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Should You Be Doing Fasted Cardio?

FACT CHECKED
  Published on November 5th, 2021
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified November 5th, 2021
fasted cardio

You may be familiar with intermittent fasting and how it can help you maintain the metabolic state of ketosis, but there is an increasing buzz around a different type of fasting. Fasted cardio is a technique that takes weight loss and fitness goals up a notch but like with anything, it may (or may not) be right for you. The exercise strategy of working out before breaking your overnight fast was formerly commonplace only in the world of competitive athletes, but now it’s growing in popularity even for the average gym-goer, jogger, or Yogi. When paired with the ketogenic diet, fasted cardio may expedite your health and wellness results.

 

What is Fasted Cardio?

Simply put, fasted cardio means you’re getting cardiovascular exercise before you have your first meal of the day. While the semantics can be misleading, any type of workout routine (not just running or spinning) where your heart rate is elevated can be considered as fasted cardio—this includes most forms of exercise.  

It’s recommended to do your fasted cardio right when you wake up, after having fasted overnight, between seven and 12 hours. A fasted state can take between three and six hours to occur after your last meal–the rate at which it occurs depends on the amount of food consumed.

After several hours, your body has processed all food, insulin levels are low, and you have depleted your glycogen stores so you will use fat for energy, which, as you know, is quintessentially keto.

In this fasted state, your workout routine probably should not exceed an hour in duration. Be sure to consistently hydrate with water and then replenish with food upon completion, even before you hit the shower!  

 

Is Fasted Cardio Right for Me?

As with any other nutrition or fitness technique, fasted cardio may be suitable for some, but not for others. Have you ever had a cup of coffee and then headed out the door for a run? That’s fasted cardio. Do you sometimes feel bogged down after breakfast, so you have transitioned to doing Yoga after only having had a morning bottle of water? Also fasted cardio.

Some genuinely feel better when working out on an empty stomach, while others need a bit more fuel in their systems—in other words, it’s not for everyone. Potential candidates for fasted cardio are in generally good health, maintain proper nutrition, and get adequate rest. If you’re uncertain if fasted cardio is a good fit or if you identify with any of the following conditions, it is best to speak to your doctor:

·      Low blood pressure

·      Diabetes

·      Adrenal-related issues

Of course, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, under the age of 18, or have had eating disorder tendencies, fasted cardio should likely be avoided.

 

Benefits of Fasted Cardio

Your body’s reaction to fasted cardio will be influenced by age, activity level, genetics (to some degree), and body type so the benefits may differ between individuals.

Keep in mind, not everyone feels up to putting in the work when void of a hearty breakfast. This could result in a lackluster workout where no advantages will be reaped, so experimentation with fasted cardio may be required to see if you, too, will experience documented benefits.

 

Fasted Cardio and Keto for Fat Loss

Fasted cardio helps your body tap into stored body fat for energy. When following the keto diet, this process is even more efficient since your body is not required to get through any excess glycogen stores—it burns fat right away!

Studies have shown that abdominal area blood flow increases when you’re in a fasted state. This can assist with burning fat cells that are stored in the midsection. [1]

An added benefit, fasted cardio can help you get back into the metabolic state of ketosis if you happen to go over on your carbohydrate and sugar limits.

 

Exercise Efficiency

It sounds quite optimistic to get up early enough before work to prepare breakfast, let it digest, and then hit the gym. And let’s face it, after a full day of work, working out can sound less than appealing.

Fasted cardio makes morning workouts far timelier—you get up, caffeinate without added sweeteners (if you choose) and get to it. This system can allow a morning exercise session without forcing you to rise too far in advance before work.

Some people note feeling lighter on their feet, more agile, and even faster when getting their cardio in before breaking the fast.  

Like most nutrition- and fitness-related tactics, fasted cardio can be beneficial and suitable if conducted in a reasonable fashion. If you have tested this type of cardio and it doesn’t feel right for you, a fed state is probably your best bet.

Warning signs to look for are dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, shakiness, and weakness—these symptoms could be related to low blood sugar or dehydration. As always, listen to your body and do not proceed if any of these feelings should occur.

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