Fasted Cardio To Shred Fat Fast?
What Does The Science Say About Fasted Cardio?
There are two types of people in this world, the ones that eat breakfast before training and the ones that would rather not. The former cannot function without some kind of fuel. It makes them feel weak and lethargic but the latter prefer to train on an empty stomach. Many do fasted cardio to shred fat fast but what does the science say?
What does fasted mean?
First of all, let’s define fasted. When you go for a period of time without food, longer than 8-12 hours, your body enters a post adaptive state. This means that your food has been digested, nothing is being adsorbed by the small intestine, your blood glucose levels are stable and insulin levels are at a low baseline level.
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Fasted state vs Fed state
There is a difference between an empty stomach and fasted. To understand this, we need to know how food is digested into our body. When you eat your delicious food, it is first processed in the stomach. When the stomach has prepared the food to be digested, it separates the food into molecules such as glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. It is then, passed onto the small intestine so that these molecules can be adsorbed into the blood. Depending on the concentration of these molecules the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin which, shuttles the molecules around the body. The molecules are then either used as fuel immediately, used to build and repair tissue or they are stored. When you are in this fed state, your glycogen and therefore, your insulin levels are elevated.
When your body is in a fed state, your body will use the energy that is circulating in the blood first. Then, it will use the glycogen stored in the muscles. When this is depleted, it will start to chip away at your fat stores. In a fasted state, your body will start by taking fuel from the muscle. Once your muscle glycogen stores are depleted, your stored fat is then converted into glycogen to fuel your movement.
This is the golden ticket! Your body will go through the same fuelling process every time you do any kind of exercise. When you are fasted, you skip the first source of fuel which, is running around in your blood and you will tap into your muscle glycogen at a much earlier point.
However, the laws of thermodynamics, energy balance, state that a surplus of energy will result in increased mass. This means that even if you do complete your fasted cardio to strip away your fat but you haven’t got your diet in check and you are in an overall calorie surplus, you aren’t going to lose any weight. To lose weight and therefore, bodyfat, you need to be using more energy than you are consuming. There are many tools out there to give you a guideline around how much you should consume to maintain your bodyweight. From there, you should decrease this number by around 250-500Kcal daily to lose weight at a steady pace. This is just a guideline and different people are going to be able to tolerate more or less calories in a deficit.
Expect decreased performance
If your goal is just to lose bodyfat, fasted cardio can be a great way to lose some weight but don’t expect to be breaking records and performing at your best. If you are an athlete that competes in any shape or form, we would recommend staying away from doing any fasted training. You should be training with full intensity to mimic and prepare you for competition. If you are in a fasted state, this intensity automatically drops and your endurance falls. You will find yourself lethargic throughout weight training sessions and hit the dreaded wall much earlier during any kind of endurance or conditioning training.
Can you afford to lose your gains?
Your body will regulate its own glycogen stores without you feeding. If you don’t eat for 10-12 hours, your body will be in a fasted state. Any longer than this and your body may enter a degenerative state where, it will convert amino acids into glycogen to fuel itself. Where do these amino acids come from? Your precious muscle. All the muscle and strength that you have worked so hard to build will be used as fuel. Therefore, it is important to fuel the body regularly during periods of training.
If you are going to use fasted cardio in your training, you need to be smart. The best time of the day to perform any fasted training is going to be directly after you wake up when your glycogen is at a steady state. If you wake up fasted and spend another 6-8 hours of the day fasting, you will be almost fully depleted before you start training. Your body is going to source fuel from somewhere whether, it is protein or fat depends on the state you are in when you start training.
Be wise with your training and nutrition. Fasted cardio can be used as a tool to help you shed those last few percentage points of bodyfat but this method comes with its implications. Can you afford the decreased performance and potential atrophic consequences that are almost inevitable with fasted training?