A while back, IF, or intermittent fasting, started rocking the personal health world.
It intrigued fitness experts as well, and before you know it, you’re getting video ads about how to approach IF in a better, more streamlined way.
That’s how health trends work, but the ones that have merit and scientifically backed information will stick around when the hype settles down.
Much like HIIT, IF is majorly beneficial, and can seriously improve your quality of life while aiding your health.
But the question is, should you be doing fasted cardio, or does that defeat the purpose of fasting in the first place?
To sum it up, you should absolutely utilize fasted cardio to your advantage.
If you can do it properly, it not only cuts out some serious calories, but it can help you stave-off heart disease and diabetes with due diligence.
We’re going to learn the ins and outs of fasted cardio, while you should be including it in your plan, and what you can do to incorporate it into your current regimen.
- 1 What is Fasting Cardio?
- 2 Does Fasting Cardio Actually Work?
- 3 How Long Should You Wait After Fasted Cardio Before Eating?
- 4 Can You Drink Water Before Fasted Cardio?
- 5 How to Incorporate Fasted Cardio Into Your Workouts
- 6 A Brief Recap
- 7 Adding More to Your Everyday Workout
What is Fasting Cardio?
Fasted cardio is a form of intermittent fasting combined with cardiovascular exercises.
It follows the rules of intermittent fasting, which we’ll get into in a moment, and attempts to utilize stored energy in your body instead of new energy introduced by food.
With fasted cardio, you don’t get up and eat breakfast before you hit the gym.
Within about thirty minutes after you get up for the day, you should have your shoes on and be on your way to the gym.
Before you put anything in your body, besides water of course, you’re performing twenty to thirty minutes of cardio.
So, why are people doing this?
I hate to say that it’s because of a lot of celebrity mentions instead of just hard-hitting facts, but that’s just the way it is.
Jennifer Lopez has mentioned a few times to her behemoth of a social media following that she does fasted cardio, and that sort of sparked a whole trend on it.
However, that’s the same thing that happened with intermittent fasting, where fasted cardio stems from.
The goal is to use stored calories, thus burning fat, and then supplying more calories to your body later that you will use for immediate energy and not store in your fat cells.
We’re going to take a deep dive on this whole topic.
Does Fasting Cardio Actually Work?
I’m going to give this a tentative yes.
Because this has emerged into the public eye with intermittent fasting, there is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted before anyone could ethically say for certain that fasting cardio 100% works.
That being said, some studies have shown that you can lose up to 20% more calories by performing fasted cardio over standard intermittent fasting or standard cardio.
This is not backed by enough science just yet, but the information that we do have available at our disposal points to a bright future for fasted cardio, if done properly.
It could potentially be a volatile practice in nature, or prove to be extremely useful.
For now, we can go off the little research that has been done, and firsthand accounts from people who have tried it.
So long as you don’t have medical conditions relating to blood sugar levels, such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, you should be perfectly okay to try this out and see if it works for you.
How Long Should You Wait After Fasted Cardio Before Eating?
Your body doesn’t receive an I.O.U. from the places that you store your calories, or energy, from within your body.
It pulls on them immediately and uses them up while you run.
You’re not going to accidentally eat too soon after fasted cardio and undo your progress, not in the slightest.
Eat immediately following your fasted cardio.
Even if you’re working out in your home and it’s just a quick trip to the kitchen, you should immediately consume something to stop something called a starvation state.
Now, I call this a starvation state because it’s what everyone else knows it as, but science has shown us the truth.
You don’t immediately flip into anything: sudden and drastic changes in your body usually result in something bad, so even when you begin to feel hunger pain and do not eat, you don’t flip a switch between two separate one-minute blocks of time.
It’s a gradual process, and it’s impossible to nail down the exact point where this happens.
What happens is your body starts taking nutrients from other areas apart from fat storage.
If you did not eat for a full 24 hours, you would more than likely flip into this state at some point between the 18 hour and 24 hour mark.
At that point, your fasted cardio will have been for nothing, because now your body is going to try and hold onto as many calories as possible when you consume your next meal. It backfires.
If you practice intermittent fasting on a 16/8 rule, where you only eat for 8 hours of the day, this is a way to safely inhibit fat burning and better pancreatic functions without many potentially dangerous side effects (it’s absolutely different for everyone), but if you were to do the 16/8 rule, and you didn’t eat at the time you were supposed to, you run the risk of telling your body to hold onto more fats and calories than it needs.
If you fast for 16 hours—let’s say you can’t eat after 7:00 PM, until 11:00 AM the next morning.
That blocked-out 16 hours is fine, but when you introduce cardio to it, things get dicey.
You go on a run at 5:30 AM, but you can’t eat for nearly six hours now.
That’s not good, because you didn’t just fast, you introduced cardio and strained your body further.
For those next few hours, you’re going to feel immensely hungry.
All I’m saying is that if you plan on doing fasted cardio every single day, you will likely be doing it with intermittent fasting.
Restructure your meal time block of the day to coincide with when you work out.
If you run every day at 5:30 AM, then you need to allow yourself to eat from 6:00 AM (when you would be done with cardio) up until 2:00 PM, or however you want to work it in.
Can You Drink Water Before Fasted Cardio?
I don’t care how far health trends go with intermittent fasting, or fasted cardio, or anything: you should never deprive your body of water.
