If you are not familiar with fasting cardio, you’re already missing out on one of the best training methods! Fasted cardio is not revered throughout the entire health and fitness world, and conflicting reports have changed the perception of this training technique.
However, many people swear by the health benefits of training in a fasted state.
For most people, fasted cardio is a useful and effective weight loss solution. To others, it is a catabolic nightmare which robs you of your hard-earned muscle.
However, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Check out the benefits of fasted cardio and potential side effects below!
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What is Fasted-State Cardio?
In its simplest form, fasted state cardio is performing a cardiovascular exercise in the morning after your night of sleep, before consuming any foods.
The “fasted” state refers to your bodies natural state upon waking up, when insulin levels and glycogen stores are at their lowest point.
The assumed benefit of training in a fasted state is that unlike other times of day, you do not need to burn through glycogen first to start burning body fat, and you can preferentially burn body fat from the minute you begin training.
If you think about the concept logically, it seems like an excellent idea.
According to the Strength and Conditioning Journal, “the theory given for this strategy is that a shift in energy utilization away from carbohydrates occurs, thereby allowing greater mobilization of stored fat for fuel.”
For people who are trying to lose any amount of weight, training in a fasted state has clear advantages.
What is the Best Form of Exercise for Fasted-State Training?
Although there is a debate about the merits of fasted cardio, the general conclusion is that low-intensity steady state cardio is the best choice of exercise for fasted cardio.
Although high-intensity interval training is the best training style for weight loss overall, it is much less effective when your body is in a fasted state. If you attempt to do HIIT while fasted, the chance of catabolism and muscle wasting is much greater.
Instead, take advantage of this time to do low-intensity steady state cardio.
For many people, a simple walk around the neighborhood in the morning works perfectly! Walking for 45 minutes or more in a fasted state is an excellent way to burn fat since the pace of your exercise is perfect.
Are There Negative Side-Effects of Fasted State Cardio?
As I said before, there are a few potential negative effects of fasted cardio.
The first issue that many people have with doing cardio in a fasted state is that you could have significantly less energy for training. However, this is not a factor if you are only doing low-intensity exercise.
One of the reasons that high-intensity interval training is not effective in a fasted state is that you will mentally, and physical fatigue before you can complete your training. If you are only doing low-intensity training such as walking or other light exercises, you won’t need to worry about this issue.
The other negative effect of fasted cardio is that there is a potential to “burn” muscle mass instead of fat, causing it to become more difficult to lose weight overall. However, this theory is not conclusive.
The type of training you do in a fasted state will ultimately determine your results!
Can You Take Supplements Before Fasted Cardio?
Technically speaking, true fasted cardio would involve eating or drinking nothing but water. However, it is not the only option.
The goal of fasted training is to train while your glycogen and insulin levels are low, so consuming supplements that “protect” your muscles but do not raise these levels is acceptable.
In my opinion, the best supplements to take before fasted cardio are Branch Chain Amino-Acids (BCAAs), L-Carnitine, and Citrulline Malate. BCAAs are especially important before fasted training because they provide a protective “bubble” around your muscles, sparing them from any muscle wasting.
You can attempt higher-intensity fasted workouts if you use these supplements before training since they will provide you with mental energy as well.
Along with these supplements, another excellent choice is to drink caffeine before your fasted training. Caffeine is useful before all your training sessions, but it can make an impressive difference if you use it before a fasted workout.
The main reasons to use caffeine before training is that it promotes focus, mental alertness, and fat oxidization. As proven through a research study produced in Medicine and Sports in Science, intaking 330mg of caffeine (through drinking coffee) promoted significantly higher amounts of fat oxidization than a control group which did not receive caffeine.
In my opinion, you should drink green tea before your workout to get the most out of fasted-state training! Green tea even has properties which induce fat oxidization more than caffeine alone, making it perfect for fasted-state cardio.
Concluding Thoughts on the Benefits of Fasted-State Cardio
Fasted cardio is one of the best tricks to lose weight easier, and I am often surprised that more people do not use it.
One of the biggest fears for many people considering fasted cardio is that they will not have enough energy to train, or that they will become light-headed during their workout from a lack of nutrition.
Although this can happen, it is unlikely unless you are doing high-intensity training.
For those of you who are nervous about ruining your muscle gains, use the supplements listed above, and you have no reason to worry! BCAAs are especially important for protecting your muscles during moderate or high-intensity interval training, and combining them with other effective supplements will power you through an awesome workout!
Fasted cardio is a very useful way for many people to lose weight, so use these tips and enjoy your workout!
Adam Kemp is a professional basketball player who recently finished his 4th year of playing basketball professionally in Europe. In 2015, Adam was selected to play for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Summer League.
Adam graduated from Marist College in 2014 with a degree in Sports Communications.