In recent times, fasted cardio has gained a lot of popularity as an excellent way to lose weight faster than through normal methods. The benefit that fasted cardio has over traditional cardio is that it increases fat burn rate and improves metabolism. This is the reason why weight loss is accelerated with fasted cardio.
Before we move any further, we first need to understand what fasted cardio is. Most people are under the impression that fasted cardio is cardio done on an empty stomach. This is not true! Your body might not be in a fasted state even if your stomach is empty. For your session of cardio to count as fasted cardio, your body needs to be in a fasting state. Let us first understand what this means.
What Is A Fasting State?
To understand this, we need to know how the digestive process in our body works. Once you ingest food, it reaches your stomach and is broken down into its constituent parts by the stomach acids- for example, fat, carbohydrates, proteins etc. After this, these constituent parts are absorbed into the blood in the small intestine. At this point, your stomach would be empty. But, this is not considered a fasting state- it is merely called the post prandial state. A fasted state is when these nutrients are absorbed into the cells from the blood. This is where the hormone insulin comes in. Insulin does the job of transporting the nutrients from your blood to your cells for storage. When this is happening, your levels of insulin are elevated, and the level of elevation depends upon the composition of your meal and the amount of food you have eaten.
Once the job has been completed, the levels of insulin go back to normal, baseline levels. This is what is called the fasted state. Essentially, this means that your stomach might feel empty much before you actually achieve a fasted state- which usually takes upto two- three hours, depending on what is eaten.
It might be difficult for most people to go without eating for so long during the daytime, especially when one leaves an active life. This is why most people choose to perform fasted cardio in the early morning, possibly on a machine like an exerpeutic folding magnetic upright bike.
However, contrary to what some people believe, just attaining a fasted state does not automatically ensure that you lose weight. To lose weight, the body needs to be subject to a calorie deficit i.e., you need to ingest lesser calories than what you burn. If you don’t exercise, it is very difficult for it to achieve a calorie deficit state without being subject to chances of malnutrition.
How Is Fasted Cardio Beneficial?
Now, we need to understand how fasted cardio helps in losing weight faster. For starters, several studies have shown that people who perform fasted cardio can burn up to 20% more calories than people who take light meals up to an hour before their workouts. Obviously, the higher burn rate of calories directly translates to faster weight loss.
There are also several studies which show that performing cardio in a fasted state can lead to an increase in fat oxidation rate and lipolysis. Lipolysis is the process of fat cells breaking down to provide energy. When this energy is used by cells, it is called fat oxidation. This means that, while performing fasted cardio, your body breaks down fat cells to provide you with the energy which is used to fuel your workout. This is because the body doesn’t have any other place to acquire the energy from.
Another benefit of performing fasted cardio is that the blood flow in the abdominal region increases in the fasted state. This fact is of critical importance, especially because increased blood-flow means that more fat burning chemicals are transported to that particular area and the fat cells are broken down to energy. While performing fasted cardio, this energy can be utilized efficiently which results in loss of the stubborn fat from the abdominal area, which is perhaps the most desired area to lose fat in and provides quickly visible results.
From the information mentioned above, it is quite evident that fasted cardio is an excellent way to lose weight quickly. The effect is markedly more prominent when this is done in conjunction with a good diet through the rest of the day.
Cons of Fasted Cardio:
First and foremost, it is important to understand that fasted cardio is employed by people who wish to use weight. Performing fasted cardio will almost undoubtedly lead to loss of lean muscle since lean muscle is also burnt in the process along with fat. Hence people looking to bulk up should practice caution while employing this technique.
Another important point to consider that you will have considerably lesser energy while performing fasted cardio. This is because glucose isn’t readily available to you. Hence, your workouts will feel more sluggish and tiring. You should only perform fasted cardio if you believe that this is a fair trade- off for losing weight quickly.