Fasted Cardio: What are the Pros and Cons?

The idea of fasted cardio first emerged back in the 90’s, when a bodybuilder named Bill Phillips mentioned it in his book “Body-for-LIFE”. Ever since then, this idea has stuck around. So, what exactly is it and what does science have to say about it?

The theory behind fasted cardio is that when you exercise on an empty stomach your body is supposed to burn its fat storage and use that as fuel rather than using up the energy from the food you have eaten just before your workout, therefore aid in fat loss.

Sounds easy enough? Well, not exactly. There has not been supporting evidence categorically confirming the benefits of fasted cardio, and up until now the opinions seem to run the gamut of extreme conflict. We shed some light on the matter in Fasted Cardio: What are the Pros and Cons?

The Pros

1. Fasting

A study done on Muslim men working out in a fasted state during the month of Ramadan, in comparison to a control fed group showed a significant decrease in body fat percentage in the first group by 6.2%, however, the actual weight loss between the two groups was the same. Therefore, indicating the benefit fasted cardio has on fat loss rather than weight loss.

2. Puts You in a Caloric Deficit

Skipping your breakfast means that you shorten your eating window, you therefore eat less throughout the day, so, you lose weight!

3. Practicality

Some people prefer to workout first thing in the morning, or they simply don’t have the appetite to eat anything early in the day, so, for these people – fasted cardio works best.

The Cons

1. Potentially Less Energy available for Training

Many other studies claim that working out in a fed state increases the thermic effect of exercise. When you have your pre-workout snack you feel more energized and that allows you to perform better and more intensely.

2. Fat not Necessarily ‘Burned’

Even though fasted cardio DOES breakdown fat during your exercise session, it is actually questionable whether fasted cardio actually works to ‘burn’ fat. Some suggest that the broken-down fat actually does not get oxidized and eventually finds its way back to fat cells to be stored again.

3. Muscle Loss

Just like your body uses fat for fuel, it can actually target your protein that is stored in your muscles instead, therefore it may not be ideal for people who want to grow or maintain their muscle mass.

Weighing it all up

So, should you do fasted cardio? The answer is, it’s completely up to you! There’s certainly no harm in giving it a try for a month and to gauge your results by taking notes whilst doing so. There’s no definite answer science can give on whether you should do fasted cardio or not, at least not for now. However, several of our team enjoy fasted cardio and don’t eat anything from the time of waking until they have done their pranayama (breathing exercises, 30 mins), cardio (45-60 mins), and some resistance training (30-45 mins). The laudatory results on the mind, emotions, nerves, respiratory system, nervous system and muscles has proven to be excellent.

If you decide to give it a try, make sure to start slowly, and to stop whenever you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Remember: it may not be for you. It’s completely fine if it isn’t! Have you ever tried fasted cardio before? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer Dawson is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in food and nutrition. Working in fitness marketing previously gave her a good feel for the industry and since going freelance she has been able to explore her preferred topic areas such as diet types, nutrition and food. Outside of work, Jen enjoys traveling, swimming and spending time with her young family.

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