Does morning cardio workout burn more fat?

Does morning cardio workout burn more fat?

What part of the day do you devote to cardio training? Do you prefer the morning before work or do you rather do it in the afternoon or evening? Morning workout has several benefits that cannot be denied, but we were interested in its importance in burning fat. Read the article to see if it’s really better to wake up early and work out in the morning hours.

Morning training - before or after breakfast?

Morning training – before or after breakfast?

Working out with an empty stomach has its supporters and opponents, which is understandable because many of us may not find it comfortable to train right after waking up. Several studies have dealt with the topic of morning training, so it is best to know the view of experts on the whole issue.

In 1999, the book Body for LIFE was published, in which author Bill Phillips popularized cardio training on an empty stomach. Based on this book, the body is best able to burn fat by exercising on an empty stomach. According to the author, the body without the energy supply in the form of carbohydrates starts with fat burning. The book has become popular and cardio  training on an empty stomach is popular even today. However, the question remains whether it affects everyone and whether it is even safe to tire the body before receiving energy. [6]

The topic of morning trainings divides people into two groups – before and after meal. Supporters of training on an empty stomach argue with better fat burning. Fans of after-breakfast training claim that post-meal exercise can trigger blood sugar, which will improve the intensity of the workout. Their other arguments are protection against fatigue and lassitude. So which party is right? [1]

If you are going to exercise before breakfast, your body needs to find energy for it. You woke up, dressed and went straight to the gym, maybe you had a coffee before. Your body is therefore forced to use fat stores as a source of energy. That sounds quite logical, but the problem is that critics of cardio workout ony an empty stomach claim that the body can then digest proteins. This fact won’t please bodybuilders and active people trying to gain and maintain muscle mass through training. At night, the body decomposes amino acids into glucose, morning cardio activates more fat as fuel and potentially amino acids. If the growth and maintenance of muscle mass is important to you, this process is not exactly positive. However, you can avoid it by taking protein after your morning run. Eat a rapidly digestible protein, such as whey, along with a slowly digestible casein. [2] [7]

What do the research results say?

The 2010 study compared the pre- and post-meal training. The aim of the study was to reliably measure the impact of the training on fat burning and total weight gain in the pre-meal participants. The participants were young men whose task was to increase their calorie intake by 20% and at the same time by 50% more fat. Subsequently, they were divided into three groups, one group of volunteers trained in the morning before breakfast, the second group after breakfast and the task of the third group was not to exercise. The passive group, of course, gained weight and was also most likely to have insulin resistance. The post-breakfast group gained about half less than the participants in the sedentary group, and there were also problems with insulin. The pre-breakfast group gained almost nothing, maintained a healthy insulin level and, in addition, burned more fat during the day. [3]

The study revealed for the first time the benefits of training before breakfast in facilitating muscle adaptation, improving all-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity on a high-calorie fat-rich diet. [4]

A similar research was done in 2013, where the role of the male participants was to go jogging in the morning. The runners were divided into two groups for comparison, the first did jogging on an empty stomach and the second after breakfast. According to the results, runners burned an average of 20% more fat before breakfast. [2]

Better results in burning fat on an empty stomach are also shown in the results of the 2017 research. A lower sugar level can be attributed to better fat burning in runners who ran on empty stomachs. On the other hand, it was found that if men consumed breakfast first, they burned more calories during training. [1]

Another study mapped the impact of aerobic training before and after breakfast on 20 young women. Their task was to run or walk 3 times a week for 4 weeks. Obviously, the participants were divided into pre- and post-breakfast groups. However, the results did not show any significant loss in training on an empty stomach. The study suggests that aerobic exercise associated with hypocaloric diet has caused changes in body composition in both groups. [2] [5]

What do the research results say?

So what is the conclusion? Cardio training on an empty stomach can be beneficial for certain type of people and getting rid of excess fat from problem areas. It may be useful for women with a body fat content of about 13-14% and men with a fat content in single-digit values, for example 5-6%. Although there are no confirmatory studies on this theory, if you have low fat content in “defiant areas”, exercising on an empty stomach can help turn these fat cells into fuel. [7]

There is very little research on the reliable claim that exercising on an empty stomach significantly improves fat burning. It is up to scientists to further explore this idea and implement it on much larger number of subjects and groups of participants. Exercise before breakfast can have a positive effect on your body, but the equation of intake and expenditure remains a more important factor in burning fat. [1] [2]

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Can you burn more fat in the morning than in the evening?

If you start to look at articles that address the appropriate part of the day for cardio workouts, you will encounter frequent comparisons of workouts before and after breakfast. There are studies that confirm the benefits of pre-breakfast training, but also studies with results without significant differences between exercise before and after meals.

It should always be taken into account that the body with an empty stomach is unable to perform the training as intensively as after refueling. It burns more fats than carbohydrates in the morning before breakfast, but it also burns fewer calories. According to a 2012 study, aerobic training does not require a specific part of the day. It plays a role in an exercise that focuses on flexibility and strength. It is due to the change in body temperature during the day, because the later temperature increase makes you think that your exercise is easier, especially when it comes to strength training. [8] [9]

Perhaps one of the most important factors in reducing fat has been published in a 2013 study. Research suggests that an important factor in successful weight loss is the thought or feeling that you can train despite the limitations of life. [9]

Can you burn more fat in the morning than in the evening?

Why to choose morning for your cardio?

