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Fasted cardio or fed cardio?

I'm often asked, what's the best and quickest way to burn fat? What works best, working out on an empty stomach (fasted cardio) or cardio after you’ve eaten (fed cardio)?

There is a theory out there that working out on an empty stomach will help you burn more fat - the reason being is that there is no carbohydrate to use as fuel for your workout, therefore the body then taps into your fat stores to use for fuel for the workout. So, many people get out there first thing in the morning and perform a cardio session on an empty stomach.

A recent study took 20 healthy young female volunteers between the ages of 18 to 35. Measurements were taken as well as body composition tests within a lab using a bodpod, the gold standard in measuring body composition.

They were each put on a prescribed diet with a calorie deficit and then asked to perform steady state aerobic exercise four days per week for 60 to 90 minutes over a six week period.

Half of the group performed their cardio sessions after having a meal, the other half on an empty stomach.

The results showed there was a decrease in body fat from the abdomen and leg regions as well as the whole body in both groups, although no significant differences between either group. So, it really comes down to personal preference. Which do you prefer, fasted cardio or fed cardio? Either way, it really doesn’t matter.

Personally, I prefer fed cardio. I have a much better workout after I’ve eaten an hour or two before I perform a training session. Also, when I work with an athlete, I always prefer they come to the session in a fed state. For instance, when working with a professional fighter, we need the most from the session, the most from the athlete, and the last thing we need is a sub par session. With an athlete, the main focus of each session is performance-based.

It really comes down to personal preference. When it comes to fat loss, there is no difference between fasted cardio or fed cardio. The most important thing is to do the cardio!


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