My editorial objective when it comes to Further is that “we’re all in this together.” That means I discover things just shortly before sharing them with you, as opposed to bringing a pre-conceived agenda.
That said, I was under a misconception about what constitutes the “perfect workout.” Actually, lots of people seem to believe this myth is true, so when it was called into question, I decided to see what the science says … and share it with you.
First, some background information. This mythical workout involves the intersection of two otherwise legitimate practices, so let’s look at those first.
Intermittent fasting is a form of dietary restriction where you go certain periods of time without any caloric intake. This could mean you occasionally skip eating for a day, but it can also mean you confine your consumption to a certain period of time each day. For example, no calories at all between 6 pm and 10 am the next morning.
Research suggests that intermittent fasting can fend off or even reverse such illnesses as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The absence of caloric intake also shifts the body into fat-burning mode, and eating within a defined window of time can naturally lead to less intake, no nighttime snacking, and quicker weight loss.
Verdict: There are many proven benefits to intermittent fasting.
High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”)
Headlines everywhere promise 12-minute, 4-minute, or even 1-minute workouts. There’s a catch though — those workouts need to be intense, as in all-out can’t hardly breathe intense (the Tabata workout is lovingly described to as “the longest four minutes of your life”). HIIT is an exercise strategy alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, such as sprinting for 30 seconds, slowing down for 30 seconds, then hitting it again.
Rather than slogging through a 20 or 30-minute bout of moderately-paced cardio, you can actually burn more fat and calories in a much shorter period of time. And research shows that the fat-burning benefits of HIIT continue even after your workout ends in ways you don’t get from typical cardio.
Verdict: HIIT is really good for you, and not just for losing weight.
HIIT in a Fasted State?
Both intermittent fasting and HIIT are scientifically proven to be beneficial, and you can certainly practice both. The myth comes into play when people believe that doing HIIT while in a fasted state is the “perfect” workout, first popularized by Bill Phillips in his book Body for Life. The idea is that because your body has no carbohydrates to burn for energy due to the fast, doing HIIT on an empty stomach is a way to burn away stored fat in a highly efficient, almost magical manner.
Seems reasonable (it did to me). Turns out, it’s not true, and the reason is pretty wild. Research dating back to 1997 shows that moderate to high intensity exercise breaks down significantly more fat than the body can use for fuel, and so it’s simply reabsorbed.
A more recent 2013 study testing subjects specifically performing HIIT demonstrates that there is “no significant differences between a fasted and fed state existed for any measurement.” The good news is that all of the subjects improved their health and decreased fat storage.
Verdict: If you want to do HIIT before you eat, have at it … it won’t hurt you. But if being excessively winded and starving at the same time sounds extra terrible to you, go ahead and and eat something first. Just remember that intermittent fasting has its own benefits separate from the amazing results you’ll get from HIIT.
- PDF: Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss?
- Article: HIIT Cardio: Fed or Fasted?
- Article: 5 Intermittent Fasting Methods: Which One Is Right for You?
- Article: A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight
- Article: Molecular mechanism behind health benefits of dietary restriction identified
- Article: Why Your Workout Should Be High-Intensity
- Article: 10 Reasons to Love High Intensity Interval Training
Between my 46th and 47th birthdays, I lost 30 pounds. The first 20 went from eating well between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. I lost the last 10 by adding HIIT. And yes, I did it on an empty stomach … because that’s how I (cluelessly) roll.
In the Things That Make You Go Hmmm… Department: Five Nobel Prize winners are throwing the weight of their scientific achievements behind a longevity pill that’s being marketed as a dietary supplement and anti-aging product. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian reports that 1 in 3 people would rather die early than take a daily pill. A shot maybe, but a pill?
Vitality and longevity hacking for men: “Testosterone is not just any drug. [It] is, by most accounts, as close to a direct anti-aging medication as science has yet produced.” Why testosterone is the drug of the future.
Seems to be a clear sign that the beer lobby is sick of red wine getting all the props: Drinking beer could help keep your brain healthy, says science.
Let’s say you’re stuck in a job you hate, and you want to change careers or start a business. Here are three articles that give you a quick guide to personal reinvention and radical change:
- How to Reinvent Yourself
- 5 Steps to Reinvent Yourself
- 7 Crazy Smart Reasons to Walk Away From Success and Start Over
Something I had honestly never considered: Do credit card rewards count as taxable income? It’s worth a read, because the answer may be changing.
It’s time to get your personal financial house in order, especially if Valentine’s Day is leading to an engagement. Here are the five best personal finance books according to Lifehacker, and these are the top personal finance and budgeting apps. Good times.
Here at Further, we’re all about the science. But why do many reasonable people doubt it? “Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts.” Great piece from National Geographic.
Is turning your life into a game wise? If it makes you happier and you’re getting done what you want to do, sure, why not. Gamify Your Life: A Guide to Incentivizing Everything.
Thinking – we all can and should do better at it. Here’s a four-stage process for improving your critical thinking skills. This will help you think before you speak. And this one will help you think your way to health.
Share Further? That’d be awesome … here are some handy links to help:
See you next week … in the meantime you can dive into the archives here.