Does Fasted Cardio Work Best for Weight Loss?

a woman goes for a run while fasting
(Last Updated On: October 23, 2019)

When you are trying to lose weight, it’s recommended that you identify your goals.

If your goal is more so to burn fat, your optimal diet and exercise plan will be much different than if you were looking to put on lean muscle. Therefore, you want to first identify your goals to decide what type of diet and exercise plan would be most suitable to achieve them.

Below, we will be going over fasted cardio and some of the key benefits that you will be able to get from implementing it.

What is Fasted Cardio?

Fasted cardio is implementing cardio exercise on a completely empty stomach.

Typically, it involves doing heavy cardio as soon as you wake up without eating anything beforehand.

The idea is that working out on an empty stomach can really maximize your body’s ability to burn fat because it is forced to dip into the body’s fat stores for energy. Therefore, it works to turn your body into a fat burning machine.

Combine this with a good diet (see some of the best here), and you’re well on your way to reaching your weight loss goals.

Whereas, if you were to eat beforehand, it would convert the food you eat into glucose for energy which keeps your body from utilizing its fat stores.

Fasted Cardio Benefits

1. Burn More Fat

a fit woman goes running

The fact is, research supports the idea that you will burn more fat when you perform cardio workouts on a completely empty stomach. In fact, studies have shown people can burn up to 20% more body fat when exercising in a fasted state in the morning [1].

When your body has the required nutrients to utilize as energy sources, it is not forced to convert fat stores into energy.

Therefore, you will be able to burn much more fat when you workout in a completely fasted state which typically means that you haven’t eaten anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on your body’s metabolism.

One of the greatest benefits of this type of exercise is not only the ability for your body to burn more fat, but also the ability to target and burn more ‘stubborn fat.’

This is typically the stored fat in the belly area that is very hard to get rid of.

If you are someone that has been working out for a long time and have yet to get rid of the fat in this area, fasted cardio is likely a good way to kick start the process of doing so.

2. Burn Fat for Energy

a guy goes for a fasted run outside

This can be a great way to prep your body for the keto diet. If you are someone that is looking to implement the keto diet, you are going to be able to get your body accustomed to burning fat for fuel by implementing this type of exercise because it will be forced to utilize fat for energy creation.

Whereas, if you were to eat beforehand, it wouldn’t necessarily need to as you would be feeding it nutrients that it could use for energy. Therefore, this can be a great addition to someone that is adhering to the keto diet or for someone that is looking to prep their body to begin following the keto diet.

Along with prepping for the keto diet, it is going to allow you to build up a greater level of endurance.

As with those that follow a fat-rich diet, this type of exercise is going to allow your body to develop the ability to sustain itself through the burning of fat for energy.

Therefore, it is going to help your body build up more endurance over time because fat burns much slower than glucose which is the body’s preferred nutrient for quick energy.

3. Avoid Gastrointestinal Distress

Another benefit that you will be able to get from implementing this type of exercise routine would be the ability to avoid having any sort of gastrointestinal distress that you might get from eating right before you workout in the morning.

This alone will make it much more likely that you experience better digestion which can also help with weight loss.

4. Cut Back on Calories

a woman burns calories while running

Another benefit that you will be able to get from implementing a fasted cardio type of routine would be the ability to reduce calorie consumption throughout the 24 hours following the fasted workout.

This was a study conducted that showed that followed this type of exercise program were able to reduce caloric consumption even following their workouts largely because it helped to increase fat oxidation.

Thus, it can have a great impact on those that are looking to lose weight [2].

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Overall, there are so many different benefits that following a fasted cardio routine can offer.

The biggest downsides come from the feelings that you are likely to experience. They are largely going to be the same negative feelings that followers of the keto-diet feel. At first, you are likely to experience being light headed and tired while working out.

As your body begins to adjust, you are likely to experience less of this. However, another downside is the fact that your body is not going to discriminate between muscle and fat when looking for energy.

Therefore, you are likely to experience greater muscle breakdown when working out in a fasted state. In fact, when you implement cardio in a fasted state, your body is likely to breakdown muscle protein at twice the rate as if you weren’t in a fasted state. You will need to tailor your exercises properly to really get the best fat burning benefits that it can offer.

Typically, if you’re not implementing intense exercise in this state, your body will opt for utilizing fat for energy. At the end of the day, you want to keep the overall intensity of your workouts at a lesser degree. However, this is one of the best ways to really lose weight if your goal is to burn fat.

Bottom Line

If you have stubborn belly fat that you have been looking to get rid of, fasted cardio is one of the best ways to target it. You simply need to be careful and diligent to not pushing yourself too hard while implementing a fasted cardio exercise routine approach.



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