Cardio is a word that few fitness enthusiasts enjoy hearing.
Furthermore, it’s an activity that even fewer enjoy doing.
The thing to remember when it comes to cardio, though, is that it is incredibly beneficial and good for us.
Today we’re looking at the benefits of fasted cardio.
Believe it or not, but there are some people out there that actually enjoy doing cardio on an empty stomach.
Furthermore, there is very strong evidence to suggest that cardio on an empty stomach is, in fact, a great deal more beneficial than doing after having eaten an hour or so beforehand.
But what are the benefits, and is it really as beneficial as some would have you believe?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Here’s a detailed look at what fasted cardio is and why it could be the secret to fat loss.
Table Of Contents
Before we can start talking to you about why fasted cardio is so awesome, we first need to begin by talking to you about what fasted cardio actually is.
Cardiovascular exercise is an exercise that helps to improve your cardiovascular system, I.E your heart.
The word ‘cardio’ is itself derived from the Ancient Greek word for heart, which was ‘Kardia’.
That should give you a clue as to how beneficial the heart cardiovascular exercise is.
In terms of what cardio exercise involves, typically you’ll find that when most gym-goers refer to cardio, they’ll be referring to exercise such as doing elliptical machine, cycling, arc trainer, stair climber, jogging, or sprinting.
Fasted cardio is a form of cardiovascular exercise in which you will perform your activity of choice whilst in a fasted state.
This means that you need a completely empty stomach to do it, which is why most people do it early in the morning.
It is important to mention that fasted cardio requires hydration, so you need to have consumed plenty of water before you begin training, as well as during.
There are thought to be many benefits associated with fasted cardio, and there are certainly plenty of benefits associated with cardio.
Here’s a more detailed look.
Shock, horror, but one of the primary benefits associated with fasted cardio is, in fact, fat loss.
One of the main reasons why people choose to do fasted cardio is because it is believed that fasted cardio promotes fat loss.
There’s a lot of science behind it, but the general consensus is that fasted cardio or fasted weight training basically works because, instead of using energy from the food you’ve consumed, your body instead taps into your body fat reserves for energy.
You, therefore, use your own body fat to fuel your workout.
Another awesome benefit associated with fasted cardio is the fact that it generally helps to free up your day.
You see, fasted cardio doesn’t mean that you should eat lunch, and then wait a couple of hours before jumping on the treadmill.
No, to truly be in a fasted state you need to not have eaten for at least 4 hours, if not more.
Because of this, often the only time to really be in a fasted state, unless you’re doing intermittent fasting, is early in the morning after waking up.
Because of this, once you’ve done your cardio, showered, and changed, you’ve done your exercise for the day, so you will now be free to go about your day as normal, without having to worry about whether or not you’ll have time to hit the gym later.
Too many workout routines nowadays are designed to be overly complex, and we can’t understand why.
There’s so much info to take in, and so much to understand that people spend far too much time worrying about what it is that they’re supposed to be doing in the first place.
Fasted cardio is very simple.
You simply do your cardio as usual, only whilst in a fasted state.
Another of the awesome benefits that we’re going to be looking at today is based upon the fact that fasted cardio gives you plenty of different options.
If you’re stuck in a rut and find yourself doing the same things over and over again, you will no doubt soon find yourself becoming bored.
Fasted cardio, however, means that you can try different things.
One week you could do your cardio on the treadmill.
The possibilities are endless.
Like we mentioned above, if you find yourself stuck in a rut and doing the same activities over and over again, you’ll quickly grow bored.
If you’re bored, you won’t get the most out of your exercise, and you’ll lose interest.
Fasted cardio, is ideal because it means that you get to keep things fresh and exciting because you can switch things up.
The act of actually doing cardio whilst hungry isn’t exactly exciting, but what is exciting is the fact that you can try so many different types of exercise to pique your interests.
Yes, we know that we’ve already mentioned how fasted cardio is great for fat loss, but it turns out that it’s also ideal for weight loss for another reason.
You see, when you perform fasted cardio, you’ll shorten your eating window for the day, which means that you’ll eat less.
Obviously, in order to do fasted cardio, you’ll need to skip breakfast, or at least, postpone it.
Eating later on in the day means that you’ll find it easier to lose weight because you’ll likely consume fewer calories.
If you leave it an extra two hours before eating your first meal, this could result in you not needing to eat supper before going to bed, which could save you a few hundred calories.
