Earlier this week one of my friends sent me an article which promoted fasted cardio as an efficient method of fat loss. Fasted cardio (FC) and it’s effectiveness has been a thoroughly investigated topic in the Health and Fitness industry over the years. In this post, I plan to explain the reasoning behind FC, the effectiveness of FC and finally determine whether or not it is a tool which you should be using or not.
You can read the article in question by clicking here
What is Fasted Cardio?
Quite simply, FC is when cardiovascular exercise is performed without having anything to eat prior to exercise.
Why is it done?
Normally, the body will use carbohydrates (gained through food) for fuelling the body. However, when no carbohydrates are present, the body will break down fat stores and use them as energy in order to fuel movement.
What does Science say?
Two recent studies by Brad Schoenfeld (2014 and 2011) compared non-fasted and fasted cardio and the impact of FC on body fat reduction. The literature does not support the use of fasted cardio as a method of body fat reduction and found no difference in terms of body fat reduction between both fasted and non-fasted cardio. One of the studies actually indicated that FC could have a negative impact on strength and muscular growth as result of depleted levels of glycogen created through FC!
(Read the 2014 study here)
Fasted Cardio and The Calorie Deficit
Focusing on being within a Calorie Deficit is more important than the methods used to incur Fat Loss,. I have covered what the calorie deficit is in Fat Loss 101, but basically, it refers to consuming less calories per day than your body requires.
The argument that Fasted Cardio brings on fat loss falls down here. Lets take an individual who partakes in Fasted Cardio regularly. They wake up, skip breakfast and head straight to the gym. After they complete their session, they consume too many calories throughout the course of the day which, as a result, takes them out of the calorie deficit. As a result, they will not see changes in body fat until they reduce their calorie intake. It’s got nothing to do with FC or methods of training and everything to do with calories consumed per day.
Fasted Cardio and Energy
Failing to have an adequate meal or snack before exercise can potentially cause dizziness and a decrease in performance as the body does not have a plentiful fuel source on which to rely. There are definitely safer methods that can be used.
But what about the Telegraph article?
A couple of things:
– Take everything you read on the internet with a pinch of salt, especially when it comes to “quick fix” methods. Unfortunately, “quick fixes” don’t exist in terms of fitness.
– The author does not use scientifically backed studies to support his claims. Although he does refer to “studies” and “recent advice” in the articles, he does not reference these “studies”. Just because he has trained himself using this method and advocates it does not make it more valid than scientific evidence. Without scientific backing it is little more than an opinion.
– Last point, in the article, we find a plug for the authors “2 Meal Day” plan for £14.99 – one video and a paragraph about it at the bottom of the post. I mean in no way to discredit this plan as I know nothing about it, however, it would potentially indicate that this meal plan works in conjunction with fasted cardio. Therefore, this article may have been written in order to drive sales of this Meal plan rather than providing an education on FC.
In conclusion, FC may be something you do and enjoy. If that’s the case, fair enough – that’s your personal preference. I however feel that there are safer and more efficient ways of bring body composition change without using FC.
Lastly, aim to find solid evidence from a valid scientific source rather than believing what you read on social media.. (how ironic!).