Adding fasted cardio to intermittent fasting: Does it burn twice the calories?

If you leave for work at 7 am, to get to the gym and back, showered, ready for work would put you at a wake up time of 5 am (unless you take an hour to get ready). It’s a hard question for the night before: do I wake up early to work out or do I get that extra hour of sleep?

Going off of my previous post here, my biggest concern to starting IF was fitting exercise into my workdays. I aim to be at work around 7:45 am and am scheduled to leave work around 4 pm. But with patients coming in late and complex kiddos putting us behind, I can leave work as late as 6. This puts me in a tough pickle. My 8-hour eating period is from 11-7, but if I leave work late (which occurs more often than not), I can definitely get home when the clock strikes 7.

Before intermittent fasting, I was a huge afternoon workoutter. I would relieve all my work-related stress and worries at the gym right after work.

But I knew this was not sustainable. One day, one week then one month passed by where I used “not having time” as an excuse to not work out, and I just wasn’t feeling my best. As much as I loved working out after work and IF in general, I had to figure out a different plan if I wanted to continue with intermittent fasting as a working woman.

This led me to think about fasted cardio.

When one of my colleagues mentioned how she went to Orange Theory Fitness at 5 am and another ran four miles before sunrise, I looked at them like they had four holes in their head. Obviously, something was wrong with them – how could you wake up that early and have so much energy?

Well, knowing something had to change, I tried it one day. I set my alarm to 5 while in bed by 10 the night before. I woke up to the dreadful iPhone ring, may have snoozed it around four times and then dragged myself to put on my favorite workout gear and tracker that I laid out the night before.

No, I did not wash my face or brush my teeth. Gross, I know but it was a miracle I even put clothes on.

Lucky for me, the gym is located in my apartment so the walk wasn’t hard. Getting on the treadmill and starting the run was, however, a different story. I did some mediocre stretches and just got going right away.

For the first 10 minutes I kept thinking:

“There’s no way this is going to work for me.”

But then, 30 minutes, 45 minutes and an hour passed by of low intensity steady state cardio (commonly known as LISS), and I was really feeling in it. I didn’t run or jog but just fast walked and still broke a sweat! I took a victory selfie (the picture above in my messy bathroom) and then set a goal to try it a couple more times later that week (to make sure I wasn’t crazy).

And let me be honest, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Fasted cardio – no matter if you are on an intermittent fasting plan or not – is very very rewarding. Instead of scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning, I encourage you to get yourself to the gym or outside if the weather permits. There is so much research on fasted cardio and it is a popular topic still being studied today, but to put it simply, fasted cardio can burn more fat and has plenty of mental benefits:

  • It clears the mind before the day ahead.
  • The physical and mental endorphin rush will help with reduce cortisol and bring a much more positive outlook on the day.

Just for reference: your stomach is empty when you do fasted cardio but not all cardio on an empty stomach qualifies as fasted cardio!

To answer the initial question of whether fasted cardio and intermittent fasting can burn twice the calories, the answer is yes and no. And I say that because fasting cardio can mean different things to different people. Some people like a 20 minute walk, some people go on a 10 minute swim – you can certainly burn more calories doing fasted cardio (versus if you were a couch potato prior).

But the big takeaway here is: there is no hard way to measure the calories and I actually urge you to NOT count calories. Do it because you feel good doing it and you see benefits from it.

Don’t know where to start? Here are 4 tips to get started on fasted cardio while intermittent fasting:

  1. Keep cardio low intensity in the morning. Do NOT push your exercise or duration too high, or you will feel light headed and dizzy and even maintaining such a routine will become a struggle. Walk, bike, go on the elliptical but at a pace where it can be maintained for at least 20 minutes.
  2. If you want high intensity, go AFTER you’ve eaten. You’ll have more fuel to burn, and the closer you schedule any moderate to intense sessions to your last meal, the better.
  3. After working out, break your fast with a high protein meal or snack. Rx bars are actually a great option and are perfect for a on-the-go snack!
  4. Hydrate! This is probably the simplest of tips but no one, I mean NO ONE, drinks enough during the day. Working in urology, I can attest to this myself that none of the urologists do. Keep your hydration fun as well. I highly recommend this water bottle to keep you motivated to drink more throughout the day!

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach! Comment below with any of your experiences or questions!

Disclaimer: tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

Intermittent fasting: Is it for me?

I have been intermittent fasting (IF) for about five months now.

My day goes as follows: I skip a typical breakfast and eat two meals, the first around 11 am and the second between 6-7 pm (with a snack or two in between). Then, I fast for 16 hours until I start eating again the next day at 11 am. This is the 16:8 method.

