Fasted Cardio: The Path to FAST-er Fat Burning
I know what you are thinking:
Summer is right around the corner.
The warm sun, the cool breeze, the ocean’s crystal blue waters and the sands on your feet.
Oh, a perfect vacation from all the stress of work and life!
So, are you ready to wear your swimsuits and gear up for a wonderful sunny beach getaway?
Yes? Oh, that’s the spirit!
What? You’re still not in shape?
Okay, do not panic. I am here to help.
Let me help you burn those stubborn fats right now for a beach-worthy body and get you ready for the greatest summer vacation of your life.
Are you familiar with Fasted Cardio?
No? Then let me give you an idea.
What exactly is a fasted cardio?
First, let me tell you what the word “fasted” doesn’t imply.
“Fasted” does not necessarily mean that you are running on an empty stomach.
Your stomach will probably feel empty for an hour or so after you eat your meal.
Now here’s the real definition of the word fasted:
The body will be in a fasted state only if you have not eaten for 8 hours or more.
The sufficient amount of time to get the body go into a fasted state is by having a good night’s sleep.
Your body will have no choice but to burn fight when you have low levels of insulin.
This happens faster, naturally when you have not eaten for more than 8 hours.
Combine that with the word “cardio” and it will mean:
Doing cardio exercise in a fasted state.
You want to practice safely without injury. You must use STRAPS, WRAPS & SUPPORT.
The Pros of Fasted Cardio
1/ Increased Fat Burning
Here’s the good news:
Anytime you fast, whether you pair it with workouts and exercise or simply skipping meals, burns fats.
Your body needs energy for everyday activities and fats are a great source.
2/ Increased Blood Flow to Fat Areas
A good blood flow is needed for the first 2 stages of fat burning: Transport of fatty acids and mobilization.
A possible reason for people who have a lot of trouble getting rid of stubborn fats in the abdominal upper leg area is because of the decreased blood flow to these parts.
3/ Increased Nutrient Absorption
Muscles are “hungry” for glucose after exercise that is why insulin sensitivity is maximized and nutrients can be absorbed better.
Also, with the fact that no one wants to exercise on a full stomach, it makes more sense to eat after exercise.
The Cons of Fasted Cardio
1/ Lower Quality Workouts
The intensity of your workout decreases as you burn carb stores.
This happens much faster when you train on an empty stomach.
This is a major drawback for most people since high intensities workout can lead to a greater fat loss.
2/ High Levels of Cortisol
The hormone that releases energy stores when you are running low is called Cortisol.
Exercise boosts cortisol as does fasting.
Combine the 2 together and you will have the perfect recipe for a very high level of cortisol.
This has a seriously negative impact on your health, fat loss and can lead to stress and anxiety.
3/ Burn more muscles
If you intend to gain muscles, then fasted cardio is not for you.
This is because the body will resort to using amino acids (building blocks of protein that leads to muscle mass) to fuel your body so you might likely lose muscles at the same time.
Fasted HIIT Cardio?
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training Cardio is a type of workout method that alternates between periods of low all-out intensity workout and low-intensity recovery.
Here’s the idea:
When you do high-intensity workouts, you are pushing yourself as hard as you can.
And when you do low-intensity recovery, you are trying to catch your breath for the next sprint.
So, why should you try this method? I give you 2 good reasons:
1/ Lose Fat Faster
There are a lot of studies stating that it is more time effective to lose time doing a high-intensity interval training than traditional low-intensity steady-state cardio.
The University of Western Ohio conducted a research and found out that people lose more fat doing 30-seconds sprints for 4-6 times (with 4 minutes rest) than a 1 hour of incline treadmill walking.
There are other studies that support this research as well.
So, if your goal is to burn fat in less time, then doing HIIT would be your perfect solution.
