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Guest Post: Low-Intensity Fasted Cardio

For Moi Contre La Vie’s first guest post please welcome Sean, a certified CrossFit instructor and self-taught health & nutrition guru, who will be discussing low-intensity fasted cardio. When he first mentioned this topic to me I thought it was extraordinarily interesting and immediately pounced on him to put it into writing.

Sean

{Yes – That’s Sean}

Enjoy!

For quite some time, i have prided myself in being physically capable of overcoming demanding physical challenges at will.  Whether it be lifting heavy weights, running long distances, or some other overtly masculine challenge.  For this reason, i use to laugh at myself when i was humbled by seemingly simple tasks, which in my goal of attaining general physical athleticism, i would overlook.  This was never more apparent than when i would visit places like San Francisco where walking for an afternoon, yes walking, would leave me feeling beaten down and exhausted (my tiny girlfriend waiting for me to pant my way up every hill was demoralizing in itself). Little did I realize, that in neglecting one of the most fundamental forms of human locomotion, I was passing up a potent and extremely valuable health and fitness tool.  One that requires a little time and very little effort.

Living in a place like San Francisco, where walking is a valid method of transportation, is dramatically different from than the suburbs in which i reside. Here, i can not think of a single person that walks, or even rides a bike, outside of the specific purpose of getting exercise.  Funny enough, i know overweight people who will ride their bike for two hours straight when it is exercise, but when it comes to the half-mile commute to work or the store, the only option is the SUV.  Not to say that i was any different, it is a habit that you learn.

Then, a few months back, I found an article discussing the topic of low-intensity fasted cardio exercise to augment training for gymnast.  (I have a strange fascination with gymnastics training methods, the level of skill and strength required for basic competency is astonishing).  The highlight of the topic was how low-intensity fasted cardio was a simple and effective way to keep fat off a gymnast, whilst not compromising their performance in the gym and permitting them to eat more.  I thought this was very interesting and saw no reason why it would not be just as useful for anyone who was interested in a simple method of losing stubborn fat (who isn’t?).

First off, what is low-intensity fasted cardio?  The “fasted” part of the equation should not be taken in any extreme sense of the word.  Your body will begin to enter a fasted state about four to five hours after you eat.  It takes about that long for your body to either use the nutrients you have eaten or store them.  By this time you body begins using alternative sources of fuel which are derived primarily from your liver and increased metabolization of fat.  Since most people do not eat while they sleep, they will generally wake up with blood rich in metabolized fat ready to be used for energy (There are numerous other steps in there, but that’s the basics).  When you eat first thing in the morning, your body essentially reverses this process, turning to the more energy rich food and re-storing the fats you metabolized.  Just because you freed the stored fat (metabolized) doesn’t mean you actually use (oxidize) it.  So there is an optimal time (when you wake up or if you want to not eat for a while) for your body to access your stores of fat.  This is where the bit about walking comes into play.

Pairing fasting with low-intensity cardio (low-intensity cardio can be just about any steady state exercise that doesn’t require you to breathe heavily – i.e. walking) is an easy way to capitalize on the metabolized fat that i just described.  Why walk, when you can do more work in less time by running or some other higher intensity exercise?  One, walking is easier to do consistently, especially when you don’t think of it as exercise.  I walk to get coffee or to by food for the day, not to work out.  For some reason, turning it into a necessity (I must have coffee) changes the walking from an option to a requirement.  This makes doing it everyday easy.  Second, fat is not the most efficient form of energy for your body to use.  Once you begin to cross over into moderate to higher intensity exercise your body’s ability to meet your energy demands through fat metabolism isn’t adequate.  It will generally turn to other richer sources of energy like muscle tissue. 

First, thank you for the guest post. Second, and more importantly, thank you for calling me tiny. 🙂

While squeezing in some walking time is always good for you, whether you treat it as exercise or just need some time to yourself, low-intensity fasted cardio seems like an extremely beneficial activity to try on for size. I’ll confess, while I don’t read traditional dieting books, I will read almost any silly book that talks about French women and their approach to food {French Women Don’t Get Fat, Two Lipsticks and a Lover, A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl…} The number one tip all of these books give you is: WALK! The French walk everywhere. If there’s a choice between taking the stairs or an elevator, they take the stairs. They walk to work, they walk to the market, they walk around their cities and towns rather than driving. In my mind this reinforces the benefits of walking and illustrates how the French maintain their slim figures.

Can’t go through the drive through if you’re walking!

Sean usually walks to the store in the morning or walks for a few miles along the river with his roommate, which sounds to me like an ideal way to start to the day. Unfortunately with a 4:30am start time for my days a leisurely stroll isn’t in the cards, however I have been lucky enough to live less than two miles from work for the last few years so I usually walk to the office, weather permitting.

So keep Sean’s advice in mind and hit the pavement or trail to burn off some fat in the am before treating yourself to a healthy breakfast.

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11 responses

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  11. Thanks for sharing. What a plseaure to read!

    June 17, 2011 at 10:12 AM

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