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When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat loss with Intermittent Fasting?

Posted on April 23 2015


When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat Loss with Intermittent Fasting?


Here at the GAINSCO we get asked a lot of questions, one of the main questions we always get is "Do I have to do Cardio to get results?" ..Is it worth it, should we incorporate it, do we have to do it?

Well Friends, we love this article by Online Nutrition Coach Andy Morgan and wanted to share it with you to shed a little light on the subject!


Cardio Intermittent Fasting


Article by Online Nutrition Coach Andy Morgan


“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.”

I don’t have a problem with cardio, just wasted time. For those that enjoy cardio then this is time well spent; everyone has their own preferences, live and let live. Let’s not pretend though that most people aren’t solely doing cardio because they wish to lose fat.

Cardio, as a tool for fat loss is over-rated, over-used, and overall a very poor time investment for the I.F. user. Most people that ask me questions about cardio understand this, however there is confusion as to at what point cardio becomes necessary to get leaner.

Scott, Jeff and Phil pictured above did not use cardio to get into their shredded condition. I told them that they wouldn’t need it to get to a body-fat level they would be satisfied with. I suggest to you that the answer is likely the same. In my opinion the vast majority of people give up on diet manipulation alone as a means of achieving their ideal physique way too early.

What is the Point at Which You Need Cardio? Why?

Intermittent Fasting, particularly the Leangains type, can perhaps enable us to get to leaner than with other diet methods through diet manipulation alone. Presuming that you have a good enough muscular base then you should be able to get into a similar condition to the gentlemen above. This will be enough for most people, however there is a limit to how far you can take it no matter how skilful you are at manipulating your diet; the reason is stubborn body fat.

Image result for fasted cardio

Stubborn Body Fat

Stubborn body fat is physiologically different from other fat in your body and this makes the removal of it difficult. Typically stubborn fat is found in the lower abs, back and glutes in men; thighs, glutes and hips in women.

What Makes Stubborn Fat Stubborn?

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.

For fat loss three things need to happen:

  1. Fat needs to be broken down into free fatty acids (FFAs) and released from the fat cell into the blood stream. (Lipolysis)

  2. The FFAs need to be transported through the blood to somewhere where they can be used for fuel.

  3. Tissues somewhere in the body need to pluck these FFAs from the blood stream and use them for energy. (Oxidation – fat burning.)

When getting really lean (assuming a calorie deficit) the body has only muscle or the stubborn fat reserves left to fuel itself on. Due to the physiological differences of stubborn fat, both 1 and 2 are particularly tough to achieve. So though a calorie deficit may be present and the body ready to use the free fatty acids as energy (step 3), if they aren’t in the blood stream around those tissues, they can’t be used, and the body will break down muscle tissue to fuel itself. Clearly you want to avoid this situation.

1. How IF helps get the fat out of the fat cells (Lipolysis)

Unfavourable (for physique purposes) alpha/beta receptor ratio differences in the stubborn fat areas of the body are what makes it difficult for lipolysis to take place. To keep it simple, let’s just say that the morning fasting, by increasing catecholamine output and lowering insulin in the blood stream, creates circumstances which help to get around the receptor issues to allow the fat to escape the fat cells.

2. How cardio helps get more blood flow to the right areas

Before your eyes glaze over with the science please stand up and drop your pants. Take your right palm and slide it onto your right arse cheek. Is it cold? Relatively colder I bet. That’s because the blood flow to your glutes and other stubborn-fat areas is poorer. This matters because even if you overcome the problems associated releasing the FFAs (fat) into the blood stream, if there isn’t sufficient enough blood flow to carry them elsewhere to be burned then they will just be reabsorbed into the fat cell.

  • Cardio can increase blood flow to these areas, which is one reason why you may have heard Martin Berkhan recommend fasted walking on rest days.

  • Yohimbine HCL can increase blood flow to these areas, which is why you may have heard that recommended also, but it would be a waste of money to take it before you get to the stubborn fat stage. (Incidentally it’s banned in many countries including Japan, not because of people taking it for stubborn fat loss, but because of idiots mega-dosing with it to boost erections.)

The Take Home Point & Further Reading

Don’t kid yourself about what stubborn body fat is. Too often people at 15% cry about “stubborn body fat” when they are nowhere near that point yet. Due to genetic difference some folks seem to have more stubborn fat than others. If we say that the above three guys are at around 7%, even if you’re on the unlucky end of that genetic difference you should be able to get to 10% before running into issues. This will still be good enough for a good set of abs, at the very least a well-defined 4 pack.


Article Credit:

Article by Online Nutrition Coach Andy Morgan