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Benefits of Fasted Cardio

By: Dr. Scott Perryman

Cardio: Good for your mind and body

For many gym-goers, the term ‘cardio’ often refers to long sessions on the treadmill jogging or trudging up the steps on a stair stepper. However, ‘cardio’ can mean a lot of different things like a heart-pumping kickboxing session, a seductive Zumba performance, cycling in your neighborhood, or even playing basketball with your child.  

Any exercise that gets your heart pumping and sweat dripping is cardio and is beneficial for your cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness exercises have significant and beneficial effects on the brain and body. Here are some of the top benefits of doing cardiovascular activity: 

  • Burns fat and calories for weight loss
  • Enhances sleep quality
  • Expands lung capacity
  • Lowers stress
  • Promotes feel-good chemicals in the brain
  • Boosts confidence
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer
  • Strengthens the heart

While cardiovascular activities have a powerful list of benefits on their own, many believe there is a way to supercharge its magic: fasting.

What is fasting?

Throughout a 24 hour period, we go through periods of ‘feasting’ like when we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and periods of ‘fasting’ like when we sleep at night or skip a meal. The natural shift from feasting to fasting happens every day and it’s one our bodies have become accustomed to over time. 

One of the more popular health trends in the last few years has been Intermittent fasting or IF which is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and feasting. 

Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts with 8 hours of feasting, fasting for 19 hours with 5 hours of feasting, or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week while eating normally the rest of the week. 

More research on this way of living needs to be done but there are promising benefits to eating in a more condensed time frame including: 

-Human Growth Hormone increases which can lead to fat loss and muscle gain

-Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically

-Your cells initiate cellular repair processes

-Changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease*

Fasting + Cardio = Supercharged weight loss?

What exactly is fasted cardio anyways?

Fasted cardio is cardiovascular training performed on an empty stomach which can happen four to six hours after eating or after a full night of sleep. 

Bill Phillips, bodybuilder and author of Body-for-LIFE has long been credited with founding the fasted cardio theory in 1999. In his book, he emphasizes that the human body maximizes fat burning while exercising on an empty stomach. His theory has become an ultra-popular fitness trend in the last few years with everyone from J.Lo to fitness influencers integrating it into their fitness routines. 

If the thought of doing jumping jacks or hopping on a stationary bike first thing in the morning before your bowl of Wheaties has you thinking “NOPE!” just hear us out. There are several studies that show fasted cardio is really, really good for you and your athletic performance. 

Several small studies have shown that cardio in a fasted state can burn up to 20% more fat! According to one study in the British Journal of Nutrition“… aerobic exercise performed in the fasted state induces higher fat oxidation than exercise performed in the fed state.”**

When doing any physical activity your body will use what’s available for energy. If you’ve just eaten your body will tap into the glycogen, or sugars from your food for fuel. When exercising fasted, it will instead tap into its available energy stores (body fat) to satisfy its energy needs. 

Want to try it for yourself?

Like anything, with fasted workouts it’s best to start small and work your way up. Start slowly with one fasted low-intensity cardio workout a week, and see how it makes you feel. If you feel good, increase the intensity and number of workouts until you find your ideal schedule. 

As far as the type of workouts to try fasted, we encourage you to stick to low to moderate-intensity cardio such as incline walking, cycling, Stairmaster, and kickboxing. You’ll also want to keep your fasted cardio workouts less than an hour-long to prevent any potential muscle breakdown from occurring and your performance from being negatively affected. 

Over time, your body will get used to using fat for energy and will learn to prioritize fat over other sources of fuel which is the ultimate goal. When your body uses fat for fuel you can work out harder, longer and with greater efficiency. Win win!

Read a real-life story of a woman who lost 2% body fat in two weeks with fasted cardio Here.

Start your weight loss journey today

Looking to improve your own total body wellness? The team at Whole Health Weight Loss Institute can help. 

As obesity is the leading cause of many deaths in the United States due to the complications it causes such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, our mission is to help obese individuals take their lives and health back one pound at a time. 

Patients who undergo weight loss procedures at our clinic often experience dramatic weight loss but our services don’t stop there. The real transformation is in keeping the weight off for the long-haul. 

There are many ways to maintain your ideal weight, such as eating healthy and exercising. Whole Health Weight Loss Institute provides opportunities to learn more about diet and health for long-lasting results.

Schedule a consultation with the Whole Health Weight Loss Institute to start your weight loss journey today.