Bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts are always looking for better ways to target and burn fat. Fasted cardio is one of those things that is constantly discussed. The first article that comes up when you search for fasted cardio is one from bodybuilding.com. Written by a self identified “expert”, she goes on throughout the article to say that adding fasted cardio to your routine will help you target those “stubborn” areas. Unfortunately its just another blog that is hardly supported by much science. So do you really want to know if fasted cardio results are actually beneficial to add to your workout routine?
What Is Fasted Cardio?
There isn’t really a formal fasted cardio definition. Fasted cardio refers to doing cardio in a fasted state, so in the morning when you wake up without consuming any calories and doing cardio would be considered “fasted cardio”. Just having an empty stomach doesn’t quality as a fasted state. Your generally fasting upon waking up in the morning since you haven’t consumed calories over the course of the 8 hours you slept. The theory is that in a fasted state your body burns more fat so doing fasted cardio will result in greater fat loss than if you had consumed food. Well what does all the research actually say?
A brief look at some research
The study linked above tested cyclers who were both fasted and those who consumed carbohydrates throughout the workout. The study results showed total fat oxidation was no different between the two groups but the group that ingested the carbs performed better.
This is another study that people tend to say supports the fasted cardio theory. This study showed a 22% suppression is lipolysis in the group that wasn’t fasted in a group of six cyclists they tested. Fat oxidation remained the same between the two groups until the fasted group met 80-90 minutes of cycling where just then did the fasted group actually have greater fat oxidation.
What do these two studies tell us?
I have bad news for all the supporters of fasted cardio. Although fasted cardio breaks down fat in larger amounts for energy, your body cannot use this excess energy because its too abundant. When your body has free fatty acids it cannot use for energy, it will re-esterify straight back into the adipose tissue completely negating any benefit of the break excess fat break down. So what did I just say?
Thats right, your going to break down the fat but since that fat can’t actually be used for energy your body reabsorbs it. There is another list of studies that further outline the many things that occur in your body when you do cardio in a fasted state that have no benefit. An analysis of these studies can be found at this link.
So what should I do to maximize fat loss?
One important thing that is learned about fasted cardio is the increased breakdown of fat that CAN be used for energy. Intermittent fasting uses this to its advantage and science shows this actually works. As far as cardio goes, your better off training in a non-fasted state because you can train at a higher intensity and have better overall benefits from the exercise itself. Want to challenge this article? Leave a comment and battle it out with us! Just make sure you read all of our supporting links before telling us we are wrong :=)