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Fasted Cardio Results: Should You Eat First?

Jul 15, 2018

Are you wondering if fasted cardio results live up to the hype?

Fasted Cardio Results - Woman running with headphonesPeople, especially nowadays, often question whether they should “work out on an empty stomach,” or specifically, “do fasted cardio” for the best results.

As with most exercise and nutrition-related advice, there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

Opinions of researchers, fitness professionals, and gymgoers about the effectiveness of fasted cardio have been mixed.

But hopefully, after you read the pros and cons here you can decide if you are a pre- or post-fuel athlete.

Related: Fasted Cardio: To Eat or Not to Eat Before Exercise?


Fasted Cardio Results: What is Fasted Cardio?

Fasted Cardio Results - What Is Fasted Cardio?Fasted cardio is doing cardiorespiratory exercises while fasting.

A fasted state is one where your body has completely digested and absorbed its last meal/snack and the insulin levels are at a low or baseline level.

This is usually about three to four hours after a meal.

In most research studies, fasted exercise is performed in the morning before the first meal of the day.

The participants have not eaten for eight to twelve hours.

Research and analysis of fasted cardio have shown it can result in muscle retention and weight loss.

Related: Does Fasted Cardio Help Accelerate Fat Loss?


Will Fasted Cardio Help You Lose Fat?

Food provides your body with fuel for energy.

If your stomach is empty then your body must get its energy from its reserves, such as fat molecules, in order to power exercise.

So it’s logical to assume that if you don’t eat, do cardio, then you will lose weight.

But fat loss is not something you can turn on and off just by exercising.

While it doesn’t hurt the body, research has shown that fasting before exercise doesn’t do anything to make the fat loss system more efficient.

Yes, you can do fasted cardio and lose fat.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

The real question is: is fasted cardio really better for weight loss?

There are basically four factors that affect weight loss:


1. Burning calories:

Fasted Cardio Results - Burning CaloriesTo lose weight you must burn calories.

Yes, calories are being burned when you exercise fasted but the actual process of fat loss does not increase.

Lipolysis is the process of burning and breaking down of fat.

Fat oxidation is the burning of fat for fuel.

Research by the Strength and Conditioning Journal showed that fasted cardio did not increase lipolysis when compared to eating a meal before working out.

Don’t forget fat loss is directly linked to workout intensity.

When you fast and try to have a longer or more intense workout, you will tire more easily.

It’s probably better to eat a small amount of food and be able to push yourself harder.


2. Protein Breakdown:

Fasted Cardio Results - Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weightlifting Belt. You don’t want to become skinny by losing muscle mass.

Ideally, you want to keep lean muscle mass and lose fat.

This will happen if you focus on protein retention and limit protein breakdown.

But when you exercise fasted, it can result in double protein breakdown.

Some of that hard work you are doing is actually eating away at your muscle.

To fight against this muscle loss, make sure you continue to lift heavy and use our Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt for superior protection.


3. Fat Breakdown:

Research shows that if you really want to increase the fat burning process with cardio, perform it at a lower intensity.

“Low” meaning about two hours at a slow walk — and even that should be within limits.

And don’t think that can push up the intensity by doing a HIIT workout and save some time there.

When high-intensity cardio is done fasted, you break down fat faster than you can use it as energy.

When that happens, the fat goes back into your fat cells.


4. The Afterburn:

Fasted Cardio Results - loaded squatLast, but not least is EPOC, or exercise post-exercise oxygen consumption.

Your body keeps burning after you stop training.

This is a great reason to lift weights; you stop training and your body keeps the “metabolic furnace” churning.

So your body keeps working even when you have finished those heavy squats.

Eating before a workout increases your “afterburn,” as compared to a fasted state.

Many studies on a person’s state of hunger during cardio focuses solely on the burning of calories with their exercise.

This is problematic because the real benefits of exercise, particularly high-intensity cardio and lifting, come after training.

High-intensity training burns more calories and fat after a workout than low-intensity cardio.

Related: How to Get Insanely Strong


Mixed Results

Fasted Cardio Results - Running on an Empty Stomach?Some studies and articles claim that you will burn more fat during exercise if you are in a fasted state due to increased fat lipolysis and fat oxidation.

Other studies show that you will burn more fat and overall more calories 12 and 24 hours after an exercise session if you have eaten first.

Appetite actually increases after performing exercises during times of a fast.

This could lead to eating more calories later on in the day.

Related: The Results From Fasted Cardio


Fasted Cardio Results: Changing Your Body

Fasted Cardio Results - Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting BeltThe human body prefers to take the easy way out of things because it wants to conserve energy while regulating and balancing its functions.

It hates when things change.

That is why when it comes to changing your body, such as building muscle or losing fat, you have to FORCE your body to change.

Getting results takes time, patience, and perseverance, and why most people fail to stick with a program to get the body they want.

For anyone out there who is serious about changing their body, both with cardio and weightlifting, check out our Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt as a way to amplify results.

Related: How to Lose Fat Faster with Fasted Cardio


Fasted Cardio Results: Is Fasted Cardio for You?

Fasted Cardio Results - Woman with Little Body FatSome people have found that fasted cardio can work well for men with body fat in the low single digits (5-6 percent) and females with body fat in the low teens (13-14 percent).

This is noticeable if they have specific problem areas like the lower back or thighs.

This supports the idea that once people have lost most of their body fat, fasted cardio might help resistant or stubborn areas.

When there is a small amount of fat left in some areas then exercising in a fasted state could get resistant fuel cells to release stored fat to be burned for fuel.

Fasted Cardio Results - Man with Little Body Fat

If you’re like most people, don’t worry about doing cardio fasted first thing in the morning.

When doing cardio right after you wake up works best for your routine then try to at least have a pre-workout protein shake.

If your goal is to build muscle, then a protein shake and some carbs, such as fruit, before working out might be helpful.

Avoid the carbs until after you finish your workout if you’re trying to limit them.

But again, it all depends on your diet.

Related: How to Tackle Stubborn Lower Belly Fat: 6 Things to Consider


Conclusion for Fasted Cardio Results:

You can do fasted cardio, and you might even “feel” better without food moving around in your stomach while you are running.

But doing cardio while fasted will not have undeniable fat loss benefits.

Fasted cardio will most likely make no difference in helping you reach your body transformation goals.

While it might “work” for some people, scientific results say otherwise for the majority of us.