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Is fasted cardio all it is hyped up to be? Cardio can be bad enough on its own, now we are supposed to fast before our treadmill workouts? The short answer is yes! That is if you are ready to lose belly fat or any other fat. Get ready to throw the old way of dieting and exercising out the window.

I discovered fasted cardio a couple of years ago when I started intermittent fasting. You know how stubborn belly fat and other problem areas can be, especially after 40. We have to work smarter for weight loss and fasted cardio is one of the smartest ways for fat loss.

woman running doing fasted cardio to lose belly fat

What is Fasted Cardio?

Fasted Cardio is when you complete your cardio with an empty stomach when you haven’t eaten for at least 6 hours. Food normally takes about 6 hours to digest, so true fasted cardio is when you haven’t eaten for 6 hours or more. Many people like to complete their fasted cardio routine in the morning, when they have just woken up for the day.

Is This How You Can Get Rid of Stubborn Fat?

One of the best ways to target stubborn fat, including belly fat, is to combine two different strategies that go extremely well together: Intermittent fasting and fasted cardio. Used together, it is a proven way to lose weight effectively.

Intermittent Fasting is the idea that you consume your daily calories during a small window each day, and you fast for the rest of the day. There are many strategies to try, but I prefer the daily fasting, with something like a 16:8 schedule. You fast for 16 hours of the day and you eat during an 8 hour window.

Benefits of Fasted Cardio Combined with Intermittent Fasting 

When you fast, your body still needs the energy to operate. After the last bit of food has been digested, your body turns to stored fat to burn for energy. It starts to burn your stored reserves at a steady pace to keep you going until the next time you eat.

When you do your cardio workout during your fasting time, your body targets the fat even more because it needs more energy to help you get through your workout. 

As you pair fasted cardio with intermittent fasting, your body is already at a state of turning fat into energy, so you are increasing the rate at which it burns the fat.

I’m not telling you to run a marathon without eating just to get rid of all of your stubborn fat areas. Please do not do that. Too hard of a cardio workout while fasting can have negative effects for you. 

Avoiding Fasted Cardio Muscle Loss

When deciding on a fasted cardio routine, pick something at a moderate exercise level. You want to burn fat for energy, but you do not want to burn it so fast that your body turns to other means of energy – like healthy carbs in your muscles. This will lead to decreased muscle mass and less strength for you.

woman strength training

At a moderate level, your body will more likely target the stored fat at a steady pace. This is also why you should stick to cardio and wait for strength training until after you’ve given your body some food for fuel to get through that workout.

You must also be aware and pay attention to your body as you add fasted cardio to intermittent fasting.

Fasting Doesn’t Mean to Stop Drinking Water

The most important thing to remember is to hydrate! Always keep water with you and around you when you are fasting, especially when you are working out in a fasted state. I like to add BCAAs to my water in the mornings before my workout (you can also drink them while you workout) for additional help with hydration along with other benefits

If you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or your brain seems foggy and it’s hard to concentrate, stop what you are doing and drink 8 oz of water. Wait for five minutes and drink another 8 oz. If it still doesn’t clear up, you may need to eat something small, like a banana, toast, or an energy bar for example. If it’s severe, seek medical attention.

Combining fasted cardio and intermittent fasting may not be for everyone. It is going to depend on your body, your health, and your exercise goals.

Please make sure to speak with a health professional if you have any medical issues before fasting or starting a new diet. Do not start both the fasted cardio and intermittent fasting at the same time.