What Is Fasted Cardio…and Is It a Waste of Time?

Fasted Cardio Merits

Fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders attempt to lose fat through various means. Some focus exclusively on diet, some use a combination of cardio and diet and some try to lose body fat through exercise alone. One method that has been purported to produce satisfactory results is fasted cardio. Of course, as with any method of fat loss, this method has its critics and advocates. This article will discuss fasted cardio and tell you if it’s a viable method for fat loss or a waste of time.

Fasted cardio is popular with many bodybuilders, but you must decide for yourself whether it is right for you.

Fasted cardio is popular with many bodybuilders, but you must decide for yourself whether it is right for you.

What is Fasted Cardio?

When someone performs fasted cardio, they perform cardio exercises after a long period of going without food. Most who perform fasted cardio do so the first thing in the morning before having breakfast. There have been studies that have shown that doing fasted cardio can burn up to 20 percent more fat than other forms of cardio. While this seems like a great reason to do fasted cardio, the effects only come when low-intensity cardio activity is done for a long period of time.

If you have an hour or more to perform a low-intensity cardio exercise in the morning, you may be able to get some benefit from fasted cardio, but the effects will not last. There are many more reasons not to do fasted cardio than to do it. Fasted cardio will promote the breakdown of protein, burn fewer calories while you are exercising and after exercise, and fat breakdown will not be used for energy.

Fasted Cardio Breaks Down Protein

One of the biggest disadvantages of fasted cardio, especially for bodybuilders, is that it breaks down protein. Protein can be broken down in all forms of cardio, but it is accelerated during fasted cardio. Studies have shown that fasted cardio doubles the rate at which protein is broken down. This makes it perhaps one of the worst ways to burn fat for bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts.

Burn Less Calories with Fasted Cardio

It’s no secret that in order to lose body fat you have to burn calories. In order to burn the most calories possible, you need to have the energy to do so. Exercising in a fasted state means that you have less energy to burn calories. You will exercise at a low-intensity, use more time and burn fewer calories than you would in other forms of cardio. Another thing to consider is that fat loss (not just weight loss) is directly related to the intensity of the exercise. The less intense the exercise, the less fat you will burn.

[bctt tweet=”‘If you have your heart set on performing fasted cardio, by all means do it.'”]

Burn Less Calories After Exercise

Fasted cardio has limited benefits because there is no after effect. Many cardio exercises like HIIT (high-intensity interval training), give the added benefit of helping the body burn calories for a period of up to 48 hours after the actual workout has been completed. So, when you perform fasted cardio, any calories you burn are limited to those that you burned during your exercise session. That is it. Studies have shown the best way to lose body fat and keep the metabolism high is through exercises that help you burn calories hours after the workout session is done.

Fasted Cardio Doesn’t Use Fat for Energy

The idea of performing low-intensity cardio has been around for a long time. It’s better than not exercising at all, but there are more efficient ways to actually burn body fat. Scientists have found that one of the major drawbacks of doing low-intensity exercise is that the body doesn’t actually start burning fat until up to thirty minutes into the workout. So, in order to get to fat-burning, you need to work out for more than 30 minutes. If you try to substitute a different exercise that is high-intensity and takes less time, your body will not use fat for energy. What will happen is that any fat that is broken down will be reabsorbed into the body. This is the opposite of what you want to happen if you are trying to lose body fat.

 Fasted cardio has its place, but don't expect miracles from one technique.


Fasted cardio has its place, but don't expect miracles from one technique.

Use Your Time Wisely

If you have your heart set on performing fasted cardio, by all means do it, but it can come with some unsatisfactory consequences. You run the risk of using twice the amount of protein for energy, you will burn fewer calories during your workout and fewer calories after your workout. If you try to perform fasted cardio and do anything other than low-intensity workouts, you won’t burn fat. If you are looking for ways to burn body fat and not decrease your lean mass, use your time wisely and search for other forms of cardio exercise.

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Joe Bensam
 

I am an experienced bodybuilder and qualified personal trainer who specializes in strength training, conditioning and building muscle. I am committed to helping others improve their health, fitness and build through good advice on workouts and nutrition.