Weight loss basically boils down to calories in vs calories burned, so the less you consume, the more weight you’ll lose and/or the harder you’ll find it to gain weight.
Another benefit, not only of fasted cardio but of cardio in general, is the fact that it improves mental health.
To begin with, cardio is fantastic for people looking to lift their spirits as it helps to improve mental health.
This is due to many reasons, though the most common reason is the fact that it promotes an increase in endorphins, which are known as ‘happy chemicals’ because they make us feel good.
It isn’t just your mood that fasted cardio improves, oh no.
Another awesome benefit of fasted cardio is the fact that it helps to boost cognitive health and brain function too.
Studies have found a direct correlation between cardiovascular exercise, especially whilst in a fasted state, and improvements in mental clarity and function.
This means that fasted cardio helps to improve your levels of focus and concentration, as well as your overall brain function.
There is even evidence that would suggest that cardio in a fasted state can reduce the risk of degenerative brain issues later on in life.
When people talk about the benefits, they often overlook the importance of sleep and sleep quality.
We need to get plenty of good quality sleep each night if we’re looking to stand any chance of functioning correctly the following day.
This is where fasted cardio proves to be so beneficial.
Fasted cardio is ideal as it helps to improve the overall quality of your sleep.
There are many reasons for this, including the fact that cardio exercise is tiring, and the more energy we expend, the better we tend to sleep to “recharge” as it were.
As well as that, fasted cardio also enables us to get out into the sunshine much quicker than usual because we aren’t sitting indoors preparing and eating breakfast.
Natural sunlight in a morning promotes an increase in hormones such as melatonin and serotonin, which help to promote a good night’s sleep.
As you might expect from cardiovascular exercise, another fantastic benefit of cardio is the fact that it is so great for the heart.
Cardio exercise, especially fasted, is ideal for strengthening the heart.
People often forget that the heart is a muscle.
Like other muscles in your body, it needs to be trained to become stronger.
You can’t bust out a set of curls for your heart like you would when building up your biceps, and there aren’t special heart training weight machines that you can use in the gym.
So what do you do?
Well, you can train the heart by performing cardiovascular exercise.
Cardio makes the heart stronger, which in turn will improve circulation, boost oxygen transportation, reduce blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and put you at less risk of a heart attack.
We just mentioned how another benefit of fasted cardio is the fact that it reduces blood pressure, but why is that important?
Well, because hypertension, AKA high blood pressure, can damage your organs, it can weaken your arteries, it can cause strokes, heart disease, heart attacks, and much more besides.
By performing fasted cardio, you are therefore able to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, which can only be seen as a good thing.
It has been proven that a lack of exercise can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness and disease.
The stronger our immune systems are, the healthier we are.
Fasted cardio has been found to help strengthen the immune system so you become less susceptible to illness.
This means that fasted cardio will promote all-around health and wellness.
Fasted cardio will also help make you a better athlete.
To begin with, if you perform cardio on a regular basis, you will become fitter and healthier.
Your stamina and endurance will improve, and you’ll generally be able to exercise for longer periods of time before you tire out.
Another of the awesome benefits, though, especially when it comes to athletic performance, is that it improves oxygen transportation.
Because your circulation improves, this means that you can transport more oxygen around your body before fatigue begins to set in.
More oxygen means that your cells have more energy, so they can work harder, making your muscles more productive.
As well as that, fasted cardio will also help you to become leaner, and the lighter you are, the faster you will likely be.
There is also very strong evidence to suggest that fasted cardio can also help to improve your metabolism.
Having a fast-burning metabolism means that you’ll burn calories much faster, and, will generate more energy as a result.
People with fast metabolism have more energy, they don’t tire as easily as regular individuals, they find it harder to gain weight, and they lose fat much easier and much faster as well.
As fasted cardio helps boost the metabolism, the benefits are pretty obvious.
Fasted cardio helps to promote fat loss, which will already give you a more aesthetic looking physique in most cases, but that’s not all.
Because it’s such an effective way of exercising, it will also help to boost muscle tone and definition, allowing you to achieve a leaner, more ripped and defined body.
You don’t need an expensive treadmill or exercise bike to perform fasted cardio, all you need is the great outdoors.
If you don’t have access to a gym, you can perform it outdoors in the form of a bike ride, walking, or jogging.
And that’s the end of our look at the benefits of fasted cardio today.
We hope that you’ve found the info above useful, exciting, and informative.
If so, be sure to try fasted cardio the next time you feel like a change, and see how you get on.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.