The Best Exercise Strategy for Weight Loss
HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is a powerful tool to correct the hypothalamus in the brain.
The hypothalamus is the part of the brain which controls appetite and body fat levels.
This is, in fact, how HIIT mediates its beneficial effects for weight loss and health.
When you perform HIIT, a signalling molecule is released, which travels to the brain and acts on the hypothalamus to increase dopamine and correct insulin and leptin sensitivity, which in turn reduces appetite and improves general health.
HIIT is a brilliant weapon if you have eaten the wrong foods, to protect against negative effects.
The following study shows the power of HIIT to reduce body fat even when no conscious effort is made to eat a better diet.
Subjects in the study were assigned to two different exercise regimes;
On a bike: 8 seconds of sprinting, followed by 12 seconds of exercising lightly—for 2 minutes.
Group 2: exercised at a continuous, regular pace for 40 minutes.
The 8 second interval trainers lost three times as much fat as the continuous pace exercisers, even though they exercised for only half the amount of time!
This study shows that HIIT is three times more effective than continuous pace exercise.
But it also shows that HIIT can prevent the negative effects of a bad diet, even to the extent that weight loss can still occur, DESPITE the bad diet.
In fact, one subject was quoted as saying, “My diet was pretty bad back then, with lots of sweets, lots of junk food. So just eating the same things, doughnuts and sugar — it was awful,” says Louise.
And yet, by the end of this study, interval training helped this girl burn 8kg, (14 pounds) ( a stone) of fat in just 15 weeks ( 4 months) – WITHOUT changing her diet.
Had the diet been optimal too, this weight loss would certainly have been greater but a stone of extra fat loss in nearly 4 months is not to be sniffed at.
If we want to really optimise fat loss and get our best body, HIIT will certainly help us to do that.
Another research study on interval training compared long intervals against short intervals.
There were 2 test conditions, both of HIIT for 20 minutes.
Test 1: 8-second sprints with 12-second recovery periods.
Test 2: 24-s sprints with 36-s recovery periods.
It was found that the very short, very intense 8 second intervals had the edge on longer intervals of 24 second bursts.
The best way to do the 20-minutes of 8s-12s intervals is by using a spinning bike. A rowing machine would also work.
However, it would be impossible – and dangerous – to try and replicate the 8 seconds of sprinting and 12 seconds of recovery on a treadmill.
In the absence of a spinning bike; you could do 8 second all-out sprints outside, at a park or on a quiet road.
If you prefer to exercise indoors, and don’t have a spinning bike or a rowing machine, longer intervals doing other types of high intensity exercises are still very effective, though they don’t have quite the edge of the 8 second interval exercise.
HIIT also makes steady state cardio more effective.
HIIT increases fat burning; this means that when we perform steady state cardio, we are more likely to burn off fat.
If we are performing HIIT, we can then use steady state cardio to burn off even more calories and supercharge fat loss even further.
Steady State Cardio Best for Preventing Rebound Weight Regain
Although regular steady state cardio is not the best for LOSING weight in the first place.
It IS a great way to prevent rebound weight gain, once the weight has been lost.
Weight regain/rebound is a very common problem for dieters. (due to leptin deficiency following weight loss)
Steady state cardio burns off excess calories consumed and prevents storing them as fat.
A regular steady state cardio routine has been shown in studies to be very effective for preventing rebound weight gain, following weight loss.
Cardio Best Effects When Performed at Night
Cardio performed at any time of the day will be beneficial; however you don’t have to give up if you don’t have time for a morning run.
In a recent study ‘large improvements’ in metabolic health were seen in subjects who performed an hour of vigorous steady state cardio in the evening or at night, compared to those who exercised in the morning or afternoon.
For this reason, I recommend performing your steady state cardio in the evening or at night.
This does not mean that cardio performed in the morning is useless; it just means that evening cardio is even better in terms of improving hypothalamic function.
Mini- Workouts Throughout the Day to Keep Metabolism Humming
As already described, the major way that HIIT works is due to its effects to improve the function of the hypothalamus, increase fat burning and reduce the appetite.
