Is Fasted Cardio Good for Fat Loss?
By Myprotein Writer Matthew Millar
What Is Fasted Cardio?
Fasted cardio may be one of those terms you hear thrown around among fitness enthusiasts, but what actually is it?
In Simple terms, fasted cardio is basically when you exercise in a fasted state… meaning there is no food in your body.
When we exercise the body’s preferred source of fuel is carbohydrates. Some people think carbohydrates is bread, past and rice… this isn’t completely correct! There are two main types of carbohydrates including simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs include typical foods like bread and pasta, but simple carbohydrates exist in the form of sugars! This means even when you avoid stodgy breads, other commonly consumed foods such as fruit and dairy products contain carbohydrates.
In fasted cardio due to being in a fasted state there is no carbohydrate sources available for the body to burn, therefore it is thought that this style of exercise will promote the breakdown of stored fats in order to fuel your body. However, this is a controversial subject with many different people with many different opinions. I know some people that swear to this way of exercising while I also know other that say it’s bad for you, but what is the truth?
This is a popular form of exercising with many bodybuilders and physique competitors as it is said to support fat loss during minimal intensity exercise. Due to the exercise being minimal muscle mass is said to be maintained while still burning fat. Now you can see why it is so popular with the sport of bodybuilding.
I competed in my first physique competition not so long ago, during the time leading up to this competition getting rid of my fat so to look as lean as possible was a must. I had ten weeks to drop down to low numbers of body fat percentage while still keeping my strength and muscle mass. While mostly this is down to the diet, expenditure of energy through exercising also helped obviously.
In the last stages of my prep I was working out alongside doing two hours of cardio but these were specifically put in places of the day where I would burn more fat. I did it at 6am and straight after training, the periods of time where I had minimal amounts of food in my stomach to burn. I found it very useful to get rid of some stubborn fat, it was key for getting me into shape for my show. I can only report minimal reductions in strength also showing that I kept most of my muscle mass while still being in a deficit/low calorie diet. Now this shows that this type of exercise work well with me, but of course this could be different with others.
Research shows that by doing fasted cardio you can increase the fat burning effect during exercise compared to if you performed the same type of cardio at the same intensity in a fed state. There is an exception to this though, this only occurs at very low levels of training intensity. So this shows that it has actually been tested and proven to work, indicating that by exercising at a minimal intensity you can burn fat effectively.
With this in mind, I found that this type of exercise helped me out personally to lose weight so through personal experience I can give it a thumbs up! Through a scientific stand point it makes sense that you are forcing your body to burn the fat stores and the research suggests that it works but it is important that you keep the exercise minimal so to keep your muscle mass and to burn the fat effectively. This way you will look big and lean up at the same time, up hill power walking or just simply walking up and down your stairs for 30 minutes will do the trick. As soon as you start going above minimal intensity exercise you will start using more energy which could lead to muscle mass being lost and we don’t want that now do we!
So, fasted cardio…. Is it good for losing weight?
Yes, it is!
But as I mentioned before it could not work for you but there is no harm in trying this way of exercising out. Don’t rely on someone’s experience with the training as they are not you! By trying something new like this you can begin to learn what works for you and your body leading to better and more effective training.
Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO,and Coyle EF. Substrate metabolism when subjects are fed carbohydrate during exercise. Am J Physiol.