The study revealed that HIIT…
- Reduce post-exercise appetite, preventing over-eating
- Increases levels of catecholamine which helps in the mobilization of fat for burning
- Spikes levels of growth hormone which helps in fat loss
- Improves your muscles’ ability to burn fat for energy
- Boosts the muscles’ insulin sensitivity that helps the body to absorb and use the food that you eat instead of storing it as fat
- Elevates your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours
The bottom line:
If you want to flush unwanted fats from your body with cardio, then HIIT is the only way.
And when you do HIIT in a fasted state, then it is even more effective due to physiological mechanisms that are associated with fat loss.
2/ Lose Less Muscles Mass
When you are on a fat loss diet, your first priority after losing fat is preserving those muscles.
And when it comes to preserving muscle mass, steady state cardio has a bad rap.
A study revealed that the longer your cardio workouts are, the more it prevents strength and muscle growth.
If you want to lose fat but lose less muscle then you need to keep your cardio to a minimum.
But, you need cardio in order to lose more fat.
So, how do you do this?
Hours of grueling cardio is bad for gaining muscle mass but is great for losing fat.
However, with HIIT, you get an intense cardio workout for 30 minutes or which can lead to losing less muscle and burn more fat at the same time.
Doing fasted weightlifting or weight training is as effective as fasted cardio.
This is because fasted weightlifting also significantly boost the body’s production of fat burning chemicals.
A small warning, though:
When you switch from fed training to fasted training, you will probably feel weaker for the first few weeks.
You might lose a few reps on big lifts and can sometimes lose 1 or 2 smaller exercises, too.
This is quite normal.
Losing muscle is not the reason for this. It is because when you eat a good amount of carbs before working out helps in improving your performance.
When you take the carbs away, you will lose the performance boost. Put them back and you will get it back.
Also, a study revealed that when in a fasted state, the body can adapt to training by “learning” to use glycogen stores efficiently.
Fasted Weightlifting and Fasted HIIT Cardio: WHAT IS BETTER?
There is a war raging on for years.
It is a war for the title of being the ultimate weight loss exercise there is.
HIIT Cardio versus Weightlifting.
While it depends on an individual’s workout preference, both are great when your goal is to shed fats.
It is any type of exercise that helps elevate your heartbeat.
Increasing your heartbeat simply means more oxygen is being delivered to the muscle cells and can result in healthier organs.
More oxygen also allows the cell to burn more calories after or during the workout which help people who want to shed some pounds.
The Advantages of Cardio
- Strengthen body organs like the lungs, heart, and
- Prevents serious disease such as osteoporosis, type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
- Reduces mood swings
- Promotes quality sleep
- Reduces stress
- Needs little time to rest than weight training
- Very high-calorie burn during sessions
The Disadvantages of Cardio
- Can lead to strains and injuries
- Can result in loss of muscle mass
It is any type of workout that develops the size and strength of the skeletal muscles.
It makes use of weighted objects like weighted bars, weighted stacks, or dumb bells and gravity forces.
When you lift those weighted objects against the earth’s gravity, your muscles will contract and strain that strengthen them and adds mass as well.
In order to change the muscle state, weight training uses a combination of weight moves, tempo, and repetition.
Lifting a heavier weight in fewer repetitions can help increase lean muscle mass. Lifting lighter weight in more repetitions, on the other hand, increases the endurance of the muscle.
The Advantages of Weight Training
- Offers the ability to lose fat and grow muscles simultaneously
- Increase lean muscle mass faster
- Shapes the muscles
- Helps you gain strength and endurance
- Great for promoting bone health
The Disadvantages of Weight Training
- Requires more time for recovery
- Increase hunger significantly
- Risk of injuries
- Low calories burning than intense cardio
- Requires equipment
So, which is the winner?
Sorry, let me clarify that.
What I mean is that either is a substitute for the other, rather they are complementary to each other.
Each one has its advantage that the other one does not.
So, what I suggest that you do is having the right mixture of both for the ultimate result with cardio training slightly less than weight training.
