High Intensity Interval Training/HIIT 101

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is an advanced method of cardiovascular training with many benefits! It is characterized by intervals of very short but all-out effort “work periods” followed by a “recovery” period.

Here are some quick facts and my best tips on how to perform HIIT:

HIIT Benefits:

  • Improves cardiovascular endurance, anaerobic threshold & VO2 max
  • Increases EPOC (which increases the amount of calories you burn AFTER you stop working out)
  • Studies have shown it can raise your metabolism for up to 24-36hrs post session!
  • Uses carbs (versus dietary fat) as it’s energy source
  • Has been studied and proven to be one of the most effective ways to burn body fat!

How to Perform HIIT:

  • Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1-10 during HIIT should be a 9-10. You are pushing your body to it’s max during the work interval & giving it your all out effort.
  • Work intervals should be extremely intense, where you can barely perform controlled breathing.  At the end of the interval, you should be extremely taxed and NEED that recovery interval.
  • HR during Work intervals should reach 80-90% of max HR. HR during Recovery period just drop to about 50-60% of max HR.
  • Work periods should last 15-30 seconds (really no more than 40sec) with at least triple time recovery period. Ie: 30 sec work & 90 sec recovery.
  • Although highly effective, HIIT doesn’t have to be performing actual running sprints. The key is to just work all near maximal effort! Using the mindset of doing a “sprint” in whatever method you use will help you stay focused on how much effort to exert. Find what works for your body, what you can do & intensity level.

It is not necessary but HIGHLY recommended that one uses a Heart Rate monitor for HIIT workouts. Although you can use your RPE to measure your effort, that can be lowered based on aerobic endurance and/or your own mental limitations…! Using a HR monitor guarantees you are training in the correct HR zone and working as efficiently as possible. I prefer Garmin or Polar for Heart Rate monitors. While new technology offers wrist based HR readings, I truly recommend and prefer using a chest strap. This ensures a more accurate reading!! I have had a wrist based monitor before and did not have a lot of success with it.  I personally have used the Garmin Vivofit and just recently upgraded to the Garmin Forerunner 35. I pair my chest strap with it and LOVE it. You can create cardio programs and set specific interval workouts!!

My Garmin Forerunner 35 displaying my HR during one of my HIIT sprints

***Most people think they are performing HIIT, when really they are just doing intervals. TRUE High Intensity While interval/circuit training is still very effective and has an important part in your routine, it IS different than HIIT.


  • Intervals can not be sustained for more than 40 seconds at a time MAX (Ideal is under 30)
  • HIIT cannot be performed for longer than 20 minutes total in duration (since it is so taxing)
  • Work to Rest time ratios need to be 1:3 or 1:4 (ie 30 sec sprint and 90 to 120 min recovery) and trust me, you will need it!!
  • RPE is 9-10 out of 10
  • HR should raise to 90% of MaxHR
  • 6-8x work intervals per session
  • Should only be performed 2x week on non-consecutive days

Interval Training:

  • Work intervals range anywhere from 45 sec to 2 min
  • Sessions can last longer, upward of 45 to 60 min total (think circuit training, conditioning classes etc)
  • Work to Rest time ratio can be equal 1:1 or 1:2
  • RPE is approx. 7-8 out of 10
  • HR should raise approx. 75-80% of MaxHR
  • 10-20 intervals may be performed
  • Can be preformed 4-5x a week

Rule of Thumb: If you are doing HIIT properly, you will be TOAST within 15 minutes!! Most individuals are not pushing to ALL OUT effort during their work period, thus never reaping the true benefits of HIIT.

HIIT Ideas: Sprints (outside is preferred versus on a treadmill), Spin or Airdyne bike “sprints, running stairs (outside or on a rotating Stairmill) Weighted Rope Drills, etc.

Remember, it is not about the actual exercise you do, but HOW you do it!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

These bars are so deliciously and insanely healthy for you! They are dense like a cookie bar but still has an overall soft texture. It has a great peanut butter flavor and very low in sugar! They taste great with more PB on top 😉



  • ½ cup (40g) oat flour (ground out oats)
  • 1 scoop (30g) (grass fed whey) vanilla protein powder
  • ¼ cup PB2 Flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup Baking Stevia
  • ¼ cup (60g) all natural peanut butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened nut milk
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) mini chocolate chips
  • Optional 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre heat oven to 350F. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir very well. It will be tough to mix but keep stirring!! You will end up with a thick dough like batter. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Transfer with a spatula into a well sprayed Pyrex baking dish (square or circular; your preference) and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Makes 16 small bars.

Nutrition Info:

67g protein 64g carbs 12g fiber 12g sugar 54g fat: 1010 cals total

1 bar: 65 calories, 4g protein, 4g carbs (1g fiber &1g sugar) 3.5g fat

Lemon Protein Bread (Grain/Gluten Free)


I took my original Grain Free Banana Bread recipe and changed it to make it Lemon! This is great recipe that can be made into a loaf or muffins. The addition of the berries adds a punch of flavor and pop of color as well. This recipe is gluten/grain free as well!


