Cardiovascular exercise is an essential component of any fitness routine, offering benefits beyond just fat loss, such as improving the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. One ongoing debate is whether it’s more effective to perform cardio in a fasted state, before eating a meal, or after being fed. Advocates of fasted cardio claim that it forces the body to use excess fat storage for energy, leading to fat loss over time. On the other hand, opponents argue that the body may resort to breaking down muscle first and that eating before cardio can enhance performance and overall fat burning throughout the day.
Research on fasted cardio has yielded mixed results. Some studies suggest that fasted cardio can lead to higher fat oxidation during exercise, while others find that it may not be superior to fed cardio in terms of body composition changes. Individual responses to fasted cardio can vary; some people may experience suppressed appetite after eating before exercise, potentially reducing excess calorie intake later in the day.
When considering what type of fasted cardio to perform, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and limitations. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been popularized for fasted cardio, but recent research suggests that endurance athletes may not benefit from HIIT workouts in a fasted state. Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) training could be a better choice for those opting for fasted cardio.
Ultimately, the decision to do fasted cardio should be based on individual preferences and body responses. Performing fasted LISS cardio, such as a moderate-speed walk or a session on an elliptical or exercise bike, for increasing durations over four weeks can help gauge its effectiveness. After the trial period, assessing changes in weight and body fat will indicate whether fasted cardio is effective for the individual. Science has shown that fasted cardio can be beneficial when applied sensibly and can be incorporated into fitness programs for beginners and advanced athletes alike. It is important to avoid high-intensity fasted cardio to prevent potential muscle loss, and moderate effort levels may be more suitable for most individuals seeking to optimize fat burning and achieve their fitness goals.