But how long do these effects last for after exercise?
One of the effects of good hypothalamic function is that it increases the release of growth hormone.
Growth hormone is therefore a good indicator of hypothalamic function.
Growth hormone increases dramatically following HIIT and starts to fall about 90 minutes later.
What this means is that the effects of exercise to boost the hypothalamus start to wear off a couple of hours later.
In order to keep the hypothalamus revved up throughout the day optimally, it would therefore make sense to split one long workout in to 3 mini-work outs.
This way the hypothalamus and metabolism is kept boosted up throughout the day.
Mini- workouts make more sense too in that several studies have shown that it only takes a small amount of intense exercise to get the same metabolic boost as a longer period of exercise.
Some studies show that growth hormone can be stimulated with as little as a couple of 30-second “bursts” of extremely high intensity exercise such as sprinting.
And another study showed that just one minute of intense exercise provided the same metabolic/hypothalamic (appetite and fat burning) benefit of an hour of steady state cardio.
So rather than doing an unnecessarily long workout once per day, you would get more appetitive and fat burning benefits by splitting that workout up throughout the day.
Simple things like lifting light weights or doing press ups for 15 minutes a day, five times a week, have been shown to boost HGH release by as much as 400%!
The sweet spot for maximal growth hormone release (a maximal boost to the hypothalamus) appears to be 10 minutes of intense exercise.
A 10 minute burst of intense exercise performed 3 times a day would give you the maximum metabolic/appetitive benefit, for a minimum of effort and time.
These mini-workouts are less stressful because you don’t have to endure a long session of strenuous exertion.
As they are easier and quicker you will be far less likely to procrastinate and put it off for another day.
They are far easier to fit around the rest of your day.
You can do them while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or whilst you are watching TV.
And because you won’t be exercising long enough to get sweaty you won’t need to shower and do your hair afterwards, saving you lots of time.
Another benefit of these short workouts is that it will place less stress on the body reducing the likelihood of injury or over-training.
One group of 3 friends who experimented with mini workouts and compared it to doing their usual longer steady state cardio workout saw very impressive results.
Instead of doing one 45 minute workout during their lunch hour, they did three 15 minutes workouts, spread out through the day.
They didn’t make any conscious effort to change any other aspect of their diet or lifestyle.
"At the end of the two months performing strictly body-weight exercises (HIIT) in intervals of 15 minutes 3 times per day, we averaged 11 lbs. of weight loss with the highest of us losing 18 lbs.
Each of us also experienced muscle gain, reducing our body fat percentage an average of 2.2%.
The biggest benefit was our mental stamina and attitude. We all felt better throughout the day and our 2 o’clock “is the workday over yet?” feeling has gone away.”
The mini workout is a far more economical way to exercise, giving greater benefits for less work.
The Dangers of Sitting Down For Too Long
It appears that any type of movement is better than none.
In a recent study, participants had to sit down for extended periods of time.
They found that when 2 minute walking breaks were included, every 20 minutes, participants noticed a 30 per cent improvement in the bodys response to meals.
This is indicative of a 30% improvement in hypothalamic function (the body fat regulating part of the brain).
It didn’t seem to matter whether the pace of the walk was easy or moderate; simply breaking up the sitting down period was enough to prevent the metabolic dysrgeulation.
This is a very big effect and is another example of small, easy to implement, habits making a big difference to our metabolic health, appetite and fat burning capacity.
Making the effort to break up 'sitting down periods' with short bouts of walking may be as important as the heavy exercise session and making efforts with dietary habits, whilst costing a minimum of energy and time.
Try not to sit down without a break for longer than 20 minutes.
Try to get up and do a bit of housework or walk around for 2 minutes every 20 minutes or so.
These simple, easy strategies, when implemented regularly, will make a huge difference to your appetite, general health and ultimate body composition.
They are more important than the heavy exercise session.
But the key is REGULARITY.
Do a little and OFTEN to see BIG results.