Monday, June 16, 2014

Running on empty. . . more fat loss or just a myth? Here's the truth on fasted cardio

As the the word suggests 'breakfast' is a way to 'break the fasting' which occurs while we're sleeping. So what if you had to skip this meal and go straight onto the treadmill, cross-trainer or perform any other exercise for that matter? Would you burn more fat? © 2014

Well, in theory one could argue that since glycogen stores and insulin levels are at their lowest first thing in the morning the body would have to tap into those fat stores for energy.

Unfortunately it doesn't quite work that way, and I'll explain why. When glycogen stores are low the body is not selective as to what it converts into energy. This means that also protein, which is basically what your muscles are made up of, may be converted into glycogen for energy. 

So the problem with 'fasted cardio' as it's often referred to, is not just that you don't necessarily lose more body-fat, but muscle mass and strength can be lost in the process, leaving you feeling weak. That is of course if you exercise the natural way. Again, I will expand on this. 

It's important to know the facts, as there's plenty of information out there but I feel very little is complete and totally honest. Performance enhancing drugs which are widely used in almost all sports today, have what is called an 'Anti-catabolic effect' which means they reduce the rate at which protein is broken down in the body. This allows athletes for example to exercise for longer stretches of time in order to improve their performance and not sacrifice any hard earned muscle and strength. In a similar manner some people use such drugs in conjunction with 'fasted cardio' to maintain more muscle mass and strength while shedding away body-fat.  

I don't encourage the use of such drugs, even fat burning supplements containing high doses of caffeine (or Guarana) are not always a good idea. The way to obtain results which will last is a consistent low calorie, balanced diet coupled with an intense regular exercise regime. So rather than running on empty, I recommend always having a light breakfast before, even just 30 grams of wholegrain cereal with some skimmed milk. Also, make sure to wait for at least an hour before exercise.

1 comment:

  1. I'm playing catch up today. :)

    I grew up on a farm in the country and breakfast was always the BIG meal of the day. My great-great grandmother got up at 5am to bake bread, fry eggs, bacon, sausage, fat back, and make grits, oatmeal, and gravy for the biscuits. On the table, you'd find marmalade, jams of all flavors, molasses, honey, and butter. Butter went into EVERYTHING!

    Now. I can barely stomach a slice of toast in the mornings. The thought of all that food makes me feel -well- ill. (gulps) Now I know all those calories would burn up cause the farm hands would work a solid 6 hours before lunch. But as a kid faced with all that food at 6am with the smell of black coffee filtering through the air.... nope. I'm surprised they didn't all fall over from mass heart attacks!

    Anyway, I think I'll take your 30 grams of wholegrain cereal any day than the for above mentioned death trap!

    Have a great day! Hugs.