Fasted Cardio vs Non Fasted
No matter where you go, there always seems to be someone who knows it all around – and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the fitness industry.
Which Pill Will You Choose?
by Wet Wolf
No matter where you go, there always seems to be someone who knows it all around — and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the fitness industry. I don’t care if it’s the local gym, a message board, or a bodybuilding show; a resident know-it-all is always at arm’s length away.
Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure that most people truly believe that they actually know everything. Maybe they just don’t want to hear the truth. After all, who wants to believe that what they’re doing isn’t right?
In fact, I could name a handful of spry young chickens and some old hens on this very board who don’t want to be shown the truth — or at the very least a more productive way to accomplish their goals.
Why not? Because in order to learn a more productive way, they’d have to acknowledge that what they’re currently doing is, well, not as productive as they believe it to be.
In the cerebral action movie The Matrix, Morpheus asks Neo a question that created a kairos moment.
[For those of you didn’t study ancient Greek while at Harvard, kairos means the right or opportune moment.—Ed.]
“You take the blue pill, the story ends; you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
That would be a very challenging question indeed for some people. Or would it? After all, who wouldn’t want to know the truth, right?
Well, it’s not that easy of a question. Let me explain why.
What if all of a sudden you learned that everything you’d been doing your entire life was incorrect? What kind of limiting beliefs would that create?
You thought the rancid cough medicine that your granny spoon-fed you was difficult to get down you gullet?
Imagine trying to swallow the idea that the training or nutritional beliefs that you hold so near and dear to your sweet little heart are not only incorrect, but the chronic daily grind of adhering to such beliefs has actually degenerated your structural mobility worse than the dark depths of the Atlantic has to the Titanic.
Are You Up For a Challenge?
Then you have some people who simply don’t have a clue. To say they missed the boat would be a gross understatement. Heck, they took a train in the wrong direction and haven’t looked back since!
I had a young mom contact me a few weeks ago. She was struggling with losing body fat that was of course, her baby’s fault.
She already followed a “very effective” training routine, as she put it, but couldn’t really tell me why it was effective. And she just couldn’t seem to make smart food choices.
Of course it came as no surprise that of all the things she thought she was doing right, none of them actually were.
It was her final comment, though, that tipped the scales of insanity over the edge:
“If you’re up for a challenge and can give me a good rate, we’ll talk. Thanks.”
I really can’t make this stuff up people!
Once I stopped laughing at such an absurd remark, I couldn’t help but feel pity for such a stunning example of an inept amateur. I mean, how “out there” do you really have to be to embrace the belief that you’re not the one who will face the challenge?
No wonder this lactose-induced woman couldn’t shed the baby fat; she honestly had failed to grasp the reality that she was the one who was going to need to step up to the plate!
So, as long as someone else was willing to take up her challenge while lowering the value of his or her services in the process, she would then and only then be willing to talk.
Ever think that maybe that’s the reason you are where you are?
Another in your face example of the blue pill red pill scenario is the person who always thinks she’s privy to some esoteric information. It usually stems from something she’s read in a magazine or heard from some guru; or it may just be the recent trend at the local gym.
These are the people who always pass out advice to others at the gym or on a message board. Regardless of the scenario, one thing’s for sure: they always think they have all the answers.
Wanna know their kryptonite? Ask them to write out an eating pattern or a training program, and then watch them shit the bed as they realize that the endless textbook definitions and “laws” they love to spout out don’t come in quite as handy when you have to become a critical thinker.
I know a girl who has the answer to every single curve ball you can throw at her. Only thing she doesn’t realize is that she strikes out every single time she actually steps up to bat.
The sad thing is that she actually sold another trainer’s workout program to people she trained online and hoaxed them with a brutal one day cookie-cutter diet. All that practical knowledge she touted disappeared faster than the funds in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme. And just like Madoff, she bilked her victims in the end.
I had a girl sign up with me a couple of months back. When she’d mentioned that she’s been training online with a certain legendary “expert” in the bodybuilding community, I asked to see the workout program that this “legend” sold to her.
It turns out that the grandioso style of this expert’s training program called for either seven sets of fifteen reps with thirty seconds between sets, or (if that didn’t turn you into a slow-twitch puddle of sweat and tip you over the edge of overtraining volume), four sets of fifteen reps with ninety seconds between sets.
