A lot of people do cardio on an empty stomach thinking it produces better fat loss. It doesn’t. I never believed in it.
A few years ago I showed results from a study proving that it’s no more effective than fed cardio. In fact, it’s LESS EFFECTIVE at producing fat loss. The researchers concluded,
“…that when moderate endurance exercise is done to lose body fat, fasting before exercise does not enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable.”
So when you want to burn as much body fat as possible, do cardio some time after eating.
But it gets worse for FASTED CARDIO lovers…It causes MUSCLE LOSS!
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When people are cutting they make all sorts of dumb mistakes and end up losing muscle:
- They don’t get enough protein to preserve their muscle mass.
- They cut calories too low too fast, so the body breaks down muscle for energy
- They do way too much muscle-wasting cardio
- They do cardio at the wrong time (like in a fasted state)
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Or I can design a diet and meal plan for you personally here in the MuscleHack Lab – based on your stats, I’ll tell you what to eat, when to eat it, the quantities – and it’s all normal food – you can get started on the same day I send the plan to you – it’s that easy. And the fat will fall off – fast! Believe me, I know what I’m doing.
FASTED CARDIO & MUSCLE LOSS
In the morning, our cortisol levels are naturally elevated. This hormone wakes us up. But cortisol is also a catabolic hormone (a muscle “break-down” hormone).
If that wasn’t bad enough, if we do cardio in this state, we can really sky-rocket coritsol levels. You can easily start breaking down muscle tissue for energy at this time – not just body fat.
Additionally, with such high levels, and the fact that you’re in a calorie-deficit, you might not be able to bring those cortisol levels back down to normal all day…yes you can be in a catabolic state (muscle-wasting) state all day long! And many people are! That’s why so many people lose muscle when cutting.
Bottom line is: if you’re doing cardio, do it in a fed state. If in the morning, after a light breakfast. Or if pairing it with weight training, do it AFTER weight training and never before ~ Mark McManus (you can ask me any questions below).
NOTE: If you’re cutting, I made a list of the top 20 foods to eat to get ripped. You’ll find it extremely helpful. Just type in your email below to get it.
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- I also recommend to US readers this Optimum Nutrition whey (and here's a low-carb whey)
- And this quality, inexpensive creatine ~ Mark McManus
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Seriously, you must be watching me somehow? I am cutting and not a morning person at all. Today I decided to put in extra effort and wake up at 5am just to do this. Guess I will be sleeping in tomorrow. Thanks Mark.
@Jason. lol you can stay in bed, brother 🙂
That study seems to be at odds with at least these two:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21051570: “Fat oxidation raised by in fasted (+21%) vs. carb-fed (+6%) states”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15212756: “Ingestion of carbohydrate before exercise reduces the rate of fat oxidation significantly compared with fasted conditions”
Both in endurance training, mind you…
I skip breakfast and don’t eat until after an HIIT workout around 2 PM. So I’m doubly screwed if your study is correct.
Hey Mark, as usual, great article.
In a previous comment you suggested to take BCAAs if you do weight training in a morning, fasted state.
I have recently started that hoping for some extra fat loss but no muscle loss.
Reading this article, I have doubts as if what I am doing is a good idea or not. Any thoughts ?
@Ray. I would opt for some whey if training first thing – then you’ll be ok