Why you should be cutting out breakfast!
You’ve probably heard personal trainers talk about mobilising fat as energy, as opposed to using carbs (glycogen), to help achieve a leaner body. There are multiple ways you can do this: by maintaining a lower blood sugar level in general, ingesting omega 3 fish oils, training at a very high intensity by using interval training (HIIT) or by giving fasted cardio a go.
How does fasted cardio work exactly? Exercising in a fasted state increases lipolysis and fat oxidation rates. Lipolysis is where fat cells are broken down for energy and fat oxidation is the burning of this energy. So, how do you get yourself in a fasted state? The most obvious and easiest way is to miss breakfast. Eat your evening meal as normal and whilst you’re sleeping your fasting begins, hit your training session shortly after waking as your body will be fasted for anywhere between eight and ten hours, maybe longer.
Something to note is the fact that many people do HIIT in a fasted state, this in some ways doesn't suit. HIIT is designed to speed up your metabolic rate and help you keep burning fat for many hours post-workout, but fasted cardio is all about burning fat for energy during your session. So if you're looking to maximise fat burning during a session then the two don't necessarily work in harmony. That being said, HIIT is the only cardio I advise unless training for a specific sport or race.
Thinking about giving fasted cardio a go? Fit Squad DXB personal trainer Daniel Wells discusses the pros and cons…
1. A study done by Jenna Gillen PHD from The University of Toronto found that fasted cardio will assist in oxidising fat and help with those problematic and stubborn fat yielding areas i.e. the inner thigh and lower abdominal area. So, if these areas are something you struggle with, it may well be worth trialling fasted cardio sessions. This is not to say that fasted cardio can’t work for other areas of the body and also work for any age, body type or gender.
2. It's a really simple one but if you're fasted before training it can help you keep your calorie intake lower that day. If you're on a calorie deficit diet and looking to cut, then missing breakfast for example, can be an easy way to remove a meal's worth of calories. The same can be done by avoiding any pre-training nutrition.
3. John Kiefer, a physicist and nutrition expert says: "When you're fasted in the morning, the hormone cortisol is high and its only job is to break down the appropriate tissue based on what other hormones are around. Insulin is elevated after eating and cortisol will attack muscle. But, if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves.”
1. In light of increased stress and metal health issues in general, it's important to note that fasted cardio can actually lead to increased anxiety levels. When you rise in the morning your fight or flight hormone cortisol is released, it is also released when you fast and also when you exercise. So, you could actually double or triple your cortisol levels. This is too high for some people, leaving them feeling anxious post-workout and potentially all day. Fat loss slows downs dramatically when you're stressed so this could actually counteract what you’re trying to achieve through fasted cardio so it's important that you listen to your body.
2. Losing muscle mass is a common side affect of fasted cardio as muscle proteins are more readily available for use as energy, as glycogen levels are low, so I would recommend some BBCAs pre-workout.
3. There is also a potential for lower tolerance in cardio sessions carried out in a fasted state, especially for someone that's been out of training for a while. Many people suffer with light-headedness or dizziness when trying it for the first time, so build up slowly to those intense sessions.
I feel the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to fasted cardio training and with the right attitude you are likely see some fairly quick results. As with anything fitness or nutrition related, it’s a case of trial and error to see how you react.
To help combat the muscle loss, I would recommend taking some supplements pre-session, BCCAs, a very low carb protein shake and maybe even a coffee – a meal under 50 calories will not take the body out of a fasted state. Not sure about fasted cardio but want to reap the same rewards? You can get the same affect in terms of mobilising fats by adding some good quality fats like coconut oil before training so as not to cannibalise muscle proteins.
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