Some love it, some hate it. I am one of those annoying people that seem to love cardio! Before my figure competition years, I was a bonafide 'cardio-bunny'. Once I had entered the business of attempting to gain muscle, my cardio training had to change: less running, more 'steady state'- very boring. When it came time to lean out for a show the amount of cardio would drastically increase. As much as I love the gym and training my body, I really didn't have the time to spend 3 hours in the gym (1.5 hours of weight, paired with 1.5 hours of cardio). It was then that I decided to break up my cardio sessions twice: I would perform 30-45 mins first thing upon wakening on an empty stomach before my first meal; the second session following my weight training later in the day. To some this would sound exhausting or torturous, but I actually found I preferred this method.
The topic of fasted cardio is a widely debated one. Most studies do not support any evidence that it is any more beneficial than cardio following nourishment and weight training. I am not here to state that I am right and the studies are wrong- but here are the reasons why I feel fasted cardio works for ME:
1) I feel more energized for the day.
Those endorphins! Rolling out of bed and rubbing the sleep out of your eyes is definitely the biggest challenge. Once I am out the door and get going the motivation kicks in! I have left the house- just have to get to it! I am always smiling once it's over. Instant mood booster! I feel a rush from both completing my task and knowing that I will have much less (or sometimes no more) cardio to do later in the day.
2) Time management efficiency.
Like I had stated above, as much as I love to train- who has the time to train for hours on end? In a perfect world I'd love it if I didn't have to abide by a clock. One of the best things about breaking up my cardio is knowing it will save me time later in the day. I also find it helps me to not rush through my weight session, making my resistance training more effective. I can focus on my mind-muscle connection without risking just 'going through the motions'.
3) Better Quality Cardio
Running is often my exercise of choice for fasted cardio as I actually feel I run better on an empty stomach. This is my opinion- I know others share it, and some will disagree. I am talking 30-45 mins, however. I am sure if someone wanted to run for much longer it would be increasingly difficult to perform at an optimum level. In addition my cardio sessions later in the day would be of better quality (intensity-wise), since I had to complete a far less amount.
4) Revs up that appetite.
I know many women struggle with getting all their 5-6 small meals in throughout their day. Boy, does fasted cardio take care of that! I have found my hunger and metabolism increases greatly if I have done cardio first thing. I typically feel hunger around the 3 hour mark: on fasted cardio days I could easily munch every 2-2.5 hours. I correlate this feeling with my body's ability to utilize my calories more efficiently as a result of my morning cardio in a depleted state.
5) Visual Results
Though you can't argue science, pictures don't lie either! Neither does the scale. To this day, anytime I am wanting to trim up quickly whether it'd be for a shoot or upcoming event I almost always incorporate fasted cardio. The result is a much more streamlined me!
Disclaimer: These are all points that I have found work for ME. I truly believe that there is no one 'guaranteed' way to achieve a fitness goal(s) across the board. In your journey it's important to find out what works for YOU! If there was an upcoming movie being released that you really were excited to see, and a movie critic (or even several) said it was awful it would be your decision then to see it or not. Maybe you would love it? Or maybe you would follow the critic's suggestion and avoid it all together. Ultimately- your goals, your life, your journey <3