Feeling frustrated your fitness endeavors are starting to feel like past math classes? When it all seemed straight forward and simple, they threw X, Y, and Z into the mix, and from there is quickly escalated from making sense to extremely complicated (remember deciphering proofs in college?).
Think back to the days when cardio was just, well, cardio. The concept was pretty straight forward and simple, but as time has passed you’ve quickly learned that cardio isn’t as simple as you once believed. The type, frequency, and time can be confusing enough…and now they’ve thrown another element into the mix…
At least in math, the square root of 144 is always 12.
The Fitness Results Formula should always consist of three elements: Resistance Training (X) + Nutrition (Y) + Cardiovascular Training (Z) = Results
Not everyone’s fitness goals are the same and it’s the job of your trainer to manipulate X, Y, and, Z to help you get the results you desire. But because this article is about cardio, we will focus on the Z factor.
Cardio is an important piece of the fitness formula and like the other two pieces, cardio is a variable. It’s able to change, and those changes can influence your results in different ways.
Today’s story problem is: Is fasted cardio more effective than fed cardio?
First, let’s define some terms:
Fasted cardio is defined as cardio that is done in a fasted state, typically first thing in the morning after a full night of no eating or drinking calories.
Fed cardio is defined as cardio that is done after food has been consumed during the day.
Question: As we know, being in a fasted state means we are in a fat burning mode, so wouldn’t that mean that if we do fasted cardio we will burn fat?
Quick Answer: Yes, that is correct, your body will oxidize fat to provide energy for your cardio session.
However, when you do cardio, fasted or fed, you are burning calories. Your energy deficit by the end of the day determines whether you will have weight loss or not. This seems simple, because it is. Which leads us to the next question…
Question: Is fasted cardio right for you?
Solution #1: If it works best for your schedule to perform fasted cardio, do it. Don’t overthink it. If this is the time that works best for you and you can’t stomach calories before, then no worries. I suggest you make sure to always follow this session with a meal of higher protein so you don’t end up catabolizing your lean mass.
Solution #2: If your body fat is already in the lower digits and you are looking to burn up those stubborn areas, this would be a good time to start incorporating fasted cardio into your schedule a few times a week. Practical evidence has shown that if you are needing to target stubborn areas of fat, fasted cardio could be the solution. If you are looking to blast fat without your body eating up your gains, don’t forget to incorporate a post-workout shake or EAAs (Essential Amino Acids) immediately following a fasted session.
So back to the ultimate question: Is fasted cardio more effective than fed cardio?
The answer unfortunately isn’t as black and white as a the 1+1=2. But with the solutions above you can come to the best conclusion that will help you reach YOUR goals faster. My advice is to continue your training protocol, make sure your nutrition is dialed in, and when you are ready to take it to the next level, throw in a few fasted sessions a week and see how your body responds. Fasted cardio can be a great way to shock your body into metabolizing your energy in a different way and blast through the plateau you’ve been sitting on.
Fitness in depth, may not be as simple as 1+1=2, but if you always follow this formula, you will get results.
Fitness Results Formula: Resistance Training (X) + Nutrition (Y) + Cardiovascular Training (Z) = Results
Stay connected with Team ICON Athlete Brandan Fokken on:
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