It’s been a little over a month since I started implementing fasted cardio into my training routine, so today I thought I’d share my results and experience with you. There are many studies and opinions on fasted cardio and whether or not it is better at promoting fat loss, or making fat loss easier and faster. I talked a little bit about the different theories in my previous post. In the end, sometimes I feel the only way to know if something works is to try it for yourself. So that’s what I did. Continue reading
Let’s Talk: Working Out at Home
Good afternoon, everyone! I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since I wrote my last post. My days have been pretty busy lately, especially with my freelance social media/digital marketing job. (I work for a jewelry retailer so it’s prime sales time with the holidays fast approaching!) I’ve also been busy sticking to my training (and meal) plan, which calls for twice daily workouts four to five days a week (I do fasted cardio in the morning and then a strength & cardio routine in the evening).
This week, however, my trainer is away on a much-needed vacation (he works 12-hour days, seven days a week!). While I’m glad he’s getting some time away—he certainly deserves it!—I’ve been doing so well with my training that I was a little disappointed when I realized I would be on my own for most of the week. Continue reading
This morning was my third day doing fasted cardio. If you’re not familiar with fasted cardio, it’s exactly what its name implies—performing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The reason I started implementing this technique is because I reached out to Tracy Hess, an IFBB pro who trains at my gym, to devise a meal plan for me last week. To my (pleasant) surprise, she not only developed a meal plan for me but also gave me a resistance training program and advised me to do fasted cardio five days a week for 45 minutes each session.
I’ve read about fasted cardio before, and I know it’s a topic of much debate in the fitness and bodybuilding community. The theory behind fasted cardio is that you’ll burn more fat working out in a fasted state compared to working out after you eat. This is because when your body is in a fasted state, it has a low or no supply of glycogen (glycogen is the stored carbohydrates that the body prefers to use for exercise), therefore your body is able to tap into its fat stores for energy faster, meaning you burn a greater percentage of fat during your workout.
(*Note: You’ll burn the same amount of calories performing cardio in a fasted and non-fasted state; where those calories come from (fat vs. carbs) is the idea behind fasted cardio.)
Why I (Finally) Decided to Give Fasted Cardio a Try
There are both pros and cons to fasted cardio—which is why it continues to be heavily debated. I had previously considered adding it to my training routine until I read the facts against it (more on that later) and weighed the thought of getting up early to work out with no immediate energy source (i.e., food) present. It seemed like skipping fasted cardio was a no-brainer.
After meeting with Tracy and going over my goals, I decided to give fasted cardio a shot. I not only have Tracy’s physique and expert knowledge to back up my decision; I also have the results I’ve seen with her clients. One of them recently competed in her first bikini competition—and won!
When I went over the meal plan and training program with Adam (my trainer), he said that the fasted cardio will make me tired, but that it will definitely help get rid of the extra fat around my stomach and hips, which is exactly what I need. That’s also one of the pros of fasted cardio: it helps get rid of “stubborn” fat from the hips, thighs, and butt. (You can read more about how fasted cardio helps get rid of stubborn fat here.)
While fasted cardio increases your body’s ability to burn fat, specifically from “trouble” spots, it does have one major drawback: it increases the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Training in a fasted state puts stress on the body and because there is no immediate source of glycogen present your body begins to break down muscle—along with fat—for fuel. This is the major drawback of fasted cardio, especially since muscle is metabolically active (meaning it helps you burn more calories, even when you’re not physically active). In a way, fasted cardio is a double-edged sword: it helps you lose stubborn body fat, but it also helps you lose muscle tissue, which will decrease your metabolic rate. (Not to mention you worked hard for that muscle, the last thing you want to do is lose it!)
Luckily there is a way to counteract this effect: branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). According to various studies, supplementing with BCAAs 10 – 15 minutes before performing fasted cardio will help suppress the breakdown of muscle.
I’ve worked very hard to build the muscles in my legs and butt these past few months and I’m extremely happy with the results I’ve gotten. I was afraid fasted cardio would take all of that beautiful muscle growth away from me…so today I picked up some BCAAs at GNC.
I’ve only done three fasted cardio sessions thus far, and I doubt not having the BCAAs beforehand caused me significant muscle loss. However, I don’t want to risk it and will be supplementing with BCAAs from now on.
My Experience with Fasted Cardio (So Far)
Though it’s only been three days, I do want to say that fasted cardio is easier than I thought (hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself). I thought it would be hard to get up and work out for 45 minutes every morning, but knowing that this could help me reach my goal and target the areas where I WANT to lose weight keeps me going. Some other benefits I’ve experienced include having more energy after my workouts and feeling more accomplished. Plus, there is now a longer rest period between my cardio and weight training sessions, so I don’t feel like I’m going from one workout to the next.
On the flip side, I can see how this may get old pretty fast. I noticed that I’m tired earlier in the night. Part of this is good because I wanted to improve my sleep, and knowing that I have to work out first thing in the morning motivates me to get to bed earlier. And since I’m going to bed earlier, I don’t have the time or desire to snack on something sweet, which was a major flaw in my diet.
With the mornings getting colder and colder, however, I can see that it could get harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. Even this morning I stayed in bed a few minutes longer, debating if I should skip the fasted cardio or not. In the end, I know I have a goal I want to reach and that I need to stay consistent if I want this to get easier and become a regular habit. And once I got up and hopped on the elliptical, I knew I made the right decision. After the first five minutes I was ready to keep going, and I even went a few minutes longer.
It’s still early and only time will tell if fasted cardio is right for me. I plan to do a follow-up post in the next couple weeks to update you on my progress and any issues I’ve experienced.
What do think about fasted cardio? Have you tried it? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!
Happy Workout Wednesday, everyone! Are you planning to work out today? If you have a full-time job, kids, a side project (like a really awesome blog!), and a lengthy to-do list, then finding time to hit the gym may sound impossible.
I’ve had a pretty busy week myself: on top of work, developing my personal business plan, and helping my trainer with his social media marketing, I’m also taking an online course. But I refuse to let my fitness goals fall by the wayside! Luckily, for the past few weeks I’ve been incorporating some plyometric exercises into my weekly workout routine. Continue reading
How to Exercise and Eat Healthy When You Don’t Have Time
I know I’m not alone in feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on our to-do list. We’re all pressed for time these days thanks to our busy lifestyles, and often, that means exercise and healthy eating go out the window for many people. But it turns out incorporating these two habits into our daily routine can actually help us accomplish more throughout our day Continue reading
Happy Hump Day, everyone! Yesterday I went to my first Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) class and wanted to share my experience and thoughts about the workout with you. I first learned about this workout program/studio via Facebook (it came up as a Suggested Post since some of my Facebook friends had ‘Liked’ the page). More recently, I read about the program in the September issue of SELF magazine. The article discussed the afterburn effect of high intensity interval training and how OTF incorporates this science-backed practice into their workout routines. The article also included a sample workout that you can do at your own gym, similar to the routines done at the studio.
I’ve been looking for ways to change up my workout routine since I’ve hit a plateau and am also getting a little bored with my cardio on the elliptical. I know I need to push my body harder, and this class seemed like the perfect way to do just that. Plus, the first session is free—there was no reason not to give it a try. Continue reading
Whether you’re just starting out on your weight-loss journey or have the last (and hardest!) 10 pounds to go, I’m sure you’d love to find a way to burn additional calories without spending extra time in the gym or cutting more calories from your diet. Well, you’re in luck! A little thing called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can help increase your metabolism and burn extra calories—and you don’t even have to break a sweat to do it. Continue reading