Intermittent fasting and a combination of high-intensity exercise can burn more fat

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A new study found that people who combined time-restricted eating and intense exercise not only improved their cardiometabolic health, but also achieved the most noticeable changes in body composition. Oleg Breslavtsev/Getty Images
  • A small study found that combining time-restricted eating and intense exercise can improve cardiometabolic health and contribute to weight loss.
  • Participants who combined this diet and exercise approach achieved the most noticeable changes in body composition.
  • Experts say this is because time-restricted eating can cause a calorie deficit, and exercise can lead to an increase in lean muscle mass.

A new study has found that time-restricted eating and intense exercise can work together to improve health and help people achieve fat loss.

Time-restricted eating, also called intermittent fasting, involves limiting the hours you eat to a certain number of hours per day.

The research published in the PLOS ONE Journal shows that time-restricted eating and vigorous exercise, when combined, can contribute to weight loss and improve markers of cardiometabolic health, including cholesterol, blood glucose and lipid levels.

64 obese women were assigned to one of three groups: time-restricted eating (diet only), high-intensity functional training (exercise only), or time-restricted eating plus high-intensity functional training (diet + exercise).

Participants only ate between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., while those in the functional training groups trained with an instructor three days a week.

After twelve weeks, all three groups had achieved significant weight loss and improvements in body composition. Beneficial changes were also found in lipid and glucose levels.

Participants in the diet+exercise group achieved more noticeable changes in body composition and cardiometabolic parameters compared to the other two groups.

The authors said: “Combining time-restricted eating with high-intensity functional training is a promising strategy to improve body composition and cardiometabolic health.”

However, they note that this is a small study and more research is needed.

Registered dietitian Emma Shafqat, who was not involved in the study, says she’s not surprised by this study’s findings, even though time-restricted eating doesn’t seem to limit your overall calorie intake — which is necessary for weight loss. prevent.

She said that studies have found that people often spontaneously reduce their energy intake when following an intermittent fasting plan, causing mild (1%-4%) weight loss over periods of 1 week to 3 months.

Similarly, celebrity personal trainer Michael Baah says the combination of time-restricted eating and high-intensity experience often works well together.

“When we limit the time we eat and do intense workouts, our bodies become better at using energy and processing sugar, and it’s like they become more efficient at staying healthy,” he explains.

Intense exercise has additional benefits when it comes to fat loss. “Time-restricted eating helps us burn fat, and intense exercise helps us build muscle,” Baah surmises.

This is good news for anyone looking to maintain their weight loss long-term, as lean muscle mass increases your body’s metabolism, meaning you burn more calories.

In addition to causing weight loss, the combination of time-restricted eating and intense exercise can also lead to improvements in cardiometabolic health.

“Cardiometabolic diseases describe a range of conditions, starting with insulin resistance, progressing to metabolic syndrome, prediabetes and ultimately to more serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” Shafqat explains.

She notes that time-restricted eating improves cardiometabolic health in many ways, such as improving glucose tolerance, lowering blood pressure and improving health. intestinal function.

However, time-restricted eating is not the right way to lose weight for everyone.

“The only way to lose fat is to be in a calorie deficit. For some people, time-restricted eating is simply a tool to help them achieve that goal,” says Baah. “If they limit their eating time, then so be it [often] reduces their total calories for the day, putting them in a calorie deficit.

While this works for some, it may not fit your lifestyle or may feel too restrictive. Time-restricted eating isn’t the only way to lose fat. However, if you plan to follow a time-restricted eating plan, Shafqat says it’s crucial that you feel adequately nourished and satiated.

“I recommend starting your day with a breakfast rich in fiber, protein and some fruit, for example full-fat yoghurt with seeds and fruit or porridge with added seeds and fruit,” she says. “I would also recommend eating a well-balanced meal before 4pm, which includes fibre-rich carbohydrates, protein and plenty of vegetables to help prevent hunger before bed.”

Shafqat says planning is key when it comes to time-restricted eating.

“In this study, there appears to be an 8-hour schedule in which participants can eat, so if you follow this schedule. I recommend planning your meals and snacks and preparing your food in advance.”

However you plan to lose weight, it’s a good idea to incorporate exercise into your schedule. If high-intensity exercise sounds intimidating, don’t worry, says Baah.

“Start with simple exercises and focus on using good form,” he advises.

Ideally, you should aim for a mix of strength and cardio exercises. Some exercises Baah recommends include jumping or jumping jacks, bent over rows, weighted crunches, and reverse lunges with dumbbells.

The term “high intensity” may conjure up images of grueling workouts, but Baah says it’s important to give your body time to rest and recover. Take about 60 seconds of rest between each set and plan rest days into your schedule.

The key to making progress, according to Baah, is to make sure you lift heavier weights over time.

Combining time-restricted eating and intense exercise appears to contribute to fat loss and improve other health markers related to cardiometabolic health.

However, if your goal is to lose weight, a calorie deficit is the most important factor, and if you find time-restricted eating too restrictive, you should consider something else.

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