Why Fasted Cardio Is Not Necessarily The “Holy Grail” Of Fat Loss

empty plate coped with fasted cardioI remember exactly when I first heard about early morning fasted cardio also known as running on an empty stomach, because it was something that sounded really dangerous for me at that time.

Reading some big forums, one day, I just stumbled over one thread that was talking about the benefits of fasted cardio and some people that had great fasted cardio results.

Needless to say, the thread was completely overrun by people that were bashing this approach to cardio because of the simple fact that they were educated to believe in the 6 meals/day dogma along with the fear of muscle loss.

Well, those problems are solved by plenty of research studies and practical application which demonstrated that this type of cardio doesn’t have any negative effect on your muscle mass (when sufficient protein intake is present and some sort of weight training).

The General Interest In Fasted Cardio

The great majority of people interested in fasted cardio are searching for yet another magical method to lose fat.

The subject of doing cardio on an empty stomach is a sensitive one, just like intermittent fasting, and many people started tackling the subject, promoting this type of cardio as the holy grain of fat burning.

But is this cardio protocol really doing what everybody says: “burning more fat than anything if you do it on empty stomach”?

What’s The Truth

The interesting part comes when we compare weight training with cardio and see that research studies  show that over a 24 hour period, macronutrient oxidation and energy expenditure is almost the same.

I made this short notification because people usually forget that when it comes to fat loss and body composition, focusing only on one aspect of it, can quickly make you forget that a day is comprised of 24 hours and the most important thing is total caloric intake for that day.

So cardio, be it fasted, HIIT (High intensity interval training), LISS (Low intensity interval training), doesn’t really matter as long as you take a look at your caloric intake.

BUT

Stubborn Fat

Why?

There’s a type of fat in your body categorized as stubborn body fat which is physiologically different when compared to the rest of the fat.

It is called stubborn body fat: the fat around your lower abs, glutes, hips, back, and women will have to fight even harder to remove it completely.

Why Stubborn Fat Is Stubborn

The general road that fat takes until it gets “burned” is as follows:

  1. First, your body needs to break it down into free fatty acids (FFA’s), releasing it into the blood stream as tryglicerides
  2. Secondly, these FFA’s or tryglicerides are transported within the bloodstream.
  3. The last step your body needs to take is to burn those free fatty acids within tissues that are capable of doing this: heart, liver, muscle, etc.

Getting back to the second point, the main reason this stubborn fat exists is because the blood flow in those areas is impaired; we need good blood flow to an area so the free fatty acids can be easily transported to the “furnace”.

This happens only when you are on the lower end of body fat levels.

Conclusion

My opinion is that fasted cardio is in no way more “special” than some low intensity cardio or high intensity interval training.

It certainly has its place and can be a good tool when you try to lose the last ounce of fat, with the requirement that you also need to be in a caloric deficit.

Don’t really stress too much on this. If you want to lose weight, just calculate how many calories you need and go from there.

Apply this protocol when losing fat gets harder.

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