Can early morning fasted cardio help you lose fat faster than other cardio methods? To better understand how it could be beneficial, we first need to understand why it would work.
Early Morning Fasted Cardio
The basic idea behind cardio on an empty stomach is that your body will be more likely to use its own fat stores for fuel instead of the food you just ate. This idea, however, is quite simplified and somewhat misleading. Fasted cardio will help you lose more fat during your cardio session, but the reasons for why it works are a bit more complex.
Does Fasted Cardio Work?
In short – yes, it does work. It cardio works because:
- (A) – It helps you to become more efficient at using fat for fuel
- (B) – Because your hormones and metabolism are all in the perfect alignment for fatty acid mobilization
Fasted Cardio Helps Mobilize Fat
First thing in the morning, after you’ve been fasting all night, your body’s natural hormones have the perfect profile for fat loss. After a good night’s sleep, you’ve got all of the following working for you:
- Low Insulin Levels - After not eating for the last 10+ hours, your insulin levels are very low. This is good because fat cannot be mobilized in the presence of high insulin levels. With low insulin levels, your body is better able to release and transport fat to be oxidized. Find out how to improve your insulin sensitivity for better fat loss.
- Low Blood Sugar – Some people might think this is a bad thing, and it can be – if it ends up impairing your workout performance. However, if it doesn’t, low blood sugar forces your body to draw on fat reserves because there is not enough glucose to power your workout.
- Higher Growth Hormone Levels – Your growth hormone (GH) levels will be higher while you are sleeping. All throughout the night your body is pulsing out GH. Come morning time, your levels will be lower, but they will be higher than at other times during the day. Growth hormone and insulin are antagonists. When one is high, the other is low. Since your insulin levels are low upon waking, your GH levels are higher. Growth hormone is highly catabolic to fat cells – ie breaks down fat stores.
Training Your Muscles to be Fat Burners
As was explained, fasted cardio is beneficial because of the state your metabolic environment is in. Those low blood sugar levels and low liver glycogen stores resulting from a night without eating forces your body to learn how to metabolize fat more efficiently. While anaerobic exercise uses glycogen/glucose for fuel, the point at which your body stops using fat and starts using glucose can be manipulated. Training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is one of those ways.
Should You Incorporate Fasted Cardio?
Whether or not you decide to use cardio on an empty stomach will depend on some individual circumstances. I would recommend fasted cardio to those that have normal to below normal body fat levels. Those are the people that are going to see the biggest benefit. If you’re above that body fat level, any amount of cardiovascular training at any time of the day would be best. The important thing is to make sure you are consistently doing it.
The other time I wouldn’t recommend fasted cardio is if your cardio sessions are suffering because of a lack of energy. If your intensity levels are lower because of fasted cardio, you’d be better off focusing on using nutrition to get that extra bit of fat loss. Are you a morning person? If so, then early morning cardio might be for you.