When it comes to dieting — that is, cutting calories to lose weight — high-intensity interval training may be the best way to keep the pounds off for good, says a new study in the American Journal of Physiology.
The problem with traditional weight loss plans, say the researchers, is that cutting calories leads to muscle loss. This also makes your metabolism slow down in order to handle less food. That’s why so many dieters have trouble either reaching their weight-loss goal or maintaining it. While the researchers knew that moderate exercise could help counteract the effect, they wanted to find out whether high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be even better. The study, performed on mice, found that HIIT not only preserved dieters’ muscle mass, it had a greater impact on how their body uses glucose for energy—as in, immediately for energy or stored for later use.
For the uninitiated, high-intensity interval training involves short bursts of activity performed to exhaustion, followed by an active recovery period of two- to four minutes. For example, short sprints for 30 seconds followed by 60-90 seconds of walking or jogging. Past studies have shown that people who perform high-intensity interval training seem to produce the same amount of weight loss doing 20 minutes of exercise as those who do 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. (For more information on the benefits of resistance and aerobic exercise, as well as how HIIT combines the best of both, read here.)
Because most people cite lack of time as their number-one reason for not exercising, researchers were keen to find out that this time-saving technique could help those struggling with weight loss.
This information is crucial to understand, particularly as it’s related to sustained weight loss, because incorporating some form of fitness into any health plan is a logical step toward long-term goals. However, it’s arguable that the success of this study is mostly due to the fact that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) maintains and/or increases muscle mass—which keeps the metabolism humming. For long-term weight loss results, you might want to seriously consider which diet you embark upon in conjunction with your HIIT plan.
Past studies show that low-calorie diets can challenge your willpower, because as blood sugar levels drop, cravings kick in—leaving you battling with the refrigerator door. While any effort to take back your waistline from extra bulge is noble, a high-fat diet that mitigates food cravings might actually be most successful in the long run.
While no formal study has been conducted on the Bulletproof Diet in conjunction with HIIT, it has demonstrated itself to be a winning combo for many people, particularly those who have “failed” on calorie-restricted diets in the past. Read more here about how a high-fat, ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, without messing with your metabolism.