I used the intermittent fasting protocol pretty consistently ever since the first lockdown started in 2020 all the way upto February of 2021. I haven’t been using it recently due to my shift in training goals. My main priority is not aesthetics but performance, however, I still recommend this method of fasted cardio/training to a lot of people. I have (Un)consciously played around with the timing to see what feels right and what works for me over these past 12 months or so. While I was using this method of intermittent fasting my goal was to get my weight and bodyfat down a little bit. While doing this I genuinely felt good, so I stuck with it. I was using a 14-16 hour fast (depending on the day) and gave myself 8-9 hours to eat.
I worked out hard 5 days a week with maybe 1 ”active recovery” session a week on a day off. I used to do all of my first training session fasted to use fat as my energy source, which is the reason I decided to write this blog, because it works.
There’s no opinion here, just facts. Obviously not everyone is going to benefit from intermittent fasting or even fasted cardio, it all depends on your daily schedule, your fitness/training goals and what your body responds well too. For example, doing fasted cardio while you’re trying to gain weight or if your training intensity is super high is the complete opposite of what you probably should be doing (*probably, every one works differently of course). This is why I have decided to step away from fasting for the majority of my workouts. My intensity has gone way up and I simply wasn’t feeling as energized as I should have been during my sessions. My performance took priority over what fuel source by body is using during workouts.
When we’re talking about faster cardio here, we’re speaking of longer, slower and steady cardio. These sessions are low intensity workouts and are perfect for anyone using the intermittent fasting protocol.
How does intermittent fasting work?
I have written more blogs on intermittent fasting that you can find here. The whole purpose of intermittent fasting is to give your body enough time to reset your blood sugar level, which spikes up and down throughout the day because of all the sugar, carbs and protein we’re eating. This spiking of the blood sugar indicates that our body is using glycogen (carbohydrates in a stored form) as fuel to supply our muscles with energy. When blood sugar levels reset while fasting youd body turns to fat as its primary source of energy. At the end of the day, that’s what you want to burn when trying to lose weight/fat.
While following the intermittent fasting protocol you fast for 14-16 hours each day and eat for 8-10 hours. It has been proven that eating for 8-9 hours works best but 10 will still get you some of the benefits. Fasted cardio means you don’t eat before working out, that means doing it in the morning and towards the end of your fasting window (14-16 hours). It doesn’t give you the same effect at all if you do it 2-3 hours into your fasting window because your body is still resetting the glucose and blood sugar levels, your body will probably burn more carbohydrates as your fuel source at that point.
Why does fasted cardio work?
As we have seen, fasting allows our body to reset the glucose and blood sugar level. In turn, this allows our body to tap into fat as its primary fuel source.
When we fuel our body with carbohydrates that will be the first energy source our body taps into because it’s a fast-working source rather than fat (which is a slow-acting source).
Allowing our body to use fat as the primary fuel source is obviously a good thing when we’re trying to lose fat. makes a lot of sense, right? So, towards the end of your fast is our ideal window to do some cardio or a conditioning workout to burn more fat rather than carbohydrates.
Common misconception of fasting:
I have definitely heard this before: ”I don’t have enough energy if I don’t eat before working out in the morning”. If you’re in a situation like me, where the intensity of your workouts is way up there, you might have a point. But, let me tell you about the longest fast known to man, 382 days. Now granted this person weighed in at about 450 pounds but it goes to show that your body has plenty of fuel stored away in the form of fat. If you feel hungry in the morning it might be the result of one of these things:
- You did not eat enough the day/evening before starting your fasting window
- You consumed too many carbohydrates instead of fats and protein
- You did not drink enough water
- Your body is still adjusting to your new eating pattern
- Your body is not in an active state, being active makes your fast a lot easier!
I love doing zone 2 / longer conditioning workouts while fasted. This way you’re burning a crazy amount of fat while also working on your aerobic system and capacity. It’s the best of both worlds
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