What is the best cardio for fat loss? This is a question that we get A LOT. So I decided to answer this with both an article and a video.
When should you do cardio for maximum fat loss gains? The short answer-it doesn’t matter.
Cardio is cardio to an extent and if you burn 300 calories in the morning or the afternoon-it’s still 300 calories.
To lose body fat you need to be in a caloric deficit. That being that you take in less calories than you body expends on a daily basis. There a number of ways this deficit can be achieved-but for the sake of this article we’re going to focus on cardio.
Cardio for fat loss is not a bad idea at all. However it’s timing is much less critical than commonly thought.
It has been highly popularised to do cardio fasted. Empty stomach, first thing in the morning for a brisk walk to tap into those fat stores while your body is depleted of glycogen. To an extent-this does work. That being said-what ultimately determines fat loss is calories in VS calories out in a 24 hour period.
Let’s compare two scenarios:
Fasted cardio: You wake up and hit the pavement for 45 minutes of LISS (low intensity steady state cardio). You burn 300 calories during this exercise. This will predominantly use fatty acids/body fat as the energy source during the exercise.
Non-fasted cardio: You do the same LISS cardio in the afternoon, same duration and intensity. You burn the same 300 calories however a high proportion of this comes from glycogen.
The outcome? You burned 300 calories in both. There is no best cardio for fat loss. The outcome is the same and will produce the same results over time.
Although the afternoon cardio didn’t directly burn as much body fat is still burned the same calories/created the same deficit. The lack of glycogen created from this cardio will force the body to convert fatty acids into glucose to replace this. Different pathway-same outcome.
Fasted cardio is actually your most catabolic time throughout the day. Your body has likely been without nutrients for a good 8-10 hours.
For this reason I would recommend drinking an amino acid supplement if you are going to do morning cardio.
Cardio is a great tool to help you burn more calories. It is a great way to increase your caloric expenditure and also help with muscle recovery aswell. The timing of it however-is not particularly important. The most important part is to make this a consistent part of your lifestyle. Nothing happens overnight. Have a good plan and aim to make small,consistent progress for sustainable results.