What is Fasted Cardio & The Best Fasted Cardio Workouts

morning fasted cardio benefits

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Fasted cardio is one of the best methods for fat loss, and I personally do fasted cardio workouts every day. To be honest, I cannot remember the last day I didn’t do a fasted workout in the morning! My daily routine begins with fasted yoga and usually a fasted walk, although I occasionally do fasted strength training as well.

Personally, I began to understand the benefits of fasted cardio while I was in college. Not only did I learn to love the psychological feeling of fasted training, but it helped my body stay athletic and lean even without having the best food choices around me.

Now that I am playing basketball professionally, I still love fasted workouts in the morning!

Fasted cardio is excellent for fat loss, but in my opinion, it is excellent for building muscle as well. If you are trying to develop a truly aesthetic body, I am a firm believer in fasted cardio.

Want to know more about this enigmatic training strategy?

Keep reading below!

What is Fasted Cardio?

intermittent fasting cardio benefits

There are tons of workout programs and types of exercise that burn fat, but my favorite is fasted cardio.

Even though there are mixed opinions on the benefits of training before you eat in the morning, I strongly believe in this concept. To be honest, I recommend it to just about everyone I talk to about training or health.

The effectiveness of this training method is greatly determined by the type of workouts you are doing, and how well you understand the goals of fasted cardio.

From my perspective, fasted cardio is effective because it is natural for the human body to do!

I understand most of you are probably wondering about this, since you have been waking up and directly eating breakfast your whole life.

Most of you probably remember the nutritional campaigns from elementary and middle school that taught us the benefit of the “three meals per day” diet.

Well, most of that was completely useless.

Better yet, most of what they taught us is terrible for our bodies!

The human body was not designed to continuously eat throughout the day, which is why eating meals all day long often will make people feel heavy and sluggish.

Think about it- did original humans in cave have time to sit and eat bagels and waffles each morning?

I understand that we have advanced as a civilization past that point, but the concept remains the same.

The human body operates more efficiently when it is eating less often.

Science has proven it, and you will notice it too.

Intermittent Fasting – The Basis of Fasted Cardio Workouts

If you want to understand the benefits of fasted cardio, you need to understand the benefits of fasting first. The concept of intermittent fasting plays an integral role in the effectiveness of fasted cardio.

Intermittent fasting is also commonly referred to as “Time-Restricted Feeding.” Although some people still debate whether or not intermittent fasting is healthy, the research points to many health benefits of this diet strategy.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine,

“Preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders.”

Furthermore, according to a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine,

“Our results suggest that an intermittent fasting program in which all calories are consumed in an 8-h window each day, in conjunction with resistance training, could improve some health-related biomarkers, decrease fat mass, and maintain muscle mass in resistance-trained males.”

This study demonstrated that with intermittent fasting, it is even possible to lose fat and keep muscle!

To properly do intermittent fasting, you want to eat a regular amount of calories (potentially even more) during a small window of hours, and “fast” during the others.

Instead of eating for a 12-14 hour period of the day (i.e., 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.), you will restrict your eating to an 8 hour window, and “fast” for 16 hours.

While your body is “fasted,” your body releases a chemical reaction called lipolysis (fatty acid and glycerol release into blood) at an improved rate.

Over time, this increases even more!

Although some people argue that you should drink only water during your “fasted” time, I personally drink either coffee or tea during intermittent fasting. A few of my favorite types of tea to drink while fasting include:

The caffeine from tea or coffee further stimulates lipolysis, making your fasted cardio workout even more effective!

Drinking coffee before fasted cardio might be even more valuable than anything else because it possibly can induce autophagy- a process where your body removes dead cells and refreshes itself. According to a study published in Cell Cycle,

“Altogether, these results indicate that coffee triggers 2 phenomena that are also induced by nutrient depletion, namely a reduction of protein acetylation coupled to an increase in autophagy. We speculate that polyphenols contained in coffee promote health by stimulating autophay.”

