Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Today, I’m going to look at fasted versus non-fasted cardio, but as a by-product, touch on intermittent fasting as well. Fasted cardio and IF both encourage long periods of starvation, or more accurately, time-restricted feeding. When is up to you, but typically, most people tend to skip breakfast, so you’re tacking it on after you wake up.
The theory behind it is that it encourages your body to burn extra body fat. There are fewer carbohydrates for your body to use for energy, so it’ll turn to its fat storage cells. Now, of course, this makes sense during that period, and some studies show there is a weight loss benefit to these kind of fasting tactics, but it’s marginal and it’s not for everyone. The other theory is that it manages blood sugar levels, but you just get different sized spikes at different times.
There are pros and cons, but many of the pros seems to boil down to how much self-control you have and how much you can take. Starving yourself for a long period often results in snacking or over-eating when you’re allowed to. So, if you’re eating and burning the same number of calories regardless, it doesn’t really matter when you do your cardio, especially when it comes to weight management. If this kind of fasting means that you do eat fewer calories over the day, and you can manage that, then it’ll probably work for you.
With regards to exercise, it might have a slight benefit with cardio, but only short durations, and it’s shown to have a negative, or certainly not a positive effect on muscle gain. You need to fuel weighted workouts. And really, the same applies to long distance exercises. If you don’t have enough energy in your body, you’re only going to be able to do so much, and do it well, and there are potential health risks if you push yourself too far.
So, will it work for you? That depends. If you can manage it, fine. If you can manage your calories, fine. If it fits your schedule better, fine. But it’s more for weight management, and it’s probably easier for those who don’t struggle with over-eating. The chances are you’re going to make up for that starvation period at some stage throughout the day, and in that case, breakfast might be better for suppressing your appetite. See you again next week.
Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer