Fasted Cardio? What?
Monday morning, I found myself reading the blog of Annamarie Rivera (known to most of us on Instagram as @weightlosswithannamarie). She posted a wonderful blog recently called “Early Morning Workouts! Tips and Benefits!” and it’s pretty safe to say that it changed my life. (Read it here).
I’m up every morning by 4:45, and at work every morning by 6:00. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve never considered adding early workouts to my schedule. However, after reading her blog post, I was blown away. Most of the suggestions for actually getting up and going to workout, were things I found that I was already doing. (Example: Laying out my clothes the night before, prepping breakfast the night before, setting my alarm clock across the room). And then, she went into the benefits of morning workouts. My favorite was the potential to burn more fat! After I read her post, I was definitely interested.
As if by fate, another friend I met through Instagram posted that she was doing cardio early that very same morning! I immediately sent her a text asking about it. The main thing I took from our conversation was her very first text, “You will drop weight like crazy because it’s fasted cardio so you will burn basically complete fat” followed by “If you think about it you didn’t just eat so you’re not burning off your food”.
So that got me thinking. Fasted cardio? I’ve heard of people practicing religious fasting, but I never payed attention to the benefits of it. Fasted cardio is a term I’d never even heard before! I decided to google it. I searched “fasted cardio” and of the articles that came up, this one was my favorite (click here to read).
Immediately, this article confirmed that fasted cardio does, in fact, burn more stored fat than a normal cardio workout. In Annamarie’s blog, she used the figure 20%, but I’m not sure how accurate that is or where it came from. The article goes on to explain the actual science of why you burn more fat during fasted cardio. Spoiler:
1) Low insulin levels. (This means there’s less insulin in your blood and more room for the fat your body naturally stores)
2) Low blood sugar. (Think of your body like a car, and blood sugar like gas. When you wake up, your blood sugar is low. Low gas. So what does your body, or car, do? It calls on it’s friend Fat Reserve!)
3) High Growth Hormone Levels. (Your insulin hates these. They never chill in your blood at the same time. If you’ve got low insulin, you’ve got high growth hormones. These two go up and down during the day, but in the morning when your insulin is low, your growth hormone levels are high. Why is that important? Because when this Growth Hormone is chillin' in your blood, like it does every morning, it invites it’s friend the Fat Reserve to come chill with it. That’s enough to make anyone break down fat stores. But pair it with #2, low blood sugar, and you’ve got a recipe for Fat Reserve loss.)
Basically, during fasted cardio, your body is FORCED to use fat reserves. That’s super good news for anyone, like myself, whose primary goal is to burn fat! I’ve read more articles than this, but I felt like this article did the best job of explaining the science behind WHY it works the way that it does.
After much consideration, I’d decided that I’ll be adding a fasted cardio sessions every day of the week, beginning next Monday morning. After a week, I’ll let you guys know how it went for me. Do you have any fasted cardio experience? Comment or email me and lets talk about it! Until then.
Having your cake and eating it too
I don’t know about you, but I look forward to eating. Every meal is 15-30 minutes of pure heaven where I’m clocked out from life and all that matters is me and my fork. With that in mind, I only prepare food that I can be excited about eating! After my struggles with consistent and sustainable dieting in the past, I live by the concept of “eat more good stuff and less bad stuff”. Dieting is a balancing act inside your head. I don’t believe you can eat 100% good stuff and be truely satisfied, and I know from experience that eating 100% bad stuff will leave you bloated, sick, and unhappy. I had my work cut out for me when I started my diet, because growing up “vegetables” meant either canned green beans or buttered corn. As a child, I had never been exposed to healthy foods except for the few times when my Uncle David came to town and gave me grammar lessons at the dinner table over a steaming plate of asparagus and artichokes (which I still hate, sorry Uncle David).
When I started my diet, I knew I needed to prepare nutritious meals that would not only fill me up, but also discourage my long-standing affair with drive-through restaurants. With visions of Pinterest meals dancing in my head, I drove to Starbucks with a notepad, a pen, and a 100% charge on my iPhone. I got to work, Frappuccino in hand, scrolling through various sights writing down ONLY the things that actually looked appetizing to me. When I got done, I looked at my list and was shocked. It was foods I already liked eating, but prepared in a healthy way! I made my way to HEB late that night to ensure I would be one of the only people in the store and could take my sweet time looking at the labels on the food I was considering. It took me several hours, but I made what I thought were healthy selections and went home to prepare the meals for my first week on my diet.
Starting out, I prepared a lot of steamed vegetables and granola bars. Not joking. That’s what I saw heathy people eating, so that’s what I prepped. However, I realized that as the week went on and I grew tired of the bland meals in my lunch box, I was more vulnerable to cheating and ultimately falling off the diet wagon for good. I noticed my body craving carbs, sugar, and meat on a daily basis, even when my belly was full from a recent meal. I know that when pregnant women crave weird things, it’s because their body is lacking a mineral found in that food. So with that concept in mind, I altered my very strict diet to include food I’m eating today, like whole wheat tortillas, high fiber blueberry muffins and sourdough pretzels.
Imagine a smoker whose been smoking for years. They are without a doubt addicted to the nicotine in their cigarettes. Now imagine that person stopping cold turkey. The nicotine cravings would be horrible (which is why most people start smoking and never stop). New studies support the idea that a body can become addicted to refined sugars and caffeine just like it can become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. My body was taking in between 3000 and 5000 calories a day, most of that being carbs and sugars. To try to stop that intake cold turkey and go to fruits and vegetables wasn’t healthy for my body and it was downright destructive to my mindset. Looking back, I realized I could not have made a better executive decision. For me, the choice was easy. It was a choice between eating vegetables and granola bars and inevitably cheating several times a week, or making meals I enjoyed with a healthy serving of carbs and lean meats.
This won’t be my diet forever. I’m slowly adjusting my carb and sugar intake, such as a smoker might adjust their cigarette consumption when trying to quit. My mother always taught me to listen to my body – and that principle has truly shaped the way I diet today. My body tells me it needs carbs, I give it carbs. My body tells me it needs caffeine, I give it caffeine. And since I have started allowing my body small, healthy portions of carbs and caffeine, my cravings for fast food and processed drinks have decreased almost to the point where I don’t have any at all (maybe one a week).
Allowing my body to have healthy amounts of carbs has played a monumental role in my weight loss. I truly cannot hype this enough. I no longer cheat during the week and when I go out to restaurants on the weekends, it’s second nature for me to choose a healthy option whereas before I might have overindulged and ordered the worst thing on the menu without a second thought. Dieting does not have to be a death sentence to you happiness. I guess sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it, too.
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.