Dr. Alison shares the research on fasted cardio and what it means for your health!
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Hello and welcome. Are you wondering if you should be eating before you work out, If you should try out fasted cardio, are you doing intermittent fasting and not seeing results? This video is going to break down the research on fasted cardio, and also I’m going to give you my opinions as a functional medicine physician, as well as someone who is into fitness. I love weightlifting. I love training. I’m going to share my personal experiences with you as well. If we haven’t met yet, I’m Dr. Alison DiBarto Goggin, I’m a functional medicine physician and a doTERRA wellness advocate. I help women overcome anxiety, help them lose weight, and really does help them feel like themselves again. So today let’s talk about fasted cardio and what this means. So fasted cardio means that you don’t eat all night, right? You eat dinner and then you’re done eating for the night.
You wake up, you skip breakfast, you work out and then you go about your day. Some people will eat right after some people will wait until their fasting window opens. Just depends on what they’re trying to achieve. So I really got triggered into this conversation because I’m reading a book about chronotypes and how to time your day through how your body works. Are you a night owl? Are you a morning person? And how to structure your day based off of this? And this author is not a doctor. He’s just spouting what he believes and he doesn’t know anything about physiology. So I was actually kind of driving me crazy. So I thought, all right, I’m going to jump into doing more research on this topic and prove to myself that I’m right, because he’s saying breakfast is stupid. Everyone should be doing fasted cardio, lunch is, the most important game.
And I’m like, hold on, hold on. Because this is not applied to everyone. So let’s take a look at the research. It’s really easy to do. You can go to pub med.gov. That’s P U B M E D dot G O V type and fasted cardio or whatever you want to research. And all of the current research articles will come up in the research. Here’s what I noticed. All of the studies are done on young, healthy males. They only have on average between five and 20 participants. So this is already a problem for me because number one, men and women have different physiologies and five people in the study is not enough to say, okay, this applies to the general public who are unhealthy, or for people who are experiencing symptoms or diseases who are looking to manage their weight to improve their health.
They are going to have a different physiology than a 20 year old athletic male exercise and nutrition studies must include women in their research. I share my intermittent fasting story all of the time, because a couple of years ago, I started getting into intermittent fasting. I was looking at what I thought was the research, but what I found out is that one through personal study, meaning I told my husband all about it. I’m like, let’s try intermittent fasting. He said, okay, he lost 20 pounds. I gained like 15 pounds. And I was like, what the heck intermittent fasting is supposed to be amazing. But what these doctors and experts and teachers weren’t telling us is that intermittent fasting for men of a certain age without issues is an excellent way of eating. However, for women who are cycling and have other diseases or issues is actually a horrible idea.
So I learned a lot that we have to really look at the research. And just because someone says, this is great. You have to look at who were they studying? What issues were those people experiencing? And does that even apply to you? And we need thousands of participants in a variety of studies to prove that faster cardio or really anything is an effective treatment or way of living to prove that this is effective. So just saying five people in the study is good enough, actually, isn’t good enough. And we need to do a lot deeper and more broader research. My next issue with most of these studies is that they just quoted young, healthy males. So what does healthy mean? Because that might mean that their blood work looks fine, but they are having other issues. So I will tell you from my practice, when I worked with men, they don’t like filling out their forms.
They say, everything’s great. I have to have so many questions or sometimes even talk to their spouse to get to their symptoms and what they’re experiencing, because it’s really hard to admit when you don’t feel good. And for men, that can be very difficult. So a 20 year old kid or someone who’s walking into the study going ‘Yeah, I feel great’. Are they running blood work? Are they just looking at diabetes? Are they just looking for cancer or something else? Are they even screening for autoimmune conditions? Are they asking them about symptoms? Because a guy might not be willing to say, yes, I have trouble with my erections or my testosterone is really low or, Hey, I have ADD, and I don’t tell anybody about it because I want to take medication. These people might not actually be as healthy as they say they are. So we can’t just trust that a healthy person in a study is actually helping.
