Performing cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning before breakfast, known as "fasted cardio," is a topic of controversy. Advocates claim that the body burns more fat when cardio is performed on an empty stomach, while critics claim that it actually hinders fat burning because a fasted state impedes performance. Studies have produced mixed results, but many people swear by fasted cardio as an effective tool for fat loss. Combined with indoor cycling, an effective fat-burning exercise, fasted cardio may help you shed unwanted pounds.
Fasted cardio requires you to get up early and perform the workout before eating. If you are new to morning routines, have your workout clothes and water bottle ready the night before. Make any preparations that you may not have time to do in the morning, such as packing lunch or ironing clothes. Don't give yourself an excuse to skip the workout because you don't have time.
Sample Workout 1
The first option is to perform steady-state cardio that elevates your heart rate to 65 to 85 percent of your maximum (you can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220). Aim to complete 30 minutes on the exercise bike in this heart rate zone. Because steady-state cardio is not as intense as interval work, this is a good option when training on an empty stomach. Many people find that their energy levels are lower before breakfast, and the demands of intervals may be too taxing for some.
Sample Workout 2
For those already accustomed to fasted cardio, intervals on the bike may be appropriate. Interval training requires you to do a series of maximal-effort work followed by short recovery periods. Because these workouts are more intense than steady-state cardio, they are shorter and might be a good option if you are limited on time. A sample High Intensity Interval Training workout on the stationary bike could involve 10 intervals of 90 seconds each. For the first 30 seconds, spin at a maximal effort. Be sure to include enough resistance. Follow that with 60 seconds of light spinning to recover. This workout ends up totaling 15 minutes.
Fasted cardio is not safe for everyone. Those with diabetes or hypoglycemia should not perform exercise on an empty stomach. Always be sure to drink plenty of water and pay attention to how you are feeling. If at any point during your workout you begin to feel dizzy or faint, stop immediately. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
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Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.