Women who are overweight and at risk of serious disease could improve their cardiometabolic health by combining time-restricted eating with high-intensity interval training.

A new study of 131 woman found this dual approach resulted in a two-fold reduction in fat mass and visceral fat area compared to using the techniques individually.

Time-restricted eating (TRE) involved limiting calorie intake to a 10-hour window, while HIIT is classed as exercising at 90% of maximum heart rate for 35 minutes, three times a week.

Senior author Trine Moholdt, head of the Exercise, Cardiometabolic Health, and Reproduction Research Group at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said: “Isolated TRE and HIIT have received increasing attention for being effective and feasible strategies for at-risk populations.

“We wanted to compare the effects of the combination of TRE and HIIT with their isolated effects and to determine whether TRE and HIIT would act synergistically in improving health in individuals with risk for cardiometabolic disease. This finding highlights the importance of changing both dietary and physical activity habits for individuals who wish to rapidly improve their health and lower their disease risk.”

The study showed that the TRE/HIIT combination also improved participants’ average long-term glycaemic control over the seven-week period.

Participants were divided up into four groups: HIIT, TRE, TRE/HIIT combined and a control group. All the women were classed as being obese or overweight and were at risk of conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers also found that participants stuck to the programme, highlighting another benefit to this approach.

First author Kamilla La Haganes, a PhD student at the university, said: “High adherence rates are important. Adherence rates to general lifestyle recommendations are low, and our diet-exercise strategies may serve as an alternative.”

Dr Moholdt added: “We recommend this kind of programme for people who wish to have a relatively simple way of changing diet and exercise habits and improving their health.

“TRE is a less tedious and time-efficient method to lose weight compared with daily calorie counting, and HIIT is tolerable and safe for previously sedentary individuals and can be completed within 30-40 minutes.”

The study has been published in Cell Metabolism.

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