We all know that any exercise is better than no exercise. At Fuel 4 Ever, we believe that doing fasted cardio is a personal preference. You see, when we start our day with movement in a fasted state, we naturally trigger a caloric deficit (helpful for weight loss) and autophagy without much effort at all!
Sure, it does mean there may be days that you feel a little cranky about having to wait for that next meal. But with the right routine that works for you and your body, the benefits quickly outweigh any arguments against doing a little cardio on an empty stomach.
Fasted Cardio, Defined
First, let’s talk about how long you should fast to reap the benefits. Research has shown that the optimal time period is somewhere between 12 to 16 hours of fasting. If you begin fasting at night, most of this happens while you’re asleep.
What kind of cardio works for fasted cardio? The sky’s the limit! The point is to get your heart rate up on an empty stomach to allow your body to fuel up on fat stores instead of food. Exercising on an empty stomach may have greater fat-burning effects. However, weight loss and body mass reduction may also be the result of an overall calorie deficit, which you can read about here on Healthline.com.
Studies have proven caloric restriction to be the most popular intervention known to increase longevity. Guess what? Fasted cardio provides built-in caloric restriction! But that doesn’t mean you should eat whatever you want the rest of the day. Fasted cardio should always be combined with a well balanced meal. And while fasting, try supplementing with essential amino acids, creatine and electrolytes to maintain muscle and prevent catabolism.
Fasted cardio is defined by YOU. It doesn’t have to be high intensity training. We recommend at least 30 minutes a day of any fasted movement, including:
- A brisk walk
- Bike riding
- Trail hiking
- Swimming laps
- Gym classes
Additional Benefits to Fasted Cardio
Beyond potential weight loss, fasted cardio offers a number of other health benefits. First, fasting gives your gut much-needed recovery time to heal, digest and rest. Additionally, fasted cardio leads to:
- Increased energy levels, which aid in recovery;
- Potential for improved mood;
- Decreased insulin resistance (key to longevity!);
- Better maintenance of blood glucose levels (especially important to those with diabetes); and
- Reduction of gastrointestinal distress.
Preparing for Fasted Cardio
So are you ready to take our word for it? It’s important to set you up for success. Here’s what we recommend:
- If you fast through the night, plan to work fasted cardio into your morning routine.
- Decide ahead of time how you’re going to break your fast – plan a meal to look forward to that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
- Enlist an accountability partner to help keep you motivated and on track.
As you continue on your wellness journey, it’s always important to move in the direction of healthier practices that make sense for you and your body. Exercising during a healthy fast offers a great many benefits not to be ignored. As with any changes to fitness or diet, please remember to discuss fasted cardio with your doctor before trying a new program.