Which is better at helping women lose weight: aerobic exercise or high-intensity training?

High-intensity training and strength training are frequently touted as the best way to quickly lose weight. Google “HIT” and  hundreds of thousands of blogs and articles appear. Many trainers are avid supporters. This news article says, “strength training is the best way to lose weight.” While others say, “aerobic exercise is better for weight loss than high intensity interval training.” Knowing what is fact and what is fiction is no small feat in the online dieting world. We scored dozens of scholarly journals and news articles to find what was better: high intensity strength training (HIT) or aerobic exercise.



A puzzle with many pieces


There are many reasons why trainers and dieters have had success with HIT. According to professor James Timmons, “HIT is really good at improving glucose uptake into the muscles in a very, very short time. With really intense exercise, you release hormones that can help break down fat. This may help burn that fat over time after HIT is done.” An article published in Business Insider Australia quotes Florida-based trainer and fitness author Nick Tumminello, “if you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training.” According to the article, strength training will burn calories up to 72 hours after training, due to the phenomenon, after-burn. In addition to after-burn and improving glucose uptake, HIT and strength training are high intensity and is therefore faster at burning more calories than aerobic exercise. Recent scientific research, however, says HIT isn’t the best way for women to lose weight and get fit, especially if you are a women with weight you would like to loose around your middle.


Many women are tired of hearing men say how quickly they can lose weight when they go to the gym. This can lead to a sense of failure, but the bitter truth is that women are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to burning calories. According to study published in Europe PubMed Central, an increase in resting metabolic rate does not increase in women who strength train. “Women showed no significant increase” in their resting metabolic rate (RMR)  when strength training, but men of all ages showed “significant elevation in RMR.” This means that most men burn more calories because of their size and because of a increased RMR. With no increase in RMR for strength training, that afterburn effect is also minimized in women. Thats one strike against HIT as being the fastest way to lose weight.


“High-intensity interval training… has been touted as the quickest way to get lean but according to new research, it’s no fast track to fat loss,”  was published in the Toronto Sun. The Toronto Sun and the Telegraph.com.au shared the recent findings of the first controlled-trial of continuous aerobic exercise versus HIT. The study was published in the Journal of Obesity. “Regular continuous aerobic exercise yields better fat loss results than high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts for overweight people.”,  said Dr Keating, the conductor of the trial. She is quoted in the Telegraph as saying, “forget the claims HIIT workouts can whip overweight people into shape in less time than regular aerobic exercise — it’s more efficient to workout regularly at a continuous intensity to achieve a fat loss goal.” HIT does increase fitness, but it lacks the ‘fat furnace’ effect if an individual carries weight around the middle. According to Keating,”if you're hitting the gym to lose weight and trim your waistline, stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat and (you'll) see better results on the scales.” Two strikes against HIT claims as being the ultimate weight loss solution.


Another article article, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, states that resting metabolic rate, “ declines significantly for individuals who diet and strength training, diet and aerobic training, or only diet.” This means that metabolism lowers during dieting, even when doing HIT. Regardless of how each person worked out (aerobic or HIT) in the clinical trial, the average weight loss was nine kilograms over eight weeks. This suggests that aerobic and strength training will lead to similar results in weight loss and have the same effect of lowering resting metabolic rate. Three strikes against HIT as the best weight loss exercise.


Two is better than one


Despite the hype, it appears that HIT is not the magic bullet to weight loss many claim it to be. Comprehensive studies suggest that combined endurance and strength training is the best way to lose weight, improve physical fitness, and increase metabolic health. The dynamic duo will help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals better than either method alone.  At Kay’s, we agree in this approach. It's time for the proponents of the two most popular exercise groups to acknowledge the benefits of doing both!


If you are dieting and would like your snacks and cereals to make it easier  for you to stick to your weight loss goals- you are in the right place. Kay’s is  a low-calorie snack with an intense crunch and high-protein. Shop online to see our full range of products.

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