Looking for a cardio workout to blow all others out of the water? Give fasted cardio a try!
What exactly is fasted cardio?
Your body enters a fasted state when you haven’t eaten for at least 6-8 hours. As this is the average amount of time we tend to sleep, most people choose this type of workout first thing in the morning. To put it simply, you’ll be exercising on a completely empty tummy.
How does it work?
When your insulin levels drop from the lack of food, your body has no choice but to use its fat stores as fuel, meaning you’re burning off those stubborn bits of fat that are tough to get rid of! So, if you work out to stay trim, exercising in a fasted state is the way to go! If you’re a bit of a science buff – this next bit is for you!
The science bit:
During the course of the day, your body goes in and out of fed and fasted states as you eat breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Once you’ve eaten a meal, your body releases insulin to lower your blood sugar and glucose is transported to your muscles to be used as energy (aka glycogen).
After going without food for 6–8 hours, glucagon is released to keep your blood sugar regulated. Your body will then start to break down the adipose (fat) tissue into free fatty acids, which can then be converted into a form of energy known as ketone bodies.
In other words, your body is now burning the stored fat as energy (hooray!)
However, once you eat, it will halt the process and your body will revert to its usual state, as the insulin released from eating prevents your body from breaking down those fatty acids, meaning you’ll go back to burning the sugars from the food you’ve just eaten rather than the fat.
Ready to give it a try for yourself?
Here are 5 tips to make the most of it!
1. Take it easy
If you’re used to relying on a carb-heavy diet to power you through your workout, you may find it tough at first to train this way. Start off lightly by opting for simple exercises like jogging, swimming or cycling to begin with. Although you may find the exercises tougher at first, your body will get used to it and soon start to adjust to burning fat instead of glycogen (and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time!)
2. Train smart
Exercising in a fasted state is brilliant for burning fat, but if you were planning on smashing out a heavy leg day at the gym, it might be worth re-considering (at least for a little while). It would be much better to do a 30-minute HIIT workout
in a fasted state and then either eating a quick meal before you do any weight training or come back to the gym later on in the day once you’ve eaten and digested what you’ve eaten.
Going too heavy in a fasted state can leave you feeling weak, dizzy, lightheaded and sick from the drop in your blood sugar - so plan your workouts beforehand and train smart (if you do want to weight train in a fasted state, go lighter with your lifts for a few weeks while your body adjusts).
Looking for some cardio workouts to try? Here are some circuit ideas for all fitness abilities
3. Full-body workouts
If you do decide to try weight training in a fasted state, make the most of it with compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, planks, lunges and pull-ups.
Not only will these exercises use lots of different muscle groups, they’re also great for keeping your training time to a minimum as you won’t need to do any muscle-isolating exercises. So, you can still get your workout in without spending hours in the gym if you’re hungry (or worse, hangry!)
Compound exercises are fantastic for burning through calories at the best of times, so you’ll reap even more benefits by performing them in a fasted state. Just keep in mind that you may either need to go lighter than usual while your body gets used to exercising without food or lower the reps to get through the heavy lifts.
If you’re new to the fitness world and gym terminology still confuses you, check out our beginner’s guide to gym chat!
Your body is going to be busy while it gets used to your new way of training, so it’s really important to keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Try drinking large glasses of water in between meals during the day or carry around a large bottle of water so you have a visual reminder of how much you’ve drunk so far.
5. Prepare in advance
If you are going to be heading to the gym first thing in the morning before work, you’ll need to meal prep ahead of time so you have something healthy to refuel with when hunger strikes.
Cooking your food ahead of time also helps to save you money and keep your diet on track… you don’t want to do all that hard work and then ruin it with a sausage and bacon roll from the bakers!
New to meal prepping? Here’s a simple guide to help you get started!
If you love learning about new ways to exercises and new tips to pass along to your gym buddy, why not consider a career as a personal trainer? You could share your passion with clients and you’d earn a living doing what you love!
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