You’d be hard-pressed to find a type of exercise that gives you more bang for your buck than a HIIT session. Not only does it allow you to torch a boatload of calories within a short space of time (and keep burning them for hours afterwards), it improves your cardiovascular fitness and gives you a real sense of accomplishment.
However, it’s not without its downfalls. It’s really easy to go overboard with HIIT, which can actually be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to weight loss. Not only can overexerting yourself during HIIT ramp up your stress hormone, cortisol (which can make your body cling to fat) research shows it can actually mess with your gut bacteria.
You see, when you push yourself too hard, it can loosen your intestinal barrier. This is what is responsible for keeping food bacteria and other flotsam and jetsam out of your digestive system. When this barrier is damaged, it can lead to a condition known as ‘leaky gut’ or intestinal permeability. This can cause inflammation (which we all know is bad news), which not only makes it really difficult to lose weight but can also lead to a range of health problems like autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes, and even depression and anxiety.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should kick your HIIT sessions to the curb for good — the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. It’s simply a matter of keeping them to a maximum of 2-3 times per week, practising self-care regularly, upping your intake of anti-inflammatory foods and keeping an eye out for these telltale signs that you’re pushing yourself too hard in the gym.