Why Fasted Cardio Rocks

fasted cardio

Been having trouble reaching that lean and cut look that you so longingly desire?  Are you having trouble burning away the last of those fat cells in your belly and legs?  Almost ready to give up completely?  Before you do… Have you considered fasted cardio?

Fasted cardio has been a successful practice used in weight loss for just under two decades.  Do you know why it’s been practiced that long?  Because it works.  You get results.  So long as you’re being intelligent when it comes to fasted cardio, it’s not unhealthy, which is the common myth.  Anybody who is willing to speak out against the success of rapid weight loss directly related to fasted cardio clearly hasn’t done their research.  Hopefully we can put your mind at ease and teach you the best techniques to responsibly practice fasted cardio in this article so that you can get the results you’ve been craving.  Seriously, it works!

The History of Fasted Cardio

Ever since modern medicine was developed, there has been an ongoing increase in interest when it comes to healthy physique.  For well over 100 years, people have been trying to cut back on the foods that are known to make them gain weight and have been making conscious efforts to exercise to get to a healthy, comfortable, and socially acceptable weight.  Over the years, especially since the 1990’s, this has become more of a passion for many, rather than just a healthy lifestyle.  People genuinely enjoy exercising and are determined to be the best physical specimen they can be.  This has led to an increase in scientific studies, fitness novels, videos, and new exercises for public consumption.

In 1999, Bill Phillips, the famous fitness guru, published a best-selling fitness book entitled Body for Life.  This book outlined the best ways to see body-morphing results in just three months.  One of the most effective topics Bill covered was fasted cardio.  He maintains that if you do a cardio work out prior to eating, your glycogen levels will fall.  Glycogen is typically where our bodies get the fuel they need for a prolonged workout [1].  Without having glycogen readily available, Bill says that our bodies will use stored fat to provide the energy needed for a workout.  He goes on to suggest that the best time to work out is first thing in the morning, prior to enjoying a healthy breakfast.  This will ensure that our body is hungry, whether you feel it or not, and that you’re going to get the most fat burning benefit possible from your workout.

Since the release of Bill’s book, a large variety of case studies have been completed to try to validate or invalidate Bill’s claims.  As it turns out, there was a lot of scientific truth to fasted cardio.  It’s important to understand that it’s not just as simple as what Bill claimed, however.  More goes in to today’s version of fasted cardio.  In 2014, it was proven that women who chose to practice fasted cardio saw more impressive results than the women who exercised as normal.  Not only did the women doing the fasted cardio see results because of the practice itself, but the thought is that they were more conscious about when and what they were eating since exercise and the meal that followed went hand in hand.

The Good – Enjoy the Success!

Practicing fasted cardio exercising is common among athletes – especially the millionaire MMA and UFC fighters.  Bill has worked with Olympic wrestlers that have been known to drop down a weight class or two in the days before matches by doing serious fasted cardio training.  It’s not rare for NFL players to shave a few pounds off in the couple days before a game to make them a split second faster than their competition.  Models often explore fasted cardio the week before a shoot.  So long as it’s monitored, it’s an extremely effective (and perfectly healthy) way to lose that extra jiggle!

