When NOT to do cardio.

20th June, 2013: Important Update

Q. Is there a right and a wrong time to do cardio for fat loss?

A. Yes, absolutely.

Do you use cardio regularly for fat-loss? Thinking of doing so? That’s a 2 hour investment a week or more perhaps. So it’s probably worth 3 minutes of your time to find out if you actually need it, and if so when the most effective time to do it is then right?

I’ve already written about how I think cardio is a very poor time investment for fat loss in the article Cardio vs. Diet for fat loss. Just to hammer this point home, with the exception of the athletes, the clients on the results page did not use cardio* to achieve their transformations. (*or fat burners, drugs etc.) If you’re keen to do it anyway then you may as well position it at the right time of the day.

There is a very clear nutritional hierarchy of importance for losing fat:

1. Calorie Intake vs Expenditure > 2. Macronutrient Split > … 3. Timing

1. The most important factor in whether you gain or lose weight…

…is the net calorie balance for the day.  Fat, or more accurately free fatty acids, are constantly being shuttled in and out of the fat stores throughout the day. Whether you are left with more or less at the end of the day is down to your energy intake vs expenditure.  You can eat less, or move more to achieve this but the net result between the two will be the same.

2. The second most important factor – the macronutrients that make up that calorie balance, as this affects the degree to which we gain/lose muscle relative to fat when bulking/dieting

3. Nutrient timing comes in a distant third. -This is why I don’t tell clients to rush home and eat “within an hour” or something like that.

The thing I want you to take away from this is that cardio timing largely doesn’t matter. It pales in comparison to the importance of having the right calorie balance for the day. There are however two points of interest: 1. Stubborn body fat removal. 2. Macronutrient partitioning.

The Short Explanation:

After eating, there is no fat burning going on. – Your body uses it’s glycogen stores (from the carbohydrates you eat) for energy

In the hours following the meal. However as time passes your body gradually switches from burning carbohydrates to using body fat for energy. After 16 hours of fasting, you are burning almost entirely fat.

Here is a simplified graph of what your body uses for fuel as time passes after a meal.

It’s quite clear then that cardio performed just before the first meal of the day burn the most fat for fuel. Recall though that this is largely irrelevant as any excess calorie intake for the day will simply top these empty fat cells back up. This is where people get themselves into a pickle by forgetting golden rule number 1 and wondering why skipping breakfast/fasted cardio isn’t working for them.

The Practical Application of Cardio for Stubborn Fat Loss

After you eat, insulin and fatty acids levels in the blood are raised. Your body is oxidizing glucose for energy.

As time passes after the meal, nutrients are absorbed, insulin levels drop, and the body starts burning the fatty acids in the blood and stored body fat.

This happens because when the body senses the insulin level drop, production of catecholamines is increased, which travel through the blood, binding to the receptors on fat cells. This activates hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), which allows the release of fat from cells into the blood stream to be burned as energy.

One way of measuring this is the Respiratory Quotient (RQ), where an RQ 1.0 denotes pure carbohydrate metabolism (“storage mode”), while RQ 0.7 denotes pure fat metabolism.

The longer the time you are without food, the more fat you burn.  However the type of fat the body uses changes over time. The body’s ability to mobilize sufficient fatty acids from subcutaneous fat (the fat under the skin that makes you look fat) reaches a limit around the 10-30 hour mark. At this point the body starts to oxidize intramuscular fat. This is not the type of fat we wish to target. Continuing to fast beyond that point we also risk muscle catabolism as the rate of gluconeogenesis increases. Simply put, a point in time is reached where the consequences of continuing the fast outweigh the benefits.

Practical Concerns / Application of Cardio

So you’re going to do your cardio anyway, either because you have to for your sport or because you love it, and you acknowledge that it generally isn’t needed to get non-stage level shredded if you’re a man.

Macronutrient partitioning – Thoughts

With the goal of cutting fat it’s obvious you’re going to be in a new weekly calorie deficit. It is worth making the calories that you do ingest count most. While fat and carbs both aid in recovery, carbs are what replenish your muscle batteries (your glycogen stores) after a workout. If you have a choice of doing cardio in the fasted state then this will allow for more of the energy to come from fat for that exercise and thus more of those carbs to be shuttled into your glycogen stores when you do eat, making the most of your carbs. Whether this theory makes that much difference in practice I don’t know.

How Intermittent Fasting helps with fat loss

I.F creates an ‘ideal state’ of fat burning (at the 12-16 hour window) everyday. Almost all energy expenditure at this point, whether intentional (cardio) or just going about one’s daily activities, will lead to almost pure fat oxidization.

Perhaps this explains why those that use I.F. manage to get so lean so quickly without using cardio.

*There have been studies recently that show this not to be the case with highly trained endurance athletes. It seems that consumption of carbs before an endurance workout does not affect their fat burning ability and may even increase it. Very interesting. Important for me to know for clients, not relevant for those outside of that group.

Update: 20th June 2013:

This was one of the first articles that I wrote, so please forgive some of the simplicity of thinking – I’ve developed a lot in the last two years.

I was asked where the reference to the 16 hour point comes from. I can’t remember where I got that reference from specifically, but the graph is meant to signify not an absolute optimal value, just how energy usage changes over time.

The article is intended to be read in the context of cardio as a tool for fat loss. Even so, the practical reality of the situation is that what we now believe to be true from the studies is the following:

1. Cardio, regardless of time performed, is unlikely to have any affect on overall fat stores at the end of the day – the energy balance and the macros are way more important.

2. The exception to the above is in the case of the exceptionally lean individual.

Background science for those other people reading:

There is a theoretical limit on how much fat can be oxidised (burned) before the body will fuel itself by breaking down muscle mass. Fatter individuals can afford a greater deficit before this happens than leaner individuals because the body uses fuels in the ratio they are available. – Fat people clearly have their pantry stocked with a lot of butter a little meat, shredded people with just a little butter, a lot of meat.

The reason for this theoretical limit is mostly due to the limited access that the body has to fat stored beyond a certain level of leanness. This has to do with poorer blood flow (alpha/beta receptor ratio differences, etc.) in some places of the body, which you can check now my placing the palm of your hand on your arse cheek and noting how cold it is compared to the other places of your body. This is why the fat on your bottom is one of the last places it shifts from and is why you don’t see anyone walking around with shredded butt cheeks at the beach. Also, this feature comes in handy for some cushion when you sit.

Fasted cardio may increase the theoretical limit on the amount of fat burning that can take place in a day by providing greater access to the stubborn body fat. Cardio improves blood flow around the body, and doing it when fasted provides hormonally favourable conditions for shifting the stubborn body fat (insulin down, catecholamines up, etc.).

Does this mean we should all do fasted cardio to get shredded?
Not for the average individual using the system described on this site. More on that here.

For those interested in geeking out about some of the things I touched upon then I can think of no better book that Lyle McDonald’s one here.

****************************

Find out more:

203 thoughts on “When NOT to do cardio.

  1. Hi,

    I do some cardio, not for fatloss, and
    have some questions for you.

