One form of cardio that receives quite a bit of attention, especially among the fat loss crowd, is empty stomach cardio. This is cardio that is performed before eating any food first thing in the morning and has been claimed to help speed up the fat loss process.
But, does it really do this or are you just pushing yourself into something you'd rather not do? Looking at what goes on in the body during this form of cardio can help clear this matter up in your mind so you can decide whether empty stomach cardio is right for you.
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Cardio That Is Performed Before Eating Any Food First Thing In The
Morning Has Been Claimed To Help Speed Up The Fat Loss Process.
Is Fasted Cardio For You?
1. Intensity Of Cardio Performed:
The first thing to assess when it comes to cardio on an empty stomach is the intensity of cardio that is performed.
Due to the fact that high intensity interval training (HIIT/sprints) are utilizing strictly glucose as fuel, if you are not eating any carbohydrates before the session, there's a very good chance that you're going to be limited in the intensity that you're able to work at.
Since these sessions pretty much demand intensity to be effective, you significantly risk sacrificing the results you get.
If on the other hand you're just performing moderate intensity cardio, then since the body can utilize fat as fuel for this activity, you would be able to get by without eating, but you may notice you feel more fatigued than normal.
It's really important to evaluate the overall goals of your cardio training when considering empty stomach cardio. If you're just looking to burn a few extra calories and maintain good shape, then it's an option you can use. But if you're at all interested in cardiovascular health benefits, you're far better off choosing to eat beforehand and keep up with higher intensity sprints.
Also remember that higher intensity sprints do offer a number of positive benefits when it comes to fat burning, making them a superior option in most cases compared with moderate paced cardio workouts.
2. The Type Of Diet You're Following:
The second thing to think about when considering empty stomach cardio is the type of diet you're following. If you're following a very low carbohydrate diet, this too could lead to greater feelings of fatigue during the workout.
Even if you are attempting higher intensity sprint training and are eating a small dose of carbohydrates before the workout, you're likely to notice greater levels of fatigue than if you were eating a more moderate, mixed diet.
If you are going to perform moderate cardio and are concerned with muscle mass loss, one thing you can do is eat strictly protein before the session.
Half a protein shake or a few egg whites would work well for this purpose. This will still allow you to get into utilizing stored body fat faster (as opposed to if you would have eaten carbohydrates beforehand), but will also prevent your body to turning to its' lean muscles for use as energy.
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If You're Concerned With Losing Muscle Mass, One Thing You
Can Do Is Eat Strictly Protein Before The Cardio Session.
3. Assessing Your Current Weight And Body Composition:
You'll also want to spend some time assessing your current body weight and composition. The leaner you get on your fat loss diet, the easier it becomes to start losing muscle mass, and doing empty stomach cardio will amplify this risk.
For this reason, as you get leaner and leaner it may be smarter to focus more of your efforts just on the diet side of things to help you lose weight, rather than really going heavy with the cardio training.
When you're at a higher body fat percentage, there will be more fuel available to use while doing cardio, so the risk will not be as great.
4. Looking Closer At The Fat Burning Effects:
Before diving right into empty stomach cardio though, it is important that you do consider what the real fat burning benefits are. Total fat loss really does boil down to how many calories you take in during the day versus how many calories you expend.
So, let's say your basal metabolic rate is set at 1500 calories and you expend another 500 through your various daily activities. This then equates to a total of a 2000 calorie burn each day without exercise. If you then do eat fewer than 2000 calories that day, you will lose some weight.
If you add exercise to this, you'll lose even more because the exercise calories will come off your daily total lowering the 'net calorie' balance even more below your maintenance value (2000 calories).
When you perform cardio on an empty stomach, you will start burning off body fat faster than if you would have eaten before hand, but again it will come down to total calorie balance.
If you eat the calories before you workout and burn them off during the workout or not eat the calories and burn off fat during the workout but consume those same calories later in the day, you will still have the same total calorie expenditure and intake so fat loss will be relatively the same.
The only way it may differ slightly is if you're placing a much greater portion of your consumed calories right around the workout when nutrient partitioning is better and more likely to go into the muscle cells.
An example of this would be if you performed early morning empty stomach cardio and then later in the day did a weight session, consuming a good quantity of carbohydrates and protein immediately after. You may see an improved overall body composition from this method, providing you greater results.
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Total Fat Loss Boils Down To How Many Calories You Take
In During The Day Versus How Many Calories You Expend.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can get a much better view of whether empty stomach cardio is going to be effective for you and how you should go about implementing it into your overall program.