Fasted Cardio


Article written by Amy Payne

To eat or not to eat: isn’t that always the question?  Well in the case of Fasted Cardio for fat loss, that is the question.  There has been much debate as towhetheror not you willlosemore fat while doing cardio fasted or performing cardio after consuming meal or 2 or 3.  

So what is Fasted Cardio, andwhat’sthe point? The ideabehind fasted cardio is,performing cardio inafasted statepriorto eatingfirst thingin the morning, the calories you burn will be a greater percentage from fat, and leadto superior overall fat loss.So obviously, performing cardio after eating would be the flip side of the coin.  Thedrawback of fasted cardio from severalviewpointsis that your body iscan be in a catabolic stateafter going all night without foodand start breaking down hard earned muscle for energy when doing cardio prior to eating.  

In the Strength and ConditioningJournal, Brad Schoenfeld summarized data in a review of Fasted Cardio in a straight to the point no bullshit manner. So now I knowall you cardio queens and kingswant the summary right? The green light to keep up your crazy cardio sessions running on no fuel. Drumroll…Schoenfeldstated,fastingbefore exercise actually reducedthe thermogenic response to exercisewhencompared to not fasting.Whatdoes this mean you ask?  This shows that eating before exercise actually enhancesthecalorie burning,(thermogenic)effect of exercise!

In the InternationalJournal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Metabolism, Italian researchers took 80 healthy young males and put them through 2 separate workouts:

Workout A: 36 minutes of slow cardio at 65% maximum heartrate in the morning without eating

Workout B: 36 minutes of slow cardio at 65% maximum heartrate in the morning AFTER a small meal

Conclusion?  24-hours after the workout theparticipantshad greater fat burning and calorie burning after consuming the small meal prior to the workout. The scientists concluded that “fasting before exercise doesnot enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activityafter a light meal is advisable.”

Scoenfeld’s summaryexplainedthatFasted Cardio indeed causedabiggerrelease of free fatty acids than traditional forms of cardio. It does not, however, increase the rate of oxidation and thus,(drumroll) thereis nosignificancedifferenceinfat loss between traditional cardio and fasted cardio. 

Fasted, Non-Fasted, to eachtheirown really,thebiggerfactor that peoplelosesight of is intensity oftheworkout.  This single factor is by far more important for fat loss than fasted ornon-fastedcardio.  Bottom line if you can hold a conversation on the treadmill go faster!  If you look the same going into the gym as you do when you leave, push harder.  Try to incorporate HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) to your regular schedule a few times a week and see what happens. Let’s be honest, cardio is a nasty 6 letter word, no one likes it.  However, I do believe it has its place in developing and maintaining an athlete’s overall condition.  


InternationalJournal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Metabolism (21:48-54, 2011).

SchoenfeldB. Does cardio after an overnight fast maximize fat loss? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2011(33): 23-25. 

  • Chris Chavez

    I really appreciate all the articles that you post on here. They get me thinking, changing, and progressing my overall health and fitness. Thank you.

  • mike

    Wow this is pretty eye-opening! Thanks!