🔹1/2 cup coconut flour
🔹2 scoops (60g) vanilla grass fed whey protein 🔹1/2 cup baking stevia
🔹2 tsp baking powder
🔹2 whole eggs (free range)
🔹2 egg whites
🔹1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
🔹Juice from 1 large lemon
🔹Zest from 1 whole lemon
🔹1-2 tsp pure lemon extract (your preference)
🔹3/4 cup unsweetened almond/cashew milk (or water)
🔹Optional: 1/3 cup berries


Pre heat oven to 350F. Use a Y peeler to make lemon zest, then chop finely & separate in half.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then add all wet ingredients (1/2 of lemon zest) except milk. Mix well and add the milk 1/4 cup at a time. It should be a smooth & manageable batter; not super thick but not runny either.

Pour evenly into a loaf pan OR muffin tin. Drop berries into batter & press them lightly down. Sprinkle remaining lemon zest on top.

Bake at 350F for approximately 35-40 minutes (check at 30 min). The sides of the pan should be brown/pulled away from the edges & a toothpick will come out clean from the center. The coconut flour holds in a lot of moisture, so it might seem still undercooked in the middle, but it will set once cooled 🙂

Nutrition Info: (Makes 10 Slices, 50grams each)
1 slice: 75 cals/7.5protein/5.5carbs/2g fat (2g fiber & 1g sugar)

No-Bake Protein Energy Bites

Great & easy snack idea for the whole family! These are super easy to make and you can change the “mix-ins” to add more variety! It only contains natural sweeteners (honey) a dose of healthy fats with the nut butter & flax, and a punch of protein with the protein powder! This is a great quick snack, pre or post workout fuel, or when you just want a little bite of something sweet! 😉


  • 40g (1/2 cup) dry oats
  • 1 scoop (35g vanilla whey) protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g all natural nut butter
  • 12g honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp water
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional Add-Ins: 12g Chocolate chips, 12g raisins, unsweetened cranberries or shredded coconut, cinnamon

Cinnamon Raisin: Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla & 12g raisins

Banana Chocolate PB: Add 25g (about 1/4 of medium) mashed banana & 12g chocolate chips


Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add in remaining & stir well…eventually mixing with your hands into a ball of dough. If it is still too dry & not sticking together, add 1/2 Tbsp water until desired consistency.  The “dough” should all hold together but not be wet in your hands. Add the water slowly!

I measured mine out to 20g/bite. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (or freezer!)

Total approx. Cals/Macros for the entire recipe (using 12g raisins or chocolate chips)
690 cals: 63g Carbs/32g Fat/44g Protein

Notes: You most likely can use any type of protein powder (whey, vegan etc) but I have not experimented with anything besides what is listed above.


Chocolate Protein Brownies

These brownies are extremely healthy AND sooooo tasty!! I combined a few recipes and came up with this! Super rich and cake-like and not dry AT ALL. Gluten free, grain free and very low in sugar! They taste even better with some peanut butter on top 🙂

  • 2 scoops (60 grams) (whey/casein blend) protein powder; vanilla or chocolate
  • 1/3 cup Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered Chocolate PB2 (or can sub regular PB2)
  • 1/3 cup Baking Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda & baking powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond/cashew milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla or butter extract (optional)

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix well. It should be a fairly thick batter!

Pour into small Pyrex (I used a 8×6 square dish) using a Spatula as it will be thick. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out fairly clean from the center.

Makes 12 slices

Nutrition Info for 1 slice:

45 calories: 6.5grams protein/3.5g carbs/1g fat (1g fiber and 0.5g sugar!)

Rainbow Chili


A very easy chili recipe that is delicious and nutritious! 🙂


  • 1 16oz package extra lean (99/1) ground turkey or ground chicken
  • 1 15oz can 3-bean blend (pinto, red kidney and black)
  • 2 cups no salt added chicken broth
  • 1 8oz can no salt added plain tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz no salt added plain diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 250g finely chopped red/yellow/orange bell pepper
  • 150g finely chopped yellow sweet onion
  • 8oz chopped zucchini
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp pink himalayan sea salt


Combine all ingredients in a crockpot or large pot on the stovetop. Cook in your crockpot on high for 2 hours or medium/low for 4 hours. If using your stovetop, let the chili cook for approximately 45 minutes on medium, then  turn off temperature cover, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes . Stir occasionally to make sure all ingredients are well mixed & the ground meat is fully cooked.

Makes approximately 10 cups (10-250g servings)

Nutrition Facts (250 gram serving)

110 calories-1g fat-14g protein-13g carbs (4g fiber and 5g sugar)




Grain Free Banana Protein Bread

Super easy and tasty banana bread! I have been experimenting with different ingredients, and this recipe is grain free/gluten free and JUST as delicious as my other baked goods! It can also be dairy free (making it Paleo-friendly) by using an egg white or plant-based protein powder. I have only made this as a loaf but feel free to try as muffins. You may also get creative and add crushed walnuts/pecans, chocolate chips, cinnamon etc! 🙂



  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 cup ground golden flaxseed
  • 1 scoop protein powder (whey/casein blend)
  • 1/2 cup baking stevia
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate smaller bowl, add all wet ingredients and mix. Add wet to dry and combine well. Careful to not over mix as the coconut flour soaks up a lot of the liquid.

