It is well popularised in the fitness world that as soon as you start dieting or if you want to get lean that you must start doing fasted cardio. Fasted cardio is as it says on the tin, doing your cardio before eating any meals. Now as I always say, everyone responds differently to different types of training and the best thing to do is what works for you and your lifestyle. I have used fasted cardio in the past and sometimes because of my work schedule I train fasted, as I don’t like eating so early in the morning. One of my favourite things to do is to walk my dog in the mornings in a fasted state as I enjoy it.
Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons:
- As your body will need energy from somewhere it can help to increase fat burning as body fat will provide a great source of energy. However, the body will also look to muscle to use for energy.
- After exercise your body/muscles will be wanting food and there is a case for saying that therefore the nutrients will be better absorbed due to the heightened insulin sensitivity experienced post exercise.
- Fasted cardio is usually done first thing in the morning which is when cortisol is at its highest, adding in this type of training will increase the level of cortisol. As I have explained in previous blogs it is important to manage cortisol levels when trying to diet down as it can cause your body to hold on to fat.
- There are some studies to suggest that cardio done fasted increases blood flow to your abdominals. This increase in blood flow can help shift the ‘stubborn’ fat in this area.
- Intensity is often lower- when you are not fuelled for your workout it can often mean that it is harder for you to attack your workout with the same intensity. This can result in an overall lower total calorie burn. As shown in many studies the calorie burn from high intensity interval style training is often better for fat loss so this is something to consider when planning your cardio for fat loss
- As we all know one of the main factors in fat loss is total calorie intake and expenditure. If you are still eating in a calorie surplus then doing your cardio fasted is not really going to make a difference.
As you can see there are both pros and cons to this method of fat loss but I however feel that HITT cardio is much more effective and here’s a few reasons why:
- It allows for more variety – conditioning can take many forms. You can do something as simple as basic sprint intervals or try tyre flips or sled drags.
- It helps maintain/gain muscle- you can apply the same principles from your weightlifting to your cardio by slowly increasing the weight during your conditioning e.g. Upping the weight you push on the prowler or sled for example.
- It increases mitochondrial capacity. This increase in oxidative capacity leads to greater fat loss. Put simply this means that you will continue to burn calories even after you’ve finished your workout.
- It takes half the time than traditional means of cardio so it’ll be putting your body under less stress.
- It can be fun! You can do your circuits with friends or turn it into a competition.
- Effective for fat burning.
Now there are many factors when it comes to fat loss and cardio should be a tool that you incorporate smartly when trying to achieve your goal. And most importantly remember that when it comes to fat loss and cardio that everyone’s body will respond differently or require different methods, so experiment and see what works for you!
Happy training everyone!