High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a trend that is increasing in popularity. During the week it may be difficult to find time to fit in a good workout. Doing a HIIT workout can be done in as little as twenty minutes. HIIT advocates say it is a great way to improve your stamina, strength, and burn body fat. Are these claims accurate? Let’s dive into what a HIIT entails, the evidence based benefits, and how you should be eating to make the most out of your workout.

A HIIT workout consists of short bursts of intense exercise followed by short recovery periods. This cycle repeats until you are too exhausted to continue. There isn’t a set length of time that a HIIT workout must be, but most of these workouts are between 20 to 30 minutes. The most common form of HIIT is sprinting for 30 seconds and walking for 30 seconds. There are many benefits to doing a HIIT exercise. Twenty minutes of HIIT has been shown to burn a similar amount of calories as a 60 minute cardio workout. What makes HIIT just as efficient as cardio is their similar EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. These are the calories you burn after working out. HIIT will also improve your endurance by improving oxygen and glycogen utilization.

The research is not conclusive on HIIT’s ability to burn body fat. Studies have shown results where groups have lost equal amounts of body fat whether or not they were doing HIIT or conventional exercise programs. One of the issues with a HIIT workout is the reliance on carbohydrates. Many individuals on a diet are eating less carbs which may result in decreased glycogen storage. With less glycogen, you may begin to feel fatigue much quicker into a HIIT workout. Fatigue may slow you down resulting in less calories burned.

Eating the right foods before a HIIT workout can make a significant difference. Before the workout you should eat a meal with high carbs and moderate protein. The goal is to allow your body to store as much glycogen as possible so it can be utilized during the workout. Protein prevents muscles from being broken down for energy once the glycogen has been used up. It is advised that you do not fast before a HIIT workout as it can lead to muscle loss. If you need help choosing the right foods to eat before your workouts, schedule a free nutrition consultation at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic. At our office in Rochester, NY, our nutritionist can help design a meal plan that will complement your current exercise regimen and get you the results you are looking for.