There’s no one form of exercise that outweighs the other. Different forms of exercise may pose different benefits and tailor to an individual’s lifestyle. However, there is strong evidence in the literature to suggest that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) provides numerous benefits that positively affect our body composition and aerobic capacity (fitness).
Diving straight into it, HIIT may help stimulate a process known as exercise post-oxygen consumption (EPOC). Since HIIT keeps the metabolic rate elevated even after stopping exercise, the body will continue to burn calories to eventually bring it back to its natural state (i.e. core temperature, metabolism, heart rate).
Keep in mind, the amount of calories burned post-exercise will vary between individuals and be influenced by the duration and intensity of the workout.
Regardless, this is where the relation of HIIT and weight loss formed – the fact that one can continually burns calories even after the cessation of exercise. The opposite stands for steady-state cardio, whereby the body burns the amount of calories expended during the exercise session only.
Moreover, depending on how much carbohydrates are consumed prior to an HIIT session and provided the workout is intense enough to use up all the ingested carbohydrates and/or stored carbohydrates, the body may switch into fat burning mode as an alternative fuel provider.
At the same time, the body burns fat post-exercise as a way to resupply the body with energy and ease it back into its normal state as described above. Hence, HIIT can be beneficial for those looking to burn fat.
Looking through the scope of aerobic fitness, HIIT has been shown to be a superior form of exercise in increasing ones aerobic fitness levels. Additionally, HIIT may better help the body efficiently take up and deliver oxygen to working muscles – otherwise known VO2 max. Indeed, HIIT does increase aerobic capacity, or VO2 max.
With all this being said, HIIT is an excellent form of exercise for those looking to lose weight, burn fat, and increase fitness levels.
One thing I will note, although you may continually burn calories post-HIIT, if you consume a lot of calories throughout the day you may negate the effects of HIIT and unknowingly consume more calories than you burned during your workout. Be mindful of the quantity and quality of food you eat! Don’t be fooled by the benefits of HIIT and treat yourself to unhealthy, high-calorie foods. To lose weight in the long run, you must expend more calories than you consume. Just saying.