UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Supplements and Nutritional Interventions to Augment High-Intensity Interval Training Physiological and Performance Adaptations—A Narrative Review Forbes, Scott C.; Candow, Darren G.; Smith-Ryan, Abbie E.; Hirsch, Katie R.; Roberts, Michael D.; VanDusseldorp, Trisha A.; Stratton, Matthew T.; Kaviani, Mojtaba; Little, Jonathan P.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense activity interspersed by periods of low-intensity exercise or rest. HIIT is a viable alternative to traditional continuous moderate-intensity endurance training to enhance maximal oxygen uptake and endurance performance. Combining nutritional strategies with HIIT may result in more favorable outcomes. The purpose of this narrative review is to highlight key dietary interventions that may augment adaptations to HIIT, including creatine monohydrate, caffeine, nitrate, sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine, protein, and essential amino acids, as well as manipulating carbohydrate availability. Nutrient timing and potential sex differences are also discussed. Overall, sodium bicarbonate and nitrates show promise for enhancing HIIT adaptations and performance. Beta-alanine has the potential to increase training volume and intensity and improve HIIT adaptations. Caffeine and creatine have potential benefits, however, longer-term studies are lacking. Presently, there is a lack of evidence supporting high protein diets to augment HIIT. Low carbohydrate training enhances the upregulation of mitochondrial enzymes, however, there does not seem to be a performance advantage, and a periodized approach may be warranted. Lastly, potential sex differences suggest the need for future research to examine sex-specific nutritional strategies in response to HIIT.

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