  1. Routinetraining requires regularity and for many it is much easier to do training in the morning. In the afternoon, there may be more obstacles in your way to training than in the morning. [8]
  2. Satisfaction during the dayit is great to start the day with the feeling that you have managed to do something for your health. [10]
  3. Carbohydrates from breakfastif you’re used to training after breakfast, you will use their energy potential. The usual morning meal is mostly rich in fiber and carbohydrates, fruit for example.  [8]
  4. Improve your attentionphysical activity affects human concentration, thus morning training can improve your attention during the day. [11]
  5. Better mood during the day you surely know that endorphins – the hormones of happiness – are secreted during training. A better mood will accompany you during the day and it will also affect your work environment. [12]
  6. Improve your sleepA 2014 study demonstrates improved sleep in people practicing at 7:00 in the morning. Morning training caused less awakening during the night and more time spent in a deep sleep state. [11]
  7. Enjoy the morning natureif you go for the morning run, go to nature. Find a nearby forest or park and enjoy the morning peace, birds singing and the start of the day. [10]
  8. Improve your appetiteexercise also affects the regulation of your appetite by reducing grellin, which is a hormone of hunger. [11]

Are you interested in other benefits of morning training? Read about them in our article 9 reasons to exercise in the morning.

Why to choose morning for your cardio?

What cardio is best for Weight Loss?

To burn fat from fat deposits, it is necessary to develop aerobic activity that uses fat as the primary fuel source. Aerobic activity is considered to be an exercise in which the heart and lungs use oxygen as a fuel source for an extended period of 15-20 minutes. In aerobic exercise, the combination of oxygen, fat and carbohydrates creates ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which acts as a fuel for all cells. [13]

What cardio is best for Weight Loss?

1. Runningis one of the most popular forms of cardio workout and an hour of running can burn approximately 600 calories. Although running is an activity of higher intensity, it does not exceed the “limit” of anaerobic activity at which carbohydrates are burned. Among other things, it is one of the most affordable sports for which you just need suitable shoes and the desire to get rid of fat. [13]

2. Jumping Ropeexcept for the jumping rope itself, you do not need any special equipment for this cardio activity. With jumping rope you can burn up to 1000 calories per hour, but it is best to use it for short intervals to avoid injury to your hips or legs. For best results, use your wrists (not your hands) to move the jumping rope and jump only slightly above its trajectory. [13] [14]

3. Cyclingwhether stationary or classic, cycling is a fun and efficient way to burn calories. You can burn up to 600 calories per hour, but it depends on speed. The advantage of stationary bikes is their availability in the gym, as they are not one of the machines you would always have to wait for. Classic outdoor cycling is advantageous in variability – the difficulty and intensity of the track you determine yourself. The advantage for bodybuilders is that cycling can also improve the separation of quadriceps muscles. [13] [15]

4. Walking up the stairswhether you use the classic stairs in a building or a stepper similar to the stairs in your gym, you’ll work harder than you think. With this activity you can burn 500-600 calories at a moderate pace. The disadvantage is the load on the joints, therefore it is not the most suitable training for people with problematic knees. If you decide for the stairs in your apartment block, choose a time when you will not restrict your neighbors by training. [14] [15]

5. Swimmingeven though you don’t sweat while swimming, you burn about 600 calories per hour. This type of cardio is great if you like water, you want to exercise all your muscles and also avoid injuries. It also depends on the swimming style, because with butterfly stroke you burn more than with breaststroke. In the fight against gravity you can burn calories, exercise the whole body, and for a while you find yourself in a completely different world. [13] [15]

In addition to the types of cardio workouts, you will certainly find useful tips on how to reduce excess fat quickly and efficiently. If you are interested in this topic, read our article 17 tips on how to lose fat quickly and efficiently.

Morning cardio is definitely a great way to start the day while doing something for your health and body. Some research show the benefits of cardio training before breakfast, but it is questionable whether it is beneficial for all of us. If you prefer running or cycling after a meal or in the afternoon, don’t force it. First of all, look for the right time and method of training that makes you feel good and will do it regularly. At the same time, keep in mind that changing your diet in addition to exercise will help you to lose weight effectively. We keep our fingers crossed in transformation and reaching your fitness goals.


[1] Sandee LaMotte - Exercising before breakfast burns more fat, study says –

[2] Christian Finn - Does Exercising Before Breakfast Help You Burn More Fat? –

[3] Brittany Smith - Morning Workouts Burn More Fat and Promote Weight Loss –

[4] Van Proeyen K, Szlufcik K, Nielens H, Pelgrim K, Deldicque L, Hesselink M, Van Veldhoven PP, Hespel P - Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet. –

[5] Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Wilborn CD, Krieger JW, Sonmez GT - Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. –

[6] Darla Leal - Is Fasted Cardio Really Better for Fat Loss? –

[7] Jim Stoppani - Is Fasted Cardio The Best For Burning Fat? –

[8] Andrea Boldt - Morning vs. Evening Cardio –

[9] K. Aleisha Fetters - Does It Matter What Time of Day You Exercise to Lose Weight? –

[10] Carly Berwick - 9 Really Good Reasons to Exercise Early in the Morning –

[11] Kirsten Nunez - 13 Benefits of Working Out in the Morning –

[12] Melih F. Cologlu - 8 Benefits To Working Out In The Morning –

[13] David Robson - Which Cardio Methods Melt Fat The Fastest? –

[14] Paige Waehner - 9 Ways to Get a Great Cardio Workout at Home –

[15] Jenn Sinrich - The Best Types of Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss –

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