Doing cardio on an empty stomach has taken off, and is being coined as one of the most effective ways to burn maximum body fat, but is it actually worthwhile? Look, I am not here to tell you what to do, or whether fasted cardio is better or worse. I do not have the scientific knowledge or expertise to even begin to explain it on a scientific level, but I do have experience. I speak with my hand on my heart when I say I have experienced both sides of the spectrum.
So what does fasted cardio even mean? The term comes from the idea that if your body has no readily available calories from food to burn, you’ll burn the fat stores instead; muffin top be gone! Sounds logical, right? However, a systematic review of studies conducted in 2017 notes that fat burning is consistent regardless of whether or not you eat before a cardio workout. Other research shows a negative effect of muscle loss from skipping a pre-workout snack. Are you lost on the science yet?
I know I am, so from one athlete straight to you, here’s my piece. I do fasted cardio. Most mornings I am up before breakfast stepping my way into the day, without an ounce of food in my belly. It works for me, I feel energised, I feel more alive when cardio is the goal — but not weights. I will not do a strength workout on an empty stomach as I find I have no energy to do it properly. Your body needs energy to perform and energy comes from the food you eat — so I eat a balanced meal before hitting the weights, every time! I want to get the most out of my strength workouts and not feel like I wasted my time, but that’s me.
It isn’t the same for all, and honestly, without conclusive evidence to say one is better than the other, you’re better off being in a routine that you stick to! The most important thing is that you enjoy your fit regime, and you get what you want out of it, fasted training or not.
So what’s the conclusion? Do whatever makes you feel good and able to smash your workouts! If that means eating a meal before you go, then great, do that! If you’re like me and love the way fasted cardio makes you feel, then don’t eat — it seems the scientific world doesn’t have an answer for what is “best”, so YOU decide!