Many experts recommend cardio on an empty stomach in the morning for fat loss and maximum fat burning. But is that necessary? Doesn’t that seem a little extreme, a little on the side of obsessive?
Personally, I think the benefits of fasted cardio in the morning are over-estimated. You can burn fat and lose weight as long as you exercise intensely on a regular basis, and eat according to plan.
You don’t need to be up at 5am with hunger pains doing slow cardio to lose fat. That’s just plain crazy.
In fact, I prefer interval training over slow cardio training anyways. And experience shows its quite tough to do a great intense workout on a completely empty stomach.
Imagine having not eaten since 7pm the night before, and now you want to do a hardcore workout at 6am? Do you really think that is going to work in your favor?
So let’s focus on your lifestyle, not the minute details of how to train while you are starving. Stick to something you can consistently do.
That said, if you really want to workout first thing in the morning – because it suits your schedule best – and you just can’t force any food down your throat, I’m not going to stop you.
Again, that is what works best for your schedule. And being consistent is what works best for your fat burning.
Here’s another common question that I get about cardio, and where it fits into a fat loss plan…
Q: Is there a benefit from doing the strength training first and then cardio? Should I do it before strength training?
Answer: First, you don’t have to do the strength and cardio in the same workout, but you will find it more efficient to do it that way.
If you only have 30 minutes to workout, you can do strength training one day and cardio the next day (preferably using interval cardio, which is more effective for fat loss than slow, boring cardio).
By combining strength training (done first!) and interval cardio in your workout, you will only need to workout 3 days per week (only 45 minutes per session!) to get results. That allows you an easier schedule to follow, and more days off from the gym to go about your daily life demands. You should still try and stay active on your “off days”, but you don’t need to worry about getting to the gym.
As for the order, we find it to be more practical to do the strength training first, as the intervals often lead to full body fatigue. There is nothing magical about doing cardio before or after strength training. Neither method will make you lose more fat.
However, I just prefer that men and women do their strength training first, because I don’t want them to be tired when doing their squats, pushups, or rows. That would defeat the purpose of strength training if they are already tired!
And as mentioned before, you will get better results in less time if you switch from slow, traditional cardio to interval cardio. Instead of doing 45 minutes of slow cardio, you’ll only need to do 20 minutes of interval cardio. You’ll get just as fit and lose more fat.
Overall, the order of strength training first followed by interval cardio are optimal for increasing metabolism, building strength and muscle, and losing fat.