When it comes to weight loss, cardio is one of the most effective types of workouts. Doing cardiovascular exercise every week in combination with a healthy diet can help you lose weight.
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However, when should you do cardio for best results? While there’s no hard and fast rule, research shows that people who do cardiovascular exercises early in the day burn more fat than those who wait to workout until later in the day.
Fasted Cardio in the Morning
Fasted cardio, which refers to doing a workout on an empty stomach, is popular among fitness buffs because it can help you burn fat faster. The theory behind it is that not having any food in your system for a period of time forces your body to burn stored fat and glycogen instead of the calories you just ate, explains Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, of Trifecta.
However, she also warns that fasted exercise can deplete your glycogen stores. That’s because your insulin levels are low, so your body prefers to use fat for fuel.
So, if you’re a newbie exerciser who doesn’t know how your body responds to exercising on an empty stomach, it’s best to skip this routine. But if you’re a longtime exerciser who understands your body’s limitations, a few fasted sessions a week may accelerate your fat loss.
Fasted Cardio in the Late Afternoon/Early Evening
There are a lot of good things about cardio, including how it improves your cardiovascular health, increases blood flow to your body and helps to lower your resting heart rate. But it is also important to be aware of the potential downsides.
One of the biggest is that if you do too much cardio, it can actually accelerate muscle loss. This is a risk that you should take into account when trying to achieve your lean body goals, since it’s important to be mindful of when to do cardio and how much to do.
To avoid this, it’s best to do a low-impact, lower intensity form of cardio such as HIIT, which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by brief periods of rest. This will raise your heart rate quickly and maximize calorie burn, while also allowing you to recover for a brief period before pushing yourself again.
Fasted Cardio in the Mid-Day
Fasted cardio, or exercising on an empty stomach, is a popular way to cut calories and burn fat while building strength. It’s especially effective for people with sensitive stomachs or those who want to avoid gas, bloating, and cramping during their workouts.
Fitness experts and research show that aerobic exercise performed in a fasted state causes increased fat oxidation. This is because your body hasn’t eaten through the night, explains Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, a board-certified sports nutritionist and director of Trifecta.
Those who do fasted cardio should eat something within 30 minutes of finishing their workout to prolong the fat-burning effects, she advises. Additionally, folks with diabetes or other health conditions should speak to a doctor before doing this type of training.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether cardio or weight training should be done first. It’s a matter of personal preference and your fitness goals, says trainers.
Regardless of what workout order you choose, it’s important to make sure your muscles are properly warmed up before lifting weights. This is especially important if you’re trying to build muscle mass.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends combining cardio and strength training exercises wisely so you don’t overwork the same muscle groups. It’s also crucial to allow for adequate recovery after each workout.