Q: If I am trying to burn fat should I do my cardio fasted - on an empty stomach?
I know this strategy might seem appealing. However, the research used to support the idea has only been short term investigations. Like really short.
As in do the exercise test in the lab in the morning (fasted or after breakfast) measure respiratory quotients and then the participants are out the lab door before lunch time. Probably off to Maccas or KFC. Well, most study participants are college students!
A few studies have measured fat oxidation (burning) over a full day, 24 hours. No research has systematically examined whether this strategy actually leads to better body composition changes over weeks or months of exercise.
Here’s what we do know...
Exercise only burns around 10 calories a minute at the most! For most individuals, a rigorous, hour-long workout will only burn around 300-500 calories.
Compare that to your average meal, like hamburger and fries those college students are going to devour after their lab test, which easily exceeds 500 cals and then some.
And that’s just one meal.
While we’re in the lab, did you know that during sleep we utilize predominately fat stores for fuel.
But alas, we don’t wakeup thin do we?
The fact is most people today are doing well if they can commit to 3 to 6 hours a week of physical exercise.
The truth is, the total amount of calories burnt during exercise is a small portion of the day’s energy expenditure – around 15-20%.
A better question would be how can we maximize the effects of exercising?
Now that’s a great question I’m so glad you asked!
In this regard, it appears that the consumption of protein (15-20g) 30 to 60 minutes before exercise provides the following benefits
Promotes better fat burning oxidation during and after.
Reduces or prevents muscle breakdown
Improves immune response (which can be impaired after exercise)
Reduces the incidence illnesses and infections during an exercise training program.
Don’t fancy gnawing on a chicken leg or slab of tofu before you head out to do your workout? Thankfully a lot of these benefits have been achieved from the consumption of a protein supplement.
If you’re new to the supplement thing, I recommend you start with a small dose – just 10-15g mixed in water. Just experiment with amounts and types to find what sits well in your stomach
The consumption of a small dose of protein within the hour before you perform cardio may well promote better fat burning along with a host of other important benefits.
Have a great week.
FOLLOW Dr Paul Cribb PhD.