In a week, spend 3 to 4 days for weight training and 2 to 3 days for cardio training.
Now, I know you are curious as to why you need more weight training than cardio. Here’s why:
In cardio training, muscles are often used in a repetitive manner like canoeing, swimming or running.
This repetitive manner can lead to muscle imbalances and can transform into joint problems over time.
On the other hand, weight training restrains the muscle and counter the imbalance from cardio workouts.
This combination can provide you the best of both worlds: Shape the body, Lose weight and overall health of body organs.
What to Eat Before and After Fasted Cardio?
If you eat in the morning before doing fasted cardio, then it means that you break your fast— thus the term breakfast.
Although, you can drink water since you will really need it when you start running.
So, what I will focus on is:
What should you eat after a fasted cardio?
Eat a high protein plus low to moderate carb meal.
After 20 to 30 minutes of your fasted cardio training, your body will benefit from the consumption of food rich in protein with the combination of low carbs.
However, it is important that to avoid increasing your insulin levels.
This can lead to the decline of growth hormones and stop of the fat burning process.
Here are some good meal options that you can try after your fasted workout:
1/ Protein Shake
After a draining fasted cardio training, drinking protein shake would be the best option in order to repair and rebuild your muscles.
A protein shake is a great source of amino acids that help in healing damaged muscles.
After ingestion, it only takes 30 minutes or more for protein shakes to deliver needed proteins into the muscle than solid foods that take more time to digest and break down protein to send to the muscle cells.
It also allows you to control the amount of protein that you consume.
2/ Egg Whites
Egg whites are protein-packed, low-carb, and fat-free food that can be absorbed quickly by the body.
You can eat on its own or mix it with vegetables.
Also, egg whites help in curbing your hunger and aid you to consume fewer calories than other dishes.
3/ Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains a large amount of lauric acid that helps in fighting insulin surges for post-training sessions.
Moreover, it is a great source of medium-chain fatty acids which aids in the prevention of muscle loss.
Here’s more good news:
Coconut oil can be easily and quickly digested by the body and helps in detoxifying your body.
You do not need to drink coconut oil, though, since it might not taste great.
However, you can add a dash of it to smoothies or shakes that can help increases your energy levels after fasted cardio.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a research and found out that eating avocado makes you healthy.
Avocado is rich in magnesium (13%), potassium (16%), vitamin E (23%), fiber (36%) and vitamin K (48%).
Moreover, it contains B vitamins that act as energy boosters and keeps you active for the day and monosaturated fat that helps in muscle building.
You can eat it as it is or you can turn it into a green salad or spread on toast.
5/ Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt contains twice the protein of your regular yogurts. It also has a handful of carbs.
This combination can aid in refueling or replenish energy that you have lost during your workout and helps repair muscles.
Moreover, it is packed with potassium and B-vitamins that reduces inflammation of joints and muscles.
You can enjoy it with granola or some berries in order to increase your consumption of healthy carbs.
Here’s a fact:
Oatmeal contains glucose. Glucose fuels your muscles.
Oats are a great source of beta-glucan that is great for slower digesting and keep your blood sugar at an optimum level.
To make it more effective, you can add it to high protein dish or protein shakes.
Salmons is packed with omega-3 and a good dose of protein for reducing inflammations of muscles after intense fasted cardio training.
It also contains healthy fats that help boost performance.
You can add it to a salad and enjoy it as a healthy lunch or a delicious snack.
The Best Exercises for Fasted Cardio
To burn most calories in the just the least amount of time, sprint outside, upstairs or even on a treadmill.
Sprinting does not need any types of equipment and you can do this workout anywhere.
The best part:
Sprinting leaves no muscle alone. Meaning, it targets almost every muscle in the body.
If you thought that rowing machine is just for building biceps, then you are wrong.
Adding rowing to your routine can provide an extra cardio boost while strengthening your back muscles and abs.
Swimming is a low-impact form of cardio exercise that is great for increasing your heart rate while protecting your joints.