Transfer to a well-sprayed baking loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes. It will look slightly not done, but the sides should be lightly browned and a toothpick should come out clean from the center.


Makes 8 slices (450 grams total weight)

Nutrition Facts:

1 slice (Approx 55grams): 95 calories/3g fat/9g carbs (3g sugar and 3g fiber) 8g protein

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

A healthy dessert option that is great for those holiday parties or just for a sweet treat without the guilt! These use healthy substitutions such as all natural peanut butter & all natural baking sweetener Stevia. They also contain a secret punch of protein…!

For an even lighter calorie option, just drizzle the chocolate over the truffles (as shown below). I did both as to have both a “naughty and nice” option 😉

They taste just like the “real thing”, I swear! 🙂


Ingredients: (makes 14 truffles)

  • 150g (about 1/3 cup) all natural (creamy) peanut butter
  • 2 scoops (70g) vanilla protein powder
  • 1/3 cup baking stevia

Chocolate coating:

  • 85g (6 tbsp) milk chocolate chips
  • 7g (1/2 Tbsp) coconut oil


Mix PB, protein powder & stevia in a bowl. Knead with your hands into a large ball; you want it cookie dough consistency. If it is too dry & crumbling too much, add a tsp of water at a time until it sticks together. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 min.
Once chilled, take the dough and form into small balls (I measured mine at 16g each). Place on sprayed cookie spray & place in freezer for at least an hour. This ensures that they don’t fall apart when you put the melted chocolate on them.
When its time, microwave the oil & chocolate chips until melted (can also melt in a saucepan on the stove top). Be careful to not overheat it! I only did 15 seconds in the microwave then kept stirring it until it was all liquid. Less time is always better!
Drizzle the chocolate over the PB balls or drop the balls into the chocolate (I had mine in a Pyrex measuring cup) & cover completely. Place back on the baking sheet & add sprinkles if desired. Freeze for several hours to have them set completely. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy them! Makes approximately 14 truffles.

Nutrition Facts: (for completely dipped truffles)

For 1 truffle:
116 cals/6.5g carbs (1.2g fiber & 4g sugar) 6g protein/8g fat

Pumpkin Pie Soft Baked Cookies

Super easy and delicious soft baked cookies! Secretly packed with protein too! 🙂 These are gluten free & no sugar added as well. I like adding a bit of TruWhip (a healthy version of CoolWhip) or a bit of nut butter on top…!


Ingredients: (Makes 8 cookies)

  • 1 scoop vanilla or snickerdoodle protein powder (I prefer a whey/casein blend)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (softened at room temperature)
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp sugar free maple syrup


Pre-heat oven to 325F. In a large mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix well. Add in all wet ingredients (except syrup). Combine and mix with spatula or your hands. It should be a soft cookie dough batter; not crumbly but it is able to form into a ball. Add the syrup depending on your batter texture and preference. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge (optional) to make the dough more firm to form into cookies.

Scoop out approx tablespoon size, form into small balls and then flatten slightly. They will not rise during baking, so shape them how you would like! Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes. They will appear soft on top but the bottom will be firm and slightly browned. Let them chill on the baking sheet out of the oven for 1-2 minutes then transfer. Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week (or you could probably freeze them too!)


Nutrition Info: (Makes 8 cookies)

Facts for 1 cookie: 35 calories/1g Fat/4.5g Carbs (1g fiber & 1g sugar) 3.5g Protein

Pumpkin Dessert Bars

20161205_211641A delicious and easy recipe that is a great healthy dessert or snack option. I have made these for myself, and also doubled the recipe and took to a holiday party…they were a hit! Super soft and moist with just enough sweetness 🙂

Ingredients: (Makes 16 small bars)

  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 scoop (vanilla) protein powder (I have had the best success with a whey/casein blend)
  • 1/2 cup baking stevia
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp Agave Five (sub sugar free syrup or honey)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond/cashew milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple or pumpkin spice extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each: nutmeg, ginger, cloves or allspice (or use 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice)


  • 1/4 cup fat free cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup baking stevia
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional cinnamon (or sprinkle on top) and 1-2 Tbsp pumpkin pie baking chips

Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well. It should be a fairly thick batter.

Pour into a greased Pyrex dish (I use a 8×8 square) and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick pulls clean from the center.

For the Frosting: Mix all ingredients together well by hand or with a hand mixer. Once the bars are completely cooled, evenly spread the frosting over the bars. Sprinkle with optional cinnamon and chips. Store covered in fridge for a week.

Nutrition Info: (Makes 16 bars)

1 bar: 50 calories/4g Protein/6g Carbs (1.5g fiber & 1g sugar) 1g Fat