NOT fuel up prior to a hard workout??? If you have not heard already, there is a trend in fitness called “fasted cardio”. A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition supported the school of thought that 20% more fat is burned when people exercise in a “fasted” state. This occurs because when during aerobic training, your body must burn glycogen which is depleted in a fasted state. The idea is that the body goes for the fat reserves when working out a certain time -frame after consuming food. However, even if there are trace levels of glycogen in your body, it is not able to burn fat and will burn up muscle since that is quick energy.
The only way for the “fasted cardio” method to truly work is to be sure that all glycogen stores are depleted in your body. When you start to burn muscle, your body works harder to store more fat and you lose some of that great tone you have worked so hard for.
If your fasted cardio results in too much muscle damage and break down, it becomes too difficult for it to repair. This results in less muscle growth and more loss. I’m guessing muscle loss is not one of your goals since the more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to burn fat.
Additionally, for fasted cardio to really work, the cardio needs to be done at lower intensities to burn more fat. You are essentially unable to do high-intensity cardio and as a result, you burn fewer calories. Your metabolic rate begins to run slower throughout the rest of the day due to the muscle burn. Because you have told your body that it needs to store more fat, you can bet that your next meal it will be doing just that!
Fitness professionals agree that fasted exercise can lead to muscle loss along with the fat and overall, it becomes counter-productive to your fitness goals. Fasting will seriously limit your energy levels for training your hardest for best results. Insuring that you are doing your cardio in a true depletion of glycogen stores, as well as the proper intensity is difficult to do. The risk of losing your hard-earned muscle is not worth it.
Working out in a fasted state removes the workout boost you get from pre-workout carbs and you lose your edge. Starting your workouts with the right amount of fuel for optimal performance also suppresses your appetite for after your workout. Remember it is 80% what and how you eat and 20% workouts.
So, toss the fast and make sure to consume a small but carb-dense meal before your workout and a carb and protein-packed one afterwards is the way to go and supports your muscle mass. Caloric deficit is the number one way to lose fat and not muscle.
Featured photo source: Pexel.com