Firstly, what even is fat?! Fat tissue or adipose tissue is a form of loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes (fat cells). But that doesn’t really matter… What matters is that fat has two roles. Fat is used to cushion and insulate the body, with its primary role being to store energy. Thus, if we have more energy coming in (what we put in our mouths) than what we have going out (what we do with our bodies) then, consequently we will store more energy or more fat. So, to lose fat we must control both of these things! Today, I am going to talk to you about a method that may be effective at helping you lose fat through exercise (using more energy) and do so in a short amount of time, compared to other methods.
What is this magical form of energy consuming fat reduction promoting exercise?! High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT involves brief sprint efforts at a high intensity followed by periods of recovery. These efforts can be as short as 6 seconds and as long as 4 minutes with recovery time varying greatly. The high intensity and short bouts of exercise, also allow for a very time efficient form of exercise! How can what appears to be a small amount of exercise have a large role in assisting with fat loss? HIIT works in a number of ways including increased hormone release, increasing the breakdown of fat and increased metabolism, long after you finish your training session. HIIT is also effective in increasing your fitness and improving several mechanisms that make your muscles more efficient at exercising and using energy.
Boutcher, S. H. (2011). High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011, 868305. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/868305
It’s important to acknowledge that many forms of exercise have a role in assisting with fat loss and this is just one, though it is one with increasing scientific backing. Currently, research for forms of exercise including low intensity and moderate intensity aerobic exercise and resistance exercise do not show significant fat loss. Though it must be acknowledged many of these studies do not account for diet. Check out the figure below that shows significant fat and abdominal fat loss when comparing interval training with steady state exercise. The HIIT protocol was 20 minutes of 8 seconds efforts followed by 12 seconds rest, a total of just 12 minutes of exercise, compared to the steady state group that did 40 minutes of exercise and a control group that did… nothing.
Pretty amazing. As with any form of exercise, it is important that the interval protocol and the total volume of the session are specific to you, your situation and your goals. Consult an exercise professional, to ensure you get the most out of your next HIIT session and go kick those fat loss goals!