    I do 30 min cardio 1-2 times a week:
    10min warmup
    30 sec sprinting x 4-6 times with 90-120sec “rests”
    5-10 min cooldown

    1. Is it better do cardio before I breake my fast or after breaking it?
    2. Shall I take BCAA before the training if I do it before breaking the fast?

    I do cardio becouse my heart need it ;)

    Thanks for best trainingblogg ever,
    Jimmy

    • Hi Jimmy.
      Doesn’t matter about timing unless you’re doing it specifically for stubborn fat loss.
      No BCAAs, especially relevant if it is for that latter effect. More on that in a recent Facebook comment answer I did here.

  2. Hello,

    So I’m on a 500kcal deficit, doing 16:8 fasting and on rest days I do LISS Cardio for 30min after taking Caffeine+Yohimbine.

    So I know in the article you said it’s better not to do cardio for the caloric deficit but to just eat less. BUT now it seems that it’s universally agreed that fasted cardio does indeed make sense with taking Yohimbine, so if I’m fasted for 15-16h in order to achieve maximum natural fatburn + do fasted cardio after yohimbine ingestion shouldn’t that burn extra fat? Like I mean that in that cardio session supported by yohimbine+16h fast I will burn more “fat calories” than the calories I gain later from eating +300g?

    More simplified:
    If I burn 300kcal from fasted(+yohimbine) cardio it will be mostly fat(90%?).
    If I later eat additional 300kcal to keep the 500kcal deficit, the body isn’t gona store 90% of that as fat right?

    So wouldn’t I be “directly” losing mostly fat that way?

  3. Hi Andy.

    Thanks for the educative article :)
    I am trying to reduce my body fat percentage ( currently 18.9) to add some muscle definition to my figure especially my abs and arms.

    What’s the ideal way to achieve this goal? There’s so much information out there and its confusing.
    Hope you’re able to help me.

    Thank you.

    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda.
      “What’s the ideal way to achieve this goal?”
      Sustain a calorie deficit in a way you find easiest, weight train.
      Click the ‘start here’ tab on the menu bar as everything you need can be found there for my recommendations.

  4. Hi Andy, nice explanation of fat metabolism. But would like to ask you why do you still conclude that cardio useless for fatloss? I understand that weight lifting is more effective but a 12km run clocks in at about 1000 calories during the exercise + the calories consumed for the raised metabolism during the day. Most people don’t enjoy running but i actually do. I do some strength training (15 min HIIT) for the upper body (push-ups, triceps, biceps, shoulders) and leave the legwork to running. So ideally I would run 3 x week and lift 2 x week. I’m also eating at a deficit (approx 500 cal). Do you see anything wrong with my approach?

  5. Hey Andy,

    I need to train for a half-marathon I was roped into and was hoping you could give me some insight on whether or not my plan makes sense. Please note that I am currently undergoing a cut (-35/+10).

    Feeding Window -> 1:00PM to 9:00PM.

    Day 1: Weight Training (4PM, Not Fasted)
    Day 2: 5KM Run (5AM, Fasted)
    Day 3: Weight Training (4PM, Not Fasted)
    Day 4: 5KM Run (5AM, Fasted)
    Day 5: Rest Day
    Day 6: Weight Training (4PM, Not Fasted)
    Day 7: 10KM Run (5AM, Fasted)

    1) How does that look?
    2) Would carb loading the night prior better fuel my morning fasted run?
    3) Should I take BCAAs before and after my run? It will be fairly high intensity.
    4) How should I adjust my caloric intake for my rest days that involve the added cardio? E.g. if I run and burn 400 calories in the morning should I tack on an extra 400 calories of protein/fat or rather 100g~ carbs?

    • Hi Landon.
      1. Not withstanding the endurance vs strength compromise, it looks fine.
      2. You’ll need to add in carbs to make up for the energy expenditure. Experiment putting that the night before, or the day of your running but after. See which works better for you.
      3. Arguably not necessary because it’s endurance based work.
      4. Running on average is going to burn 8-12kCal/minute. Elite level runners will do ~20kCal/minute.

      • Awesome, thanks Andy. However point 4 is still unclear; should I be eating X calories in fat/protein or carbs if I run on a rest day? Where X is the calories burnt during my run.

        Example if I burnt 400 calories should I eat extra fat and protein or 400 calories of carbs? And again, rest day.

  6. I just started carb backloading. I backload on the night before my AM lifting sessions. When would you recommend doing cardio for the best fat loss results without hindering muscle growth? I lift MWF and do cardio on the in between days. Should I lift at night before my backload or in the morning? Thank you!

  7. Hey Andy, great article. I just have one question.
    Does taking a bit of whey with water plus 3 gr of creatine interrups the so called fasting period?
    I take this after my cardio in the morning and i skip breakfast (i drink a lot of water) and eat at 12pm.
    Thanks.

  8. I have a question.. I’m 23 years girl.. Need to lose fat as i’m overweight. What will be the best time for me to workout and lose fat? pLease reply.

  9. Andy, Great information, as always. Keep up the great work! Question: I’m on a cut so non-lifting days are calorie deficit days. Today was a non-lifting day that started with a 3-hour mountain bike ride that came in north of 1200 calories burned. I do this for fun, not for fat loss. What do you recommend the feeding look like on this day? If I stick to my rest day macros, it will be nearly a net zero calorie day, which surely can’t be good for recovery, right?
    Best, Sean

  10. Hi Andy, I am what you would consider an “unprofessional bodybuilder.” I do it because I like to have a good figure and do NOT like the “stick-figure look.” I was told by a trainer at my gym that I shouldn’t do cardio after doing legs, as I go heavy and that I would end up burning muscle tissue by doing cardio immediately after my quad workout. Is this true? I have been working out for years and I also have seemed to reach a plateau with my cardio. I try to change it up; for example, I will do the treadmill for 30 minutes at level 15 at 3.3 speed for a month, then switch to the elliptical for a month, and so on. I have been mixing it up lately though, one day I do treadmill, next day, elliptical and next, stairmaster. Any ideas on how I can lose the 2 stubborn inches off my waist and obliques?
    I know that “spot reduction” does not work.
    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
    Sincerely,

    Michelle

    • Hi Michelle. Answered in order.
      1. No, provided your diet is in check. (Protein consumption high enough, deficit not too extreme, timing not way off.)
      2. Patience. Not cardio.

      • Hi Andy, and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!!!
        I’m a bit confused as to what you mean in number 1-no, is that I won’t break down muscle tissue if I do cardio after doing a heavy quad workout?
        I always make sure to take in enough protein, right after I am done with my entire workout-with or without cardio.
        In number 2, are you saying that I should be patient with trying to lose the 2 inches off my stomach and still do the cardio? As I don’t see how I can lose the bodyfat without doing cardio.

          • Hello again!! So, I won’t break down muscle tissue if I do cardio after doing a heavy quad workout.
            I am fairly lean, except for the 2 inches that I have on my abdomen and obliques.
            I can’t do fasting as I have type 1 diabetes and have had experiences with hypoglycemia while working out.
            So I cannot go for a prolonged period of time without carbs, unless my blood-sugar levels are elevated.

            • Hi Andy, I don’t know if you had replied to the previous post that I left on Nov 5th, 2013. I cannot do fasting as I have type 1 diabetes.
              I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions as to how I can lose the inches off my abdomen. I also have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, in which I have to have something sweet to bring my blood-sugar levels up again. This is probably what is causing me to not lose the excess body fat. Sometimes, I just mix sugar in water and drink it to bring my blood-sugar levels up.
              I’m just very frustrated..
              Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!

              Michelle N.

            • Michelle, I’m afraid I can’t advise you given your condition. Best to speak to your doctor.

  11. Hi Andy!
    I want to know how to do on leangains if you NEED cardio. I do not use cardio to get leaner I use it to get better cardio for my martial arts training, no cardio for me would be detrimental as you may understand.

    How do you do when you need cardio, when do I do it? I do not mind if it hinder my muscle growth, I want to get leaner not bigger.

    I really do not find anything about this when it comes to needing cardio instead of wanting cardio just for fatburning. I don’t want it for fatburning, I need it to get better cardio but I still want to get as lean as possible.

    I really appreciate if you could shed some light on this…

    Thanks!

    • Hi Lejon. Do it whenever it fits your schedule best. Consider adding in some extra carbs to make up for the extra energy expenditure.

      • Ok, that sounds easy, that is what I’m doing and it feels better now doing it because of your answer.

        I will add carbs if I start to lose too much weight per week or feeling tired during the days.

        Thanks for you advice, much appreciated!

  12. Hey Andy,

    Can you discuss a bit more on body- recomp?

    the reason for that, i know alot of guys are worried about putting body-fat on but already on 25%. I know this wont happen with good macros etc but need to hit this home.

  13. Havent read the article but cardio is very well worth it for losing weight. If you do cardio and lets say you lose about 200 calories on the cardio workout you will lose another 200 over the day because your metbolism speeds up. Its not a claim that Iam doing, there was a study to show this.

    Also you always have to eat above the calories you need to stay alive (sorry lost the word for it in English ^^) so the only way to speed your fat loss up is to do more cardio.

    But yes muscle training is even more important, especially in a diet. But if you can do both and eat right you are golden.

    • Please read the articles before posting a comment if you would like a response. I think it’s basic manners.

  14. Thank you for the great information. I’ve been doing IF for a few months now while bulking up and I’ve noticed that my body fat % doesn’t go up as quickly as it used to. I’m going to stat cutting and I want to loose the fat I have on me right now (about 20%) and I’m thinking about doing a 24hour fast 1 day a week while taking BCAA supplement. How much BCAA should I consume during my 24hour fast? I would greatly appreciate the advice!

  15. Andy

    Thank you for your detailed information. I am starting to do IF and I really like it. I need to perform regular cardio to condition for big wave surfing. I really enjoy eating a big breakfast. Is it reasonable to have a feeding window from 8am to 4pm and then train cardio at 6:30pm? Should I be eating after I train cardio to rebuild muscle? I see that you say its not necessary to rush home to eat after training but what about fasting after training? What about strength training? Is it OK to continue to fast after?

  16. Andy at the top of this page is a graph showing at 16hr the body is using 100% FFA for fuel, and I understand the R.Q. Of .7…. However, after thoroughly reading your site and Martin’s site and reading mostly all of Lyle MacDonalds book as well as google searches, the best answer I can come up with as far as research is that the body switches to mobilizing and burning FFA for fuel somewhere between 10 and 30hrs, can you point me to more specific literature, or shed some light on the 16hrs number?

    • Thanks Lyle (great name), very good question and something I have been meaning to come back to and edit in this article for some time.
      This was one of the first articles that I wrote, so please forgive some of the simplicity of thinking. I can’t remember where I got that reference from specifically, but the graph is meant to signify not an absolute optimal value, just how energy usage changes over time. Also, it’s an article in the context of cardio as a tool for fat loss.

      Even so, the practical reality of the situation is that what we now believe to be true from the studies is the following:

      1. Cardio, regardless of time performed, is unlikely to have any affect on overall fat stores at the end of the day – the energy balance and the macros are way more important.

      2. The exception to the above is in the case of the exceptionally lean individual.

      Background science for those other people reading:
      There is a theoretical limit on how much fat can be oxidised (burned) before the body will fuel itself by breaking down muscle mass. Fatter individuals can afford a greater deficit before this happens than leaner individuals because the body uses fuels in the ratio they are available. – Fat people clearly have their pantry stocked with a lot of butter a little meat, shredded people with just a little butter, a lot of meat.

      The reason for this theoretical limit is mostly due to the limited access that the body has to fat stored beyond a certain level of leanness. This has to do with poorer blood flow (alpha/beta receptor ratio differences, etc. that’s you’ll recall from Lyle’s Stubborn Fat Solution) in some places of the body, which you can check now my placing the palm of your hand on your arse cheek and noting how cold it is compared to the other places of your body. This is why the fat on your booty is one of the last places it shifts from and is why you don’t see anyone walking around with shredded butt cheeks at the beach. Also very handy for some cushion when you sit.

      Fasted cardio may increase the theoretical limit on the amount of fat burning that can take place in a day by providing greater access to the stubborn body fat. Cardio improves blood flow around the body, and doing it when fasted provides hormonally favourable conditions for shifting the stubborn body fat (insulin down, catecholamines up, etc.).

      Does this mean we should all do fasted cardio to get shredded?:
      No for the average individual using the system described on this site. More on that here.

      For those interested in geeking out about some of the things I touched upon then I can think of no better book that Lyle McDonald’s one here.

  17. Andy,
    Great article!
    I am currently following Mark Sisson’s ideas on the Primal Blueprint, therefore I have been in a state of ketosis for 15 days now (feel as though keto-adapted as well because not eating for 16 hours isn’t hard).

    Just wanted to know your thoughts on macro ratios for IF. Can I keep my 125g fat; 85g protein; 46g carbs that make me feel so good? Or to get lean must I change around? I don’t digest starch too well but I am game for your advice!

    Thanks.

  18. Hi Andy, what kind of cario do you think works better if done in the fasted state? Low intensiy or HIIT? What’s best for fat loss? And what’s dangerous for the catabolism? I don’t think so but for you any BCAA needed?

    Thank you from Italy :)

  19. I work normal business hours of 8am – 6pm (complete desk job) and try to get to the gym at 7.30pm. After reading a lot of positive reviews on IF, I started to follow it but am not sure on what IF protocol should I follow based on my daily routine? Currently, I’m following the 2 pre-workout meal IF protocol but haven’t seen any noticeable improvement. Just wanted to know if I’m missing out on anything here.

    My routine is –
    Mon -Legs, Shoulders
    Tues- Cardio (interval training on treadmill for 45 mins) and light abs
    Wed – Chest, Triceps
    Thurs – Cardio (interval training on treadmill for 45 mins) and light abs
    Fri – Back, Biceps
    Sat or Sun – Cardio (interval training on treadmill for 45 mins) and light abs

    My problem may be that I don’t count calories or do any sort of macro nutrition calculations which may be leading to no portion control for each meal on my part.

