In my opinion, fasted cardio is one of the best methods for fat loss, and I personally do fasted cardio workouts almost every day. My daily routine begins with fasted yoga and usually a fasted walk, although I occasionally do fasted strength training as well.
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?
There are tons of workout programs and types of exercise that burn fat, but my favorite is fasted cardio.
Fasted exercise is the concept of training in a “fasted” state, which usually occurs directly after the overnight-fasting window of at least eight hours or more (Aird et al., 2018).
Even though there are mixed opinions on the benefits of training before you eat in the morning, I strongly believe in this workout concept, and, I recommend it to just about everyone I talk to about fitness and 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. However, 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 caves 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 intermittent fasting first, since 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 performs a chemical reaction called lipolysis (fatty acid and glycerol release into the blood) at an improved rate.
Whether you are new to intermittent fasting and fasted cardio or not, one of the best suggestions I can make for you is to utilize the DoFasting Intermittent Fasting App. The DoFasting App is great because it helps you monitor your “fasted” and “fed” time, while also helping you develop a personalized approach to intermittent fasting and fasted cardio workouts.
Is Fasted Cardio Good for Weight Loss?
Although pre-exercise nutrition is a critical component of athletic performance and augments exercise performance, fasted exercise can promote several unique metabolic adaptations and can play a unique role in weight management.
Research indicates that fasted-state exercise increases post-exercise circulating free fatty acids (FFAs), and pre-exercise feeding blunts signaling in muscle and adipose tissue, such as mitochondrial adaptations. The consumption of carbohydrates before exercise promotes carbohydrate oxidation as a fuel source, while fasted-state exercise increases the utilization of fat as a fuel source, has demonstrated the ability to improve plasma lipid profiles, and can reduce energy intake throughout a day (Wallis & Gonzalez, 2019).
Fasted state exercising has also demonstrated improvements in insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects, which could play an important role for individuals with type 2 diabetes (Hansen et al., 2016). Furthermore, fasted-state exercise promotes increased amounts of circulating noradrenaline, an important catecholamine for inducing lipolysis, and growth hormone. Although fasted-state exercise should be investigated further for safety in individuals with pre-existing health problems, it offers a variety of benefits as an exercise option for weight management.
Fasting Walking – Is it the Best Form of Fasted Cardio for Fat Loss?
The most common form of morning fasted cardio is walking because it is simple and effective. Additionally, it is probably the best form of fasted cardio for fat loss as well!
According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity on the effects of brisk walking in the fasted versus fed state pertaining to metabolic responses, gastrointestinal function, and appetite in healthy men,
“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.”
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
- Improve Your Libido
- Strengthen the Bones
- Improve Cardiovascular Health and Fitness
Furthermore, during light physical activity (20-40% of VO2 Max), fatty acids are utilized by the body as the primary fuel source.
For these reasons, I believe fasted walking is the best form of fasted cardio for fat loss!
Is Fasted Weight Training Beneficial?
There is certainly still a debate about the benefits of fasted workouts, and even more so about doing fasted weight training.
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 love to do fasted weight 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 weight 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.”
Fasted weight training has helped me remain at 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.
Additional Benefits of Morning Fasted Cardio
Along with the benefits of morning fasted cardio for fat loss that I have mentioned above, there are additional benefits I have not spoken about. These benefits pertain not only to the fact that you are doing fasted cardio but additionally to the fact that you will be training in the morning.
Here are some additional benefits of morning fasted cardio:
You Can Train with a Clear Mind
To me, the greatest benefit of morning fasted cardio is that you don’t feel the stress of your day yet. If you are always waiting until the afternoon or nighttime to train there is a great chance you end up skipping more workouts than you should.
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!
Morning Training Helps with Regulating Your Appetite
Not only do morning workouts help you increase your metabolism for the entire day, but they also strongly help regulate your appetite and build overall healthy eating habits.
According to a review of various studies on the effects of exercise in the morning or evening on energy consumption and appetite,
“the authors found a greater level of satiety in response to the morning session, suggesting once more the potential beneficial effect of exercising during the morning when it comes to the control of appetite and energy intake”
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.
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.
Similar to those who work in the military, the disciplinary techniques that military members learn through their training carry through their entire lives. By simply beginning a morning exercise routine, 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 by 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 increase your metabolism for the entire day, giving you maximum time to burn calories.
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 more effectively, training in the morning is ideal!
Can You Drink Tea or Coffee Before Fasted Cardio?
Drinking tea or coffee before fasted cardio is a great way to increase lipolysis without “breaking your fast.” However, you must drink your tea or coffee without any additional sugar, milk, or other sweeteners. Even bulletproof coffee, which does not contain a significant amount of carbohydrates can break your fast.
A few of my favorite types of tea to drink while fasting includes:
Drinking coffee before fasted cardio might be even more valuable than anything else because it 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 autophagy.”
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 healthy carbohydrates respectively.
Regardless of whether you are eating after fasted cardio or not, this is my recommended diet strategy for losing weight.
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 nearly 10 years now, and I will not look back.
I believe many other people will benefit from this training method as much as I have!
Don’t forget to checkout the DoFasting App because I am confident it can help you with planning your intermittent fasting schedule and making the most out of your fasted cardio workouts!
There are numerous other health benefits of fasting in general, and they are amplified by proper fasted training.
If you add this into your weekly routine, you will quickly see how beneficial fasted training is!