What is EPOC and how will it help me burn fat?
EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. It's the amount of oxygen that's needed to restore your body to a resting state after exercise. During exercise recovery, oxygen is used to help restore oxygen levels in the blood, replenish fuel stores, balance hormones, restore your body to normal a temperature, repair cellular damage, and build new muscle. This state is an energetic process. Your body burns calories to accomplish these tasks. Fat is released from cellular storage to supply energy for this process.
What type of exercise increases EPOC?
Exercise that places a large emphasis on anaerobic metabolism increases the need for oxygen consumption after exercise. Resistance training and HIIT are the best ways to increase EPOC and help with post exercise fat burn.
What kind of recovery snack will help get the most benefit from EPOC?
Recovery food has a large impact on EPOC. In order to meet the energy needs for EPOC, your body mobilizes fats from storage to be utilized as an energy source. If you consume a post workout snack that's high in carbohydrates or one that's high in fructose, you can short circuit your body’s ability to mobilize fats from storage to be utilized as a fuel. Foods with a high glycemic effect will raise your blood insulin levels. The presence of insulin signals the body to start storing fat rather than mobilizing it. Consuming a snack that's high in fructose can have a similar effect due to fructose’s unique metabolism.
Does this mean you shouldn't have any carbohydrates after a workout?
Not so fast. It's always tempting to simplify things, but your body does need some carbohydrates to help replenish muscle glycogen that was burned during exercise. The key is to have carbs but to avoid spiking your blood sugar and elevating your insulin too high with a snack that has a low glycemic effect. This means that the carbohydrates present will not sharply raise your blood sugar which will result in a corresponding sharp rise in your insulin levels.
What should you eat after a workout to help your body fuel EPOC and help with recovery?
I recommend a snack that's high in protein but also contains some carbohydrate and healthy fat. In my practice I use a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Whey based proteins are best for muscle recovery. Greek yogurt, Kefir, cottage cheese with ½ cup of salsa or fruit, or a recovery shake with whole whey protein powder and some fruit are some of the recovery snacks I most commonly recommend. The serving size varies based on the client and their activity level but in general I strive for whole food snacks that have been minimally processed and have around 15 to 24 grams of protein and 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate. I personally use the following recovery shake after the majority of my training sessions.
Recovery Smoothie Recipe
- 2 large handfulls of fresh organic baby spinach
- 1 scoop whole grassfed whey protein concentrate
- ½ cup of frozen organic fruit (I like to use pineapple to take advantage of the natural bromeliad for inflammation and recovery.)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- Iced green tea to thin
Blend all the ingredients together in your blender to your desired consistency.
h/t: Fitness Republic