The monster bodybuilder Rich Piana answers the question that thousands of bodybuilder are looking answers to, does cardio burn muscle?
Some fitness trainers recommend fasted cardio because they feel you’re more likely to tap into fat stores when you haven’t supplied your body with a readily-available source of glucose. Ultimately, more intense interval-style cardio workouts are most effective for shedding body fat since you get a greater EPOC or after-burn effect after high-intensity exercise.
If you’re significantly overweight and your current goal is to lose body fat or you’ve just started exercising and aren’t ready for high-intensity cardio, doing a fasted cardio workout first thing in the morning offers some benefits. It’s a logical thought, and debates on this topic have echoed around the gym floors for years.
Although they choose to be this way, there’s a lot of gym superstition that if you even go near a treadmill you become one of them.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits, and it can be a serious game changer to your routine. In addition, this also lessens the pain of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that usually follows the next morning. The idea is to increase the flow around the muscle group that you’ve worked in your session to get the best results.
Not to mention the added fat burning benefits that comes from additional cardio which can really help to lean out those abs. An added bonus to doing regular cardio a few times a week is how it affects your blood sugar levels.
Better insulin sensitivity also helps with your absorption of nutrients, more amino acids and carbs can be taken to your muscles which can help towards recovery and growth at faster rate than usual. Although cardio can help improve your gains – and believe us, it does, there are limits as to what you should be doing for the best results. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) can occur anywhere where there’s constant joint movement. Activities like long distance running or endurance training can inflame joints and leads to discomfort and injuries. Short demanding bursts like sprint sessions or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) causes instant fatigue. Similar results are seen with long distance or endurance training like marathon running – but these effects are on a larger scale. Although the race helped towards getting these athletes absolutely shredded (on average each racer lost 50% of their visceral body fat) in this case they saw cardio burn muscle. Due to the amount of pressure on the body, runners lost on average 7% of the muscle mass in their legs, on top of that there was a significant number of joint injuries from overtraining. It helps towards improving muscle recovery by increasing nutrient flow in the body, and improves stamina which is essential to the high-rep work used when cutting.
From a dietary perspective it also enables you to get more out of your food, with increased insulin sensitivity that can greatly increase your body’s absorption rate come dinner time. We insist the risk is on us, so simply try Instant Knockout for 90 days and if you do not see any results then we will gladly refund your money. Fasted cardio is a technique that has been around for years in the bodybuilding community, and one that’s gaining popularity among regular gym goers and even endurance athletes. Here’s the skinny on sweating it out sans food and whether or not it is suitable for your body and fitness goals. Early morning, un-fueled workouts are a common protocol among bodybuilders, especially in preparation for competition when they need to lean out as much as possible before they walk on stage. Some studies have found that exercising in a fasted state can burn almost 20 percent more fat compared to exercising with fuel in the tank. However, research has demonstrated that fasted cardio does not increase fat burning over a 24-hour period. While more research is needed, if you’re curious about running on empty, be sure not to go it alone. Beyond bodybuilding and celeb weight loss, endurance athletes have started to turn to “glycogen-depleted workouts,” too.


