Whether you enjoy cardio or not, you probably know that it helps you lose fat faster. However too much cardio can affect muscle gains. So if you’re like most gym goers that are pounding the weights, you are probably wondering, how can you reach your fitness goals while doing as little cardio as possible? One concept that many in the bodybuilding community swears by is fasted cardio.
Fasted workouts are a controversial topic in the fitness world. To some, the idea of working out without eating or at least a pre-workout protein shake is unthinkable, but many forms of fasting have become popular in recent years due to research supporting its potential benefits for metabolic health. Some people skip food and drink for a certain number of hours with intermittent fasting, while others exercise on an empty stomach.
WHAT IS FASTED CARDIO?
Fasted cardio is simply cardio that’s completed when your body is in a fasted state. This is usually 4-6 hours after eating — not when your stomach feels empty! Fasted cardio can help some people to lose stubborn fat by increasing the amount of fat converted to energy to fuel the workout.
BASICS OF FASTED CARDIO
Typically, fasted cardio happens in the morning (after an overnight fast). But a fasted state can also be achieved later in the day (for instance, if you're doing intermittent fasting or skipped lunch). When you exercise, your body’s first choice of fuel is carbohydrates. After you eat carbs, your body has glucose (the building blocks of carbs) available in your bloodstream and muscles for energy. Long, intense cardio sessions burn through the available glucose and then start to burn stored energy (muscle glycogen).
Weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume — the reason why most of us do cardio. However, targeting fat to burn instead of carbs (the body’s preferred energy source) can be tricky. The theory behind fasted cardio is to work at a level that’s less intense so that when glucose isn’t readily available, the body starts to break down stored fat for energy instead.
THE BENEFITS OF FASTED CARDIO
● It Reduces Weight Gain Fasted cardio is the best known to decrease the amount of weight gained during the day. The experimented subjects were given breakfast, rich in carbohydrates, for 90 minutes before workout outgained roughly twice as much weight. Most were fat, compared to those who exercise before breakfast.
● Improves Insulin Sensitivity Fasted cardio is proven to increase the glycogen stores and thus increase your insulin sensitivity. The fact is, you’re giving a break to the insulin, so with the lack of a spike in your blood sugar, the body becomes sensitive to increased blood sugar levels. It reduces the chances of diabetes.
● Improves Endurance Fasted cardio is not only helpful in burning fat but also helps in improving endurance. You workout to stay fit, perform different exercises, and continue striving to achieve your fitness goal. This way, you work on your endurance and capacity and improve the overall stamina of your body.
● Burning Stored Energy aka Fat Research suggests that when performing “moderate-intensity” cardio in a fasted state, you may burn up to 20% more fat than someone that had a meal within a few hours of working out.
Fasted cardio can be an effective way to lose weight and boost metabolism. Studies have shown that exercising on an empty stomach can accelerate fat oxidation and boost energy levels, making it a great addition to any weight loss plan. However, while working out without fueling first might provide some payoffs, it definitely depends on your goals, the type of exercise you do, and how your body reacts to working out without food.