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Fasted Cardio for Best Results

Fasted cardio has gained significant attention for its potential benefits in accelerating weight loss, but there is so much more to it. It can help jumpstart your morning, get your blood and creative juices flowing, and uplift your mood.

*usual caveats about consulting with your doctor before starting a new exercise or diet program, especially if you have pre-existing conditions.

What is Fasted Cardio?

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Fasted cardio refers to performing cardiovascular exercises on an empty stomach, typically in the morning before breakfast. During an overnight fast, the body’s glycogen stores become depleted, leading to a greater reliance on stored fat as an energy source during exercise. Engaging in fasted cardio taps into this fat-burning potential, promoting weight loss.

The Research on Fasted Cardio 

According to the science supporting fasted cardio, exercising in a fasted state may increase the body’s ability to use stored fat as fuel.. A recent study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism reported by on November 8th, 2022 stated that fasted evening “exercise on an empty stomach helps people to burn about 70% more fat than those who exercise two hours after eating.”

Fasted cardio can contribute to achieving a caloric deficit, a key factor in weight loss. By exercising in the fasted state, the body primarily relies on stored fat for energy, which can help create a greater calorie deficit when combined with a balanced diet.

 alfa27 @Adobe Stock. Morning exercise can contribute to a better mood.

Other benefits of fasted cardio

Better mood: Getting your blood flowing early in the morning especially when listening to upbeat music can lead to a natural mood boost and reduced feelings of stress and anxiety This improvement in mood can extend beyond the workout, positively influencing one’s overall outlook and mental well-being throughout the day.

More energy and less crashes: Additionally, fasted cardio can lead to heightened energy levels and improved mental clarity. As the body relies on stored fat for fuel during the workout, it helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing the spikes and crashes associated with consuming carbohydrates before exercise.

What type of cardio? For how long?

Generally, it is recommended to engage in a moderate-intensity cardio workout for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Examples of fasted cardio exercises include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or using an elliptical machine.

But you don’t even have to do it for that long if you don’t have the time. A study published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found doing just under 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous exertion each day improved study participants’ working memory but had its biggest impact on executive processes such as planning and organization.

Fasted cardio may not be appropriate for an intense bootcamp class, like Barry’s or Orange Theory, or a long intense run, if you are training for a marathon, or triathlon.  There is a risk of “bonking” when doing weight-bearing and intensive bursts of HIIT cardio, which could lead to fatigue and injury. However, there are some proponents of fasted weight training

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My “dirty” fasted cardio secret 

I really thrive on having a cup of coffee before a workout. To get out the door quickly, I prepare an iced coffee the night before and add a small splash of half and half or almond milk. So it’s not a clean water fast, but it is also not any food consumption. I have the same light energized feeling as I go through my workout.

“Fasted Cardio” does not have to be first thing in the morning

If you don’t have time for cardio in the morning, you can incorporate it into other times of the day when you are in a fasted state. Any time lapse of 5-6 hours after a meal generally puts your body in that fasted state, once the energy from the food is utilized. So if you eat lunch at 12, and then do your cardio at 6, you can achieve similar results. It is also possible to exercise during an intermittent fasting period, if you practice intermittent fasting.

When to eat?

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating a meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your exercise session, if possible. If not a meal, then a small snack will keep your blood sugar from crashing. If I am in a rush, Greek yogurt and berries is an easy choice. 

Fasted cardio program I have followed

I have written about the Rachel Attard fasted cardio weight loss program here : 

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