Fasted vs. Fed Cardio for Weight Loss

I have been asked this question quite a lot over the years, if doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is better for weight loss.

As with most questions the answer I always give is “it depends”.

You do burn more energy from fat in a fasted state, so in theory yes, doing cardio fasted would use more calories from fat then had you ate something before your workout.

You have to also remember that weight loss occurs over time, not in a single workout. It happens from consistently repeating good habits like eating good foods in the right amounts and exercising regularly.

Exercising fasted gives a slight edge to you but it is by no means a solution for quick weight loss. You still have to follow the fundamentals.

Another interesting fact I learned a couple years ago listening to one of my favourite speakers, Dr. Len Kravitz, at a conference talk about this topic was that in his research he found that although a person exercising in a fasted state did burn slightly more calories from fat during the workout, the person who ate a small snack before exercise burned more fat throughout the entire day compared to the person fasted because eating kickstarted their metabolism sooner. He recommended eating a small snack before your morning workout.

For me there is no benefit, one over the other, it’s whatever you feel better doing. Some of us feel great working out fasted and other don’t. So, choose what allows you to have the best workout you can, whether that is fasted or fed.

If you choose to eat something, it shouldn’t be a big meal and it shouldn’t be consumed immediately before exercise. Try to eat 30-60 minutes before, and keep it small.