The Best Weight Loss Combo: HIIT and Intermittent Fasting

September 21, 2015 | 1,066 views

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By Dr. Mercola

Running on a treadmill, joining marathons and triathlons, and spending long hours on an elliptical bike – do these sound familiar to you? These are probably exercise routines that you’re inclined to do. But not only are they time consuming, they can be ineffective as well – especially if your main goal is weight loss.

If you really want to shed unwanted pounds and rework your fat-to-muscle ratio, then there’s no better strategy than high-intensity interval training (HIIT). To reap the benefits of HIIT even further, combine it with intermittent fasting.

In this article, I will discuss why these two pillars of fitness are truly a winning combo that will put your health (and weight loss) goals right back on track.

HIIT Offers More Benefits Than Conventional Cardio

High-intensity interval training is a workout program that involves exercising at very high intensity interspersed with periods of moderate rest. Compared to conventional cardio routines that require long periods of training, HIIT is considerably shorter and only require as little as four minutes of intense activity. When combined with periods of rest, the total workout time is roughly 20 minutes.

There are many HIIT routines you can try, but the one I personally use and recommend is Peak Fitness. It consists of 30 seconds of intense effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation, for a total of eight repetitions. However, don’t be pressured to do eight reps immediately, especially if you’re a beginner. You can start with fewer reps and then work your way up as you get fitter.

Some of the benefits associated with high-intensity interval training include:

  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Increased sex drive and testosterone production
  • Increased production of human growth hormone (HGH), also known as the fitness hormone, essential for health, strength, and longevity
  • Maximized calorie burn
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Greater endurance, speed, and performance

To better maximize the benefits of HIIT, I recommend trying the Buteyko Method, which involves breathing only through your nose while working out. It will definitely raise the challenge to another level.

Pair HIIT with Intermittent Fasting to Shed Fat and Boost Your Fitness Levels

As I mentioned earlier, to further reap the weight loss benefits of HIIT, I suggest pairing it with intermittent fasting. The concept is simple: you simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, within an eight-hour (or less) window, allowing for periods of feast and famine. You should not be consuming any calories during your non-eating window. Although drinking water, coffee, or tea is okay, no sugar or milk should be added.

Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach to eating that allows your body to shift from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel. At the same time, it helps eliminate your nasty food cravings. I am a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and, even after studying nutrition for more than 30 years, have never personally encountered anything that can eliminate hunger cravings as effectively as this eating strategy.

Remember: Pay Attention to What You Eat

Many intermittent fasting advocates say that you can eat any junk you want as long as you restrict calories on certain days, but I don’t agree with this. In fact, it is actually counteractive because when you’re fasting, you need to pay attention to the quality of the food you eat. You must nourish your body with the right types of food, as optimal nutrition becomes more important when implementing any type of fasting.

So if you want to gear yourself toward losing weight, I recommend eating:

  • Large amounts of fresh, organic, and locally grown vegetables, ideally raw
  • Low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein (grass-fed meat, seeds and nuts, organic free-range eggs, and cooked beans)
  • As much high-quality healthy fats, monounsaturated and saturated, from animal and tropical oil sources (avocados, raw dairy, butter, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts, and organic pastured egg yolks)

You should also avoid eating foods with sugar, processed fructose, and grains – all processed foods in general.

For a more in-depth discussion on the benefits of combining HIIT with intermittent fasting, please read my article "High-Intensity Interval Training and Intermittent Fasting—Two Winning Ways to Reach and Maintain Your Ideal Weight."