    Please advise on how to go about my diet and workout. I am planning to build lean muscle and rock hard and flat abs and currently my weak area is the midsection.

      • Thanks Andy for a prompt response. Do you think I should be dropping cardio completely from my routine or should do it as a post workout exercise for 20 mins, 2-3 times a week?

        Also, what daily IF protocol should I follow for my training time (7.30pm)?

        • I have just give you a link to read on my thoughts on cardio yet, you come back to me with the same question asking about it. Which means you haven’t read it, or you did and you don’t want to follow my advice on it – which is fine, but forgive me if I don’t see any particular value in answering your further questions.

          • Sorry if my question was repetitive. I read the article and understood the fact about cardio. Thank you!!
            Do you think I should drop the 2 body part routine and start working on Big 3 routine three times a week to gain lean muscle mass and overall body fat reduction?

    • Hi Andy,

      I have read this article and the article you have on when cardio becomes necessary for additional fat lost. I believe I am at the stubborn fat stage and am fighting genetics at this point. I am between 10-11% body fat according to my IF calculator and other sources but still am not showing abs efficiently. I have never been able to cut enough to see good definition, so I am assuming I need to get to 5-6%. My 8 hour feeding window is from noon to 8pm. Would you recommend that I run or do some high intensity cardio a couple times a week in the morning towards the end of my fast to help increase my blood flow and burn some more pure fat as you have mentioned in this article? Or try to stick completely to my compound total body lifts in the gym 3-4 times a week, and reduce my meal portions and cut stricter? Any advice will help.

      • “I am between 10-11% body fat according to my IF calculator and other sources but still am not showing abs efficiently. “
        You have either calculated your body fat wrong or don’t have enough lean muscle mass to justify cutting if you cannot see your abs by the time you get to 10%. Cutting more is not the answer to looking good.

        • I may be off a little with my calculations you are right. Let me rephrase a little bit though. I can see them, I know they are there. There is an outline of them but they are clearly not defined as in they have an layer of fat on top of them still that I would like to get rid of. I have developed a good amount of lean muscle over the last 3 months. I am 5’10, and weigh 170 now, my arms and shoulders have gotten huge compared to the skinny boy I used to be. Here are some pics so you can judge a bit better. Last pic is most recent. Seeing these do you think it may be time to bulk now, instead of cutting further?

          http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l70/jonjon_cloud/IMAG1892_zpsf5cf0fd5.jpg

          http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l70/jonjon_cloud/IMAG2003_zpsd57a62a9.jpg

          http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l70/jonjon_cloud/IMAG2093_zpsc6533db9.jpg

          http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l70/jonjon_cloud/IMAG2112_zps2908c490.jpg

        • Andy,

          I’m pretty thin but it’s always been more important to me to be lean than big. That said, in the above post you mention someone might not have enough lean muscle mass to justify cutting. When would you say that someone needs to put on some lean muscle before cutting? Is it a certain height to LBM or what? How would I tell that I need to put on lean muscle before cutting?

          thanks for your time.and great site.

            • I must say that I fell into that ‘trap’. I reduced calories and started to cut. Must admit that I also made the mistake by adding some cardio. I started to lose loads of fat but then the muscle started to twindle as well. Now like most people I am a poor judge of how I actually look physically and it was therefore my wife who had to alert me as to how small I had become.

              This forced me to abandon cardio and up my calories to regain the muscle I lost. Anyway, Andy you are spot on with your advice and comments. You are definitely god-send and I must say that I have learnt a lot from you. And I say that with much humility since I am not exactly a novice when it comes to health, nutrition and related issues. Keep the good work up Andy. The universe will bless you tremendously. I may not comment often but I do follow you and this trend.

  20. So, a quick question about the catabolism issue. I’m not sure what constitutes “high intensity” vs “low intensity.” I do cardio for conditioning purposes, running at about a 165bpm heart rate for 30 minutes. This is about 12hours into the fast. Should I be taking BCAAs? Or is this type of cardio safe from catabolism. I don’t feel like I’m exerting myself too much.

  21. Hey Andy
    Awesome website. You and Martin Berkham have changed my life. After more than 20 years of lifting and never really getting to a shredded state, IF worked for me. I managed to get down to 8% bf with strength gains and weighing at 180.

    Question: Do you need to cycle IF – 3 months on and s couple off? Being in calorie deficit is a must – yes/no? If in calorie deficit, should I do s refeed once a week?

    • Hi Rob, thanks for sharing your success. If you have a photo then share a link with us.
      1. No.
      2. A must for further fat loss from here, but if you are 8% then increase your calories steadily to find maintenance.
      3. Re-feeds are every training day.

  22. Hi Andy. Thanks for all the great stuff. I came here after a recommendation from my personal trainer. Have been reading thru all the above comments and I’m now totally confused. I know IF is what will get me my weight loss results, but I also do cardio (running) and weights. Running because I just love it, and weights to improve my strength. I have been fasting and working out on the same days, assuming this would be best. My workouts are usually in the morning, so after around 12hrs of fasting. Is this right or does it not make that much difference. I am not calorie counting, only tracking my macronutrients, which is going really well.
    Cheers
    Emily

  23. andy.. two weeks on intermittent fasting now. 2 questins i have. at what point should i see results? and in turn, reaccess my calorie intake. I have lost 3-4 lbs and no strength. also . i fast from 9pm – 1pm. I work out at 7am. i drink bcaas between workout and first meal. I sometimes feel like eating postworkout, based on the old thought process about a timed eating window for best results. Should i disregard that and stick to my ‘if’ schedule? also i am calorie cycling and have been wondering how to figure out the exact carb intake number. is it trial and error? thanks for any help.

  24. Funny, this is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot, Andy. I do have one question regarding the type of cardio. I know that LISS is ideal for fasted state weight loss. I’m going to be going on a very grueling backpacking trip in a few months, and I wish to start training for it now. I believe the most effective way to do so will be to hike a few times a week with weights in my backpack. I plan to hike 3 days a week on rest days, after about 12-14 hours of being fasted. If I hike for about 2 hours, what sort of cardio would this be? Would I be risking catabolism? I suppose I’ll take some BCAAs prior, as my legs will probably be getting a good workout as well. Also, if I’m on a longer hike, at what point should I take another round of intra-workout BCAAs. Will 10g prior to the hike last me several hours? Or should I dose again? I don’t wish to risk muscle catabolism. Thanks Andy.

  25. How can I mix mi running whit lifting whit my mom job, I just love running. Here the problem I can just do both around 9:00 at the gym while my kids are at school, which shoul be first or I can wake up early do my running in a fast state then go to the gym after I will be drinking a protein shake whit milk at the gym , and as soon I get home I will have my lunch, this will be around 11:50. Thanks

  26. Hello Andy,

    Appreciate what you’re doing keep it up!

