Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have found that combining a calorie-restricted diet with high-intensity interval training could be a solution for reducing weight regain after weight loss.
"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," said the lead researcher. "Eighty percent of people who lose weight by dieting gain all of it back in a four- to five-year period."
Moderate-intensity exercise, such as a brisk walking, has been shown to reduce the lowering of one's metabolic rate while restricting calories. The new study looked at whether high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, could have an even greater effect.
The findings: When following a calorie-restricted diet, high-intensity exercise training preserved muscle mass and had a greater impact on the way the body uses glucose (sugar) for energy, in mice.
The findings have implications for how health professionals advise people to lose weight and keep it off.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training is a process in which a person performs near maximal exercise for a short period of time, and then performs two to four minutes of much lower intensity active recovery. For example, if someone is on a treadmill they may go from running to walking. Then, the person performs another cycle of near maximal exercise and low intensity recovery and continues to do so for four to five cycles.
Previous research shows that continuous moderate intensity exercise does burn more calories, but further studies have found that people who perform high-intensity interval training produce the same amount of weight loss doing 20 minutes of exercise as those who do 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
High-intensity interval training takes about a third of the time as a continuous moderate intensity exercise training.
The new findings suggest that If you are going to start a low-calorie diet, combining it with HIIT could help prevent muscle loss and maintain your metabolic rate.
Source: American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, August 9, 2017.
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