Wake up, immediately tie on your running shoes, bang out a few miles, return to enjoy your first meal of the day, and burn all the fat and be slim for-ev-er. If these are the guaranteed results of performing fasted cardio every day, why wouldn’t someone do it? Why isn’t everyone doing it? Melting away the fat is kind of the point behind this whole Hot Body plan, after all, so you’d think getting your workout over with first thing while revealing the leanest figure possible would be on everyone’s schedule.
The truth is, there’s a lot of science behind it, and as with all exercise regimens fasted cardio is not one-size-fits-all. The straightforward idea behind cardio on an empty stomach is that your body will be more likely to use its own fat stores for fuel instead of the food you just ate. Sounds awesome, but it’s not that simple. Compare the pros and cons of this method for fat loss before you commit to taking it on as a definitive method of achieving your best body
Fasted cardio helps you to become more efficient at using fat for fuel. First thing in the morning, after you’ve been fasting all night, your body’s natural hormones are primed to promote fat loss. With low insulin levels, low blood sugar, and high levels of growth hormones at your service, it would appear that detangling yourself from the sheets and hitting the pavement would seem much, much more enticing.
When insulin levels are low after eight hours (okay, six hours…or maybe five…) of sleep, fat can be mobilized more easily. Your body releases and oxidizes it best in this state, so exercising with your system in this state can burn almost 20 percent more fat compared to when you do so after a pre-workout meal.
Similarly, low blood sugar forces your body to utilize fat reserves because there is not enough glucose to power your workout. As long as you don’t have a medical need to keep your blood sugar at a certain level throughout the day, skipping the calories isn’t a bad idea.
Finally, Growth Hormone (GH) levels climb while you snooze, but unless you participate in the sleep walking version of weight lifting (wouldn’t suggest it), your best option is to break down your fat stores right when you get up. Benefitting from the low levels of insulin, the opportunity to cut the fat presents itself in the form of activating your high hormone levels.
You’ve already set your alarm for a 6 a.m. jog, haven’t you? You’ll do a fabulous job of burning fat…for today. Unfortunately, unlike cardio fueled by a pre-workout snack, research has demonstrated that fasted cardio does not increase fat burning over a 24-hour period. It has also been suggested that enjoying carbs before exercising increases the post-exercise “afterburn” effect more than a fasted sweat sesh. Therefore, you’ll burn a solid portion of fat right now, but there won’t be any continued benefit after the fact.
If you’re giving fasted cardio a go but notice that your performance is considerably less impressive than usual, you might be better off providing yourself with a nutritious boost prior to your workout after all. Fasted cardio does not allow you to magically do away with your personal energy balance, and ultimately, fat loss requires some sort of energy and/or calorie deficit to reveal results. You have to burn more energy than you eat, and your workouts have to have a certain level of intensity to do so. If you’re too tired to perform at your optimum level, that’s not gonna happen.
Changing up your workouts will give you results no matter what, as your body is never subject to the dreaded exercise plateau. In that regard, practicing fasted cardio once or twice a week, in conjunction with your normal routine, will keep your system guessing and will definitely trim some of that stubborn fat you thought was inevitably along for the ride.
However, getting your heart pumping on a daily basis while running on limited amounts of fuel isn’t sustainable for the long term. A girl’s gotta eat, and a BikiniBOD babe knows that properly feeding her system will help increase overall workout intensity and engage the muscles more effectively for an all-day metabolism boost.
Whether you choose to replenish your energy stores after you hit the gym or energize yourself prior to getting sweaty, remember that burning belly fat the smart way is all about listening to your body, putting in the extra effort, and being willing to step outside your comfort zone to be closer to your goals.
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