Jim Stoppani explains high intensity cardio and why fasted cardio doesn’t really work

Cardio is the bane of many people’s existence. Some love, many hate it – but unfortunately it’s an extremely important part of staying healthy. In the bodybuilding world, cardio is even more reviled as it can lead to burning off hard earned muscle if you go too hard with it. Beyond general health for the heart and lungs – many struggle with burning fat and cutting weight with cardio. In our latest GI Exclusive, Jim Stoppani breaks down in detail different cardio exercise methods and which ones are most effective at burning fat.

When it comes to cardio, there are many options and exercises that can be considered. Do you simply just run? Or do you try cycling, rowing, swimming, HIIT? The list goes on. We partnered with Barbend and turned to Jim Stoppani to discuss in detail the different methods of cardio and which ones can bring the best results when trying to cut fat. Most specifically, our conversation focuses on high interval cardio vs paced cardio and we discuss fasted cardio. Let’s jump into it.

What is the most effective way to lose weight with cardio?

Jim Stoppani starts off by explaining the history of exercise science. Studying deeply into exercise didn’t really take off in earnest until the 1980s. During that early period, it was believed that there was a “fat burning zone” for cardiovascular exercise.

This was due to a study that showed high intensity cardio would burn carbs while slower even-paced cardio would burn fat over a longer session. The goal, of course, was to burn fat. So scientists recommended that longer even-paced cardio was best for losing weight.

Jim Stoppani explains that this was a misconception that was later revised. It is true that high intensity cardio burns carbs (or glucose) rather than fat. But this is not a bad thing. In fact, the more carbs and glucose you burn, the more fat burning your body will go through after you exercise throughout the rest of the day. Essentially, but depleting your glucose supply, your body then uses fat for energy throughout the rest of the day. It gives you a boost to your metabolism.

A great example of this was shown in a study Jim Stoppani mentions during our conversation. The study tested two groups of people. One group did 30 second sprints for 6-8 sets. The other group did 30 minutes of paced cardio instead. In the end, it turns out that the 30 second sprints (amounting to about 2 minutes of exercise) was equivalent in terms of fat loss to 30 minutes of running.

So what about fasted cardio? Should you run on an empty stomach for greater fat loss?

Now that we know which kind of cardio works best for fat loss – what about the nutrition before you exercise? Many believe that doing cardio on an empty stomach, aka fasted cardio, helps to burn more fat. Jim Stoppani disagrees with this tactic. While fasted cardio seems to have some effect – it’s barely enough to be strategy that will transform your fat loss journey.

This goes back to what Jim Stoppani was explaining regarding high interval training. The most effective way to burn fat is to spend as much glucose as possible during the actual exercise. The fat burning happens later. Due to this – fasted cardio doesn’t really work. Fasted cardio will bring you right back to your body burning fat directly for energy as you will be low on glucose stores from fasting.

Since more significant fat loss happens after exercise if you do high intensity training – fasting really isn’t effective here. You won’t get the metabolic boost that helps burn fat throughout the day.

However, fasted cardio can be helpful and give a slight boost if you’re trying to get shredded as possible short term. What Jim Stoppani means by this is for, let’s say, bodybuilders looking to be dry and shredded on stage – fasted cardio can be great for giving you a fat loss bump right before competition.

If you are already low on fat percentage, focusing on fasted cardio can possibly provide a little boost of making your skin look even thinner and your muscles conditioned a bit more. You’ve already done the long term hard work of cutting fat for months – now in the final week you can trim a little off the top, so to speak, by focusing on burning fat directly during a cardio workout.

Wrap Up

You can watch Jim Stoppani speak in detail regarding cardio including high intensity training vs paced running and his thoughts on fasted cardio by watching the latest GI Exclusive interview segment above. You can also see more of Jim Stoppani’s explainer videos by stopping by the Generation Iron Fitness Network every Monday for new episodes!

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.