    Could you help me out on a few things though…

    I’m 17, 5 ft 9 and weigh around 13 stone, I have fat to lose all over the body an want to build a lean body. Would this routine be good to do so:

    ‘The big 3 routine’ on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
    Cardio (slow jog) Tuesdays and Thursday.

    This would be using the 1 pre-workout meal protocol. Following the correct diet on workout days and non workout days.

    I’ve been doing IF for 2 weeks now and I feel great.

  27. Is this system ok for me as i dont want to build to much muscle, i just want to tone up abit and loose weight

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  32. Hi Andy,

    Once again, great article!

    Because not everyone has the most perfect hormonal profile, how do ones hormonal levels effect fat loss even if in a caloric deficit. For example, lets say a male has a high level if estrogen or a low level of testosterone, or high levels of SHBG? How do these things effect the net caloric equation and fat loss?

    Thanks

  33. Why do you want to reduce body fat by 6% if you are a runner ?
    I believe if you wish to reduce body fat you should eat less than you use …hmmmm

  34. Can anyone help me….I’m a runner who wants to reduce my bodyfat by about 6%. I don’t want to add muscle just lose the fat. Can IF help me? If so how would you recommend I go about it. Thanks in advance.

  35. i have been on IF for a week now and im at around 10 percent fat and weigh 90 KG been training for 6 years. I tend to fast 20 hours and eat 2 meals for the remaining 4 hours. i Train at about hour 18 and was wondering if i can do light cardio for 15-20 mins after my weightlifting program or is that too long of a fast to do cardio and should just stick to the weight training to go down to 6 percent fat

  36. Hi Andy, Great site, you dont see may of these where the author replies so frequently. Ive been reading leangains and your site for a few days and am wondering if it could apply to someone like myself. Im more of a runner than a lifter. I enjoy bodyweight excercises though and circuits involving clean and press, burpees, pull ups etc. I want to get ripped but enjoy the running more, so for me 2-3 hours of running is enjoyment rather than me thinking of it as wasted time. I fast from 8pm to 10am each day. Can I get ripped and still keep the rujning? Cheers

  37. Hi Andy- quick question. Only recently started IF but have digested a lot of useful information thus far. Do you have any particular suggestions on structuring the following: I train heavy 3 x a week but also train bjj in the mornings twice a week. I can’t find a clear answer as to whether it is better to throw any conditioning exercise/classes on rest days or on training days. Would it therefore be better to train the bjj on rest days or on training days as it will be in a fasted state regardless? Thanks Andy

    • Do whichever is better for your schedule. If anything is fine, then choose the class that has the better guys training in it. Add in some extra carbs on these days if the workouts are particularly intense. This varies from gym to gym, teacher to teacher, and days within gyms. A technical, slow-paced class? Probably not necessary.

      • Ok thanks- it’s probably right bang in the middle, technical with a bit of intensity come sparring so i’ll see how it works out. I just wanted to figure out whether it was better doing the bjj the same day as weight training or not. As far as I see it, it is not an hiit session so I see it as an opportunity to burn a bit more body fat by doing it on non training days. Cheers.

  38. Hi Cyril. I am on a similar protocol to yours. I normally do 5 days of 16 hour fasting and 2 days of fasting for 24 hours each, on Fridays and Sundays. I weight train 3 days a week and normally do a zumba session once a week. I have been doing this protocol for about 6 months. Now I weigh about 68 kg and I am well on my way to achieving my goal of becoming ripped. I am about 5 feet 4 inches in height. I just felt like sharing so you know that your protocol is worthy of note. It certainly has worked for me. I find the 2 24 hour fasts do wonders for the calorie deficit. I have found that I have indeed put on some lean muscle mass and it surely is as a result of this protocol because the rate of muscle growth when compared to my previous protocol, is definitely faster. Before I did the 6 small means a day protocol. I am convinced that the effects of increased growth hormones during fasting, really boost your muscle gaining potential. Just wanted to share. Hope Andy gives you an answer to your question soon.

    • Thanks Fabi. I hadn’t notice anyone else on this protocol except one other friend of mine. But I’m glad to see we are not alone. :-)

  39. Thanks for this site. I’m a pretty big guy and I started IF a month ago on 8/1 and to date I have lost 23lbs with my weight flux of 8-10lbs. I have been doing walking at night as well resistance training 3days a week in the morning on my Bio-Force. My question since I have so much weight to loose (175lbs to go) am I maximizing my results by walking after I end my eating window or should I be eating more after my walk? I currently eat around 2800 calories a day sometime it’s challenging because I fast 18-20hrs 5days a week with 2 24hr days. I starting to feel hungrier than when I initially started which is different for most post I have read of hunger after the first couple weeks.

  40. Here is a two part series on the “ghrelin growth hormone axis” horrible tiltle but shows some great benfits that I feel even 16/8 will give

  41. Hi , am grateful to have found your site as I am fully converted to 16-8 for around 3 months with incredible results in all aspects
    - the body is a given , the mind focus and clarity BOOM!
    My question is have you done much research on the Ghrelin – Growth hormone axis ?
    If so will coffee supress the Ghrelin diminishing the Growth hormone response?
    Thanks
    David McD

  42. I love long distance running, especially at night ( try it, it will change your life) anyways would it be detrimental to do a 5-10 mile run after your eating phase at night (11-1ish.) I figure at this point the purpose of the cardio would be to burn through any glycogen before you sleep and to get your body kick started into fat oxidation faster. I have no problems with energy during my workout. My question is that would this help or hinder me?

    • It won’t help, but if you’re going to do it anyway then why worry? Make sure your macros are on point for the rest of the day and you’ve accounted for the running. Or not, all depends.

  43. I always have breakfast and have my cardio exercise during lunch time (like 3 hours after breakfast time) for about 90-115mins. Does it mean I won’t reach my goal to have a leaner body; does it mean it’s just a waste of time? Thank you.

  44. There seems to be a common theme in strength training forums like this one. Cardio is a waste of time because you can lose weight without it. Well, have you ever stopped to think that cardio is another aspect of health that has benefits beyond the calories you lose doing it? IT’s not all about losing weight (though cardio certainly helps there by expending calories) it’s also about overall heath and heart health and cardio health are important. If you can’t jog a 5k without having to struggle through it you aren’t healthy no matter your weight.

    • I’m saying cardio is a very poor time-investment when physical appearance is the goal, and a far over-used tool by the masses who don’t know any better. Also, I think you are missing the cardio-vascular conditioning benefits of heavy barbell training. I understand why, it’s something that has to be experienced to understand.

      • I’ve experienced weight lifting – I’ve lifted weights on and off since I was in high school and I’m in my thirties. I also served in the military and experienced all kinds of physical training. Running endurance is a whole other world than weight training endurance, especially when you’re advocating strength training – not really high rep endurance sets. If this is a purely physical appearance thing then whatever works I guess, but for those seeking actual health, a basic level of true cardio health can’t be ignored and that is not going to be achieved through weights. Run 3 miles a few times a week, should only take about 25-30 minutes for an average person. If you can’t do that you aren’t healthy by any measure. Too many strength training advocates completely dismiss other forms of exercise. It’s a mistake if you’re seeking something more than cosmetic health.

