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Effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT) on fat oxidation during exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Muhammed M Atakan1,
  2. Yasemin Guzel1,
  3. Nipun Shrestha2,
  4. Sukran N Kosar1,
  5. Jozo Grgic3,
  6. Todd A Astorino4,
  7. Huseyin H Turnagol1,
  8. Zeljko Pedisic3
  1. 1 Division of Exercise Nutrition and Metabolism, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
  2. 2 Evidence Integration, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Kinesiology, California State University—San Marcos, San Marcos, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Zeljko Pedisic, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC 3011, Australia; zeljko.pedisic{at}


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

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

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

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Studies using a between-group design, involving adult participants who were not trained athletes, and evaluating effects of HIIT or SIT on FatOx (vs no exercise or MICT) were included.

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

Conclusion Engaging in HIIT or SIT can improve FatOx, with larger effects expected for longer training regimens and individuals with overweight/obesity. While some effects seem small, they may be important in holistic approaches to enhance metabolic health and manage obesity.

  • Exercise
  • Metabolism
  • Sports medicine
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Meta-analysis

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  • Twitter @muhammedatakann, @nipun_shrestha, @NazanKosar, @Jozo_Grgic, @Zeljko_Pedisic

  • MMA and ZP contributed equally.

  • Contributors MMA conceived the idea for the study, performed the literature search, study selection, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment, and participated in drafting the manuscript. YG participated in study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment. NS provided methodological guidance on the study design and performed the GRADE assessment. ŞNK, HHT, TAA and JG contributed to writing the manuscript. ZP provided methodological guidance on the study design, participated in the data extraction and study selection, performed the statistical analysis, interpreted the results, participated in drafting the manuscript, and led the correspondence with journal editors and reviewers. All authors revised the draft manuscript, contributed to its revisions and approved its final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.