What About Eating After Fasted Exercise?
I’m often asked what to eat after fasted cardio, and my answer is this:
The same thing you’d eat after any workout—30 to 40 grams of protein and about the same amount of carbs. You can adjust those numbers based on your target calories and macros, but they’re good starting places for most people.
It’s also best to eat your post-workout meal within 30 minutes of finishing your workout to minimize muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis.
Some people would disagree with that advice and say that you should wait a bit before eating after a fasted workout to prolong the fat burning effects.
This is unnecessary and counterproductive for two reasons:
1. You won’t lose more body fat.
Assuming your total calorie intake for the day is the same, you’re going to lose the same amount of body fat whether you have a meal right after or several hours after your workouts.
Furthermore, with or without supplements, the increase in stubborn fat burning that occurs during fasted training disappears quickly once you stop working out.
In other words, most of the fat-burning benefits of fasted training occur during the exercise—not afterwards—which makes prolonging the fast unnecessary.
2. You’ll probably lose muscle.
Muscle protein breakdown drastically increases after both resistance training and cardio workouts.
This problem is only aggravated by fasted training, which increases breakdown rates even further.
Aaaaand just to add insult to injury, most people use fasted training when they’re also in a calorie deficit, which also boosts muscle loss.
So by delaying your post-workout meal after fasted training, you’re setting yourself up for maximum post-workout muscle loss.
One of the most effective ways to decrease muscle protein breakdown after a workout (fasted or otherwise) is to raise your insulin levels, and the best way to do that is to eat a protein- and carb-rich meal.
The Bottom Line on Fasted Cardio
By itself, fasted cardio isn’t going to help you lose more fat than fed cardio.
When you combine fasted cardio with the right supplements, though, then it becomes a valuable fat loss strategy that you should consider trying.
This is especially true if you’re lean and wanting to get really lean because you’re going to be dealing mainly with stubborn fat stores that can be very slow to disappear with just diet and exercise alone.
In terms of what kind of cardio you should do, I recommend you stick with HIIT, which results in more fat loss in less time than low intensity steady state cardio.
When cutting, you can do your weightlifting workouts fasted to accelerate stubborn fat loss even further. You’ll probably notice a slight drop in strength when you start lifting fasted, but that comes back when you switch back to fed training.
I also recommend you have a post-workout meal within 30 minutes of your fasted workouts to minimize muscle loss.
When I’m dieting for fat loss, I lift weights in a fasted state 5 days per week and do 25 to 30 minutes of HIIT cardio in a fasted state 3 to 4 times per week.
Before each workout, I take the following supplements:
- 2 servings of Forge
- 1 serving of Pulse
- 1 serving of Phoenix
Then I eat a post-workout meal that contains at least ~40 grams of protein and about the same number of carbs after each workout.
If you want to learn more about how to set up a diet for fat loss, including …
- How to set your calories and macros
- How to decide what foods you should eat
- How to build a strength training plan for fat loss
- What supplements do and don’t work for fat loss
- And more …