For those not familiar with fasted cardio, it’s basically doing cardio after waking up, before eating anything. The apparent benefit of doing cardio in a fasted state is that the lack of food forces the body to draw from stored body fat as it’s primary energy source (of which I have plenty of inventory to draw upon). Sounds pretty nifty, eh?
While this process is still widely debated by fitness experts, I can safely say that since starting my 3x per week fasted cardio sessions, I’ve dropped about 5lbs at least.
I should point out that this is in concert with my switcharoo to a more fat-adapted diet that I’ve also been incorporating. I’ve been doing fasted cardio for about 5 weeks now. And even though it sucks to roll out of bed and do a workout before I'm fully conscious, the feeling of getting that workout out of the way before breakfast is really kinda nice. Even for a morning hater like me.
There are some things to consider before you traumatize yourself with an early run or elliptical-fest.
- Do you have a LOT of weight to lose? If so, cardio at any time of day is going to benefit you. This is a technique to employ when you’ve only got a stubborn few to lose, or you’re one of those crazy people that enjoy early morning workouts.
- How long are your cardio sessions? If you’re training for a marathon and you’re headed out for a 3-hour run, you’ve got to eat first. Hopefully, that goes without saying.
- If you find your workouts are sub-par in a fasted state, it’s probably better to go ahead and eat beforehand, as intensity will have a greater impact on your results than whether or not you’ve had breakfast. Alternatively, you could also try a pre-workout (but make sure it doesn't have chemicals!). This is my favorite all-natural pre-workout drink.
Some tips for your fasted cardio success
- Have a coffee (if that’s your bag) before you head out. I find the caffeine gives me a boost and gives my tummy something to hang on to until I eat breakfast.
- If I’m super starving when I wake up, I have a handful of raw, unsalted almonds (like 6 or 7) and that seems to at least take the hunger away without spiking insulin.
- I don’t overdo my morning cardio. I love quick 20 minute HIIT workouts as they're over and done with quickly.
- Use a pre-workout (as I mentioned above).
- Workout at home. It's the easiest way to get it done fast.
So if you’re looking to give yourself a little extra kick in the pajama pants, give this a try and let me know what you think!! I’d love feedback on this!
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.