A generally accepted “truth” in many fitness circles is that the body is in a “fat burning state” up to 24 hours after a workout. Many therefore vouch on eating a little extra during this time … which is entirely the wrong approach, unless one is aiming to gain weight, of course.
A study conducted earlier this year by a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado held that a workout, done in fairly moderate pace or intensity (which is where most of us are, even when we think we are training hard) that lasts up to a hour has very little effect on our metabolism and fat burning throughout the day.
The problem is that most previous studies focused on the fat burning the hours immediately after the session and also in people who have not eaten anything before the workout. However, this study focused on the natural 24-hour periods with and without exercise in which the intake of calories was completely normal.
The conclusion of this study was about the same as similar studies conducted in recent years: that most automatically, and often unconsciously, regulate how much they eat how much they burned. The training was therefore a zero-sum game in calories. However, the researchers find that “training increases the capacity for burning calories.”
The study focused on 10 individuals trained and slim, 10 slim but untrained individuals and 8 obese and unfit people. Calorie distribution consisted of 20% fat, 65% carbohydrates and 15% proteins. The training sessions consisted of an hour of spinning on exercise bike at a fairly high, but not high-intensity pace.
Calorie consumption was unsurprisingly higher in all groups when compared with days when they did not work out more than necessary. But another thing they discovered was primarily the burning of carbohydrates and not fat, increased during the subsequent 24-hour period after exercise.
The researchers believe that what we eat affects our fat loss when studies suggest that even if we only eat very little carbs an hour before the workout so this affects fat metabolism negatively. And a meal just after exercise can slow down fat burning process for up to six hours!
The study concludes that it is important that people know that you do not get into a condition where the body burns extra fat a full day after a workout. It is mainly the old principle of “calories in, calories out” that determine how much you can lose weight. Therefore, you must consider both what you eat and how much you eat even if you train in the day.