There is no dramatic weight loss picture or body fat/muscle mass measurement that I can show you, as the last time I weighed myself was at my yearly work physical and the time before that was at my previous yearly physical. But to my surprise, here are some of the changes I have noticed:

  • I went from a 28 to 27 in pants size (even a 26 at Urban Outfitters!)
  • My mind in the mornings have been a lot clearer – I focus on my tasks easier and I have more energy in the mornings (even without my bacon egg and cheese bagel from Spread!)
  • I drink more water (I will get to that down below).
  • I don’t struggle with late-night indigestion as I did before.

Now at this point, you’re probably thinking that this is just a coincidence that all of this happened or there’s some kind of fitness plan I additionally followed. And I think you will be surprised to hear that IF is the only thing that I have consistently followed in the past couple of months.

But Carol, this is a diet plan.
You can’t be on it forever as it’s not healthy!
Why are you starving yourself?
How can you skip the most important meal of the day?

These are the most common questions I get at work when I tell my coworkers about IF. In this post, I’m going to break down what really is intermittent fasting, how I incorporated it into my lifestyle, and how you can look into it today!

What is intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss has been dated back to 1946 (although the subjects were mice). In the past decade, it started to gain popularity with stories of its effectiveness, one including Dr. Jason Fun’s bestseller The Obesity Code.

There are many versions to IF: 5:2, 14:10, 24 hour method, 16:8. I did my fair research into what could be sustainable and most doable for my lifestyle, and at the beginning of this year, I chose the 16:8 method – or 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating window.

Long story short – when you eat, it takes about 3-5 hours to digest and absorb the food you just ate (this is called the “fed state”). Because your insulin levels are high, it is hard to burn body fat in this state. The “post-absorptive state” is the 8-12 hours after your last meal. Insulin levels will now be low, making it easier to burn body fat while in this state.

Essentially, fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Hackensack Meridian Health

This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. It’s all about the timing!

How do you IF?

I work in an environment where my lunch can be at exactly at 11 am or patients start backing up and I get five minutes to eat at 2 pm. Every day is different!

At first, I questioned how I could even go about seeing patients throughout the day without getting hangry. But here is what works for me:

My “breakfast” is a tall (maybe grande) Pike from Starbucks with a splash of almond milk and half of a Splenda packet. I always ask for a Venti ice water and I set a goal to finish this before I “break” my fast. If I know it’ll be a crazy clinic day, I end up packing more snacks (because usually my lunches need to be heated) and leave it out at my desk so that I can easily grab one at 11 am (or whenever I get the chance to eat it).

There is absolutely nothing special about my lunches or dinners. My lunches can range from chicken vegetable soup from Gia Kitchen to some leftovers from the dinner the day before. And you already know my dinners are mostly Korean dishes, as I can’t last a day without eating something Korean!

Something I noted is that I actually found myself drinking more water throughout the day (especially in the morning before my fast). Prior to IF, I would be so focused on eating my meals that I forgot to drink water before, during, or after a meal. (Crazy, I know but this homegirl was so focused on food food food.) But now I make sure to have at least 8 oz before eating my meals because believe it or not, this not only helps digestion but also regulating your appetite (read about it here).

Do you IF every day?

Absolutely not! I went on vacation recently to see my boyfriend in Charleston and trust me, there were lots of ramen at midnight and warm bagels at 8 am.

And at this point in my life, I am not in a frenzy about losing weight. I will go into what my current fitness goals are in a separate post next week but as for now I am doing this because it has made me more aware and mindful of what I am eating and when. I was a huge late-night snacker which led to major indigestion issues before I went to bed but now it just makes life simpler. I don’t have to prepare breakfast and I am not counting calories.

To note, I want to make it clear that this is NOT restrictive eating. If you find that your hunger is of concern, don’t be afraid to break the fast. Listen to your body! Do not let yourself stress about eating at 10:59 am or at 730 instead of 7.

The decision to put your health front and center is the ULTIMATE act of self-love. We have to launch our journey from a place of love, and see the process to becoming healthier as a true journey with no end destination. It is simply to bring you to a higher connection with life.

And I really want to emphasize this.

Intermittent fasting is not about ‘how long can I go until I feel dizzy?’ Just like you would do with any diet/weight loss/get healthy plan, do your research. There is a long line of people who have shared their successes but no plan is a one size fits all. Some of the books that can put the first step in your journey: for women, for the skeptics, for the beginners.

Ask me anything about my progress so far! And if you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, stay tuned for the upcoming posts on the health benefits and tips on how you can get on the IF train!

*Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert. tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. *Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert.