Protima Tiwary explains why fasted cardio form of exercising gained popularity.
Have you too joined the breakfast club that meets every morning without a morsel in their stomachs, only to smash a cardio session before heading to eat? Fasted cardio is the go-to routine for many athletes.
Bill Phillips, bodybuilder and author of Body for Life created the fasted cardio theory in 1999. The theory stated that the human body maximizes fat loss in a fasted state during aerobic exercise first thing in the morning. This theory gained popularity immediately and has since then been followed by many all over the world.
The book went on to explain that during fasting, our blood sugar and glycogen levels reduce. Without energy from carbohydrate (glycogen) sources, the body would turn to stored fat as fuel for the workout. The book also stated that fasting for exercise lowered insulin levels, thus increasing fatty acid breakdown.
People can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition stated.
A truly fasted state starts at about 8–12 hours after your last meal (depending on the size (food volume and total calories) and macronutrient composition of the meal.) Even though you might feel that you don’t have anything in your stomach, your body might still be digesting the meal you ate up to 3 hours ago. During this time insulin levels are elevated, which means the body is on a nutrient storage mode and not a fat-burning one.
The reason fat burning is increased during fasted cardio is that the body burns nutrients that are available first. Once done, it will tap into the energy stores (body fat) for more energy.
Fasted cardio is also great for losing stubborn fat from the tummy (please do not assume this to be spot reduction!) Studies have shown fasted cardio to increase blood flow to the abdominal region, which is the area of the body where most people struggle with stubborn fat.
Fasted cardio is a personal choice, and while it doesn’t show any negative effects as compared to regular cardio, make sure that your fasted cardio does not go over 60minutes. Your body needs energy!
If you’re interested in trying out the whole fasted workout thing, it is recommended that you should start with two fasted workouts a week. Technically, you can do any workout in a fasted state, but many people prefer fasted cardio in particular. But make sure you maintain the intensity to low or medium.