By Michael Roussell, PhD ProSource.net
Nutritional Strategies for Optimized Fat Loss Cardio
For most of us cardio has one purpose... to burn fat. We don't get our endorphin rush from racking up miles of endless jogging but instead pulling hundreds of pounds off the ground, pushing it off our chests, or over our heads. This makes cardio merely the dues we need to pay to look and perform the way we want. As a result we need to make it as effective as possible.
If you could shave a cardio session off your schedule each week and still lose fat wouldn't you do it?
Here is a simple nutrition prescription to get you burning more fat per cardio session than before.
Fasted vs. Non-Fasted Cardio
The allure of fasted cardio has always been strong, it just seems like it would make sense. Perform cardio on an empty stomach and your body would have no choice to but to burn fat. And yes it does burn a high proportion of fat but once you stop so does the fat burning. Fasted cardio is generally very time consuming as you need a longer duration (due to the lower intensity) to make it worth it to you from a calorie burning perspective; but the benefit is that you are burning primarily fat.
Non-fasted cardio has its benefits as well. It can be done at higher intensities and it usually done in an interval training fashion which allows us to take advantage of an increase in post exercise calorie burning via the phenomenon known as excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. The amount of fat burned during non-fasted training sessions is lower than during fasted training sessions but they are generally shorter training session and the total amount of calories burned is higher per minute spent exercising.
What if we could harness the benefits of both types of cardio? The increase fat burning of fasted cardio plus the increased total calorie burning of non-fasted interval based cardio. The good news is that we can with nutrition and it if pretty simple.
BCAA -- Rocket Fuel For Your Muscles
Branched chain amino acids are 3 specific amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that due to their chemical structure have unique physiological properties especially with respects to their effects on working muscles. Your muscles can use BCAAs as fuel but research shows us that in addition BCAAs have some beneficial side effects that make them your secret weapon for optimizing fat loss cardio.
One study took a group of people in a carb-depleted state, like when you have been dieting, and gave them a BCAA supplement or a carbohydrate placebo prior to exhaustive exercise (like when you do intervals for fat loss). The people that were given the BCAA supplement were more resistant to fatiguing and then burned a larger proportion of their energy from fat compared to the people had the carbohydrate placebo supplement.
Another study found that BCAA supplementation can increase your lactate threshold which translates into you being able to training harder and do more work than before. This translates into more calorie and fat burning.
On the recovery side of things, a BCAA supplement helps reduce muscle damage and blunts cortisol release helping your recover faster from your fat burning cardio sessions. (Editor's Note: Like all ProSource sports supplements, Mega BCAA is made with the highest quality ingredients available industry-wide. It contains a precise ratio of vastly superior, premium-grade aminos manufactured by Ajinomoto Labs in Japan--known throughout the world as the premium amino acid provider.)
In order to maximize the fat burning effects of your cardio, use BCAAs as your pre-workout drink so you can train hard, burn more fat, and recover better.