Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Sign up here to get our free newsletter

3 ways HIIT workouts can derail your weight loss

hiit workout flat lay
Photo credit: LightFieldStudios/Getty Images

If you are doing HIIT workouts like Orangetheory and Barry’s Bootcamp a few times a week and still not losing weight, there may be a good reason.

A HIIT workout consists of a variety of forms. It is essentially a workout in which you perform intervals that are short bouts of high-intensity exercise interspersed with brief periods of rest. The success of this approach is in the strength and endurance you gain along with the calories you burn.

It is easy to understand how these workouts can be addictive. But too much of a good thing may not be a good thing. With its many benefits, there are as many reasons to participate in HIIT sparingly or not much at all in relation to weight loss.

1. Stress

Stress empowers weight gain. If you are working a full-time job, going through life moments and doing HIIT classes four times a week, your body might be experiencing an overload, which will decrease your body’s ability to shed those extra pounds, thanks to the hormone cortisol. Elevated levels can cause weight gain, digestion issues and retention of water weight.

MORE: Why functional training is one of the most important fitness trends in years

2. Hunger levels

After a hard workout, your body is particularly low on blood sugar. You may find yourself ravenous and reaching for the first sustenance option, regardless of nutritional value. For some, you end up replacing the calories you’ve worked so hard to burn and then some. Cortisol plays a role here, too, because when the cortisol is higher, your appetite increases.

There’s a psychological shift that happens post-workout, where being “good” gives you permission to be “bad.” In other words, you may end up eating more food after a high-calorie workout because you think you have “earned” it.

While we acknowledge that HIIT is not a magic pill for weight loss, no type of exercise, low or high in intensity, can replace a healthy diet.

3. Recovery times

When many of us hear about the success stories of people who transform their bodies through HIIT, we assume doing HIIT every day is the key to weight loss. That is far from true.

Rest is vital for your body. Your mindset may be to keep pushing, but your body may crave for more time. Muscle growth occurs when your body is at rest. Training every single day causes you to be in a constant loop of muscle breakdown, meaning you are continuously losing muscle and never building it. Due to muscle’s connection with metabolism, it’s worth noting how much your muscles really count, especially when it comes to RMR (resting metabolic rate), which reflects what your body is capable of burning at rest. With muscle loss comes a lower RMR. Don’t impede that muscle growth, my friends!

MORE: I tried 6 happiness hacks backed by science — here’s what actually worked

Ultimately, it is most important that you are mindful of both sides of the HIIT experience. It is up to you to decide what to do with that.

Stay hydrated during your workout with the right kind of water. Check out our water taste test below. 

Join the party

Celebrate the everyday with vibrant and purposeful content – like new recipes, DIY ideas, wellness tips & beyond – for a happier, healthier and bolder life.

Subscribe now to get

our free newsletter