Is Fasted Cardio the Best for Burning Fat?
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
That was the sound of my alarm going off. It was 3:45am, and the year was 2000. This is when I first started dieting for photoshoots and magazine layouts.
It was early. Way too early. Even after yesterday’s long day at work, I was grinding hard to climb the corporate ladder and would be working another 12-14 hours today.
It was imperative that I got up early and performed my cardio apart from my weight training. I was hungry, angry, lacking any motivation, and in a fasted (before breakfast) state.
Back then I thought that unless you performed fasted cardio in the early morning, you were wasting your time. Unless you could feel your stomach eating itself from the inside out, you were not burning fat. Unless you drove to the gym twice a day to get cardio done in the morning apart from your afternoon or evening weight training, you were just a fat slob.
Stop that madness now! I am here to tell you that you have been lied to. No matter when you do cardio, you will burn fat. Fasted cardio is not superior to any other method.
Why Fasted Cardio Isn’t Superior for Burning Fat
This has been put to the test in the lab and the results confirmed my beliefs.
In a study published in the JISSN, a group of twenty females were split into two groups on the same macronutrient diet. One had a shake before the cardio, one after cardio. The results found little to no difference.  What does this mean? It means that neither good nor bad comes from fasted cardio, and it provides no additional benefit.
But I will delve in further, beyond the studies. I want to present my thoughts as to why you should never do cardio on an empty stomach if at all possible. I will also state that if you do, you probably won’t experience any deleterious effects, but you won’t see any benefit either.
But, you also might kill the person on the treadmill next to you.
My Take on Fasted Cardio
Think about it. You go to sleep and wake up six to eight hours later. You don’t eat.
If you went eight hours during the day without eating, wouldn’t you think it’s time to grub? Heck yes! But that’s not all. Now you have to do cardio. That’s another 20-60 minutes of activity post-fasting. And that’s not all. What if it is HIIT (high intensity) cardio? This is a lot to ask of your body!
Also, energy. When you wake up hungry with no substrate in your system, you will not be able to perform optimally. This is where having something in your system comes into play.
Another issue is time. In today’s busy society, most people cannot afford the time to go to the gym twice daily, so post-workout cardio is the best option. Get in and get it done!
Heck, I am a pro bodybuilder and even I can’t find that kind of time. Between my career and having three children there is no way I could go to the gym twice a day. So what are you to do? Get it all done at once!
What the aforementioned study shows us is that it isn’t about any magical timing of cardio. It’s about the overall caloric balance at the end of the day. If the cardio is used to create a caloric deficit, it doesn’t matter when it is completed, it just matters that you complete it.
So when should you NOT do cardio? Really the only time I can think of is pre-workout. The reason for this is because it might take away from your energy to complete the most important catalyst in the gainz-puzzle, lifting weights!
The caveat here is IF you need to do a 5-10 minute warm-up to get your body going. For example, a 10 minute bike ride to get your legs ready for leg day. Other than that, just do your cardio AFTER weights and make sure you crush it during your weight training session.
Nutrition for Your Cardio
When you perform cardio post-workout, simply finish the remainder of your intra-workout drink. This guy here drinks MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel. If your cardio is done as a standalone, I like to make it a bit freaky…
- Pre-Cardio (30 minutes): 2 caps MTS Nutrition Drop Factor and work up to .2g/kilo bodyweight (include the Yohimbine in Drop Factor) MTS Nutrition Yohimbine HCl.
- Post-Cardio if you train with weights first, drink what you post-workout. I have Carb 10 and Machine ISO.
Dosing MTS Nutrition Drop Factor WITH MTS Nutrition Yohimbine HCl
- Start with ONE capsule Drop Factor upon waking.
- Once you can tolerate one capsule, increase to one capsule upon waking and one capsule 6-8 hours later NOT to be within 5 hours of bedtime.
- Once you can tolerate the above dose, add one capsule to the morning dose for two capsules in the AM and one capsule 6-8 hours later.
- Once you can tolerate the above dose, add one capsule to the afternoon dose for two caps in the AM and two capsules 6-8 hours later.
Then we add in YOHIMBINE HCl.
- For a person taking 15mg, BE SURE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE DOSE IN DROP FACTOR, and for the max-four-capsule dosing is 5mg! At 2.5mg per capsule, you will need 10mg of EXTRA Yohimbine HCl, or 4 capsules per day.
- If Cardio is done SEPARATE from weights: ALL CAPS TAKEN WITH ONE SERVING DROP FACTOR 30 MINUTES PRE CARDIO! Add one Yohimbine HCl at a time as tolerance is assessed.
- If Cardio is NOT being done, simply split the dose and take with the Drop Factor doses, starting at one cap and working up as you assess tolerance.
- If doing cardio post-workout, take the Yohimbine HCl DURING your weight training workout 15-20 minutes before you are done with weights. Then, hop on the cardio post weights.
Nutrition for Optimal Gains
We cannot have an article on cardio and no hint on HOW to diet and train. For this information, read this.
No More Fasted Cardio Suffering
Get your cardio done, whenever you can do it, and do not suffer for those gains! Because enjoying cardio, That’s Not A Game!
1) Schoenfeld, Brad, et al. “Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 11.54 (2014). Accessed December 21, 2014