High Intensity Exercise: Can It Protect You from A Fast Food Diet?

Nutrients. 2017 Aug 26;9(9):943. doi: 10.3390/nu9090943.


The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of high intensity exercise to counteract the deleterious effects of a fast food diet on the cardiometabolic profile of young healthy men. Fifteen men were subjected to an exclusive fast food diet from a popular fast food restaurant chain (three extra value meals/day + optional snack) for 14 consecutive days. Simultaneously, participants were asked to perform each day high intensity interval training (HIIT) (15 × 60 sec sprint intervals (~90% of maximal heart rate)) on a treadmill. Fast food diet and energy expenditure profiles of the participants during the intervention were assessed as well as body composition (DXA), cardiometabolic profile (lipid, hepatic enzymes, glycated hemoglobin, glucose, insulin, hsC-reactive protein (hsCRP) and blood pressure) and estimated maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) pre- and post-experiment. We found significant improvements for fat mass, lean body mass, estimated VO₂ max, fasting glucose, serum lipoprotein(a) and hsCRP after the intervention (p < 0.05). HDL-cholesterol significantly decreased (p < 0.002), but the triglycerides/HDL-cholesterol ratio did not change. All other cardiometabolic variables measured remained stable, which includes the primary outcome: the HOMA index (pre: 1.83 ± 1.2 vs. post: 1.54 ± 0.7 values; p = 0.35). In conclusion, in large part, insulin resistance and the cardiometabolic profile of young healthy individuals seems to be protected by HIIT from a fast food diet.

Keywords: body composition; energy expenditure; energy intake; lipid and inflammation profile.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects*
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glucose Intolerance / prevention & control*
  • High-Intensity Interval Training* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Muscle Development
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult