In a continued effort to encourage people to eat better and move more, I normally make it a practice to fully address any and every controversial question that comes my way, especially when it comes to working out. One that’s extremely debatable is whether or not it’s best to perform cardio exercise in the morning, specifically for the purpose of weight loss.
I’ll start by simply saying this: While you can lose a substantial amount of weight by putting in a morning bout of cardio, it’s really not that cut and dry. Let me explain further by driving home some key points.
It’s Not Exercising in the Morning that Works, It’s the Act of Exercising While in a “Fasted State”
Performing cardio in a fasted state can greatly enhance fat burning. The “fasted state” essentially means that your body is in a condition during which no food is available to be converted into useable energy. In this state the body breaks down stored fat and converts it into energy, which is ideal if weight loss is your goal.
When you wake up in the morning (as a large majority of people do) your body is technically in a fasted state, feasting on its own stored fat because you haven’t eaten anything for 6-8 (or more) hours. Initiating cardio exercise while in this fat-burning mode can increase the utilization of stored fat, which greatly promotes weight loss.
Now, to suggest that exercising in the “morning” is best for burning fat is to assume that everyone operates on the same stereotypical clock.
For someone who works overnight (“the twilight shift”), a “morning” workout may be replaced with an evening workout. Similarly, if you’re a DJ at a nightclub who’s not done working until 3:00 or 4:00am, your “morning” workout may not start until noon.
Let me emphasize again that performing cardio exercise in the fasted state is what in fact maximizes fat burning as opposed to the sheer act of exercising in the morning.
What works for one person may not work for someone else.
If morning exercise works for you by all means continue to do it. But, it’s important to understand that there are other ways to increase fat burning with cardio exercise if you’re not a morning person.
Skipping Meals Promotes Maximum Fat Burning During Afternoon or Evening Workouts
Yes, I said it! Skipping meals (breakfast and/or lunch) is a great way to maximize fat burning if you’re unable to work out in the morning. Now, read on before you totally dismiss this notion, as I know it literally goes contrary to everything you’ve previously read or heard.
As I stated earlier, your body is in a fasted state after 6-8 hours of rest. If you choose to perform cardio exercise as soon as you wake up your body will be in a fat-burning mode.
But, what if you don’t exercise when you wake up, skip breakfast, and then perform your cardio at noon?
Won’t your body still be in a fasted state and, therefore, a fat-burning mode?
The answer is yes!
Although breakfast is presumed to be the most important meal of the day, it’s not. Breakfast literally means, “breaking the fast” and you can “break the fast” at 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, or whenever you choose to.
Personally, my lifestyle involves a form of intermittent fasting called diurnal fasting, which basically means that I refrain from eating during daylight hours. With this lifestyle I skip breakfast and lunch opting instead for a large dinner and a couple of small snack-like meals.
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