And then to get to the fasted cardio section of this research, what they did is have these participants fast overnight, and then wake up and do over two hours of cardio workouts. And then they were able to extrapolate and say, wow, look at this fat oxidation really improved if they didn’t eat before they worked out. So this again, type of research, doesn’t apply to the majority of people who are just waking up to go to the gym or hit 20 minutes on the treadmill or do a 45 minute lifting circuit or hit it. Does that count as two plus hours of cardio? So we’re talking about professional athletes who do this stuff for a living versus cyclists, for a living who are able to get up, want to get up, have the time to get up and work out for two hours of cardio. It does not apply.
And the research show this, that fasted cardio is not effective for short term workout. So that’s anything under two hours. So again, for the majority of the public who is waking up and trying to get a workout in before work or before the kids wake up or whatever it is in their life, you’re not going to see the results unless you’re doing over two hours of just cardio. So again, that’s one reason why I don’t like this. One of the last things is that the long-term effects of faster cardio actually shown to be very minimal. And we only lose about six pounds of weight over a six month period doing fast cardio, at least three times a week of high intensity, like longer term endurance talking about that over one hour over two hour exercise. So when you think about it, starving yourself, not eating breakfast, being lightheaded, maybe wake up cranky is not going to be effective.
Long-Term if you want to lose weight or manage your blood sugar or your diabetes need to find a different way to do this then because you’re working out in the morning, your cortisol is higher as it should be because we’re supposed to wake up with energy and feel good that you’re going to actually burn more muscle than you are fat. So you don’t want to burn muscle. You want to burn fat during your workouts, but being fast and having that high levels of cortisol, you’re actually going to make things worse. Most likely, especially if you’re weightlifting or doing high intensity workouts. You know, if you’re doing something like yoga and it’s not getting your heart rate up, you’re probably more safer that you’re not burning muscle, but you’re also not going to be burning fat as well. So if you’re tired, if you’re fatigued, if you feel like crap after your workout and your facet, this is a big warning sign that your body just can’t handle it.
And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong or that you need to change. It just means that you need to respect what your body needs in this moment. So what should you do? Should you eat breakfast? Should you eat before you work out? How are we going to figure this out? My number one belief in my practice is that experimentation is awesome. So take two or four weeks and play around with your food. I do believe that you should be eating breakfast for most people. Most of my patients who come in are women who are high stress. They don’t feel good in the morning, anxious. They need to be eating breakfast, to help support their cortisol and their emotions and their physiology throughout the day. So yes, eating breakfast is important. Now, if you’re feeling nauseous, I would suggest eating something small and then waiting some time before you work out.
So what should you do? Should you wake up and have breakfast? Should you eat something small? What about fats? What about carbs? What about proteins? There’s so much here to look at, and that might change for you depending on your body type and what your body needs. So, first of all, unless you’re a professional athlete and you’re going to the Olympics, you don’t need to wake up and do two hours of cardio. Is that going to be supportive for your body? Unless it’s your job, you can get a great workout in just 10 minutes. You can do it 30 minutes. You can do 45 minutes. It doesn’t matter with the time, as long as you’re intentional at your focus and you’re aware of what your body needs loves and how it moves. If you are a woman who’s struggling with anxiety, with hormone issues, you can’t lose weight, no matter what you do, maybe you have auto-immune conditions:
You need to be eating consistently throughout the day to manage your blood sugar, support your body, to support your muscles and your bone health. This is so important. So yes, you should eat breakfast and you should eat before you work out. And it can be something small. And this is where the experimentation comes in. Most people do really well with a small carb, any small protein or fat before they eat our workout. I apologize. So something like a banana and peanut butter might be a good choice for you. You might do better with more carby type of food, like pretzels or something like that might be more effective for you. So you get to play and see how you feel. And what I want you to notice is how do you feel during your workout? Are you awake? Are you energized? Do you feel strong?
