Exercising using high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best exercises for weight loss, research concludes.
HIIT can be done in as little as a 20-minute workout and is linked to a tripling in weight loss by some studies.
A HIIT exercise session of just 20 minutes can produce the same amount of weight loss as exercising continuously for an hour.
There are different ways of doing HIIT, but some people use bicycles, running, jogging or a variety of other exercises.
The important thing is to do short bursts at a high intensity — this involves going all-out for 30 seconds or so and then easing off, before another bout of high intensity exercise.
Despite burning fewer calories, HIIT can increase weight loss to a greater extent.
Dr Eric Plaisance, study co-author, said:
“The number one reason that people tell us they do not exercise is due to a lack of time.
High-intensity interval training takes about a third of the time as a continuous exercise training.
If you are going to start a diet where you are restricting calories, these results could help prevent muscle mass and maintain energy expenditure.”
The current study was carried out on mice, but others on humans have found it can triple weight loss.
HIIT can help preserve muscle mass and improve how the body deals with glucose, Dr Plaisance said:
“One of the major problems when you restrict calories on a diet is that you lose muscle mass, and as a result, your metabolism slows down to accommodate the restriction of food.
Eighty percent of people who lose weight by dieting gain all of it back in a four- to five-year period.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology And Metabolism (Davis et al., 2017).