Morning Rounds: Is fasted cardio effective and safe?

NORFOLK, Va. – A recent study suggested working out on an empty stomach increases fat burn and weight loss.

Handsome runner jogging in London, listening to music.

News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light weighed in on the study’s findings.

The research shows that weight loss for fasting and fed exercise are comparable,” said Dr. Light. “Currently studies show no difference or slight increase in fat loss with fasted cardio.  Studies also showed decreased cardio performance in the fasted state.”

“The goal of exercise is to increase cardiovascular performance,” he further explained. “Eating a low glycemic breakfast before exercise leads to better performance which burns more calories.  Fed exercise burns a slightly smaller percentage of fat calories, but the total number of calories burned is greater when eating before exercise.”

Dr. Light said fasted workouts are safe for most people.

“The benefits of cardiovascular exercise – decreasing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes – far exceed the risk,” he said.

While he said most people are not at risk of passing out from low blood sugars during fasted exercise, he did say diabetics on medication are at higher risk of passing out and should discuss fasted exercise with a doctor before trying it.

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