If you’ve spent any time around the fitness world, the idea of “ Fasted Cardio ” is bound to have come up.
The idea is, you get your cardio done in the morning on an empty stomach, and because there is no food in your system, your body is forced to burn your body fat. This is often completed whilst sipping on some branched chain amino acids, to prevent your muscle wasting away (please see here as to why that is not ideal).
Although this idea makes sense in isolation, it fails to look at what goes on in our physiology over long periods of time. And this is the important thing.
In reality, we are constantly both breaking down AND building fat throughout the day. Think of it like your bank account. All week you make deposits and withdrawals from your bank account, so some days you are going to end with more money in your account, and some with less. All that really matters is what your bank balance is at the END of the week. Fasted cardio is just one of these small withdrawals amongst hundreds of other withdrawals you’ll make throughout your week. It doesn’t somehow count as a bigger withdrawal than cardio done at any other time of the day.
Fasted Low Impact Steady State Cardio
If your cardio routine involves a very easy walk, bike ride or swim, then doing it fasted is fine. You won’t get any extra benefits, but you might find it easier fitting it in to your routine if you do it first thing in the morning before eating. Go for it! Please just don’t go around telling everyone that’s the secret to your striated glutes.
Fasted Resistance Training
This ones a little murkier. If it’s a gigantic leg session, I’d strongly recommend having something in the tank. If it’s a lighter upper body session, you’d probably be just fine doing it fasted. In saying that, it’s probably not the best thing we could be doing so if all we need to do is have a banana or a couple of rice cakes before we train, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.
Fasted High Intensity Training or sessions lasting over 45 minutes
Don’t do this. The high impact nature of this style of training, whether it be high intensity interval training (HIIT) or sessions over 45 minutes require proper fuel. Training fasted places the body under a lot of stress and increases our risk of losing some hard earned muscle, or breaking. Just like for resistance training, try and have a small snack 60 minutes or so before the beginning of your training session to make sure you can hit the ground running. If your training session is scheduled to start at some ungodly hour of the morning, just try and eat as far away from the start as possible.
Please remember that if your latest Instagram #fitspo looks hot and does fasted cardio, they don’t look hot BECAUSE they do fasted cardio.
If you’re looking for a better way to lose some weight, shoot me a message!