Is Fasted Cardio on the Rise This Coming Year?

Category: Health  

Getting to the gym early can be a difficult task for some and second nature to others. If you struggle to have enough time to wake up, let alone eat, before getting to your early morning workout you’ve likely, unintentionally, taken part in a new-ish form of exercise – Fasted Cardio.

This form of exercise is becoming a hot topic in the fitness and nutrition worlds and those that partake are claiming some significant benefits as a result. This isn’t to be confused with intermittent fasting, but certainly can be a part of that process. For some it looks like hitting the gym early before breakfast and having a meal after while others may go later in the day after they’ve allowed their glycogen stores to deplete.

How Does Fasted Cardio Work?

In short, fasted cardio describes exercise which is done in a fasted state. The fasted state begins when the body is done processing and digesting food. It typically takes between 6 to 8 hours, depending on individual metabolism, for the body to enter a fasted state.*

Because it can be done 6 to 8 hours post-food for some they can wake up and eat and workout around lunchtime once the body is done digesting their breakfast. For most it is simply hitting the gym in the morning before breakfast.

When the body is at rest, meaning not even digestion is occurring, blood insulin levels will begin to drop. This primarily takes place during the night while we are asleep, but can occur in a fasted state during the day. When insulin levels drop, the body begins to turn to fat stores for energy rather than carbohydrates.

This process is thought to be an ideal time for exercise since the body is already in a heightened state of fat burning. We typically draw from our glycogen stores (stored carbs) for fueling our workouts, but when this isn’t an option the we turn to fat instead.

What Are The Benefits of Fasted Cardio?

As with any health trend there are those who get on board and those that are skeptical, both are legitimate and have their place in health. When it comes to fasted cardio it is one of those things you just have to try and see if it works for you. Of those that have used this form of exercise or recommend it as trainers, there are some common health benefits they each claim.

Here is a tip! Don't forget to hydrate before, during, and after a workout!

Increased Energy – This benefit primarily takes place during workouts. Those who partake in fasted cardio claim their workouts are more efficient and feel more effective. The idea is that they have less in their gut being processed and weighing them down.*

Fat Burning – The body may be forced to rely on stored fuel, fat, when there is a lack of calories from a recent meal. This may lead to a weight loss as a result of higher fat burning benefits.*

Muscle Building – While fasted cardio does not directly increase muscle mass, it is important to note it doesn’t decrease muscle, which is a common concern for some considering fasted cardio. The thought is that the body may turn to stored protein, rather than fat, which may breakdown muscle. However, it may more efficient for the body to draw upon stored fat and as long as calories are replaced post-workout with lean protein sources the muscles may be able to be repaired.*

Do not forget to listen to your body.

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Final Thoughts

Fasted cardio is on the rise and the benefits are getting attention of health enthusiasts. It is not to be confused with intermittent fasting, but can certainly be added to an intermittent fasting regimen.

Fasted cardio is one of those health trends that is a great addition if it fits into your lifestyle, but if it doesn’t then any form of exercise is ideal. If you aren’t able to take part in fasted cardio you should still attempt physical activity if you are healthy enough to do so.

It is recommended not to exceed 60 minutes of cardio if you are in a fasted state. Hydration is vital, a fasted state doesn’t mean you should be dehydrated. As always, before beginning any new exercise or diet routine it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure you are healthy enough to add it to your health routine. We’ve heard more regarding this form of exercise towards the end of 2019, but it looks like it will continue in growth through 2020.