19 Mar Is Fasted Cardio Best For Fat Loss?
What is Fasted Cardio?
Many people think “fasted” means your stomach is empty, which is true, but it has more to do with how your body processes the foods you eat. Food is broken down into various nutrients that get absorbed into your cells and blood. As your food is broken down, insulin is also released as a means to transport these nutrients to various parts of the body. Depending on the size of your meal, your insulin levels can you remain elevated from any where from three to six hours. During that time, your body is in a “fed” state as your body works to break down and absorb the nutrients from the food you just ate. Once this is over, your body then enters back into the “fasted” state.
In addition, the presence of Insulin actually prevents the breakdown of fatty acids, so the higher the insulin levels in your body, the less fat will be used for energy and thus stored. This does make sense, because why would your body use stored fat for energy when it can use recently ingested quick carbs for fuel? So basically, when you ingest food, your body shuts down it’s fat burning factory and utilizes the food you just consumed for energy. Anything not utilized is stored for later.
When to Utilize Fasted Cardio?
First things first, without the proper the diet, fasted cardio won’t help you lose fat any faster.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to, calories in, must be less than calories out.
If you’re trying to build muscle, HIIT is your best bet:
As you sleep and fast overnight your body tries to preserve it carbs stores and leans towards using fat for fuel. However, your body will also break down amino acids into glucose overnight. Thus, fasted morning cardio will likely use fat AND amino acid stores, which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to gain muscle mass. However, the affects CAN be mitigated by ingesting some fast-digesting protein immediately following fasted cardio.
For those of you claiming to be “bulking”, this isn’t a free pass to become a sloth! HIIT Training can be as effective, if not more so than weight training. Both heavy resistance training and high intensity aerobic workouts, increase insulin sensitivity, which shuttles glucose into the muscle, and fueling protein synthesis. However, these levels of protein synthesis will decrease quickly after intense workouts. So if you are training hard for three days at a time with zero cardio, you may try adding in a 20 minute HIIT session on your “off” days. Your body will have higher insulin responses and higher levels of protein synthesis.
Those who have a low percentage of body fat to lose:
For men with body fat in the 5-6% range and women in the 13-14% range, fasted cardio can be a great tool to ignite fat loss in problem areas. So once people have dropped the majority of their body fat, fasted cardio can work to break down specific problem areas as it seems to ignite these resistant fat cells to release stored fat and burn it for fuel.
That being said, if your body fat percentage is higher than these amounts, fasted cardio probably won’t make much of a dent in your fat loss goals.
“Stubborn Fat – How to Get Rid of It”
Ladies – this is most likely your butt, thighs and hip areas. They are usually the last places to let go of fat.
Men – for you, you tend to hold fat in your belly and lower back areas.
But why? Your body utilizes certain chemicals (catecholamines) to convert fat cells to energy.
These chemicals attach themselves to your fat cells to release the stored energy and thus burn them off. There are two types of receptors within fat cells – alpha and beta. Betas speed up fat burning and alphas hinder it.
So the more beta receptors a fat cell, the easier it is to burn, vs the more alpha receptors a fat cell has, the harder it is to burn. So those stubborn fat areas – yep, they have more alpha receptors.
So for me personally, I have noticed much more fat loss with fasted cardio after I have already leaned out quite a bit through a caloric deficit, heavy lifts, and HIIT cardio. The fasted cardio helps me to target my stubborn areas quicker, which are usually the last to go.
What Kind of Cardio Should I Do?
As some of you may know, keeping to shorter cardio sessions will help to preserve muscle and strength. Especially when it comes to fasted cardio, your muscle can look to amino acid stores for fuel, so the longer your train fasted, the more muscle you risk losing.
For this reason, I recommend shorter sessions of HIIT cardio. But you say, HIIT cardio burns less fat and more stored glycogen (carbs). And yes that is true; as cardio intensity increases, the rate of fat burning decreases as your body looks to quicker stores for energy (carbs).
Studies have also been shown that by performing high intensity interval cardio sessions, your muscles actually become accustomed to burning less carb stores and more fat stores. So by adding in HIIT to your weekly routine, you can actually increase the amount of fats you are able to burn.
Furthermore, EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) of HIIT is way higher than with LISS (low intensity steady state cardio). So the amount of calories burned + the “afterburn” effect actually burns more than longer durations of LISS. Studies have also shown that HIIT is good for torching belly fat over time.
Supplements to Take:
BCAAS are great take intra and post workout to supply your muscles with constant fuel. This way, you are protecting your muscles from being utilized for fuel.
Protein powder supplements are another fast absorbing protein that can be ingested immediately post workout to fuel your muscles and prevent further breakdown.
There is so much conflicting information regarding fasted and fed cardio, so proceed with caution. If your current routine is not getting you to your goals, then you might consider changing it up. However, I suggest first looking at your diet before becoming slave to the treadmill.
In the case of cardio, less is more. The more cardio you do, the more your body becomes accustomed to it. If you continuously do 200 minutes of cardio, a week, you may find yourself having to do 300+ minutes just to get your body to respond! Cardio should always be used as a tool after diet is dialed in. The best recipes for sustained results is a combination of proper diet, resistance training, and in my opinion, HIIT training. If it doesn’t challenge you, it certainly won’t change you!