  45. Hey Andy, I just started Leangains this week, but feel I’m in a pickle! This is my schedule, and I fear that I fall into your “doing workout at time point A scenario” at times…

    8pm (most times 7pm) – 10am: fast
    9:30am: morning run
    10am-10:30am: breakfast
    3:30pm: go to gym to lift (I wait for my partner to get home)
    7-8pm: end feeding window

    I’m running fasted (20-30 minutes). So, I fear that when I do my lifts at the gym, I’ll fall under the “rice ball scenario”. Is this schedule bad? I really like this schedule, because I like to lift with my partner.

    If this is okay, how should I structure my feeding caloric percentages? The majority after my run, or the majority after my lift?

    Thank you!

  46. Hi Andy,

    If I’m doing the Body Recomposition Macros and I’m also doing fasted cardio on my ‘rest days’ (Swimming, it keeps me sane so it’s staying!) should I eat more to still hit the -20%, or can I just put this down as bonus fat loss?

    Also, since I tend to estimate very roughly, is it best to under or over eat on rest and workout days?

    Many thanks.

  47. Hello Andy –

    I don’t find that doing LISS cardio laughable in terms of losing weight. I do between 60-90 minutes of LISS 5 days a week in a fasted state, and I also lift heavy. Diet is the most important in terms of weight loss, but I am creating an extra 1000 to 1500 calorie-a-day deficit by doing cardio, not to mention the cardiovascular benefits as well. I typically set the tread mill on 10% and go at 3.5mph, or I jump rope, or use the elliptical. Using these forms of cardio really is helping me getting into a decent deficit everyday.

    Maybe I do a bit too much cardio, but if by doing such it is better helping me to lose weight quickly.

    Nate

    • The time waste aside, the maths is not laughable, the maths works. I am guessing though that this is a plan you have cleverly crafted on paper and haven’t put into action yet, or have only recently started. Hormonally though you’re heading into a tempest.
      I’ll stop there. But when you’re still fat, hungry as all hell and struggling with your day-to-day activities don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
      Quit the cardio. Control your mouth.

      • Condtioning is defintely a priority of mine. I am just curious why you would do the conditioning first before lifting? Condtioning usually wipes me out. Can’t imagine doing a heavy conditioning session followed by heavy squats or DL’s. I guess I’ll just have to give it a go and see how I feel.

        • It’s wise to prioritize your priority.
          Expect strength to be affected for a month then come back around to current base level. 10 minutes break. -Got that from Nick Tumminello in a conference last week. Apparently the Westside trainer that was also there “Would never have believed it unless he’d seen it.” -in reference to the conditioning work not affective strength work after the month break-in.

          • Makes sense. I will give it a go for the next month and see how I feel. Just wondering if you have read Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet? What are your thought’s on his book if you have read it? His book is what sparked my interest in IF and what got me to your site. Thanks again!!

            • Haven’t read it though I do read his blog and have a very good idea of what’s in there. Obviously I can’t comment on something I haven’t read. Did he include any reference/accreditation to Leangains or Martin Berkhan in there?

            • Yes, he mentions that Martin Berkham is the god father of IF and responsible for its growth and popularity. He has the diet set up with the last meal being the biggest of the day even if you train in the fasted state so you don’t have a mid afternoon crash, which makes sense to me. Catching up on some forums I see people having that problem. If you train mid afternoon/night then go ahead and have your largest meal of the day.

  48. Fist off thanks for all the great info, I have really enjoyed learning a lot for your site. My question is I have always been in to strength and conditioning. Conditioning is usually pushing a sled or hill sprints for 10 to 20 min. Would it be best to separate my strength and conditioning workouts? I was thinking of doing my strength work in the fasted state on 10g of BCAA’s, followed by my first meal, then do my conditioning just before my last meal of the day. How would you go about setting this up on a IF diet? Would I have carbs after both workouts? I am currently following Jim Wendler’s 531 strength program 4 day’s a week. Conditioning has always been important to me cause I ride BMX for a living. Thanks!!

    • Don’t split them, together. If conditioning is priority then do that first followed by a 10 minute break before the lifting. Expect your strength workout performance to be affected for around a month before returning to normal.

  49. Hey Andy,

    Very interesting stuff on IF you have here. I’ve been doing the IF system of getting my Macros in within an 8 hour period and fasting for the 16 hour remainder for approx. 2 weeks, at the moment I feel that there are some slight improvements. My bodyfat is already pretty slow to start with however so I’m not too fussed about fat loss. My question is how IF would affect a regular bodybuilding routine/diet? I’ve been given the understanding that it serves as a diet that can promise Muscle building whilst either maintaining or lowering your body fat at the same time? Is this the case? Because I’ve always been under the impression that to add muscle mass you needed a carb surplus and to cut fat you need a carb deficit?

    Thanks mate.

    • Gustavo, if I understand correctly it’s less about the total cholesterol and more about the ratios. I assume that they are up-to-date with the research and is thus advising you accordingly but you can check, as if it were my health I would presume nothing and do the research myself. If you want to do this then buy Alan Aragon’s Research Review ($10)) and download the November 2011 issue (page 13) with a very interesting answer to the question, “I eat right & exercise but my cholesterol level is concerning my doctor. Is it time for medication?”

      Here’s a quote, “Another notable lipid ratio is TG/HDL, which a recent study by da Luz et al described as the “single most powerful predictor of extensive coronary heart disease among all the lipid variables examined.” TG/HDL ratio was found to be a stronger predictor of myocardial infarction (heart attack) than TC/HDL or LDL/HDL. In practical terms, a TG/HDL ratio greater than 4 is cause for concern. A value closer to 2 or less would likely be optimal; the lower the better.”

      Walking after your workout will not harm things. I don’t know how far it will bring down your cholesterol though in addition to the weight training that you’re already doing.

      I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice, so please confirm these things with them before changing anything.

  50. Hey Andy learning a lot from your site, thank you thank you thank you. I do have one question after reading this article. On my non training days I eat very little carbs (under 50 g). If I eat those carbs in my first meal, I’m essentially going 24+ hours without any carbs (8 + 16 hr fast) until the next day. Does this cause any type of catabolism? Or does the fats I eat that day get used for energy so I don’t burn any intermuscular fat?

  51. Hi Andy, do you recommend BCAA’s for working out fasted? I usually do the 1-meal protocol after a 16hr fast, but i was just curious on your opinion with the BCAA’s. Do you think without BCAA’s your just breaking down muscle tissue?

  52. Andy

    I am on the Paleo diet due to issues with many foods that are high in carbs and usually have gluten or lactose in them. My breakfast, usually eaten at 6am is steak whey protein with BCAA and creatine in it, 8 eggs whites and 3 pieces of turkey bacon. My lunch usually around 11:00 consists of a salad with spinach, mushrooms, pepperoni, green peppers and 2 cans of tuna. For dinner I usually have either hamburger, sausage or steak with broccoli and carrots. If I eat these daily but use the window allowed to eat (i would go from 11-7) would I see results?