Fasted runs may have their ups, but keep in mind that while these workouts can adapt the body to more efficiently burn fat as fuel, they didn’t help athletes lose weight or improve their aerobic conditioning or endurance during the studies. While it appears that fasted cardio can turn your body into an efficient fat burning machine, Lauren Antonucci, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Sports Dietitian, and Owner of Nutrition Energy, cautions against this technique. When you wake up in the morning, your body is in a catabolic state due to high levels of cortisol — the hormone associated with stress.
If eating before your early morning session at the track or gym doesn’t work with your schedule or stomach, that’s fine. The effectiveness of cardio training performed in the morning is a question commonly asked of fitness professionals--especially considering the challenges of fat loss. Morning Cardio training on an empty stomach or while fasting is a common practice within the bodybuilding community to ensure lowest possible body fat prior to competition.
Training and fitness expert Jesse Burdick shares, “Fasted cardio is the prevailing wisdom in bodybuilding because these guys are dieting very hard.” The reason why this particular training approach is effective concerns the depletion of glycogen, the body’s first source of stored energy. As far as the types of cardio you should do, Burdick suggests 15-20 minutes or less of high-intensity interval training or low-to-moderate intensity steady-state cardio. Both men agree that training in the morning is good for getting the body energized, but unless you’re fasting, you might be better off getting those extra Z’s for a hardcore evening session.
There are some pitfalls to doing cardio first thing in the morning, especially when you’re fasting.
That means you’ll burn more calories after your workout compared to low or moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise. If you’re keeping the intensity moderate, no more than 60% of V02 max, you’ll use primarily fat as fuel during your workout but you won’t get the benefits of a significant after-burn. Divide cardio into two sessions, a low to moderate-intensity session in the morning while fasting and a short, higher intensity session later in the day. They can experience symptoms of hypoglycemia such as headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. This couldn’t be further from the truth, to get to that kind of level takes years of training and intense dieting, to be the best that they can pound for pound. In a cut you’ll start adding more high-rep ranged sets to your workouts, sculpting out your muscle to attain that textbook ripped physique.
This added endurance is also a lot easier to maintain than it is create, once you’re at that stage, a cardio session every now and again should be enough to keep your stamina in check. Frequent cardio sessions have been seen to support insulin sensitivity which helps towards how you process carbs. Once you’re in that position, your chances of getting any serious work done in the gym afterwards is slim, and may sink your progress for that week. Depending on how you do it, you can really affect your progress – and not in a good way.
When you train too hard, too frequently your body can’t recovery quick enough before the next session. Light intensity sessions for 20 – 40 minutes a couple of times a week can offer huge benefits towards improving your gains. Characteristics, changes and influence of body composition during a 4486 km transcontinental ultramarathon: results from the TransEurope FootRace mobile whole body MRI-project.
Exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and your body should burn more fat. But will forgoing your morning oatmeal really lead to a leaner body and better athletic performance? Some celebrities also turn to this technique to get ready for their close-up, whether that’s a photo shoot or red carpet event. The answer is yes and the answer is also no,” says Jay Cardiello, a NSCA and ISSA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and fitness expert who has worked with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Sofia Vergara.
While your muscles adapt to using more fat when you exercise, you don’t actually lose more fat overall on the days that you exercise compared to days that you don’t.
Cardiello has employed the fasted cardio method with clients for a short period of time and within a controlled environment.


The hope is to teach their body to adapt to low blood sugar levels by burning fat and, as a result, prevent “bonking” during a race. By keeping the body drained of this stored form of glucose, it’s then forced to burn fat or protein instead.
This is good since insulin puts a damper on fat breakdown by inhibiting a hormone called hormone sensitive lipase.
For one, cortisol levels are highest when you first wake up and when you’re in a fasted state. On the other hand, high-intensity interval training can be pretty challenging first thing in the morning after an overnight fast. In addition, once you stop, you won’t expend much additional energy since your body doesn’t need to tap into additional resources to recover.
That means if you’re eating a diet that’s moderately high in carbs, you’re going to have stored glycogen your muscles can use as fuel when you first start.
If you’re keeping the intensity low to moderate and you feel good doing morning cardio, it may offer slight benefits over low to moderate intensity cardio later in the day. With a proper diet and reducing your cardio to a few times per week in 20 – 40 minute sessions, you can lose the fat, while still maintaining your gains. Performing light cardio after a session may be painful to that area but it increases the flow of nutrients to the muscle group and shortens your recovery time between workouts. Building up stamina and endurance in the muscles, high rep sets become easier to do and you’ll start to see your progress come together at a much faster rate. Another study suggests that ingesting carbs before working out increases the post-exercise “afterburn” effect more than the fasted state. He advises that fasted cardio “shouldn’t be used unless you are being looked after by a nutritionist, professional strength training coach and a medical professional.” For example, 50 Cent used fasted cardio to prepare for an album cover photo shoot. Occasional early morning exercise without fuel has been shown to increase VO2 max and the concentration of glycogen found in muscles when at rest.
But if you’re in this state too long, it can lead to degradation of body tissue, including muscle, and a decrease in overall health.
Due to the intensity of the exercise you’re doing, you’ll still have some release of cortisol. It’s probably not a good idea to do this every day, maybe once or twice a week to avoid overtraining. On the other hand, it may ultimately be more productive to do a high-intensity interval workout in a non-fasted state. Sure, it helps burn fat quicker, but it forces the body to burn muscle to keep up with sheer amount of energy being spent.
With glycogen stores depleted and low morning insulin levels, your body has to turn to other energy sources to power through your workout, and it’s more likely to turn to fat for fuel.
And, according to some research, higher insulin levels have been shown to suppress fat metabolism by up to 22 percent.
Cardiello closely monitored the rapper’s fitness and nutrition throughout this period to ensure that he was healthy and safe. Combine that with your already elevated morning cortisol and it creates a catabolic effect on muscle tissue so that amino acids can be used as fuel during your low glucose state. To make morning fasted cardio more effective – don’t go to sleep with high glycogen stores by eating a carb-rich snack before bedtime and choose fiber-rich low-glycemic carbs at your last meal the day before.
You can always alternate between the two to keep your body guessing and add variety to your routine.
After eight hours of sleep, you’re at least marginally dehydrated and that can affect your exercise tolerance and performance.



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