Fitness expert on how fasting and HIIT can improve fitness in seven days

Interval training and the 16:8 diet plan can see huge results for weight loss. Photo / Supplie

OK, so 2020 was – to put it mildly – a bit of a rough year.

COVID-19 had a huge impact on people’s physical and mental health, and a year spent dealing with lockdown (and some pretty understandable comfort eating and drinking) has left most of us battling what might be politely termed ‘pandemic paunch’.

After a year exercising nothing but our thumbs as we endlessly scrolled through the options on food delivery apps, we’ve arrived in the middle of summer with a whole lot more of us to love.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the beach towel in defeat.

With a month of summer left – plus warmer days beyond that more than likely – there’s still plenty of time to kickstart your diet and exercise routine so you can get back to your beach bod before the colder season kicks in and your softer bits go back to being camouflaged by oversized coats and jumpers.

Here’s how:

Think beach bods are made in the gym? Fork-et about it.

You can don some Lycra and cycle every day at the crack of dawn to your heart’s content, but unless you’re keeping a keen eye on the food that’s going down your gullet, you’re wasting your time.

What you eat has more of an affect on your body than exercise alone. Photo / Supplied
What you eat has more of an affect on your body than exercise alone. Photo / Supplied

The key to weight loss, as everyone knows, is to use more calories than you take in. A good way to do this is to adopt a ‘flexitarian’ diet, a nutritiously sound option that puts an emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains and plant-based proteins – all foods that are higher in fibre and lower in calories per bite.


Intermittent fasting – a ritual that goes all the way back to early texts by Socrates, Plato and religious groups – can also have excellent health benefits and contribute to rapid-fire weight loss.

Prolonged low-calorie diets can cause the body to adapt to the calorie restriction and thus limit weight loss, whereas fasting works around this problem by cycling between a low calorie level for a brief time followed by normal eating.

There are several forms of fasting, including alternate-day and whole-day, but the most popular is a time-restricted style called the ’16/8 method’ where you limit food intake each day to an eight-hour window and avoid eating for the other 16 hours (so eat between 9am and 5pm, and consume nothing in the intervening 16 hours).


If you’ve ever logged a bunch of time on a running machine and have been overcome with the empty feeling you’re literally going nowhere, it’s possible you’re actually on to something.

Long sessions of low- to mid-level training may feel like they’re effective – and they will slowly deliver results over time – but the hard truth is that only high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is proven as an effective method to help you shed kilograms fast.

HIIT involves short, sharp exercise sessions – some programs only last a mere 10 minutes – of high-intensity activities like running sprints that are alternated with periods of rest.

Researchers at the British Journal of Sports Medicine recently concluded that these short bursts of activity interspersed with brief recovery periods can reduce both body fat and overall weight, with people who perform interval training losing 28.5 per cent more weight than those who don’t.

Essentially, it’s quality over quantity – there’s no point exercising for a set number of hours each week and automatically expecting to shed weight. It’s ultimately what you do during those exercise sessions that will make the real difference.


So here’s what I want you to do. Spend the next seven days sticking strictly to 16:8 diet routine, and punch out just 20 minutes a day (yes, every day) of HIIT training. Intervals can be as simple as 40 seconds of star jumps and 20 seconds rest, followed by the same again sprinting on the spot, then mountain climbers, squats and sit-ups, with the whole sequence repeated four times.

You will see results.

Adam MacDougall is the creator of The Man Shake

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