If you want to know if fasted HIIT cardio can help you lose weight faster, this article will show you everything you need to know about fasted HIIT cardio.
Some fitness experts believe that exercising in a fasted state can promote faster fat loss while others say that it’s an ineffective technique that can cause muscle loss.
It’s important to mention that most of these arguments are based on fasted steady cardio and not fasted HIIT cardio.
Before we look into fasted HIIT cardio, let’s see the difference between steady cardio and HIIT cardio.
Steady cardio involves doing low-intensity exercises at a steady pace, usually for a long duration. Running, cycling, and jumping rope are popular steady cardio exercises.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio, on the other hand, involves mixing short periods of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of low-intensity exercise. For instance, sprinting for 30 seconds then jogging for 60 seconds, and repeating several times.
Research shows that HIIT cardio is more effective for fat loss. In this study, researchers found that doing 30-second sprints, 4 to 6 times led to greater fat loss compared to 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.
Note that more studies show similar results.
Don’t assume that HIIT cardio is easy because it takes 4 minutes to complete. You have to exercise at maximum intensity (such that you can hardly breathe) in order to get the benefits.
What is fasted HIIT cardio?
To understand what fasted HIIT cardio is, we need to define HIIT cardio and what it means to be in a fasted state. Since you already know what the former means, let’s see what it means to be in a fasted state.
A fasted state exists anywhere from 8 to 12 hours after eating. Most people are in a fasted state in the morning before eating breakfast.
When in a fasted state the body relies on fat (sometimes muscle) for energy, as opposed to using food as the energy source.
Therefore, fasted HIIT cardio is doing HIIT cardio when in a fasted state. For most people, this means doing HIIT cardio in the morning before eating anything.
For those who practice intermittent fasting, it could mean exercising a few hours before breaking the fast.
Does Fasted HIIT cardio enhance weight loss?
This is one of those questions that experts have different opinions. Some say that exercising in a fasted state can enhance weight loss while other says it doesn’t help and it can even be harmful.
However, they all agree on one thing. We burn more fat when we exercise in a fasted state. In fact, research shows that people burn 20 percent more fat when they do cardio in a fasted state.
One would assume that burning 20 percent more fat would lead to faster weight loss but it’s not that simple.
According to exercise Physiologist Greg Landry, when we burn most of the calories from fat, the calories we consume in future will be stored as fat since the glycogen levels will be low. This means that the fat you burned earlier will be regained.
Renowned nutrition expert, Lyle McDonald also has the same opinion. He argues, “If you burn glucose during exercise, you tend to burn more fat the rest of the day. If you burn fat during exercise, you burn more glucose during the day. The end result is identical.”
If you don’t think their arguments are convincing, let’s look into this study. In the study, researchers wanted to find out the effects of fasted HIIT cardio vs fed HIIT cardio.
The study involved 16 young women with an average BMI of 29. 8 women did fasted HIIT cardio while the other 8 did fed HIIT cardio.
Both groups performed 60 seconds of high-intensity cycling followed by 60 seconds of recovery (90 percent of maximal heart rate), 10 times.
After 6 weeks, both groups had lost fat in the abdominal area and legs. However, there was no significant difference between the fasted HIIT cardio group and fed HIIT cardio group for any measured variable.
Even though fasted HIIT cardio may burn fat during the workout, it does not enhance weight loss.
Eating before HIIT cardio won’t sabotage your results. Only do fasted HIIT cardio if you’re comfortable doing it.
Your main goal should be to maintain healthy eating habits and exercise consistently.
However, doing fasted HIIT cardio or rather exercising in the morning may have other benefits. Here they are:
- Keeps you energized throughout the day.
- Helps you make better diet choices and lowers chances of compulsive snacking.
- Helps control appetite, which may prevent overeating.
- Makes you feel good since exercise releases endorphins (feel-good hormones).
- Boosts metabolism and helps you burn fat throughout the day. HIIT cardio boosts metabolism up to 24 hours after the workout.
Does fasted HIIT cardio cause muscle loss?
One of the arguments made against fasted cardio is that it causes muscle loss.
In fact, the effects can be worse if you’re maintaining a calorie deficit.
The good news is fasted HIIT cardio may not cause muscle loss. Unlike steady cardio, which hinders muscle growth, HIIT cardio has been shown to preserve muscle mass and promote muscle growth.
In the study we discussed above, the participants who did fasted HIIT cardio didn’t lose muscle mass.
Remember that eating adequate protein is essential for preserving muscle mass. You should also avoid maintaining huge calorie deficits.
Fitness ‘gurus’ may tell you that fasted HIIT cardio can help you lose weight but there’s no research to back this claim.
If you don’t have the energy to exercise in a fasted state, feel free to eat before your workout. But for people like me, who can exercise on an empty stomach, feel free to do HIIT cardio before breakfast.
What’s your take on fasted HIIT cardio? Leave a comment below.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]