What? You’re not a good swimmer?
No worries! Just grab a kickboard and do several laps.
This exercise not only engages your legs but also shape your abs, too.
Have a bike? That’s great!
Forget driving your car and take your bike on your next trip to the store.
Stop using the treadmill and try using the stationary bike for your next visit to the gym.
Cycling is a great way to increase your heart rate and take you to other places at the same time.
5/ Jumping rope
I’m probably right when I say:
You have not jumped rope since your 3rd grade, right?
If that is the case then go get yourself a jump rope today and start jumping.
Jump ropes are a good form of cardio exercise that can be done anywhere.
6/ Stair Climber
While most people hate stairs, if you want to pump up your heart and lose those stubborn fats away, then you need to be pro-stairs!
It is great for sweating and increasing heart rate.
Ditch the elevators and escalators, use the stairs to climb up and down a building and feel your heart race.
7/ HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT helps provide a well-rounded workout while you burn a lot of calorie and fats.
HIIT is great because of the combination of the intensity of each exercise and the variations of reps and exercises.
If you pair any bodyweight workout and traditional cardio exercise then you have the amazing recipe for fat burning.
The Best Time to do Fasted Cardio
So, when should I do fasted cardio?
Fasted cardio means you exercise on empty stomach. So, it is best to do it in the morning after you wake up and before you eat.
Simply because it ensures that your body’s insulin level is at a baseline level.
A study also suggests that fat oxidation rates are at its highest after 6 or more hours of fasting.
Bonus Tips for a Great Fasted Cardio Workout
Before doing any cardio exercise, please always keep in mind to do some stretching first.
If you don’t then you will feel the consequence in 5 minutes of doing cardio.
2/ Add Kettlebell work
Dumbbells are to weightlifting as kettlebells are to cardio training.
Kettlebell swings are shown to increase performance, elevate heart rate and improves oxygen uptake.
3/ Do Tabata
A high-intensity workout, Tabata was originally designed to last for only 4 minutes.
20 seconds of all-out effort and then 10 seconds rest. It is repeated for a whole 4 minutes.
4/ Add some strength training
Cardio workouts focus on burning calories with high-intensity movements.
However, you can also use the time to add some weight training and strengthen your muscles.
You can add inclines on your hikes, bike rides or runs to add strength training to your legs.
5/ Do 2 types of cardio every week
It is important not to do the same cardio type all the time in order to prevent repetitive stress injuries and build overall endurance and body strength.
You will get more from your cardio workouts when you add at least 3 varieties every week.
6/ Challenge yourself
Aside from adding inclines to your cardio training, you can find more ways to make it harder and challenging.
This is because cardio workouts only take a short time on your day, so you might want to give your all for faster fat burning.
Do more intense butterfly stroke rather than the crawl or run with high knees.
When you are using a piece of equipment for cardio, do not hold onto the handrail.
Just pump your arms forward and back, but not across the body since this can reduce the workout’s effectiveness.
8/ Take it Outside
When doing cardio workouts, it is best to take it outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
Ditch the boring running routine of running and try trail running or mountain biking on uneven surfaces that can help improve balance and athleticism.
9/ Turn it up
Put your earphones and turn the music on.
Listening to music while working out significantly improves your performance by reducing fatigue and increasing your motivation.
10/ Pick a buddy
It’s more fun to work out with a group of friends or a training partner. It can also serve as a motivation not to miss any workout sessions hen you have friends constantly reminding you.
11/ Take a sip of coffee
Here’s a fact:
A dose of caffeine before working out can provide an energy kick, and improve endurance.
However, you might not want to go overboard.
Depending on the potency of the coffee and your size, you can always have a cup of coffee or less.
Burning those stubborn fats is hard but not impossible.
With good fasted cardio workouts combined with weight training, you can achieve the perfect body to show off during your summer getaway.
So, what are you waiting for?
Start your fasted cardio session, now!