Doing fasted cardio as soon as you wake up in the morning must be the optimal technique for melting the remaining percentage of your body fat, right?
While the idea sounds reasonable enough, that might not be true in all cases. Separating the facts from the opinions is really important if you want to get the best results in the shortest time possible, so let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits of fasted cardio.
A lot of studies have confirmed that performing fasted cardio in the morning accelerates fat loss and a British study recently published in the “British Journal of Nutrition“ found that when the subjects performed their morning cardio with an empty stomach, they burned around 20 percent more fat than when they ate before the session. The reason for this difference is very simple – when we eat, the levels of insulin in the body increase, and fat metabolism gets suppressed by up to 22 percent.
After sleep, your fasted body has to switch to using fat for fuel to power exercise because its glycogen stores have been depleted. But here’s the catch – during sleep amino acids get broken down into glucose, meaning that your body also mobilizes more amino acids for fuel and that’s bad news for your muscle building goals.
In addition, many studies have found that fasted cardio does not increase fat burning over the 24-hour period after exercising. This makes it inferior to HIIT cardio, which stimulates the body to burn calories until the end of the day and contributes to a greater total fat loss. That means that fasted cardio doesn’t make you lose more fat overall compared to other types of cardio.
This doesn’t mean that fasted cardio doesn’t support fat loss, though. It simply means that it’s benefits are limited and it should be used carefully. In people whose goal is building maximum muscle, consuming a post-workout protein shake can easily help prevent the loss of muscle. Also, experts have noted that fasted cardio works best for people with a very low percentage of body fat in stubborn areas. Exercising with an empty tank can help melt the resistant body fat that other forms of exercise have failed to burn.
All in all, fasted cardio is not an irreplaceable fat loss tool that you can’t achieve your goals without. And it’s certainly not a magic trick. It can be very effective under certain circumstances, but its benefits are usually not very sustainable. The people who can make best use of fasted cardio are those with around 10% of body fat or less, while the others would benefit the most from having a pre-workout protein shake before their morning cardio (preferably a high-intensity program), and those whose priority is to preserve muscle mass should consider consuming some carbs too. Your style of exercise has to be supported by your diet, and vice versa.