If one of your goals is to lose weight, then you probably know you need to make some tweaks to your diet and exercise routines. Cardio is one of the top exercises that people choose to try and lose weight. When running, biking, or swimming for a cardio exercise you are essentially getting your heart rate up into the upper zones – which correlates with burning more calories. This can be varied with intensity levels, how long your workouts are (within your target heart rate zones), and if you’re doing exercises that work the whole body, such as cross-country skiing.
For the most part, guidelines have been clear as to what to eat before you work out. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and lower in fats tend to be the best to eat about an hour before doing cardio exercise since this helps bring the energy needed to the muscles being utilized.
What Is Fasted Cardio
However, one of the newest fads that you might be familiar with within the arena of health and wellness is something called fasted cardio; this type of cardio is basically done on an empty stomach. Think of it this way, if you go to bed around 10 pm and wake up at 6 am, then go and immediately hop on the treadmill before eating breakfast, you’re doing fasted cardio. You can still have fluids during this time, water is extremely important at any time of day, but especially while you’re working out. The overarching theory here is that your body will use its stored fat in order to get the fuel needed to push you through your workout – and therefore quickly getting you a lean and toned body.
Does Fasted Aerobic Exercise Actually Work
Is fasted cardio effective though? Celebrities and popular gym-goers alike would have us think yes, with popular social media posts and trim bodies. However, science cannot back up this theory for being the best way to burn calories and fat. In fact, one study from 2017 showed trivial amounts of change between those that participated in fasted cardio versus those who didn’t. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of scientific research out there, but what’s out there now doesn’t seem to point in a direction showing massive changes in body composition while using this modality.
One particular study from 2018 even found that eating something before exercising helped the participants to workout longer than they would have if they were fasting. With some participants displaying some minimal benefits to one’s metabolic system when not having a pre-workout snack. Even so, this doesn’t lead to convincing information that would put fasted cardio in the fast track of weight loss and fat burning.
Are There Downsides To Fasted Cardio
Are there any legitimate downsides to fasted cardio? There certainly can be, especially if you’re training for a long race or are aiming to complete an intense workout. Having the extra energy stores from a pre-workout snack can help fuel you through your workouts, so a decrease in performance is certainly something to be aware of if you’re attempting fasted cardio.
Still, if you’re wanting to try fasted cardio for yourself to see how you do, just know that you might not feel amazing the first few times you try it. Especially since your body is probably used to burning off fuel that you’ve recently consumed. Don’t be surprised if after a few sessions if you don’t end up with a majorly toned body – after all, this type of cardio isn’t necessarily going to lead to quick results.
All in all, keep track of your performance and how you feel. Whether you’re running on a treadmill, busting out moves in a Zumba class, or preparing for a bike race, base your choice of fasted cardio versus regular cardio (with a nutrient-dense snack or meal beforehand) on the goals that you have set for yourself.