    Chad

    • You would get the health benefits of fasting, and possibly a slight recomp effect due to more favorable calorie partitioning. Possibly. If you’re going to then time this with your workouts and then put in some Paleo friendly carbs post-workout then definitely yes. See Jayson’s interview.

  53. Hi Andy. Leangains allows for some coffee when fasting. I however have seen articles that claim coffee can raise insulin levels which is of course not what we wish when trying to burn fat. Can you clear up this seeming contradiction. Thanks.

    • I’ve gone through a lot of research, 55 pages of things that came up with “caffeine” in them I couldn’t find anything to suggest that it’s going to affect us during the fast. On the contrary nearly everything was in favor of caffeine, especially when in coffee. This one study here shows a mixed bag of results when you read the details of the results.

      Perhaps most importantly, Martin drinks a ton of coffee, most of the leangains world drinks coffee, and the results are clearly good and don’t seem to be affected from my experience. So even if some research is out there to show a minor change it is clearly practically insignificant. -Like the carbs in celery. You can drink your coffee happily in the morning.

      If you have a link to any further articles and it has references please throw it over, just out of curiosity. Thanks buddy.

  54. what do you think about LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio? Is it needed when doing IF? If so, how long should I do it?

  55. Hello Andy,
    one more question :)
    What kind of and what long cardio training dont damage muscle, but is best for fat burn ?
    If iam already 15-16 hours is fasted state and dont have any BCAAs before cardio.
    Thx a lot :)

  56. I guess the fasting gives the digestive system a welcomed break and hence helps with the IBS. That’s my belief.

  57. Great site Andy. Good to see such meaningful discussion about IF. I started IF about a month ago and have been forced to accept it as a life style change. The results have been great. Just to touch on an issue that I am yet to see mentioned on any forum I have visited. I have discovered that IF is great for remedying IBS. Has anyone else noticed this?

  58. Hi Andy great site and i have been doing IF for 2 weeks now and loving it, my question is is there more benefits with doing more than 16 hours ie more fat will be burned and at what point will it become catabolic?
    Thanks again

  59. Assuming early morning (7am-8am) training with BCCAs pre and post work out, is there a problem with doing low intensity exercise (e.g. walking 45 mins) before breaking the fast (12 noon) on workout days? Or is this pointless because:

    - a calorie surplus is desirable on workout days?
    - BCAAs are being consumed every 2 hours up until the fast is broken (say midday)?

    Should low intensity exercise just before breaking a fast be reserved only for non-training days?

    • You can do it on either day Jack. Remember, you’re body doesn’t recognize days as we do, only “fed” and “fasted”. There might be some minor details here to be worked in, I’ll do some research and look for a geekier answer to this for the future.

  60. Andy – Awesome that you still answer comments on old posts, cheers.

    Related to the surfing recommendation, it’s something Tim Ferris first educated me about (The thermic effect) – similar, I like to swim, but the only chances I get are in the evening last thing (And I’m talking rest days where my last meal was 3-4 hours ago with no carbs) or first thing in the morning. At weekends I can go precisely 15 hours into the fast, usually.

    If I understand correctly, this will help burn fat, but done in the evening (4 hrs into fast) is going to have a low effect, morning (12 hrs into fast) quite a good effect, and weekend (15 hours) the best bang for my buck.

    Assuming this is correct, for one thats already on a -35% maintenance rest day cal cut, is adding more activity going to have negative effects on metabolism/recovery time?

    Also, looking forward to a reply re my consultation. Reading my email again it was a bit vague, sorry. Have a load of the info you usually ask for when you’re ready for it.

  61. So are you basically advocating doing cardio on off days if following the RPT three day split? If we want to do cardio for basic heart health, is there any definitive research on doing it after lifting vs on off days while fasting? You see supposedly informed people arguing on both sides of this classic debate…

    • A fat person dieting down to sub 15% bf levels is going to do their heart a whole world of good by taking the 30lb “backpack” off their waist. Not to mention their blood lipid profile will be greatly improved*.

      The fundamental problem I see in recommending cardio is not about time, but in allowing people to hold on to their notion that “it’s the cardio that’s working!!” instead of them understanding that it’s the diet that counts for most of it. Thus I generally want people to avoid it at first so they understand the power of the diet.

      *If you’re after specific research showing this in connection to breakfast skipping IF then see Sofer S, et al. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2006-14. [Pubmed]

      • I get that diet is most of it. I guess I’m looking more for a study that contrasts the effects of cardio on the body’s ability to build muscle when done post work out vs on off days. Martin seems to recommend doing it on off days but Mehdi of SL recommends doing it post workout for instance. Not sure what Rippetoe or you recommend. Again, my primary goal with the cardio is heart health, coming from a family riddled with heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.

  62. I do interval rowing twice a week. I totally enjoy it as a nice way to destress after work. It is also taking away some pains I have in my back from work.

    I do roughly 10 250 meter intervals at moderat intensity.

    I eat fish and fruit at 1400 as my Break-fast.
    I do this cardio at rought 1730.

    How do you think this works for fat burning. Now remember I do this primeraly for healthy and destressing, but curious on the fat loss side of it.

  63. Hi there Andy!

    Firstly I would like to say thank you for all the information- love the site!! I have been following IF for sometime now with great results (and have some before and after shots for you if your interested).

    However I do have a question I would love cleared up, if you have the time that is..

    I have always followed the fasted training protocol (ie train at hour 15 and break fast at hour 16- like I need to tell you of all people lol). But have started a new job where I can only train on the 20th hour of fasting and squeeze my meals into the three hours following. I was wondering if I would be better to break the fast at hour 16 (ie Martins 1 pre workout meal protocol) or hold out until hour 21. I know this is minor details, but I just love training fasted and was wondering about your thoughts on this..

    Thanks again for all your help so far! Loving it :)

    • And sorry for posting this here if its the wrong place.. What got me thinking about this was your comment on the ideal time to break the fast and how the type of fat we wish to target changes over time.. Very interesting stuff..

      Cheers,

      Cody

      • Yeah no arguments from me either mate lol :)

        WIll post pics up in the next week or so..

        Dont want to sound like im kissing your ass, but I have to say thanks again for this site- its AWESOME and I know a lot of people appreciate the work you put into it…

        And thanks for such a quick response :)

  64. I’ve read what you posted in your blog but, I wanted to know about intesity. Doing a high intesity cardio while fasted would be bad for muscle growth and not even interfer in fat burn? I’ve read that only low intesity(like a “hard” walk for 30 min. is perfect) would be good for a fast state cardio. Last Sunday I surfed while fasting, is surfing a good cardio for fat burn while fasted or is it too high intensity?
    PS:. I just surf for fun, but I want to know about it for fat burn.

    • Surfing is perfect, but it has nothing to do with the cardio element, and more to do with the huge amount of calories you burn through the thermal load of being in cold water for a long time. (Think of all the energy a kettle has to provide to heat up the water. Same thing with your body having to keep you at 37° so that you don’t suffer hypothermia and die.)

