I'll be honest - I had no idea what fasted cardio was before approaching this post. I will say though, that there is a bit of common sense that comes with the idea of the word, meaning that even if you never heard of it before, it is easy to put two-and-two together to get a somewhat understanding of what that means. In helping out with this blog, I have become much more interested in the fitness world and how I can better my health mentally, physically, and emotionally. Being someone who believes in the importance of self-care and self-love, taking care of your body is an essential piece in finding balance between each three parts. With this being said, every time I approach a post, I do has much research I can to ensure I full understand just exactly what I am writing about - as I am not only writing for you and your own benefit, but for my own as well.
What is Fasted Cardio?
When it comes to fasted cardio, there are numerous posts describing exactly what it is. In a nutshell, fasted cardio is cardio that is done on an empty stomach or fasted state. This means that your body is no longer processing or digesting food. For me, I will say I found this to be a bit skeptical at first, but throughout more research, there are actually a ton of benefits I have found that come from fasted cardio. Here are what they are.
Understanding the Benefits of Fasted Cardio
A good start in understanding the benefits of fasted cardio is first understanding how fasting works on the body. According to Allison Childress, a registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics, "a true fasted state starts after essentially 8-12 hours after your last meal. However, achieving a fasted state can happen within 8-6 hours after your last meal. For some, most people who do fasted cardio do so in the morning before eating to ensure their body is in a complete fasted state."
People who usually do fasted cardio workouts in the morning are looking for a complete fasted state as they do not have the time to eat a meal before their actual workout. According to studies, there are numerous benefits to doing a workout without a meal before hand, having many show rather positive results. In a study performed by
Javier T. Gonzalez, Rachel C. Veasey, Penny L. S. Rumbold, and Emma J. Stevenson posted in the British Journal of Nutrition, it was found that participants who engaged in active fasted cardio workouts lost and burned almost 20% more fat than those who consumed a meal before their workout. A study done by Jessica L. Bachman, Ronald W Deitrick, and Angela R. Hillman for the University of Scranton had also found that fasted cardio can increase fat oxidation to effectively help burn calories.
Health Effects of Fasted Cardio
Warnings About Fasted Cardio
In participating in fasted cardio, it is important to realize that there are some negative health effects that come with from daily practice. When you are first starting off within your fasted cardio routine, it is key in knowing that it needs to be done carefully. When you workout while in a complete fasted state, you can decrease your blood sugar levels which can make you feel lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseous. Since your body also requires using energy from other sources rather than food, you body can also start to metabolize muscle, causing an increase in muscle loss rather than fat loss. It is important to first contact a doctor if you have any health concerns to ensure that you will not be negatively impacted by fasted cardio.
Differences Between Fasted Cardio and Fed Cardio
- Fasted Cardio: Fasted cardio is beneficial for shorter workouts that are low-to-mid intensity. Fasted cardio relies on using energy from your body (fat cells or muscle if not done properly) rather than food, and allows in triggering your hormones to help you burn fat.
- Fed Cardio: With fed cardio, eating before your workout will allow you to become fueled with protein and carbs, that encourages you to work harder and longer. You will make more energy to burn calories for a longer period of time that will allow you to lift heavier. Fed cardio does release insulin into the body that makes it harder to break down fat, but it does aid in preventing muscle loss.
The Bottom Line
So is fasted cardio worth it? The evidence is mixed - truly coming down to your personal preferences, schedule, and your physical health. If you every incorporate it into your daily routine, it is essential that you eat something after and make sure you are obtaining the correct nutrients needed to repair your body after your workout. In the end, make sure you are doing what you need to in being healthy. If you find yourself easily getting tired, lightheaded, and nauseous during your routine, stop and do not continue. There are other options out there that are much more healthy and sound.