High-intensity interval training helps burn more fat

Summary: A new study shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more fat than aerobic exercise.

A source: Victoria University Melbourne

“If stubborn body fat won’t come off, add High-Intensity-Interval-Training, or HIIT, to your exercise routine,” says Zeljko Pedisik, a professor at Victoria University in Melbourne.

HIIT increases fat burning more than aerobic exercise, a published study finds British Journal of Sports Medicine.

How was the study conducted?

The study authors pooled the results of 18 controlled interventions on the effects of HIIT on the rate of fat burning during exercise.

The intervention trials involved 511 adults who engaged in supervised HIIT, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or a no-exercise control group.

Duration of exercises is from 2 weeks to 14 weeks. In almost all studies, participants participated in three HIIT sessions per week.

What are the main findings?

A few HIIT sessions a week will turn your body into a fat-burning ‘machine’. HIIT helps you burn more fat not only during HIIT sessions, but also during other forms of physical activity such as brisk walking, swimming, and sports.

Fat metabolism improves after just four weeks of HIIT, and it continues to improve over time.

The study authors pooled the results of 18 controlled interventions on the effects of HIIT on the rate of fat burning during exercise. Image is in the public domain

After 12 weeks of HIIT, each minute of physical activity is expected to burn an additional 0.13 grams of fat. For a person who does 150 minutes of physical activity per week, this can result in the burning of approximately 10 kg of extra fat over ten years.

Overweight individuals may expect a greater increase in fat burning compared to “normal” weight individuals.

Although individuals can improve fat metabolism by engaging in aerobic exercise (such as jogging), it takes a long time and the improvements are small.

Why is this important?

These findings help the world’s more than two billion overweight people (external link) improve fat metabolism and lose weight.

They may also help billions of people prevent unwanted weight gain over time.

“According to a recent survey of global fitness trends (external link), HIIT is one of the most popular forms of exercise. If you haven’t already, you probably should,” concludes Professor Pedisik.

This exercise is about research news

Author: Press service
A source: Victoria University Melbourne
The connection: Victoria University of Melbourne Press
Photo: Image is in the public domain

Original research: Closed access.
“Effects of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Sprint Interval Training (SIT) on Fat Oxidation During Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” Muhammed M Atakan et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine


Effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT) on fat oxidation during exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

The goal

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To investigate the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT) on fat oxidation (FatOx) during exercise and how they compare with the effects of moderate-intensity interval training (MICT).


Systematic review and meta-analysis.

source of information

Academic Search Ultimate, CINAHL, Networked Digital Library of Dissertations and Dissertations, Open Access Dissertations and Dissertations, OpenDissertations, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science.

Eligibility criteria for selection of studies

Using a cross-group design, studies involving adults who were not trained athletes and evaluating the effects of HIIT or SIT on FatOx (no exercise or MICT) were included.


Eighteen studies of fair-good quality were included; nine compared HIIT or SIT with no exercise and eleven compared MICT with HIIT or SIT. A significant combined effect of these types of interval training on FatOx was found (g/min mean difference (MD) = 0.08; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.04 – 0.12; P<0.001). Significant effects were found for exercise regimens lasting ≥4 weeks and increased with each additional week of exercise (β=0.01; 95% CI 0.00 to 0.02; P=0.003). HIIT and/or SIT was slightly more effective than MICT (MD = 0.03; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.05; P=0.005). Effects on FatOx were greater among overweight/obese individuals.


Engaging in HIIT or SIT can improve FatOx, with long training regimens and large effects expected in overweight/obese individuals. Although some effects may appear small, they may be important in a comprehensive approach to improving metabolic health and managing obesity.

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