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The Bottom Line on Fasted Cardio: Is it Right for You?

Updated: Jul 2, 2023


Light brown-skinned woman is in grey cropped leggings with matching sports bra and bright yellow sneakers is running up stadium stairs skipping steps. She's holding a water bottle and has her hair tied back in a pony tail. She appears to be in her late teens or early to mid-twenties.

Diving into the world of fitness often throws up many questions, and one hotly debated topic is fasted cardio. Does it indeed help burn more fat? Let's unpack this for you.


Fasted cardio is the practice of engaging in cardiovascular workouts on an empty stomach, typically before breakfast.


The theory behind this approach is that after fasting all night, your body's glycogen stores are low, prompting your body to use stored fat as its primary energy source during your workout.

But what does science say about fasted cardio and its potential to boost fat burning?


Well, the verdict isn't as straightforward as you'd think. Some studies have observed that fasted cardio can effectively aid in fat loss, whereas others report no significant difference in overall fat reduction.


Research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology discovered that fasted cardio led to more fat burn as compared to fed cardio, particularly in overweight males. Another study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research noted fasted cardio's efficiency in reducing body fat percentage, especially in women. However, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported an opposite finding, stating that fasted cardio did not result in more significant fat loss in obese women compared to fed cardio.


We must also bear in mind that fasted cardio isn't a universal solution. A study in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed increased cortisol levels (a stress hormone) during fasting, potentially causing muscle breakdown. This is an essential consideration for those striving to maintain or increase muscle mass.


In conclusion, while some research suggests that fasted cardio can aid in fat burning, it is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution.


Achieving optimal results requires pairing a balanced diet with a consistent workout regimen, which can include either fasted or fed cardio, based on individual preference.

It's important to remember that starting fasted cardio can be challenging, especially if you're new to it. Hence, if you plan to embark on this fitness journey, begin slowly and steadily increase your pace.


Ultimately, there is no magical shortcut to fat loss. It takes a combination of consistency, determination, and a workout strategy tailored to your body's needs. The debate over the efficacy of fasted cardio in burning more fat is ongoing and may likely continue in the foreseeable future. However, personal factors and objectives should dictate your decision to incorporate fasted cardio into your routine or not.

 

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