Does Cardio on an Empty Stomach Work?

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For those of us who do use cardio as part of our fat loss program, when and how you perform your cardio training is important.

Here are the facts: There is no research to support the claim that doing fasted cardiovascular training (or cardio on an empty stomach) is more effective than doing non-fasted cardio (cardio after eating) But that doesn’t mean that doing fasted cardio is less effective or that you shouldn’t do it.

I will often encourage clients to perform fasted cardio as a way to better assist them in their cardio training schedules. For many people, myself included, getting up and doing a cardio session straight away may be the only time during the day to get the workout in, and that may happen on an empty stomach.

Fasted cardio may also deliver fat loss results by shortening feeding windows or the number of hours per day you consume calories.

Don’t get me wrong, calories are not the end-all, be-all of fat loss, but they do matter. Training before eating can reduce overall caloric intake and enhance fat loss results.

So should you use fasted cardio?

It’s a personal choice. If you find it easier to complete your cardio training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, then by all means do it. But if you don’t do cardio on an empty stomach it will not be less effective. Figure out what works best in your schedule and go with confidence.

Dusten’s recommends:

If you do cardio first thing in the morning before eating, try supplementing with some essential aminos (EA’s) or branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) just before training to minimize muscle loss that may result from the fasted cardio.

Dusten Nelson is a Chicago-based strength coach, nutritional expert and practitioner of Chinese medicine. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and check out his website. You can email Nelson at

Nelson is currently training Chicago filmmaker Kenneth Yoder to compete in a 100-day bodybuilding challenge. See the original story here.

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