Benefits of Fasted State Walking

The most common form of morning fasted cardio is walking because it is simple and effective.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity,

“These findings suggest that gastrointestinal function, hunger and appetite regulatory hormones are not sensitive to low-intensity bouts of physical activity and holds positive implications for weight management practices.”

Personally, I prefer to do fasted strength training as well.  I will talk more about that below, but many people do not enjoy fasted strength training.

Regardless, a daily walking routine is one of the best habits you can ever develop.

No matter your level of physical fitness, walking is an excellent exercise!

Walking is a low-intensity exercise that helps to improve your body’s cardiovascular fitness, maintain healthy body weight, and de-stress from the world around you.

Along with this, other benefits of walking in a fasted state include:

  • Reduces Stress and Helps You Clear Your Mind
  • Increase Fat Burning Potential
  • Improve Your Libido
  • Strengthen the Bones
  • Improve Cardiovascular Health and Fitness

If you are thinking to begin a morning fasted cardio training routine, I highly suggest you start off with simple walking in the morning.

After you get used to this for a few weeks, you can add in another type of fasted training.

Morning Fasted Strength Training Benefits

There is a debate about the merits of fasted state training, and even more so about doing weight lifting while in a “fasted” state.

Personally, I have always loved to do strength training while still in my fast.

I will even do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or anaerobic conditioning drills while fasted as well!

I’ll be honest; it wasn’t easy at first.

Like I said before, get used to doing simple fasted walking before you move on to anything more intense.

I love to do fasted strength training because I feel that I have more energy and a clearer mind during this time. I rarely do strength training after my first meal of the day anymore, and it has worked extremely well for me!

Although I occasionally do HIIT workouts while in a fasted state, I prefer to do “powerlifting” style training.

My favorite strength training routines are German Volume Training and the “Stronglifts” 5×5 program.

One of the concerns that people have about strength training while in a fasted state is that they will either not build as much muscle, or they will lose muscle.

Since I am a basketball player and not a bodybuilder, I was never concerned about this. However, research shows that it will probably not affect your gains, or could even increase your ability to build muscle!

According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,

“Hypertrophic training in a fasted or in a fed state during Ramadan does not affect body mass and body composition of bodybuilders.”

Furthermore, according to a study published in The Journal of Physiology,

“This study for the first time shows that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole‐body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper‐caloric fat‐rich diet.”

Strength training before my first meal of the morning has helped me remain at a low body fat, while also putting on muscle consistently for years.

Over time, your body will adapt as mine has and you will be much more accustomed to training before eating in the morning.

Check out these additional benefits of training in the morning in a “fasted” state.

You Can Train with a Clear Mind

To me, the greatest benefit of training in the early morning is that you don’t feel the stress of your day yet. If you are always waiting until nighttime to train there is a great chance you end up skipping more workouts than you should.

Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, or become healthier overall; choosing the early hours for your workout time is a great idea.

You will have fewer distractions during those hours, and you will train in your own world! Especially if you train almost immediately after waking up, there is usually far-less going on in your life at this time of day.

Often, it is inevitable that you will have a jam-packed schedule during the later hours, hindering you from having time for your workout.  Skipping workouts is not the end of the world if you are consistent with a healthy lifestyle, but minimizing the risk of missing a workout is still a better decision.

If we have a stressful day or we are frustrated with how our day is going, there is a good chance we will prefer to head home after work instead of to the gym.

If you begin a routine of waking up in the morning to train, you are going to love the feeling of working out with nothing on your mind! Morning workouts are often far more productive because your mind is clear of negative thoughts, and your focus is solely on your workout!

When You Train in the Morning, Your Hormones Work to Your Advantage

Some people know this already, but your bodies hormonal levels are the most stable directly after you wake up in the morning. As the day goes on and you eat and drink, and the sun begins to fade, your hormonal levels begin to change.

One of the main reasons to train in the morning is that crucial hormones that aid in building mass muscle rise as you are waking up. As you are sleeping, your body secretes growth hormone which helps repair and regenerates your body.

When you wake up, your body is fresh and ready for training!

Although you might assume you’ll be lethargic training in the morning, your bodies natural inclinations say otherwise!

