The benefits of fasted cardio
One common technique for getting rid of the last stubborn bits of body fat is to exercise first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. This is known as fasted cardio and involves doing a cardio session as soon as you wake up, before breakfast.
The reason that fasted cardio is so popular is because blood sugar levels are low before breakfast, which aids in achieving fat loss at a faster rate. It can be very hard to burn the fat from specific areas of the body - known as stubborn fat – which often clings to women’s hips and thighs and to men’s abs. These areas are usually where the body stores its last reserves of fat burning fuel, which is why it can be so difficult to lose. Doing cardio in a fasted state can increase fat burning from targeted stubborn areas, helping you to see faster results. Another benefit that comes with doing your exercise first thing in the morning is that it gets your cardio out of the way for the day and decreases the likeliness of you skipping your workout.
Does it cause muscle loss?
One argument by critics is that fasted cardio actually increases the chances of burning muscle. They claim that if there isn’t sufficient energy to fuel your body (since you will be exercising on an empty stomach), it will resort to burning muscle protein for energy. This claim isn’t entirely factual, however. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology discovered that only six or seven grams of protein are burned for energy during a 90 minute workout in a fasted state, which means that although the chance of burning muscle protein may be increased, it’s still relatively low.
Incorporating it into your program
If you’re someone who hates morning workouts, or cannot fathom the idea of exercising on an empty stomach, then this method of fat loss is unlikely to be of benefit to you. Similarly, if your goal is not fat loss then there may be no reason to do cardio in a fasted state.
For those who want to accelerate fat loss, or who have had a hard time getting rid of the last bit of fat, fasted cardio might just be the best technique to achieve the desired result. I’ve done fasted cardio in the past and can say from firsthand experience that I saw some amazing changes in my body.
Given that you’ll be in a fasted state, aim to start doing moderate cardio for approximately 30-45 minutes each session. There’s no reason why you can’t do fasted cardio every morning, or as frequently as you usually do your cardio sessions. However, if you find it difficult to wake up early - or dislike doing fasted cardio - you can alternate between fasted and fed cardio each week. For example, if you do cardio five times weekly, you can rotate between doing fasted three times and twice after meals.
Popular forms of fasted cardio include jogging on the treadmill or outdoors, using the stepper, EFX or elliptical machine, swimming, fast paced walking with hill intervals, or anything else that might get your heart rate pumping.
If you feel like you become quite faint or dizzy while exercising in a fasted state, sip a protein shake before or during your cardio workout. This will provide your body with some energy but will still allow you to enjoy the same benefits as exercising on an empty stomach.
Finally, don’t be scared to give fasted cardio a try. The first time I heard about it I thought that I’d never be able to do it, and now it’s my favorite technique for rapidly dropping fat. It’s the one cardio method that really gave me some rewarding abs definition!
An ideal fat loss program would include fasted cardio in the morning before breakfast, followed by an afternoon or evening session of weight training.