I love cardio. I lost most of my weight running for long distances. I fully understand why people want to learn how to maximize the results they get with their workouts and I feel the whole question of whether running on an empty stomach or doing any other cardio workout on an empty stomach is a good or bad idea is an understandable one. If you’re wondering about this, you’re not alone. It’s something that’s talked about on various fitness forums and has even been the subject of various studies as I’ve written about here: Cardio before eating breakfast.
The research shows quite clearly that cardio which is done in a fasted state can result in a high fat burning ratio. You body simply uses more fat calories. I won’t go into it in detail as I’ve outlined the research in the post mentioned above. In this post I want to talk about how I do my cardio and why I choose to do it in the way that I do. You can choose to workout in any way that you like. It’s a matter of personal preference.
I usually start my day with a morning workout. It’s part of what I call my morning ritual and I find that it helps me get energized and focused for the rest of the day. As part of this ritual, I do a short workout. By short I mean about 10 minutes long. This does include some cardio which is either sprinting in the park outside my home or climbing 10 flights of stairs a number of times in my building. All this is done before breakfast.
I hardly look at this as a cardio workout because it’s too short for that. This is just a way to start your day.
As for a longer workout, such as running for 30 minutes or more, I never do that before eating breakfast. It’s not that I don’t believe it will be effective for fat burning. I accept that it’s so. However, I just don’t like doing so. It makes me feel bad.
The first thing I find is that if I do a long cardio workout after I’ve not eaten for a long time, I tend to get very tired. I just don’t have a lot of energy. This is something that was also mentioned in an interesting post on the subject by Joel Marion, creator of the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet plan and the Cheat Your Way Thin program, who’s a famous trainer and a pretty nice guy regardless.
In that post, Joel talks about the whole cardio before breakfast question and shares a real life story and some research that’s been done on the subject. He doesn’t believe that doing cardio on an empty stomach is effective at all. He calls it the Empty Stomach Cardio Myth. He says that if you don’t eat for a long time before your workout that you will be too weak to do an intense one. This will lower the results you might get with it.
I don’t fully agree with his premise that there is no benefit to doing cardio in a fasted state. The research I read indicates there is. However, I agree that you may have less energy for the workout itself if you do it that way.
In addition, I often find that if I do cardio before eating, I tend to get nauseous. If this doesn’t happen to you then you’re lucky and I envy you.
Cardio on almost Empty Stomach
What I like to do is to have a very light breakfast before I do any morning cardio. This can be as light as a few nuts and an egg or a single piece of toast. I just want to have something in my stomach 30 minutes to 2 hours before I do my workout.
I find that I perform better when I do so. I think that a light breakfast of protein and fiber should work fantastically well for you as well.
You should also have a drink of water before any workout as you wake up after hours in which you haven’t hydrated your body.
This is how I like to do my cardio. I know it may not be the optimal way to burn fat but it works for me. I believe that you need to do what works best for you. The most important thing is to actually do the workouts.