All cardio has benefits for you but if you want to get a bit of an edge in burning fat, fasted cardio combined with a good diet can be an important part of your fitness equation.
What is Fasted Cardio?
To be clear fasted cardio is not simply cardio done on an “empty stomach”. People can perceive their stomach to feel empty an hour after they eat, however their meal is still being digested and therefore they are still in a “fed” state. A fasted state doesn’t occur until at least 3 hours after eating.
What are the benefits?
As I said before, any exercise you do helps you create that calorie deficit. But doing cardio in a fasted state can help break down stored fat cells for energy instead of the normal source, carbs. And the good news is that fasted cardio increases blood flow within the abdominal region, and that blood flow promotes the burning of fat in that region. Buh-bye belly fat. 👋🏼
Many people who workout in a fasted state also say they have more focus and mental clarity. This is something I notice myself though, everyone is different.
What are the downfalls?
Like everything fitness related, fasted cardio is not a cure all, fix all solution and should be used as part of a well rounded routine.
The first thing to be cautious of is muscle break down. The effects won’t be dramatic but can make the muscle building process slower. So make sure to continue your strength training routine in order to reveal toned muscles and shape.
The second thing to caution is that exercising on an empty stomach can make you feel fatigued quicker. I don’t recommend doing an extremely tough or long workout in a fasted state– especially not at first. Start with a walk or jog and see how you feel and go from there. Just as I mentioned before, some people find more focus when they’re fasted but many people also feel the opposite. Keep realistic expectations for these workouts and see which side you fall on.
How can you get more from fasted cardio?
The answer to this question also applies to any kind of cardio– HIIT it. High Intensity Interval Training has so many fat burning benefits and they can be intensified in a fasted state.
HIIT boosts metabolism for up to 24 hours after the workout, increases your muscles ability to break down fat for energy, and causes chemical spikes and decreases which work together to promote more fat burn.
Not to mention, doing a very short (but still very intense) workout does not impair muscle growth nearly as much as a long, steady cardio session so you’ll be able to keep growing those muscles as you reveal them.
When you do HIIT, you can sprint, cycle, or do body weight exercises for a short period (usually 20-45 seconds). During the work period, you should be going all out to the point of very heavy breathing and high heart rate. Then for a short period (30-60) seconds you should be trying to recover your breath and preparing for the next interval. Repeat this anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your own ability.
As always, do what’s right for you. There’s no fix all solution, but fasted cardio can be a key player in your fitness equation- especially if you are struggling with stubborn belly fat. Remember to start easy to avoid extreme fatigue.
You can always reach out to me with any questions you may have! And if you want some help setting up a program, email me at email@example.com and I can come up with a customized plan for you!