How do you feel after you work out? Do you feel energized? You feel strong. Can you keep going throughout the day or are you tired? Are you fatigued after your workout? Do you just want to go home and lay down and take a nap if you don’t feel good during or after your workout? So this is a sign that you’re either doing too much. You’re pushing too hard. You’re lifting too heavy or moving too fast, or some type of exercise that your body needs. Some people like I love doing the blood type diet for exercise. It seems to work really well. So my type A’s do really great with yoga and Pilates and slow movement. My type, those are the awesome weightlifters and the abs and the bees typically do good with something in the middle, like Zumba or tennis or, you know, something that’s like a really good combination.
So figuring out your blood type exercise can be really helpful, but also just listening to your body and trying new things. If you struggle with auto immune conditions, PCOS, chronic viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalo virus. You need to go low and slow with your exercise. Talk about this all the time. I feel like, but you also need to be eating breakfast and you need to be eating before you work out. So my, the distinction between those would be if you eat breakfast at 7:00 AM, and then you work out at eight, that’s good. If you eat breakfast at 7:00 AM, but you’re not working out till 10. I would have a snack at like 9:30 to fill in that gap. So that’s my distinction there with the auto immune conditions, because, and the viral infections and PCOS, things like that, working out increases your cortisol and cortisol stimulates your immune system, which is why working out is so fabulous and supportive for health.
But if you’re working out in the morning and your cortisol is high, and then your fasting, which is going to increase your cortisol, and then you’re working out, you’re really building up this cortisol load. And when you have these auto-immune type conditions or chronic fatigue, our fibromyalgia or chronic viral infections, that’s super high cortisol from all of this is actually going to probably push your immune system over the edge and your adrenals over the edge. So it’s going to increase that fight mechanism in your body. So for like me, with my ulcerative colitis before last year before I started getting really sick, I was going to the gym and I was like, I’m killing it. And then I would get out of the gym, I’d feel okay. But the next day, my pain in my gut was worse. My IBS symptoms are worse. I had more bleeding.
I had more fatigue. I’d have to take four days off for every workout that I did. And that was a major sign that my body was starting to fail. That my workouts were increasing my autoimmunity and I needed to switch to something lighter and more effective for how my body was responding. So for people like you and me, if you’re in this category, food can support. It can manage that cortisol. So one you’re improving your adrenal signaling, but you’re also improving your mitochondrial singling from yourself. So it’s going to support your blood sugar. You’re not going to get that immune system push. That’s going to increase the attack on your body. Now, if you’re a healthy male if you are a young, healthy male, really men of all ages, because the hormones for men are stable throughout their life. They’re not going through menstrual cycles. They’re not going through menopause, which is also why so much research for post-menopausal females and males tend to align because the hormones are now stable and they’re not shifting throughout the day.
You can try doing fasted cardio, but if you have testosterone issues, if you have adrenal issues, if you have blood sugar issues faster, cardio also will not help you. It will probably do more damage to your adrenals, which is going to lower your testosterone and cause more issues there. It becomes a cascade of endocrine concerns that you just don’t want to deal with. It’s not worth it. So eat your food, enjoy it, play around you. Does your body like carbs that protein a mixture before you work out, this is your game to try and really see how your body functions best. And I would also have your blood work done before you try any type of fasted cardio and bring it to someone like me, who does functional medicine, look at your testosterone levels, your iron levels, your estrogen levels. What’s your thyroid doing? Get checked out for auto-immune concerns because men, well, it’s not that common.
I think it gets so ignored. And then because we were like, oh, that can’t be it. So they get pushed off. They can ignore it as well. So make sure you’re getting yourself checked out whole body. Your whole physiology makes sure you’re fit to go. And if you’re looking for personalized care, please shoot me a message on Facebook. I’ll drop the link below. Let me know what’s going on. You can schedule a free health assessment as well, online through my website, where we just sit and chat for about 30 minutes about your symptoms, your goals, and what type of testing you need and brainstorm on how you can move forward. Thanks for tuning in today. Make sure you like, like and subscribe. So that way you can see tuned with all of our weekly videos and I’ll see you soon.