7 Benefits of Fasted Cardio – Does It Increase Fat Loss?

As the science behind sports and nutrition develops with more research and testing being funded, old notions of good training regimens get trumped by new ones.

Once a known staple in pretty much all sports, many seem confused over the actual benefits of fasted cardio when implemented in their exercise regimen.


Fasted cardio has long been tested and trusted as a guaranteed method to increase the performance of athletes due to the many benefits it provides.

By abstaining from food before training athletes, or anyone exercising under any sport, can tap into cardiovascular, metabolic and other benefits that they would otherwise be denied.

To learn what you might be missing out on, here are 7 benefits your body receives when doing fasted cardio.


Tapping Into Lower Insulin Levels


As the body is resting, particularly during sleep, blood insulin levels begin to drop. As a hormone geared towards storage, insulin levels are a key influence on the oxidation of fat.

When levels are too high, the consumption of carbohydrates, especially starches, are more prone to be stored as fat rather than feeding muscle. This can lead to weight gain and muscle loss.

In the case of lower insulin levels from sleep, the effect lasts only a few precious hours after waking, making early mornings an ideal time to begin exercise and training for those wanting to lose weight.

Bottom line: Exercising first thing in the morning, prior to eating breakfast, is the ideal window for exercising if weight loss is your main fitness goal.

Utilize Free Fatty Acids

Somatotropin, also known as human growth hormone, is a peptide hormone that promotes regeneration and growth. It’s essential to healing and body development, and it typically begins to flow through the body about half an hour after one enters deep sleep.

7 Benefits of Fasted Cardio

What this also does is it encourages the body to fuel itself in this rested state with free fatty acids.

Since this fat is mobilized through sleep and muscles are still pumped with glycogen from rest, the body can fuel its workouts in the early morning through stored up fat.

Bottom line: Working out right after sleeping uses up stored fat in the body for energy.

Increase Fatty Acid Mobilization

With cardio exercises at low or moderate intensity levels, like jogging, running, walking, free fatty acids are powering the body.

With insulin sensitivity high in the mornings, and free fatty acids moving, continuing to do fasted cardio encourages the body to fuel itself this way for long stretches of time.

While it may not be a permanent solution to weight loss woes, more stored fat can be used as energy. This is made possible by prolonging the period in which insulin levels are at their lowest in the body.

Bottom line: Through routine, fasted cardio, for a time, can make use of more stored fat to help the body kick off fat loss and continue to do so

Make Better Use Of Carbohydrates

Fasted cardio is an effective method of manipulating the regular pattern of insulin leveling and mobilization of free fatty acids. While many focus on these levels in the blood, they are also highly influential in the function and development of muscle.


Because of insulin’s ability to influence muscle, many are afraid to temp it’s function for fear of losing what they’ve gained through other methods of weight loss or training in anaerobic sports like weight lifting, body building, and gymnastics.

However, for those who focus on their musculature, fasted cardio does more than just influence the use of body fat as energy. It also influences the food they eat.

By dropping insulin levels low, glycogen levels rise during rest, which powers muscles through anaerobic exercises. What this does is it encourages carbohydrates consumed to be stored as glycogen to fuel muscles during rested states rather than be stored as body fat as typically would be the case.

For those in sports that promote low body fat percentage and high musculature, or those wanting to keep the pounds off but not abstain from carbohydrates entirely, fasted cardio allows for a diet with carb intake without risking unexpected weight gain.

Bottom line: Fasted cardio changes your relationship with insulin and makes better use of the carbohydrates you consume throughout the day.

Boost Metabolic Efficiency


Fasted Cardio in the mornings allows for the possibility of increased caloric burn due to the increased effort the body is making by using stored fat as fuel for the exercise. The increased intensity can result with excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) being triggered at the other end of the workout.

The oxygen debt that EPOC introduces to the body pushes the metabolism to make better use of not just the food that one consumes but the patterns of rest and recovery that comes from sedentary states that follow.

This is of particular interest to serious athletes who seek to make the most of their diets by utilizing the nutritional benefits of all food and need an optimized metabolism to do so.

Bottom Line: The extra effort the body expends during fasted cardio triggers EPOC which makes one’s metabolism more efficient.

Take Advantage Of Testosterone Boosts

It’s known that the body, regardless of the sexes, experiences a fluctuation of hormones throughout the day. Fasted states have their greatest influence on these fluctuations in the morning after sleep.

For those using fasted cardio for weight loss or to promote weight gain, testosterone is a useful hormone to utilize, and it just so happens that it is most active when first waking up.

While testosterone pushes the body to be more receptive to physical activity and the changes that come with it, fasted cardio can also help to prolong its effects later on into the day, making these hormonal benefits more effective for longer, bettering one’s chances for the most change their body will enable.

Bottom line: Testosterone levels are high in the mornings, and fasted cardio can boost its efficacy into later in the day.

Set Yourself Up For Productivity


Fasted Cardio’s effect on post-workout status is important. The foods you eat are metabolized in different ways, shifting your level of alertness.

By consuming energizing beverages like caffeine, its altering affects take on new levels of effectiveness.

This matters for those who have a litany of things to accomplish throughout the day and need to remain focused and alert in order to meet their goals.

Bottom line: Fasted cardio can set you up for a energizing and productive day.

Take Home Message


Fasted cardio is a state that promotes benefits to the body that takes places during and after its completed.

While it may be something that requires some disciplining in order to perform with some degree of consistency, the benefits provided are unmatched by any form of dietary supplementation.

Those looking to lose weight, increase glycogen stores in muscles, make the most use of their metabolism and use their hormones to promote efficiency of their bodies can do so by utilizing the many benefits of fasted cardio.

Luke Cafferty

Luke Cafferty is a fitness junkie, personal trainer and blogger. He's passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a strong and well rounded physique, while inspiring you to do the same.

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