Low-carbohydrate diets (LCs) seem effective on weight reduction and maintenance. However, the affect and enjoyment of exercise during LCs is not clear. The purpose of the present study was to compare the psychological responses to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) during the consumption of a 4-week LC diet in overweight young women. With LCs (~10% carbohydrate, 65%–70% fat, 20%–25% protein), forty-three eligible women (age: 20.9 ± 3.1 years; body weight: 65.8 ± 8.2 kg) were randomly assigned to one of three groups: HIIT (10 sets of 6 s all-out cycling interspersed with 9 s of rest), MICT (30 min cycling at 50%–60% of peak oxygen consumption, V̇O2peak) or no-exercise controls (CON). Anthropometric indices and V̇O2peak were measured pre- and post-training. Feeling Scale (FS), Felt Arousal Scale (FAS), Exercise Enjoyment Scale (EES), and Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) scores were collected before and immediately after each training session throughout the study. After intervention, all three groups reduced by more than 2.5 kg of body weight whereas both exercise groups improved ~15% V̇O2peak. Participants in the HIIT and MICT group exhibited similar affect points as indicated by FS and FAS. Post-exercise enjoyment scores in PACES were lower in HIIT (73–78 points) than MICT (83–87 points) despite similarly positive responses being observed in EES (corresponding to ~4 points of a 7-point scale). Short-term LCs were effective in weight loss and exercise training had an additive improvement on cardiorespiratory fitness. The overweight young women had similar affect valence, arousal levels, and comparable pleasurable feelings to HIIT and MICT with LCs. Furthermore, as indicated by PACES, MICT was more enjoyable which may elicit better adherence, whereas HIIT with LCs seems to be more arduous despite its time-efficiency.
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