  • LOSE WEIGHT FASTER. Obviously the most desirable and beneficial result of fasted cardio.  You can lose the stubborn fat deposits at a rate of 25% more quickly.  A recent study from the UK published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” did find that when subjects fasted before a morning cardio workout, they burned 20 percent more fat than when they had a meal beforehand.  Weight loss requires a calorie deficit at the end of the day.  If you participate in fasted cardio for 30 minutes a day, you’ll burn those calories from fat deposits you’d not normally touch.
  • LIGHTER WEIGHTS, LESS BURN. Rather than making yourself super sore by overworking your muscles and building muscle mass, the idea is to work out more intensely for a longer period of time.  Running, doing a high amount of light-weight reps, and elliptical training all fall within this category.  This will result in that slim and tight look you’re looking for.
  • HEALTHY SUPPLEMENTS. There are a select number of clinically proven, approved supplements on the market.  These have been proven to help boost your metabolism in the time of hunger, resulting in the desired effect in less time.  In conjunction with that, there are some natural supplements available that will help curb your appetite, stimulate bowl movements, and enhancing your energy levels for workouts.  All of this culminates to further bloat reduction and fat burn.
  • INCREASED ENERGY LEVELS. Most people who are engaging in cardio workouts on a regular basis tend to “feel better.”   They can do more work throughout the day.  They often feel like they get better rest and sleep comes much easier to them.  Fasted cardio accomplishes all of the same things except it’s often amplified.  Assuming you practice fasted cardio in a healthy manner, you’ll likely have more energy, sex drive, and you will not lose your temper quite so easily.

The Bad – Practice Fasted Cardio Responsibly

Bill paved the way for a new era of weight loss.  His book is a best seller, in large part, because of this single tip.  Unfortunately for Bill, there are always going to be nay-sayers.  With success comes criticism.  Ever since the Body for Life fitness book was released, people within the body building and scientific communities have been trying to dismiss Bill’s claims because they view it as unhealthy.  It’s true, there is some cause for concern.

  • HYDRATE. One must stay hydrated when practicing fasted cardio routines.  If your body lacks water, you’re going to be prone to heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Practicing fasted cardio will make us more susceptible to these conditions because we’re not absorbing water through foods prior to workouts.  We must rely on our water bottles and our body’s natural ability to retain water.
  • BEWARE OF MEDICATIONS. Another cause for concern within the medical community is often related to medications one may be on.  If you’re taking a medication that naturally dehydrates you, it’s probably not best to practice fasted cardio.  If you’re waking up every day with “cotton mouth,” consult your doctor before you decide to enhance your cardio workouts.  Chances are you’re having a hydration deficiency caused by your meds and is not to be taken lightly.  It is not suggested to do any fasted cardio exercising if this is the case.
  • COMFORTABLE CONDITIONS. Make sure that you’re not going to try to practice fasted cardio in an extremely hot environment. Keep the air moving and comfortable.  Your body is already at a weakened state due to lack of food, don’t increase the chances of overheating or dehydration by working out in an uncomfortable temperature or humidity.
  • USING UNTESTED PRODUCTS. It’s important that we don’t just believe what we hear and see on television or the radio.  Take the time to understand whether or not the supplement you’re interested in has gone through thorough testing and is approved by the FDA.  Don’t take a product you’re not at all familiar with and don’t trust supplements, vitamins, or other pills given to you in an unmarked container or bag.

The Ugly – Take it Seriously

workout exhaustionFasted cardio isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  You truly do need to be responsible when you’re practicing such a progressive form of weight loss.  There are very real negative consequences that you need to be aware of so you can avoid them.  Like almost any extreme weight loss regimen, fasted cardio needs to be closely monitored and taken very seriously.  These are some of the most extreme negative scenarios that may be encountered if you’re not following a healthy fasted cardio program…

  • MUSCLE LOSS. Sometimes, people get so excited with their results that they will push their bodies beyond the limit.  If you decide to fast all day and all night, abuse the heck out of your body and deprive it from any real meal at all, you lose some muscle while exercising. You’ll end up skinny fat.  Your body is a machine that is constantly searching for more fuel to make it run during a workout.  If you don’t have any stored carbs and very little fat, your body will start to eat the molecules that make up our muscle composition.  This will result in some muscle loss.  Most people don’t want that.  We’d rather have a lean and fit physique than a skeletal physique, right?
  • SAGGY SKIN. Fasted cardio can be so effective that you’ll actually burn off those pesky fat repositories at such a fast rate that you may develop saggy skin.  Be sure to monitor your physique on a daily basis and understand when you’ve lost a few pounds.  Every time you lose three or four pounds, it’s a good idea to hit the weights.  This will ensure that you’re going to replace some of that newly emptied space with muscle.  Leaving the area that was formerly occupied by fat completely empty will drastically affect the elasticity of your skin and result in some serious skin sag.
  • SICKNESS/DEATH. In the most extreme of cases, people have taken fasted weight loss far beyond the boundaries of reason and have caused their bodies to give up completely.  On a few occasions, people have been hospitalized by trying to lose too much weight in too short of an amount of time.  Not all of these individuals have left the hospital.  You need to realize the limits of your own body.  You cannot completely deprive your machine of fuel or it will shut down.  Be sure to have a well-rounded diet and sleep pattern.  It’s important not to participate in fasted cardio if you’ve gone more than 12 hours without food.  Continue to drink water and electrolytes so that you do not overheat or get dehydrated.

