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Cardio During Intermittent Fasting: What You Need to Know

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a cardio type involving short bursts of intense exercise followed by recovery periods.

While it has become a popular exercise in recent years, many people misunderstand the true nature of HIIT and how it should be properly performed.

In this blog post, we will explain what HIIT is and how it works, as well as discuss the appropriate forms of cardio during intermittent fasting and the benefits of incorporating HIIT into a fitness routine.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training?

Cardio During Intermittent Fasting

High-intensity interval training is a form of cardio that involves pushing yourself to the max for short periods of time, followed by a period of recovery. It stimulates the body’s anaerobic system, which produces energy during short-term, high-intensity activity.

This is similar to how weight training stimulates the anaerobic system, as both forms of exercise utilize carbohydrates as a fuel source.

While HIIT can be a great way to get an intense, calorie-burning workout, it’s important to understand that it is not just about working up a sweat or feeling exhausted. Instead, HIIT is about activating the anaerobic system and training the body to perform at maximum effort for short periods of time.

How Should HIIT be Properly Performed?

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Properly performing HIIT involves pushing yourself to the max for short periods of time and then allowing for adequate recovery. The duration of the work and rest periods will vary from person to person and may depend on factors such as fitness level and goals.

It’s important to understand that the body doesn’t have a specific understanding of intervals like one minute or two minutes.

Instead, the body responds to the level of fatigue or recovery. This means that the length of the rest period should be determined by how long it takes for an individual to fully recover and be able to give 100% effort again.


The key to HIIT is to give 100% effort, recover fully, and then repeat. This allows you to get the desired response from your body and achieve the full benefits of HIIT.

A common mistake people make with HIIT is performing short bursts of intense exercise followed by equal rest periods. For example, doing one minute of high-intensity exercise followed by one minute of rest. While this may be a convenient way to structure a workout, it does not necessarily reflect how the body responds to HIIT.

To properly perform HIIT, aim to push yourself to the max for 15-20 seconds, as this is roughly the amount of stored energy the body has available to perform at 90-100% effort. If you are going longer than 20-25 seconds, you are likely not pushing yourself to the max.

Discussion of Appropriate Forms of Cardio to Do During Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. While this can be a useful tool for weight loss and overall health, it’s important to consider the type of exercise you do during your fasting periods.

If your primary goal is weight loss and you are already in a calorie deficit, you may want to consider doing more steady-state cardio during your fasting periods. Some great cardio ideas include walking, jogging, treadmill cardio, or cycling at a consistent pace. This low-intensity cardio can help maintain your heart rate and burn calories without requiring too much energy.

On the other hand, if your goal is to maintain muscle mass and use intermittent fasting as a tool for overall health and wellness, you may want to consider incorporating HIIT into your routine. HIIT can be a more demanding exercise, so it may not be appropriate for everyone during a fast.

However, if you are well-trained and able to handle the intensity, HIIT can be a great way to maintain your fitness level and boost your metabolism during intermittent fasting.

What are the Benefits of Incorporating HIIT into a Fitness Routine?

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Incorporating HIIT into a fitness routine can offer numerous benefits.

One of the main benefits of HIIT is that it can improve cardiovascular endurance. By pushing yourself to the max for short periods of time and allowing for adequate recovery, you can strengthen the heart and improve overall cardiovascular health.

In addition to improving cardiovascular endurance, HIIT can also increase metabolism.

The high-intensity nature of HIIT can elevate the heart rate and boost calorie burn, making it a useful tool for weight loss. It can also improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Other potential benefits of HIIT include improving muscle endurance, increasing muscle mass, and improving overall physical fitness.

It can also be more efficient, providing a full-body workout in less time than steady-state cardio.

By understanding the benefits of HIIT and incorporating it into a fitness routine, you can improve your overall health and wellness.

Science Based HIIT Benefit Studies

Evidence supports the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for various health and fitness outcomes.

One study (1) found that HIIT can produce similar cardiometabolic changes to those of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2D) and may also provide greater improvements in functional capacity for individuals with T2D.

Another study (2) found that HIIT was more effective at improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to moderate-intensity endurance training (MET).

In this study, participants who engaged in HIIT had a greater improvement in insulin sensitivity and a greater reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who engaged in MET.

Other studies have found that HIIT can improve muscle endurance, increase muscle mass, and improve overall physical fitness. It has also been shown to be an efficient form of exercise, as it can provide a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time compared to steady-state cardio.

Final Thoughts on HIIT and Intermittent Fasting

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HIIT is a form of cardio that involves pushing yourself to the max for short periods of time, followed by a period of recovery. It is important to understand how HIIT should be properly performed to get the desired results.

The appropriate form of cardio during intermittent fasting depends on your goals. Still, HIIT can be a beneficial addition to a fitness routine, as it can improve cardiovascular endurance, increase metabolism, and improve insulin sensitivity.

By understanding the key points about HIIT and cardio during intermittent fasting, you can make an informed decision about the best approach for your fitness goals.

Overall, HIIT is a powerful tool for improving fitness and health.

By understanding how it should be properly performed and considering your goals, you can use HIIT and other forms of cardio to achieve your fitness objectives.

Whether trying to lose weight, improve cardiovascular endurance, or maintain overall health and wellness, incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine can effectively reach your goals.

Cardio and Intermittent Fasting FAQ

Yes, you can do cardio while intermittent fasting.

When you do cardio while fasting, your body may use stored fat as an energy source, potentially leading to weight loss.

The amount of cardio you should do while intermittent fasting will depend on your fitness goals and current level of physical activity. It is generally recommended to speak with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer to determine the appropriate amount of cardio for your individual needs.

Yes, you can do cardio in the morning while intermittent fasting. Some people find that exercising on an empty stomach in the morning can help boost their energy levels and improve their mental clarity for the rest of the day. However, it is important to listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine to ensure that you are comfortable and can safely participate in physical activity.

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