Should I be doing HIIT or CARDIO to loose fat?


The age old question - which exercise is going to help me loose weight? This post is going to compare HIIT training with low intensity steady state cardio specifically for fat loss.


Now first of all, the only way you are going to loose weight is by being in a negative energy balance. This means you will be expending more energy than you are taking in (food). This would mean you are in a calorie deficit, which forces your body to use stored fat for fuel/energy. The easiest way to be in a calorie deficit would be to look at your diet and nutrition and ensure you are eating less than you need daily, over a period of time. Lets say that the nutrition is being handled for arguments sake so we can really compare these two forms of training.


The reason I am concerned with HIIT training is because I use this training style heavily with my clients and have even created a home plan - BURN, complete full of HIIT workouts. If you are unsure what exactly HIIT training is then go and check out my blog post - https://www.ptimo.co.uk/post/hiittrainingexplained.


Both are effective forms of cardiovascular training, with LISS being shown to support fat loss, as we are working in the 'fat burning zone'. Working at lower intensities fat becomes our primary source of energy as opposed to during intensities when carbohydrate is our main source of energy.


Reasons to do cardio to loose weight:


  • Low intensity steady state cardio is less taxing on the body

  • Suitable for people with most injuries

  • Less intense so it can be sustained for longer periods of time

  • Easier to adhere too because it is less intense and 'difficult'

  • Can be incorporated into daily routine - e.g bike/walk to work/ visiting friends/ socially/ to the shops/ when on holiday


Reasons to do HIIT to loose weight:


  • Can be completed quickly so fits into schedule

  • Easily transportable and can be done anywhere

  • Burns lots of calories in a short space of time

  • Can strengthen different muscle groups


Lets take a look at the studies, that I found neatly compiled on a blog post written on My Protein written by Paul Jowsey. (https://www.myprotein.com/thezone/training/hiit-liss-workouts-for-fat-loss/)

Studies


Alahmadi MA (2014)

In terms of your fitness improvements, HIIT is superior to moderate-intensity continuous training in improving Cardio Respiratory Fitness compared to LISS. In terms of fat loss; their study showed that candidates who enrolled on a 12-week program HIIT program experienced significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat in overweight males (Alahmadi MA, 2014).


Bryner RW, Toffle RC, Ullrich IH, Yeater RA (1997)

This study compared average-weight females performing either LISS or HIIT – only those performing HIIT were found with a decrease in body fat percentage and those using LISS had no such changes in their body fat.


Tremblay A, Despres JP, Leblanc C, Craig CL, Ferris B, Stephens T, Bouchard C.(1990)

They created a study which included 2,500 men and women. It revealed that that those participating in HIIT maintained lower body fat and a lower waist-to-hip ratio’s than their 38 counterparts participating who partook in LISS only.

Bhar & Sejerstead (1992)

Have written about the direct link between exercise intensity and 'EPOC' duration. For a better understanding of the 'EPOC' effect, have a read of my blog post https://www.ptimo.co.uk/post/hiittrainingexplained where it is explained. Stølen TO, Bye A, Volden M, Slørdahl SA (2009) also go into this, detailing how HIIT can contribute to increased metabolism due to the EPOC effect. As HIIT uses fat for recovery, we continue to burn fat even at rest, increasing the effectiveness of our metabolism after HIIT training as oppposed to LISS.


Looking at these studies, I can conclude that I am personally in favor of HIIT training over LISS for fat loss and would opt towards this for my clients and myself. However, there are definitely situations where LISS is more appropriate and cases where it would be much more effective. The takeaway point here is that we are individuals and we have specific needs that will be most effective for us to loose fat through our training regime. Ultimately the training which you enjoy and therefore are going to stick to and do more regularly is going to be the most effective. If you are looking to loose fat take a look at my online personal training services, where i can create a completely individual plan for you that will work most effectively for your needs- https://www.ptimo.co.uk/packages.



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