Is Fasted Cardio, The Fat Burning Solution?
Fasted Cardio: people swear by it as one of the best ways to burn fat quickly. Fasted Cardio has been used by bodybuilders, celebrities, fitness trainers and ordinary people to burn their excess fat as quickly as possible for so long that people have started to believe it is the Holy Grail to losing weight. You may ask, “What is fasted cardio?” and “Is it really a great way to burn fat quickly?”
To answer the first question, fasted cardio is usually doing a cardio workout while in a fasted state. A fasted state is a state your body enters usually after you have just woken up from a night’s sleep; when your body has used up all of its glucose and insulin levels are at their lowest. At this point, your body is more reactive to using its store fats as an energy source as opposed to carbs which it would get once you eat. If you exercise while in a fasted state, your body would resort to using your fat stores as energy for fuel thus burning more fat.
Now the answer to the second question is where it gets tricky. There have been studies that have shown that people burn more fat while being in a fasted state than in a fed state during their exercise. It has been proven that high insulin levels interfere in your body’s ability to use fat as an energy source, and the presence of carbs increases insulin levels. If you eat, your body will respond to the food by increasing your insulin level and thus preventing you from using your store fats for energy. With this information, the answer to the question seems to be “yes” - it works as a great way to burn fat quickly. But as the old saying goes, “A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.”
While fasted exercise on paper seems to work, it doesn’t necessarily mean it works in practice. Many people focus on the fat burning aspect during the exercise and don’t take into consideration the other elements involved after the exercise. Here are things people fail to consider in fasted cardio:
Your body balances out the energy sources it uses.
o If your body used your fat stores as a source of energy following a fasted workout, once you’ve eaten, your body will convert the extra carbs now in your body into fat cells to be stored for later use. This equalizing is counterproductive.
o Fed high intensive exercise has a bigger after burn effect on fat than low intensity fasted exercise which results in burning fat long after you finished exercising.
While exercising in a fasted state burns fat faster it also breaks down muscle faster.
o Fat is not the only source from which your body gets energy, it also burns a bit of protein from your muscles. Fasted exercise actually breaks down twice as much protein when compared to fed exercise.
While your body breaks down fat to utilize, depending on the type of exercise it may not utilize it all.
o Low intensity workouts, such as walking, done for 45 minutes to an hour is best for the most optimized fat burning. It causes your body to use all the fat broken down as energy. The drawback is that not everyone has an hour to spend after waking up to exercise before eating when they need to get to work.
o High intensity workouts, such as HIIT workouts, may take less time and are meant to breakdown more fat cells into fatty acids. The problem is that in HIIT workouts, your body doesn’t utilize all the fats, thus causing your body to store the excess fatty acids back into your fat stores again.
Does this mean that fasted cardio doesn’t work? No. The reason you hear so much about fasted cardio is that it really does work in burning excess fats in your body. You just need to take into consideration that fasted cardio is just like any other exercise; it only works for specific situations. If you are trying to trim down a bit of stubborn fat in certain areas, fasted cardio would work. If you are trying to lose a lot of fat or are trying to build up muscles, eating before a high intensive workout would be much better. Fasted cardio would not help you drop 30 pound for the long term like fed exercise can, but it can help in trimming down on areas in your body that are hard to lose.