If you are trying to take your physique to the next level then cardio is a must. It strengthens your heart muscle, promotes good circulation, helps you endure longer hours of exercise and helps you burn fat. There are a lot of discussion when it comes to cardio exercise, one of them would be eating first or working out on an empty stomach. Fitness professionals and athletes are divided when it comes to this principle.

So, should we eat or not eat prior to cardio exercise? Let’s dig a little deeper and know the answer behind this argument.

Our body naturally burns fats and carbohydrates, and carbohydrates would be the easiest to burn. Lesser amount of oxygen is needed to burn carbohydrates. On the other side, if there are no carbohydrates which can be burned by our body, fat will be the one it will burn – that would be exercising on an empty stomach. Your body will burn the stored fat which will be converted to energy. So, is it true that it is better for us to work out on an empty stomach? Here comes the danger, when your body starts to burn fat, protein will then follow. For longer hours of exercise on an empty stomach you may experience muscle loss (due to protein burning).  

There will also be a decrease in sugar level, which will make you feel hungry and be easily fatigued. However, with or without food prior to exercise, you will burn the same amount of fats, but then, working out on an empty stomach will increase your cravings for food post exercise which could cause over indulgence.

So, should we eat before we do cardio? Answer will depends on the form of cardio you will be doing. You may do “fasted cardio” when you plan to work out lightly (walking, jogging) for no more than 30 minutes.

However, if you work out intensely, or say more than 30 minutes, better for you to eat prior to your cardio session, a light snack will do. Longer hours of exercise on an empty stomach will burn you out.  

To sum it up, it would be much better to know what type of cardio activity you are planning for the day. Should your goal be light and not intense it will be ok for you to do fasted cardio. Should you want an intense and session to try and burn off last nights pizza better for you to eat before working out. A light snack (Protein shake, protein bars or wheat bread) prior to work out would not hurt, whatever your goal is. Remember, it would be better to have your body fueled, before doing any work.