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Can High Intensity Interval Training Help Suppress Appetite?

Published on September 18, 2013,

Most people would agree that exercise is generally a good thing but whether it actually helps weight loss is much less clear. Once reason is that exercising makes people feel hungrier and this in turn can make them eat more. However, new research discussed by Dr Briffa suggests one form of exercise – HIIT – might have the opposite effect and actually suppress the appetite. This is from Dr Briffa…

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The heightened hunger that can come as a result of exercise does not happen to everyone, but my experience tells me it tends to be more common in individuals who engage in relatively prolonged exercise such as extended running or cycling. In my book Escape the Diet Trap I made the observation that ‘high intensity intermittent exercise’ (short, intense bursts of activity interspersed with longer periods of rest) tended not to make people hungrier.

Now, recently, a study was published which lends at least some support to these observations.

In this research, overweight, sedentary men were (at different times) subjected each of the following conditions:

1. continuous exercise at 60 per cent of maximum oxygen utilisation (VO2 max) for 30 minutes

2. 1 minute at 100 per cent VO2 max alternating with 4 minutes of 50 per cent VO2 max, repeated for a total exercise time of 30 minutes

3. 15 seconds of exercise at 170 per cent VO2 max alternating with 60 seconds at 32 per cent VO2 max for a total of 30 minutes

4. Rest (no exercise) for 30 minutes

After each condition, the men were fed a meal with a set number of calories. 70 minutes later, they were given access to food that they could eat freely. Food intake and activity levels were monitored on the day of each experiment and the following day (a total of 38 hours).

Interestingly, the intakes of the test meal 70 minutes after conditions 2 and 3 were lower than that when no exercise was taken (condition 4).

Also, energy intake over 38 was lower after condition 3 than after conditions 1 and 4.

Interestingly, I think, after condition 4, levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin were lower, and blood sugar levels higher, than after the other conditions. Levels of lactate were also higher, and there is some evidence that lactate suppresses appetite [2].

This study was short, in that each condition was only tested once. However, there is at least some evidence here to support the idea that high-intensity exercise not only may not stimulate the appetite, but might even suppress it.

More (including references for the research) at:  Evidence suggests one form of exercise might actually suppress appetite

The 7-Minute Workout For Maximum Results From Minimal Investment

Published on May 15, 2013,

The New York Times has an article about an interesting paper in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal which introduces a new body-weight workout based on a high intensity version of circuit training which, it claims, gives maximum results with minimal investment. This is from the New York Times…

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout (credit

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout (credit

In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.

“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.

Work by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and other institutions shows, for instance, that even a few minutes of training at an intensity approaching your maximum capacity produces molecular changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding.

Interval training, though, requires intervals; the extremely intense activity must be intermingled with brief periods of recovery. In the program outlined by Mr. Jordan and his colleagues, this recovery is provided in part by a 10-second rest between exercises. But even more, he says, it’s accomplished by alternating an exercise that emphasizes the large muscles in the upper body with those in the lower body. During the intermezzo, the unexercised muscles have a moment to, metaphorically, catch their breath, which makes the order of the exercises important.

The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each, while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.

More at:  The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

Read the full paper from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal here: HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment

Video: The Truth About Exercise (and How 3 Minutes a Week Really Could Change Your Life)

Published on March 1, 2013,

We’ve published several stories about High Intensity Interval Training and are very interested in the potential on health and wellbeing that short periods of exercise seem to offer. One of the pioneers of the approach is Dr Jamie Timmons, professor of systems biology at Loughborough University in the UK, whose work was covered in a BBC Horizon documentary last year which raised popular awareness of HIIT. This video is a lecture given by Professor Timmons looking in more detail about the realities of exercise and public health as well as giving much more insight into HIIT and how it can benefit you…

Yet again, the advice we are all being given is at best ineffective and at worst completely inappropriate. Thankfully, there do appear to be better ways, as Professor Timmons explains.

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For those who can’t spare a whole hour, here’s a trailer for the BBC’s “The Truth About Exercise”…

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And here’s a clip from the programme of Professor Timmons taking presenter Michael Moseley through a session if HIIT…

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