Fasted cardio: How to get the most from it and avoid side effects

Fasted cardio offers many benefits in which you may be interested. However, due to my history of heart disease, I was particularly interested about its effect on the heart muscle. 


While fasting boosts growth hormone, working out on empty stomach elevates HGH ever more. Although any kind of activity will raise growth hormone, the results can vary. 

Combining fasted cardio with slow and fast paced exercises can skyrocket secretion of HGH from the pituitary gland. Since combination of these two requires a lot of energy, the body goes into your fat stores to get the fuel.

Luckily for us, in a way we need wood to make fire, the body needs growth hormone to burn fat and lots of it, at least in this case. 


Fasting cardio is great for burning fat, when done in the morning on empty stomach. Actually, many people use it to get lean and burn that stubborn belly fat. 

I tried it and it works. However, after working out on empty stomach, you have to supply the body with necessary nutrients to fuel recovery process.

Although the body will always try to get the most from everything you throw at it, the digestive system is particularly sensitive after fasting period, especially if you combine it with exercise. 


Post workout nutrition should never be neglected. However, it deserves special attention, following fasted cardio. Not only that you fasted for more than 9 hours but you also worked out on empty stomach.

All that hard work should be rewarded, preferably in the form of highly nutritious, yet delicious meal. That means, slow and quick digesting carbs, protein and some fats.

You can even add some salate dressing, have some ice-cream or chocolate rich cookies to replenish your glycogen stores. However, if you are trying to lose weight, be careful not to overdo it. 


According to couple of studies out there, participants performing fasted cardio experienced greater increase in VO2 max, peak power and especially muscle glycogen concentrations, in comparison to those that ate before doing cardio.

Working out on empty stomach puts more stress on the body. Since stress forces the body to adapt, more stress leads to greater adaptation response.

However, a line has to be drawn since too much of anything can be bad. Also, fasting cardio ain't for everyone, whether you perform slow or fast paced cardio exercises.


The biggest problem of fasting cardio, especially if combined with fast paced exercises such as sprinting, is potential loss of muscle mass. However, there are few tricks that can help.

First, just do moderate intensity cardio. On the other hand, if you like to add some high intensity cardio such as myself, you may want to try taking BCAAS or even half a scoop of protein shake, before working out.

Protein and branched-chain amino acids are anti-catabolic. They help prevent cortisol form "eating" the muscle fibers. These two, especially BCAAS, are also low in calories, so you won't break your fast.


At the end of the day, you and you alone should decide if fasting cardio works for you. Some people love it, while others can't stand it.

I personally love working out on empty stomach, whether I am doing cardio or not. However, even I don't use it all the time. If I get hungry or energy depleted, I will rather eat a small meal before working out.

The point is, just listen to your body. It will tell you if fasted cardio suits you or not.

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