  65. I’ve been doing IF/LG for around 5 months now with some good success. I have recently started to do some MMA training (about 60 minutes) on 2 of the 4 “rest days”. I previously was doing 45 min of light cardio. I have been feeling a little “gassed” and wondering if I should up the calorie intake on workout day and or rest day (currently in a a cut stage).Thanks!

    • Presuming you still need to cut, your body will use fat as fuel, and your muscles should still have plenty of glycogen left in them to get you through the MMA workout. This is also presuming you’re not doing them both on two consecutive rest days & your weights workout was similar to the ones I have laid out in the training section (45 minutes, compound exercises, not some mad-hatter 2 hour glycogen depleting circuit-training HIIT affair.)

      MMA workouts are tough. Are you sure it’s not just this? I mean you did say you only recently started.

  66. Eric here.
    Very interesting stuff. I was directed here by a mutual friend. Question/Situation: I want to give this a try for a couple months. IF etc. My situation: I am a former professional combat sports athlete, just returning to it after spotty training and no fights for 4 years. Have done 6 weeks and am over the bumps and initial bruises. In the gym 5 days a week and need to do “cardio” at least 4 or 5 times a week separately. Now my two primary concerns are 1: Getting Faster, stronger and improving my stamina and 2: Cutting body fat. I fight as a Heavy weight but due to the lay off and horrific diet I needed to lose about 30 kilos to be competition sharp. I have lost 7 just in the daily training over the last 6 weeks. I want to turn that up as I can feel it slowling down now. Hence my interest in this system.
    The question: If I need to do AM training (road work, calisthenics/plyometrics, shadow boxing) in the morning and I am in the gym in the afternoon, is it possible for me to do my early morning session and after just not eat, then have a light meal before the gym and my big meal directly afterward? My thought process here would be maximizing the fastest state and it’s benefits with the morning workout. Or should I have something after the morning training, like a banana and a protein shake?
    Keep in mind this is me getting in shape to START looking for bouts, I’m not preparing for a particular date yet. So at this time, the fat loss is slightly more important than my comfort or actually being at my most effective form in the ring.
    Very curious about this and would appreciate any advice.

    • Eric thanks for the comment.

      Yes you can certainly do that kind of training in the morning and continue the fast after. Only if it here very HIIT or some heavy barbell work would you need to take the BCAAs after.

      I see you train down the gym 5 days a week. This is lifting? If so I sincerely suggest you cut back to 3 days and cycle your macros accordingly. -As well as giving your CNS a rest (cause you are doing a lot of other training too),it will enhance the carb cycling & efficacy of the diet.

      If you can’t do that, then to keep things simple put your 3 Training-Day Macro days on your heaviest lifting days, and the other days set them as Rest-Day Macro days.

      I have another fighter client, all-asia champion of the super-heavyweight division for BJJ / submission wrestling. He’s doing this diet and it’s going well for him.

      Good luck.

  67. So around 12-16H of fasting your body will use mostly fat for the energy.
    Lets compare two cases:

    1.
    fasted cardio – burned 200
    The BMR in the example is 2000 and calorie intake is 1600 (after fasting) so total deficit is 400 + 200 burned from cardio.

    2.
    intake thrugh out the day 1600
    no fasted cardio – burned 200

    Because the body needed 2000 but had only 1600 it had to get extra 400 from somewhere?
    And because we burned extra 200, we also need to count it as deficit.

    So at some point the body will run out of resources and will have to dig into stored fat?
    In case 1 it happens during fasting and in case two it will probably be when we go to sleep, but in both cases it will have to use same amount of energy to keep us and all organs a live.

    So i wonder how those two cases would differ?
    Would not the energy used be exacly the same?

    • It’s not different when in a deficit. The point is, just eat less rather than wasting your time with cardio for fat-burn, if that is your goal.

      Thanks for raising a good point Bart.

      • thx,
        What is your opinion about the low intensity cardio during fasting?
        I have read that for some reason walking can be effectively used to burn more fat in the stubborn areas. You are young but what if the person wanting to get ripped is 35-50 years old. Would it be as easy as in case of a guy who is 20-25.

      • I’m afraid I’m still not getting the difference. Modifying the above cases to account for surplus (2500 kcal intake instead of 2000)…

        Case 1:
        Burned 200 kcal of fat.
        Intake of 2500 kcal – BMR of 2000 kcal = 500 kcal stored as fat.
        Net fat gained: 300 kcal worth

        Case 2:
        Intake of 2500 – BMR of 2000 and 200 burned in exercise = 300 kcal stored as fat
        Net fat gained: 300 kcal worth

        • 1. Don’t confuse BMR and energy requirements.
          2. You’ve ignored the calorie partitioning effects of timing with training. -Have a read of the “Why is Leangains so Effective?” article.

  68. Due to my job I often am required to di cardio in the mornings and for long durations of time. Knowing this is not optimal for fat loss and will significantly contribute to muscle loss while on a cut what should one do durning the time between cardio and the first meal to prevent the most Muscle lose as possible but maintain the fasted state and or fat lose benefits?

    • Joshua for steady state moderate/intensity cardio (which I believe is what you’re doing) there will be minimal muscle catabolism if any. Also, if you have to do the cardio anyway, during the fast is the perfect time to be doing it.

      For high intensity cardio/HIIT, studies have shown it can have a negative impact (when performed in the fasted state), in which case an option would be to take 10g of BCAAs before, and about an hour after your training. By no means is this essential though.

      Hope this helps.

        • Andy,

          I’m in a similar predicament as Josh. I have a race coming up in the next couple of months that I need to start training for & I plan on doing so in the mornings during my fast. It will be distance running rather than HIIT sorta stuff, so I know that will help. I’m currently on a cut & definitely don’t want to over exert myself and end up in a catabolic state.

          Should I adjust my macros or would the branch chains cover me enough to avoid the muscle loss?

          • Distance rather than HITT means you won’t have to worry about the BCAAs either. If you run 5 miles, that’s around 500kCal (rough guide). You can either use this to help speed up your fat loss (slightly) or increase your food to make up for it on those days. I’d probably go for the former rather than the latter (unless this is daily thing), then carb up the night before race day and feel awesome for the race.

            • Gotcha. It will likely be a 2-3 time a week thing for now, but I’ll ramp up my training as it gets closer to the race date. It’s not until mid-April so I have PLENTY of time and plan on going very light until January, when I’ll likely ramp up to 5 times a week. For now, I’ll take the first approach and just speed up the fat loss since it’s not as intense. However, when I start pushing it in January, should I up all of my macros since my BMR will be elevated? Or would just upping my carbs be enough to give me energy?

              Thanks :D

          • Your BMR won’t be elevated but your TDEE (energy needs for the day) will, so in that case, put carbs in there to compensate. Just hit me up closer to race date and I’ll sort you out mate.

    • Cheers buddy, that’s the tone I was going for. Don’t want people falling asleep at their keyboards giving them too much info, but I know some like the details.

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