Updated: Feb 28
Every individual who’s in the fitness industry has a viewpoint on this. Some believe it’s effective, others are convinced otherwise. As always in life, there’re pros and cons to every method – same goes for fasted cardio. Here I’ll share my experience with fasted cardio, the notion of fasted cardio muscle loss, fasted cardio BCAA and what to eat after fasted cardio. Without further ado, let us get started!
What is Fasted Cardio?
Fasted Cardio is when you wake up, skip breakfast and do your workout first thing in the morning before all other stuff. This means you do your training when you have no food in your body. At this point, the last time you had any food was your last night’s dinner and that was digested 4-6 hours after you finished this meal. By the time you reach the morning, you have no fuel in your body and when there’s no fuel (food), there’s no energy. But you see, if you do your training in this state then naturally your body must take the energy from somewhere.
Therefore, such a line of thinking has proposed that in the fasting state your body is taking energy from your fat storage because we always have fat in our body. This argument was first presented back in 1999 by a random bodybuilder named Bill Phillips. Hence, he argued that the fasted state burns more fat than workouts which happen after meals.
Before burning fat though, there is a risk of burning your lean muscle mass. There are things you can do to not allow this to happen. First, I recommend not doing your fasted cardio routines for more than 60 minutes. Second, in order for fasted cardio not to affect your muscle loss, practice fasted cardio BCAA.
Fasted Cardio BCAA
Traditionally fasted cardio for women more or less involves cardio while for guys it means weight-lifting. Hence, when you're lifting weights in a fasted state, your body absorbs BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) supplements much better, especially if you take them during your workout. Not only it will boost your performance, but it also will help you recover faster.
I highly recommend Scivation Xtend BCAA by Muscle & Strength as it's one of the best ones to enhance energy and boost recovery. There is a reason why it's so highly rated by others. Besides, it's good for both fat loss and muscle construction without having the awful taste.
What to eat after fasted cardio?
So ideally you have taken your fasted cardio BCAA supplements if you have lifted weights. However, if you went jogging, cycling or just walking then try eating BCAA high foods, like chicken, dairy, tuna, eggs, salmon and beef. Remember that your body is hungry so everything you'll give him in the next 20 minutes will be extremely important. We do not want to burn our lean muscle mass - only our stored fats, so get your protein in at least an hour after the workout.
Personally, my best fasted cardio workout is weight-lifting, so I usually go with a banana to keep my killer instincts under control and then do some protein like eggs, meat, and cottage cheese.
My Experience with Fasted Cardio
I used to do fasted cardio routines quite regularly – not anymore. Sometimes I go for a run before breakfast maybe once a month if not less. Doesn’t matter if it’s a run or gym session I do, the first few minutes always feel half-ish asleep, very slow, even hypo-like marching. But then you slowly start waking up and feel awesome & proud of yourself.
With all the fat-burning aside, I think that fasted cardio benefits definitely offer a lot of advantages like:
You are generally calmer for the day, which allows you to perceive information better;
During the actual workout you feel light in your stomach because it’s empty;
You wake up your body and get the blood circulation going.
The downsides of Fasted Cardio:
You don’t have much strength to work with. So unless you're taking supplements during your sessions, you can't really push yourself to the limit;
If you’re not used to it, you might feel a massive need of recovering afterward;
You might eat too much during the day because you lose control over your appetite;
Lastly, you also might get sugar-dips around lunchtime.
In my opinion, all this “good vs bad” is ridiculous and unnecessary. Plenty of research has shown no difference to fed vs fasted training so it doesn’t really matter if you do it or not. What matters here is if you like it or not. Jennifer Lopez likes it, my boyfriend doesn’t, so what? Give it a go and see if this is something that is suitable for you. For the record, Jennifer Lopez is also not doing the traditional fasted cardio for women. She's doing a proper power-lifting and look how amazing she looks.
Personally, I think that if you’re going to the gym every day at 12 pm sharp doing the same exercises then your body will get used to the pattern, become lazy and your results will stop (AKA you’ll hit the plateau). And for those who have read my previous posts know that I’m a huge supporter of a healthy-mix! So it’s worth throwing it in once or twice a month to surprise your body, I sure feel it every time.
For the record, Jennifer Lopez is also not doing the traditional fasted cardio for women. She's doing a proper power-lifting and look how amazing she looks.
Practical Advice if you're going with Fasted Cardio:
Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to not get dehydrated;
A good fasted cardio for women routine can be done at home. Here I would suggest Sworkit fitness app because you can choose the length of your session;
For the best fasted cardio result, you might want to combine it with intermittent fasting. A lot of people are practicing this combination on a daily basis with amazing results;
I would also suggest doing compound exercises like dumbbell deadlifts or pull-ups to burn more calories.
I hope this article brings in some clearance on what this whole thing is and what to eat after fasted cardio. Again - it all depends on your preferences. I don't think that you'll get a feel of fasted cardio benefits only after one time so try a few times at least. For some fasted cardio is the only way how to incorporate activity in their busy lives! Don't forget to share your experiences below in the comments!