NUTRITION

Dietitian Susie Burrell on the ‘groundbreaking’ diet and exercise combo you might need in your life

We have known for some time that intermittent fasting, or time restricted eating (TRE) is good for metabolic health and can support weight loss.

We have also known that high intensity interval training or HIIT is also very good for us. But now a groundbreaking new study recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism has found that combining the two offers superior results for both weight loss and glucose control in the body.

It’s one of the first published studies which has specifically examined weight loss outcomes with overweight and obese women, and while the study was just a few weeks long, it does suggest that strict calorie control and loads of exercise is not necessarily required to achieve positive weight loss results.

READ MORE: Nutritionist reveals pros and cons of popular diets

A woman doing exercise outdoors
New study suggests strict calorie control and loads of exercise is not necessarily for weight loss. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What did the study do?

The study featured 130 overweight and obese women and ran over a seven-week period. During this time, participants were either required to limit their calorie intake to a 10-hour period, minus any specific calorie prescription. Or add 10-20 minutes of HITT training three times each week. Or do both.

While all study groups except the control lost weight, the group that combined TRE with HIIT training lost significantly more weight and had better glucose control in this relatively short period of time.

Why is this combination likely to work?

Not only does limiting food intake to fewer hours each day tends to result in a reduction in calorie intake overall, but extending the overnight fast has been shown to have a number of metabolic benefits especially with those who have glucose regulation issues, insulin resistance, a family history of Type 2 or Gestational diabetes or some types of PCOS.

Intermittent fasting method - sixteen hours diet, eight hours eating time.  Healthy lifestyle concept.  Close-up, copy space, top view.
The group that combined fasting and HIIT had the best results. (iStock)

In addition, the time effective nature of HIIT, as well as the metabolic benefits associated with a training style that really gets heart rate up appears to suit individuals who can more easily incorporate this into their routine, whilst offering significant metabolic benefits that help to enhance fat loss outcomes.

What do we still need to know?

This is a relatively short study, lasting just a few weeks and while weight loss did result, it was still at relatively small amounts. We still need to know if the weight loss will continue over a longer period of time.

And whether including a degree of calorie control and macronutrient balance as part of the TRE will enhance outcomes or even give superior weight loss. We also need to know whether the losses initially are maintained over a three-, six- and 12-month period before we assume this is the right weight loss program for overweight women.

It’s still unclear if the weight loss will continue over a longer period of time and be sustainable.

What can we learn from these results?

Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not dependent on spending hours pounding the pavement or strict calorie control. Rather, simply extending the number of hours each day in which we take a break from eating, ideally in line with our 24 hours circadian rhythm where we eat more calories throughout the first half of the day and fast overnight for at least 12 hours. And then making sure we get our heart rate up occasionally can be enough to induce weight loss in overweight individuals. Plus, these options are sustainable and easy to incorporate into modern, busy life in which time is of the essence and calories are plentiful.

How can you incorporate these changes and reap the benefits?

Simply waiting an hour or two upon waking, or waiting until you are really hungry to eat breakfast and then enjoying your final meal within 10 hours will offer a number of benefits to glucose control and even weight long term.

In the case of exercise, quality is just as important as quantity and if you can only manage 10 or 20 minutes in the gym or to pop out for a run a few times each week, you can still have an extremely effective workout that will support weight loss, especially when combined with TRE on a daily basis.

Author Susie Burrel is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Meco-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here

Your favorite muesli bars ranked by sugar

About the author

ckv6u

Leave a Comment