Don’t we all want our bodies to be melting our fat away while we do nothing but sit and read Harry Potter? Wouldn’t that be almost as magical as the world of Harry Potter? Surprisingly, our bodies do continue to consume calories even when seemingly at rest but as with most things in life, there is a catch. It requires you to have performed some form of exercise first – either strength training or high intensity interval training. Other forms of exercise that take you and keep you at a substantive part of your exercise close to your VO2 max would also do. This is known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

Your body converts nutrients into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for its energy. It does this either without oxygen (anaerobic) or using oxygen (aerobic). If the bulk of your exercise is performed while your body is in anaerobic mode, it will increase the need for oxygen after your exercise thereby increasing the effect of EPOC. Experts therefore believe that engaging in strength training which or high intensity interval training requires your body to be in an anaerobic state for longer and therefore has a host of benefits including being able to draw energy directly into the muscle and keep burning energy post your exercise or burn your calories while you put your feet up on the table and relax.

EPOC is a function of the intensity of the exercise and not the duration. Therefore while running a marathon at steady state requires a tremendous amount of will power and burns high amounts of calories, a short burn of Tabata can also achieve close to similar benefits all things remaining the same. Before you run away (both literally and figuratively) and change your exercise routine a note of caution. EPOC can add probably fifteen percent extra calorie burn if done right and so is not the dream solution you were seeking in the world of Harry Potter. You still need to follow a regular exercise routine, spend the time and sweat your body to be fit. Adding strength training or HIIT to your regime will aid your desire to achieve your peak. If nothing else, it certainly will strengthen your heart.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.