Performing cardio on an empty stomach has been a popular fat burning strategy that many have used over the years to shed that unwanted fat. I’ll admit I used it when I first started my fat loss routine because I was told that cardio on an empty stomach just upon waking burns more fat and it made complete sense to me. Since there was no food in the stomach and the glycogen levels were low, the body would turn to its fat reserves for energy to power you through that cardio session. As a result, you’ll lose fat a lot quicker. But over the years I’ve learned that cardio on an empty stomach isn’t all that its cut out to be and may actually burn less fat then if you were to have food in your system beforehand.

Cardio on an empty stomach?

Cardio on an empty stomach?

Firstly, if you have ever done a cardio session early in the morning on an empty stomach you might have noticed that you’re tired, you have little energy and your will to power through the cardio session will be weak. There are many early morning cardio sessions where I felt like I almost blacked out due to low blood sugars as a result of not eating for 8 to 10 hours. When you want to maximize how much fat you burn, it’s all about intensity. If you cannot give it 110% because you’re forcing yourself to power through the workout while thinking about your growling stomach, it will have a significant impact on your overall exercise intensity. If you’re half-assing it because you lack the energy, wouldn’t you think you’d burn more calories and have a more effective workout if you were to have some food in you before the cardio session? Just a thought.

Secondly, fasted cardio will cause a greater degree of muscle loss. If you’re a looking to cut down and to maintain most of the muscle you’ve built up during your ‘bulk,’ you might want to stay away from cardio on an empty stomach. Research has shown that nitrogen losses are nearly doubled when cardio is performed on an empty stomach. If you do not know what nitrogen has to do with muscle growth, I’ll explain it quickly for you.┬áNitrogen is a chemical element found in protein, which we know is the primary building block for muscle growth. In order to build new muscle, you have to take in more protein than your body uses. Having a positive nitrogen balance means that the body is retaining proteins, thus meaning muscle growth. Losing nitrogen means you’re in a catabolic state which means your muscles are being broken down.

Lastly, worrying about how much fat you burn in an hour of exercise should be the last thing that’s on your mind when it comes to wanting to improve your body. The process of losing fat is all about the big picture and what you do over the course of weeks, months or years. That is what’s really important. Not what you do in an hour cardio session.

So that’s pretty much it. If you are doing early morning cardio sessions and dread it, I hope this article gave you some insight. In my opinion (for those who care), I would skip the early morning cardio session and get a few meals in before hand. This will maximize fat loss while minimizing the amount of muscle that you lose.


Join 3000+ readers and get science-based muscle building and fat loss tips, diet tips, motivational strategies and more sent straight to your inbox every week!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
Be Sociable, Share!


John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

More Posts