Now that’s enough to leave your glycogen stores so depleted, your poor itty-bitty fast-twitch deprived muscles would be tip-toeing the tight rope of catabolism.
The take-home point is this: Whatever you do, never be afraid to embrace the truth. And if you’re daring enough, I’ll even show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Q & A with the Wolf
This week’s question comes courtesy of sneezingstardust.
Q: What are your thoughts on fasted cardio?
I’ve heard various opinions — ranging from, “It causes catabolism and decreased energy levels” to, “It’s awesome for fat loss and boosting your metabolism.”
I’ve been considering doing this since I got back into my cut since I usually don’t have time for cardio after weight sessions. Is this necessary or not?
A: That’s a great question and you make some good points.
My thoughts are that unless you’re preparing for a contest, you really don’t need to perform fasted state energy systems work.
If someone’s following an oscillating macronutrient eating pattern, a well designed weight training protocol, and metabolic work during the day, there’s simply no need to rely on fasted state early morning cardio for fat loss.
When you wake up, slop out of bed, and climb on the treadmill first thing in the morning, you’re setting your body up for a catabolic cascade. You’re already in a depleted state due to the restricted diet you’re following and have next to no glycogen in your reserves.
“No way, Wet Wolf! My trainer told me to take a scoop of whey before I do my fasted state cardio!”
Hey kiddo, if you’re downing a whey shake prior to your cardio, then its not fasted state anymore, now is it? And what difference will a scoop of whey make, anyway? Do you really think it’s going to do diddly-squat to preserve your dwindled little muscle bellies?
Trust me, you may think you’re boosting your metabolism, but with all the muscle you lose on those early morning cardio sessions, you’re actually doing permanent damage to your metabolic rate!
In case you don’t know, your metabolic rate is basically the rate at which your body burns calories; as you ravage away what little functional mass you do possess, you can successfully downgrade your metabolism to that of a garden slug.
Look, if you’re interested in boosting your metabolism, then wet your whistle with a quality thermo. Trust me, they’ll provide you with a clean burst of energy that’ll continue deep into the day.
An Even Bigger Pitfall
I’ve seen already lean or skinny-fat girls grind out hour-long pre-breakfast runs and spinning classes. They’ll then have a shake for breaky and some tuna with veggies for lunch. It’s no wonder that by 3:00 PM, they’re suffering from blurred vision and their blood sugar’s so low that by the time they get off work they’re ready to rip and snort through the nearest bakery.
What does all this mean?
It means that there’s another problem with fasted state cardio: It definitely does lead to an extremely high energy turnover over the course of the day and unless you’re prepared to eat an extra meal or two, whatever muscle happened to escape the pre-dawn muscle execution will be starved off over the course of the day.
Now, someone who truly may need to implement some fasted state cardio would be the fat girl with muscle — typically, a level ten example of an endomorph.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh Wet Wolf, that’s me!”
I highly doubt it. I’ve worked with maybe five females like this over the last seven years. You may be fat, but you don’t have nearly as much muscle as you believe you do; and no, you don’t gain muscle very easily, either.
Those last ten pounds you packed on aren’t muscle, I can promise you that. I don’t care if you were “working out” while you gained them.
Now, even if an endomorph has been given the green light to perform some fasted state cardio, I require that she get under 19% body fat — or follow one of my programs for at least eight weeks, whichever comes first.
Prepping for a Show?Another possible green light is competition prep.
If during the final four-week stretch, a client of mine still has a few pounds of adipose to burn off, I may sprinkle in some early morning fasted state work. The key in this scenario is avoiding all cardio during the previous eight-week training period and “saving” it until the end.
The following is an example of this scenario in action. It’s an effective end-of-prep protocol I’d written for TurboMomJen during the last month before her competition.
Fasted state cardio: Perform 10 sprints upon waking, immediately after taking HOT-ROX® Extreme and BCAAs.
Time Out From Show Fasted Cardio Frequency Four weeks out 1 day per week
Three weeks out 2 days per week
Two weeks out 2 days per week
One Week out 2 days per week
She never needed to go over two fasted state cardio days per week for two reasons:
1. Her customized eating pattern and weight training programs were in check.
2. She held off on the fasted state work until the very end, leaving a powerful stimulus on deck for when she really needed it.
I hope this sheds some light on the over-antsy cardio bunnies hopping around out there. Don’t be afraid to set those alarm clocks a little later and spend another hour in dreamland. Your metabolism will thank you.