Fasted Cardio vs HIIT
When it comes to weight loss there is no one magic pill that guarantees results. Often times people want to take the easy way out, when in reality the only true, proven way to lose weight is good old-fashion hard work. Hard work is essential if you have intentions on reaching your fitness and nutrition goals. On the flip side of things, not only do you have to work hard, but it helps if you work smart.
Now if you’re reading this you probably have an interest in fitness, and have probably heard of either fasted cardio, HIIT, or both. In this blog post I aim to explain the pros and cons of each and help you better understand which form of exercise is best for you and your needs.
Fasted cardio is typically low-intensity cardio performed early in the morning without eating breakfast. The body stores fats and carbohydrates while you sleep so the idea of fasted cardio is to burn off those macronutrients that are stored before you consume any more for breakfast, or just any pre-workout meal in general.
There have been many studies that show this type of cardio works to lose fat. This method is good for people who can only workout in the morning, or for people who have enough time to dedicate other workout sessions solely to strength training. The two biggest drawbacks to this method are that it does not promote building muscle at all and it does not burn as many calories throughout the day as HIIT does.
High Intensity Interval Training is a style of cardio training that has been popularized by boot camp style workouts and programs like Insanity and P90x. The idea here is to rapidly increase the heart rate and oxygen output while limiting rest periods. While HIIT is a cardio based style of training it can also lead to an increase in lean muscle tissue. Obviously these increases won’t be as substantial as resistance training, but this increase in muscle mass is what helps the body burn more calories throughout the day.
HIIT is also the most effective way to stimulate the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption effect. EPOC keeps the metabolism elevated after a workout is completed, because your body is trying to restore oxygen levels required to reach its normal, resting state. Moreover, HIIT consumes more oxygen which burns more calories.
I recommend HIIT training for people who don’t have a current or previous medical condition/physical issue preventing them from doing so. However, I believe both types of cardio training can be beneficial and can lead to fat loss, assuming you are following a balanced and healthy diet.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is it doesn’t matter which form of cardio you do if you do it with 50% effort or don’t consistently stick with your workout routine. As long as your work ethic stays hungry and you stay dedicated to your workouts you will see results. Remember, it’s not what you do, but it’s how you do it!
Gonzalez, J. T., et al. Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males. Br J Nutr. 23:1-12, 2013.
McCall, Pete. “7 Things To Know About Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).” Fitnovatives Blog. American Council on Exercise, 28 Aug. 2014.