Cardio is a popular exercise regime for people who want to shed their excess fat and burn off calories. Moreover, people often believe that doing cardio on an empty stomach can increase fat loss. This is because a cardio workout will force your body to burn off those extra calories offering you the energy you need.
On the contrary, some studies reveal that exercising on an empty stomach can cause ore harm than doing good.
Read on to know more about the impact of fasting cardio.
The Mechanism of Fasting Cardio
Carbohydrates are stored within our muscle tissue in the form of glycogen and is the preferred source of fuel for our body. Hence, when we workout, the glycogen is first used by our body to produce energy and then it turns to fat. At night, the levels of glycogen in our body decreases and are almost depleted by the time we wake up. Supporters of the fasting cardio believe that exercising when the glycogen levels are low can force our body to use up that fat as fuel.
However, this logic isn’t supported by some medical fact or scientific research. They say that our body can store glycogen for almost 12 hours before it needs to be replenished. Further, our body needs glycogen to metabolize fat. This means that if we exercise when our glycogen levels are low, our body is incapable of using its fat reserves. Instead it turns to our muscles. This means that fasting cardio will not burn excess fat, but will result in muscle loss.
Why Eating Before Workout is Important?
According to a research conducted a test to analyze the differences in energy expenditure, and fat metabolism in fasting and feeding conditions after a 36-minute cardiovascular workout, following results were obtained:
- Participants who exercised after a meal had a higher caloric expenditure as compared to those who exercised after fasting.
- Participants who exercised after their meal also had better “lipid utilization”. This means that they burned more fat as fuel.
- Surprisingly, these effects lasted for 24 hours after the cardio workout.
Hence, these findings prove that doing cardio after a meal has better results as compared to exercising after fasting.
What to Do?
In order to reap maximum benefit from your cardio workout, the first step is to determine your target heart rate. When you begin your workout and you reach your target rate, it’s time to stay at that level for atleast 10 minutes. Also, you should aim for a target heart rate of 150 bpm (if you’re 30 years old). For this, you can use a heart rate calculator. Doing workout for a longer period at this level will result in 60 % of your energy expenditure arising from fat reserves.
What should you Eat Before Cardio?
According to many fitness experts, eating a carbohydrate-dense meal about an hour before cardio followed by a protein and carb-based meal after the workout is recommended. Since all the carbs are not equally created, make sure to eat only healthy carbs such as oatmeal or whole-grain cereal prior to your cardio sessions.
So, to conclude, it can be said that eat a healthy breakfast before hitting the gym and feel the fat burn!