Cardiovascular exercise (Cardio) refers to any exercise that raises your heart rate. Cardiovascular training is crucial for overall health, well-being and fitness levels. The common trend in recent years seems to be that Fasted State Cardio is the gold standard when it comes to Fat Loss Cardio. This article will explore the implications of consuming food prior to cardio in relation to fat burning.

Cardio on an Empty Stomach

Fasted state cardio burns more fat during exercise. This is because there is no readily available fuel source and the body must compensate by utilising its’ fat stores to generate the energy required to complete the workout. However, this process is much more demanding on the body and will limit the potential exercise output. Simply, you will not be able to work as hard or as long in a Fasted State as you would if you consumed some energy giving nutrients pre-training.

Why Eat Before Cardio?

The argument between Fasted State Cardio and Fuelled Cardio often revolves around the concept of which is more effective at burning fat during exercise. However, this should not be what we are primarily concerned about if our goal is body composition. What we should be concerned about is which type of cardio helps us burn more fat overall – not simply during exercise but also beyond. Research suggests that Fuelled Cardio enables more effective workouts and is facilitative of greater fat burning overall than Fasted State Cardio. In short, eat before, work harder – get better results.

Cardio: The Bigger Picture

This assumption begins the debate of high-intensity / low-intensity cardio and fat loss. However, if we assume that the rule that the more carbohydrate that is burnt during exercise the more fat will be burnt as a result then it is the cardio output that is crucial not the type. Research suggests that a good way to measure the number of calories burnt in the post-exercise period is by measuring oxygen consumption – this is commonly known as the ‘afterburn’. Studies found that eating prior to exercise substantially increased oxygen consumption in this post-workout period.

What Should I Eat Before Cardio?

If we consider the evidence and assume that Fasted State Cardio is not necessarily the most beneficial when it comes to overall Fat Loss then the question becomes what should I eat before Cardio training? Obviously, this depends on factors such as intensity and type of cardio. However, research suggests a meal that combines  .25 grams of carbohydrates with .125 grams of protein per pound of body weight would be beneficial. This could for example be a 1 scoop protein shake with a bowl of porridge for the average weight person. This meal will be enough to sustain a high intensity workout and facilitate greater fat burning post-workout.

Fuelled Cardio: Summary

  • Fuelled Cardio Burns More Fat Overall than Fasted State Cardio.
  • Exercise Intensity is Key.
  • Consume .25g carbs / .125g protein per lb of body weight pre-cardio.

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