Morning Training Helps with Regulating Your Appetite

Not only does training in the morning help you increase your metabolism for the entire day, but it also strongly helps regulate your appetite and build overall healthy eating habits.

Training in the morning has an incredible effect on preventing sugar cravings and will stimulate your mind to be conscious of your eating habits. For those people who are looking to put on muscle, training in the morning will stimulate your metabolism and send hunger signals earlier in the day.

Whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle, exercising in the morning is a helpful decision!

Exercising in the Morning Helps to Increase Your Focus for the Day

One of the more immediately noticeable effects of beginning a morning exercise routine is the improvement in your focus not only while you are training, but for the rest of your day as well.  After you finish your early morning workout, there is a great chance you will feel proud, accomplished, and ready to take on any additional challenges in your day.

Instead of spending all day dreading a workout you are going to force yourself to do in the evening, you will know you improved your body and your health throughout your whole day!

With such a big accomplishment out of the way early in the morning, you are now free to focus on the rest of your life aptly.

Working out in the morning is also stimulating for your brain, far more so than a cup of coffee. Your brain will be alert from the moment your workout finished, and any other daily activities will become much more doable.

If you have trouble focusing throughout your day, doing a workout early in the morning is a great idea to improve your issue!

Training in the Morning Can Help Improve Your Discipline

The fact of the matter is, it is difficult to wake up early in the morning to train intensely. To be honest, it is difficult to wake up early in the morning for any reason.

Similarly to those who work in the military, the disciplinary techniques that military members learn through their training carry through their entire lives.  By simply scheduling early morning workouts and completing them, you will become more disciplined in all areas of your life.

Waking up and exercising when you feel “tired” might seem unnecessary, but I promise you will be shocked with how much better you become at completing daily tasks afterward!

Boost Your Metabolism for the Whole Day with Morning Workouts

Training in the morning can rev up your metabolism for the entire day, giving you maximum time to burn calories.  An intense workout in the morning will increase your metabolism for the entire day, creating a furnace like effect.

As your day wears on, your body will continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate. If you are on a cutting cycle and looking to burn fat without losing muscle mass, morning workouts are the way to go!

Especially for those people who are looking for a solution to lose weight easier, training in the morning is ideal!

What to Eat After Fasted Cardio?

Eating after an intense morning of fasted strength training is one of my favorite activities of all time.

Honestly, you can eat anything.

If you are starting with fasted cardio because you are looking to burn fat and lose weight, you still want to be conscious about making healthy choices.

For those people who are using fasted cardio to lose weight, I suggest you look to eat a caloric ratio of 40:40:20 between proteins, healthy dietary fats, and carbohydrates respectively.

Regardless of whether you are eating after fasted cardio or not, this is my recommended diet strategy for losing weight.

If you still have goals of building muscle, and maybe have even dabbled in fasted strength training with the hope of building muscle, you are going to need a lot of simple sugars after your weight training session.

Personally, I prefer donuts.

The key is that you want to first consume a lot of high-quality protein, such as hemp protein or eggs.

After that, you can load up on the best carbohydrates.

If you crave a certain sweet or “junk food,” now is the time to eat it!

Don’t save your bad foods for the middle of your day or before bed, if you eat them after your fasted strength training your body processes them much easier!

Regardless of your goals, the key nutrient during this time is protein.

Load your body up on protein, and then balance out the other macronutrients based off of your own goal.

Fasted Cardio for Fat Loss – Concluding Thoughts

If you couldn’t tell already, I love fasted cardio.

I love fasted cardio for fat loss, and I love it for building muscle as well.

I have been integrating fasted state workouts and intermittent fasting in my life for over 6 years now, and I will not look back.

I believe many other people will benefit from this training method as much as I have!

If you would like to locally target fat on specific areas of your body, one of my best tips is to combine fasted cardio with spot-reduction techniques such as coolsculpting at home.

If you have certain parts of your body which are holding more fat than others, this is an excellent way to target those areas!

There are numerous other health benefits of fasting in general, and they are amplified by proper fasted training.

If you add this in to your weekly routine, you will quickly see how beneficial fasted training is!

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