Eating Isn’t Bad

what to eat before workoutOne of the most common assumptions made by people inquiring about fasted exercising is that you’re not able to eat.  That’s simply illogical and untrue.  You certainly are expected to keep your body fueled up and ready to roll come the next workout time.  Fast whey and high-protein meals accompanied with water and an electrolyte enriched beverage are recommended for the serious fasted cardio people [2].

Consider these for consumption before workout fueling…

  1. A simple handful of nuts and a tall glass of water. This will add nothing in the way of fat but ensure you can finish your entire workout.
  2. 8 ounce protein shake helps your body direct nutrients to muscle growth and sustainability rather than feeding on their molecules.
  3. Small glass of orange juice and a couple ounces of fish. This combination will prevent your skin from sagging by improving elasticity.

Consider these for consumption after a workout to refuel…

  1. 2 Eggs with spinach or avocado and a glass of water. This will refill you and refuel your “machine” for the day.  Depending on the supplements you’re taking to go with it, you likely will not feel hungry for up to 8 hours.
  2. Grilled chicken salad with hot sauce or low fat dressing. Fill that stomach while boosting the protein to ensure muscle growth.
  3. Some freshly seasoned and grilled fish with Gatorade. This might sound like a nasty combination but you’re going to ensure your skin won’t start sagging, you won’t lose muscle and you will not get tired throughout the day.
  4. Protein and fruit smoothie. Make yourself a delish smoothie with some protein powder, strawberries, nuts, bananas, spinach, and splash of juice.  Surprisingly filling and will help you achieve that cut figure you’re looking for by eliminating the need for carbs.

Fasted Cardio Results are Real!

Long story short, if you’re somebody who can disciplined enough to follow a strict regimen, there is no reason why you can’t use fasted cardio to accomplish your weight loss goals.  It’s been proven to be effective, especially with the right supplements and diet [2] [3].  Results are something that you cannot scoff at.  After two decades, it’s clear that fasted cardio is an effective method to blast away the most stubborn of fat repositories.  Just don’t overdo it and be sure to keep your “machine” fueled and ready to go!


  1. Energy Metabolism, Fuel Selection and Body Weight Regulation
    J Galgani and E Ravussin Int J Obes (Lond). Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Jul 6. Published in final edited form as: Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Dec; 32(Suppl 7): S109–S119. doi: [10.1038/ijo.2008.246]
  2. Comparison of High-Protein, Intermittent Fasting Low-Calorie Diet and Heart Healthy Diet for Vascular Health of the Obese
    Li Zuo,1,† Feng He,2,3,† Grant M. Tinsley,4 Benjamin K. Pannell,1 Emery Ward,3 and Paul J. Arciero3,* Front Physiol. 2016; 7: 350.
    Published online 2016 Aug 29. doi: [10.3389/fphys.2016.00350]
  3. Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise
    Brad Jon Schoenfeld,corresponding author Alan Albert Aragon, Colin D Wilborn, James W Krieger, and Gul T Sonmez J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014; 11: 54.
    Published online 2014 Nov 18. doi: [10.1186/s12970-014-0054-7]
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