Interval Training: Time-Efficient Body Fat Management

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

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Dr Paul Gentil
Faculty of Physical Education and Dance
Federal University of Goias
Goiania, Brazil 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although being overweight and/or obese are associated with numerous health risks, the prevalence of both are continuing to increase worldwide. The treatment would include anything that results in an increase in energy expenditure (exercise) or a decrease in energy intake (diet). However, our metabolism seems to adapt to variations in physical activity to maintain total energy expenditure. Although lower-than-expected weight loss is often attributed to incomplete adherence to prescribed  interventions, there are other factors that might influence the results, such as, metabolic downregulation.

So, instead of making people spend more calories, maybe we have to think on how to promote metabolic changes in order to overcome these physiological adaptations above-mentioned. In this regard, high intensity training might be particularly interesting as a strategy to promote fat loss. Irrespective the amount of calories spent during training, higher intensity exercise seems to promote many physiological changes that might favor long-term weight loss. For example, previous studies have shown that interval training is able to promote upregulation of important enzymes associated with glycolysis and beta oxidation pathways, which occurs in a greater extent than with moderate intensity continuous exercise.

Our findings suggest that interval training might be an important tool to promote weigh loss. However, I t might be performed adequately and under direct supervision in order to get better results.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Losing weight is not only about how many calories you burn during exercise, but also how your body reacts in the hours and days after exercise! Intensity seems to be an important factor for creating an adequate environment for losing fat. Moreover, one important aspect of interval training is its lower time commitment, since lack of time is a common barrier for exercise adoption. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should study the mechanisms and also explore which protocols would be the most efficient. For example, we have conducted a study comparing different types of interval training to see which one is better for cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition. The results showed that young women loss around 20% of their body fat in 8 weeks, without changing their diets, and sprint interval training were more efficient in some anthropometric measures.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: Interval training might be an efficacious ‘time-efficient’ exercise strategy for body fat management. For example, moderate intensity protocols lasted on average 38 minutes and provided a reduction of 3.5% on total body fat percentage (%), while high intensity interval training protocols lasted on average 28 minutes and provided a reduction of 4.6%, and sprint interval training protocols lasted on average 18 minutes and provided a reduction of 3.5% on total body fat percentage (%). In other words, moderate intensity protocols provided a reduction of ‘0.0026% per minute’, while high intensity interval training and sprint interval training protocols provided a reduction of ‘0.0050% and 0.0067% per minute’ on total body fat percentage (%), respectively.

Having higher results with less time commitment is very important, since lack of time is an important barrier for exercise adoption. 

Citation: Naves JPA, Viana RB, Rebelo ACS, et al. Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training vs. Sprint Interval Training on Anthropometric Measures and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Healthy Young Women. Front Physiol 2018;9:1738. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.01738 

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