Weight loss is a constant focus among athletes, weightlifters, and the general public. From diet fads to workout trends, people are regularly looking for ways to shed pounds and slim their waistlines.
Fasted cardio has become a controversial practice that blends dieting and workout habits in an attempt to lose weight. However, the jury is still out about the effectiveness of fasted cardio. Let’s take a look at fasted cardio and learn if it truly is the best way to lose weight fast.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is the conscious abstaining from foods and drinks for a set period of time. While it has its roots in religious practices and is often necessary in the preparation stages prior to major surgical procedures, skipping meals has since become a popular method of losing weight or ridding the body of toxins.
In terms of diet, intermittent fasting is one of the most common forms of fasting. There are varying forms and systems of intermittent fasting, but it generally involves consuming all of your daily calories during a specific time frame in the day and then abstaining from any food during the rest period. For example, you may be allowed to eat from noon to eight at night, fasting during all other periods, which essentially means skipping breakfast.
The idea is that during the fed state, your body will burn the food you consumed for energy. During the fasted state, your body doesn’t have food to burn, so it will turn to your fat stores. Fasting has also been shown to increase your body’s responsiveness to the natural chemicals that regulate blood sugar. This can help you better manage your food cravings and feelings of hunger.
Various studies show that fasting may offer various benefits to your overall health. Studies on mice showed that reducing calories helped mice live longer lives. More recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative brain disorders commonly contracted in old age.
What is Fasted Cardio?
Fasted cardio is when you perform cardio in a fasted state. It seems like a pretty simple idea. Doing cardio already burns calories, so if you are in a fasted state, your body should mainly take its calories from stored body fat. Research suggests that fasted cardio can increase the rate of lipolysis (the process of breaking down fat cells for energy) and fat oxidation (the process of burning that energy to power the rest of the cells in your body).
Fasted cardio may be particularly effective in eliminating stubborn fat that can be hard to target thanks in part to a natural chemical called catecholamine. This is one of the major chemicals involved in the breakdown of fat cells. When catecholamine binds to receptors on fat cells, it signals the fat to begin mobilizing, allowing for its metabolism and breakdown. The general idea is that the more catecholamine you have, the easier it is to target those stubborn fat areas. High intensity fasted cardio has been shown to increase catecholamine levels while simultaneously increasing blood flow. That means more catecholamine reaching all the parts of your body. Fasted cardio yields the highest catecholamine response making it a great option when trying to burn fat.
At the same time, fasted cardio may not be as simple as you think. Fasted cardio is not necessarily equivalent to doing cardio on an empty stomach. Your body enters a fasted state only after it finishes processing the food you have eaten. Your body needs to break the food down into glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and other components that give you energy and make you the person you are. The length of this process depends on what you eat and how much you consume, but it usually takes about three hours. That means that, while your stomach may feel “empty” an hour after your last meal, you may not actually be in a fasted state for another two hours. During a fasted state, the chemicals regulating your blood sugar are at a relatively low, baseline level.
Is Fasted Cardio Effective for Weight Loss?
Yes and no. Keep in mind that fasted cardio does not allow you to circumvent the laws of energy balance, which essentially describes the balance between the calories you take in and the calories you burn through physical activity. Any form of significant weight loss relies on creating a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than you burn or burning more calories than you take in.
Fasted cardio may be effective in burning calories, but it requires a proper diet to start with. For example, you may burn 250 calories from one fasted cardio session, but if you go back home and eat those 250 calories again, you will end up just maintaining your weight. Studies show that carbohydrates in particular can slow down fat oxidation when you are at rest. Due to the release of insulin. When insulin is secreted, which is expected when consuming carbohydrates, your body looks to store blood glucose for energy. Eating a balanced, nutrient rich diet during your eating period that focuses more on protein and healthy fats rather than carbs can help you burn fat and keep the weight off.
What is the Best Type of Fasted Cardio?
Most athletes and exercise enthusiasts agree that high intensity interval training is the best form of cardio, fasted or otherwise. Numerous studies have shown that high-intensity cardio performed in shorter sessions can result in more fat loss over time than low-intensity exercises performed for longer periods of time.
One study found that after two weeks of high-intensity interval training, subjects used less glycogen during their workouts, resulting in greater fat oxidation. The subjects’ muscle cells were also found to more efficiently oxidize fats. Combined with fasting, this may mean an increase in the amount of fatty acids your body can metabolize as you exercise.
Studies also show that EPOC, which stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, after high-intensity interval training is nearly double that of more low-intensity exercises. EPOC, also known as afterburn, is the increased rate of oxygen you need after exercise, reportedly leading to more calories burned.
Research also suggests that high-intensity interval training is effective in targeting visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat located deep within your abdominal tissue, even wrapping around certain major organs, and is most responsible for the appearance of protruding stomachs and larger waists. Excess visceral fat is potentially dangerous, contributing to a wide range of health issues, including cancer, stroke, and coronary heart disorder.
Muscle Loss and Fasted Cardio
One of the biggest potential problems with performing cardio while fasting is losing muscle mass. Instead of depleting your fat stores for energy, your body may possibly turn to the protein, or more specifically the amino acids, in your muscles to power your workouts, which can cause your existing muscle mass to shrink considerably. This is why fasted cardio may not be the best option if you want to focus entirely on building larger muscle mass, but it presents a fine balancing act if you want to go for lean muscle.
To avoid muscle loss, most experts recommend limiting the frequency and length of each cardio session. A good place to start would be to aim for about 4 days of fasted cardio a week with each session of high intensity interval exercises lasting no longer than a half an hour, though this is also assuming you are lifting weights and performing other, non-fasted-cardio exercises throughout the week. Click here for tips on how to boost muscle recovery.
If you feel the need to do fasted cardio more often and in longer sessions, you may be doing more harm than good. Over training will not only contribute to the loss of muscle mass, but also put a great deal of physical stress on your body. This prevents proper recovery and puts you at a higher risk of injury. You would benefit more from reconsidering your diet and your supplements or reevaluating your own personal fitness goals.
The Skinny on Fasted Cardio
Fasted cardio is not for everyone, and you can still lose significant weight without it as long as you take into account your diet and the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. If your main fitness goal involves increasing your muscle mass, you may be better off avoiding fasted cardio entirely and instead retooling your diet to lose fat while building significant gains. If you can only do cardio in the morning, you should consider drinking a pre-workout protein shake and some fruit or other light carbs, especially if your primary goal is building muscle.
If you do want to try fasted cardio to lose weight, you can get even better results when you use the right supplements. Before your fasted cardio training session, take a branched chain amino acid supplement, like mTOR Pro™ from MYOKEM™. mTOR Pro™ can allow for increased performance, hydration, and muscle development while aiding in amino acid absorption and overall recovery. Each serving of mTOR Pro™ offers 10.5 grams of essential amino acids.
Whether or not you decide to do fasted cardio, you should consider Thyrovate™ to burn fat. Thyrovate™ is an advanced, stimulant-free weight loss supplement designed to help you shed pounds, reduce your appetite, and prevent stress while specifically targeting fat around your midsection.