We are made of 50-65% water, depending on your lean muscle mass and age, and it’s imperative that you stay hydrated at all times, no matter what.
Yes, you should absolutely drink water before fasted cardio.
You should drink water during and after as well to keep yourself fully hydrated the entire time.
When we are dehydrated, even just a little bit, we can have a horrible lapse in cognitive functions.
That means less efficient fasted cardio, paying less attention to the machines we’re using, and increasing our chances of sustaining injuries.
Even if you haven’t faced the point of cognitive impairment from dehydration, you’re still risking injuries by removing the lubrication from your joints.
Without water, the parts of your body that are used the most often suffer the quickest.
That means your joints, but it also means your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, digestive system, and reproductive organs.
When you know the sheer amount of water that you need every single day just to carry on with basic bodily functions, it becomes very important in the forefront of your mind.
If you’re thirty enough, drink three full cups of water before you hit the gym and start your fasted cardio.
How to Incorporate Fasted Cardio Into Your Workouts
To incorporate fasted cardio into your life, you first have to incorporate intermittent fasting. At least to some extent.
We’re going to go on a 14/10 rule here, which dictates that you cannot consume any calories for 14 hours.
Black coffee with no sugar, green tea with no sugar, and of course water are perfectly okay to consume during this time. Coffee and tea in moderation.
Ideally, you will want your window of time where you are allowed to eat to coincide with the end of your scheduled fasted cardio.
If you’re someone who works out first thing in the morning before you do anything else, and that’s 6:00 AM, that’s okay.
Expecting that your workout would end at 6:30 AM, that is when you should eat and go on about your day.
You have 10 hours, or from 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM to eat, and beyond that you cannot consume any food.
Once you have intermittent fasting down, you can begin exercising at the same time to really get the most out of it.
Here’s how to do it:
If you’re used to high intensity cardio first thing in the morning, now might be a good time to dial it back and start small.
You don’t have to take on the whole world right from the start.
Now that you’ve had 14 hours with no food in your stomach (which is roughly 8 hours of extracting calories from your stored fat cells), this is going to extract even more energy from those stored cells while you exercise.
Start out with 3-4 MPH on a treadmill for 30 minutes, and see how that feels.
You can graduate to a higher intensity and difficulty rating at a later date.
You’ve likely been eating whenever you feel hungry your whole life, as we were designed to do.
It’s going to be a while before you can fall into the habit of not eating for more hours out of the day than you actually have available to eat.
Science tells us that it takes 66 consecutive days to form new habits, so you’re going to have to expect to use timers for a few months until you get this down pat.
Inform Your Friends
Look, it’s not easy discussing fitness trends with people sometimes (even though it really should be).
You have to tell your friends and let them know ahead of time, because while weight gain isn’t going to happen from one single slice of pizza at 9:30 PM, it’s going to mess with your intermittent fasting for sure.
That’s going to throw off the whole groove and rhythm of this whole thing you’ve got going on.
Let them know what your windows are, and hopefully you can all make events work, such as going out to restaurants.
Throw Out Junk Food
Even though intermittent fasting helps you cut down weight by slicing calories, it’s not a magical cure-all (I wish it was).
During the hours that you can eat, you still have to make positive and healthy choices, otherwise your body is going to seek out nourishment after you’ve intentionally deprived it, and it will be met with empty calories that don’t mean anything.
That ten or eight-hour window does not mean you can eat everything in sight because the hunger hits you where it hurts.
You still have to focus on healthy food, and keeping everything within your maximum daily calorie allowance.
Now the thing is, because you burned calories while doing fasted cardio and intermittent fasting, you can usually get away with your daily recommended allowance for sustaining your weight.
You can find out what this is by using a BMI/calorie calculator. Fasting and cardio will have burned hundreds of calories.
A Brief Recap
Before you go, I want to give a quick list of takeaways so that you know exactly where we stand on fasted cardio, at this time, in February 2020.
- Fasted cardio is something you should do because it’s well within the realm of possibilities, and makes complete sense based on what we currently know to be true with intermittent fasting.
- Through the last few years of fasted cardio, there have been no accounts of people falling sick or harming themselves as a result of it.
- There is limited scientific data backing fasted cardio at this time, though studies and meta-analyses (reviewing multiples related studies in a roundup) are being conducted.
- There is nothing wrong with working out while you are intermittent fasting, and as far as anyone knows, there never has been. This just has a name now.
- You should always stay hydrated, and eat the moment that you are allowed to follow the end of your cardio, and the beginning of your time block that allows you to eat.
Based on the current evidence and lack of problems surrounding fasted cardio, it appears to be providing results.
If you’re not completely sold on the idea, it’s perfectly okay to hold off in the meantime, so long as you’re still getting your cardio workout in at some point throughout the day, even if that’s in the middle of your food block during intermittent fasting.
Have fun doing it, and don’t overexert yourself.
Adding More to Your Everyday Workout
After looking at the cold, hard facts, it’s easy to see why it works well with just about any athlete.
You can start taking in these benefits in a very short amount of time, because fasted cardio only takes one day to really get started with.
The incline might be a bit steep, but that’s why you sought out these answers in the first place.
Because you know that hard work comes with the territory, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to improve your overall health through better fitness routines and information.
It’s time to get started, so set those timers for tomorrow morning.
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