for short intervals of time. When I say work hard, I mean HARD. The working intervals should be an all-out effort type of thing. You know when you are in the middle of a workout and you think: “There is no way I’ll make it” or “I’m gonna die”, (yeah, we all have been there), well that is exactly what we want to be thinking the entire time we’re doing a HIIT workout. You work at a 130% effort, then have a short rest interval, and then go again. Usually, these types of training sessions are relatively short, between 20-30 minutes, because of how hard they are; yet, it’s the most effective way of burning fat. EPOC is stimulated by the intensity of the exercise, not the duration.
Does that mean strength training and moderate-continuous exercise do not help with weight loss? No, it does not mean that at all. By exercising that way you still are: a) burning calories and contributing to the caloric deficit, b) building muscle mass that will help you burn more calories both at rest and work, and c) generating EPOC. What I am saying is that there are extra benefits to high-intensity interval training if we were to compare it to continuous-moderate level exercise. HIIT allows you to burn way more calories after you finish working out. Oxygen uptake is greater after HIIT because the body is trying to replenish and restore the normal oxygen levels as fast as possible. Why? Because oxygen is needed in order to generate the energy we need to function.
The more oxygen is required to restore the body’s metabolism to its normal resting rate, the more calories you burn after the workout. That is why the intervals need to be an all-out effort, we have to make sure that we put our bodies in some sort of “oxygen deficit”. Which is not as bad as it sounds, you won’t stop breathing or die, you will just get really tired and use all the fuel available in your 2 immediate energy systems. A recent study done by the University of Central Florida proved that HIIT exercise burns almost double the calories than moderate-continuous exercise at 3+ hours post-workout. This means that HIIT makes your body burn more post-workout calories than a 30-minute bike ride at a steady but moderate pace, for example. You work so hard with HIIT that your body will take way longer to get back to an internal balance than with the bike ride. So the longer it takes your body to replenish the fuel stores, the more calories you will keep burning afterward. And guess where those calories will come from, FAT! At rest, the body will restore fuel levels using the oxidative energy system which uses fat to make energy.
So there’s your answer, want to burn fat even when you are done working out? Make sure you have a high EPOC! To wrap this up, please remember that strength training will also help you achieve your weight loss goals. The more muscle we have, the more calories we will burn on a regular basis. Also, healthy eating habits! None of this will help you burn fat if you don’t stay on a calorie deficit and if you are not consistent with your workouts. Hope I didn’t bore you with the technicalities and science behind it. If you have any questions or want to know more about this type of training, just shoot me a text or email. Let’s say adios to that stubborn fat.