Fasted vs Fed Cardio

by Brooke Goldstein January 14, 2016

Is it better or worse to workout on an empty stomach? This is the question that has been debated for some time. People workout best under different circumstances, some may lift heavier with no food in their stomachs, while others are tired and weak. 

Fasted Cardio

A common strategy to burn fat sufficiently is performing cardiovascular exercises after an overnight fast. Exercising on an empty stomach will allow your hormones to trigger helping you burn fat easily. The body releases insulin to help absorb nutrients from the food we eat. Eating before a workout can make us resistant to these insulin effects, making it harder to lose body fat. Sipping on BCAAs during fasted training will help prevent muscle loss.

A study revealed that during fasted cardio performed in the morning you are likely to burn up to 20% more fat. Fasted cardio in the morning extremely effective; when you sleep your body conserves its carbohydrate stores, during fasted cardio it is shifted to mobilize fat stores for fuel.

Benefits of doing cardio first thing in the morning:

1. When you wake up in the morning after an overnight 8-12 hour fast, your body's stores of glycogen are somewhat depleted. Doing cardio in this state causes your body to mobilize more fat because of the unavailability of glycogen.

2. Eating causes a release of insulin. Insulin interferes with the mobilization of body fat. Less insulin is present in the morning; therefore, more body fat is burned when cardio is done in the morning.

3. Less carbohydrate will be in the bloodstream when you wake up after an overnight fast. The less glucose available, you will burn more fat.

4. When you eat before a workout you have to burn off what you first ate before tapping into the stored fat.

Fed Cardio

Eating before a workout will allow your body to become fueled with carbs and protein, allowing you to train harder and longer. You will have more energy to burn calories for a longer periods of time and lift heavier. Another benefit of training in a fed state is muscle preservation. Fasted cardio leads to losing twice the amount of nitrogen compared to eating before. Another problem with fasted cardio is that it blunts excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This represents the number of calories burned after training. Eating before working out has been shown to increase the EPOC therefore entering the fat storage.

Overall, studies have proven there are really no differences in fat loss, whether you train in a it fasted or fed state. So don't get worked up having to wake up at 5am to do fasted cardio, try eating some breakfast and getting fueled for the day!





Brooke Goldstein
Brooke Goldstein

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