Protein Princess | Does fasted cardio work?
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Does fasted cardio work?

Does fasted cardio work?

So recently we’ve been hearing lots of talk about fasted cardio. It’s another of those hot topics that typically come and go in the search for the quickest and most effective ways to lose weight and change shape. But does it actually work?


What is fasted cardio?

Fasted cardio basically means going for a run or doing some other form of cardio as soon as you get up in the morning and before you have anything to eat, so that you’re exercising on an empty stomach.


The principle of fasted cardio

The theory behind fasted cardio is that you’ll burn more fat in the morning on an empty stomach because the body has been conserving its carb stores throughout the night and without feeding those stores, the body will be forced to burn fat for fuel instead.

The downside to this is that the body will also potentially mobilise those all-important proteins too and this could start to eat away at your muscle and, because muscle burns fat, this is not ideal.

You could help negate this by drinking a fast-digesting whey protein shake straight after, to help replenish those muscle-building protein stores.


Is fasted cardio effective for weight loss?

Even if fasted cardio does burn extra calories at the time, that’s not to say it’s the most efficient exercise. The problem with steady-state cardio, such as running, as we’ve discussed before in our blog on cardio versus weight training, is that you’re only burning calories for the duration of the workout. Your metabolism quickly adjusts to the pace and no longer needs to work as hard to burn the fat.

To make a difference on this you’d have to be doing some seriously intense cardio that also serves to build muscle, but you’d probably struggle to work out at the required level on an empty stomach. In this scenario, you break down fat faster than you can use it as energy and it makes its way straight back to your fat cells, so fasted cardio becomes totally counter-productive.


Strength training for weight loss

On balance, while you may prefer a morning run on an empty stomach, it probably isn’t the most efficient method of exercise. Fasted cardio does not increase the process of burning fat, compared to eating before you work out.

The real benefits of exercise are in those metabolism-boosting workouts where you continue to burn calories long after you’ve stopped training and that comes with anything that builds muscle, rather than eating away at it. This is because the body needs to repair itself after a good muscle-tearing session in the gym, and to do that, it needs to burn fat.

Research suggests your body will continue to burn calories for hours, and even up to two days, after strength or resistance training.


Any exercise programme really comes down to what works from one person to the next, and with so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know what to adopt for the best. At Protein Princess, we find that fuelling your body correctly, giving you the right amount of proteins to build strength and endurance, is key to sustainable lifestyle and body changes.

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