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Does Morning Cardiovascular Exercise Burn More Fat?

November 29th, 2008 · 7 Comments ·


Cardio in the morning or later? This is an often discussed questions among gym goers. Some believe that doing cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning, even before breakfast, will burn the most fat. However, I have also came across articles which are contradictory saying cardiovascular exercise early morning will make us lose muscles instead.

Theoretically, doing cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning allows maximal fat burning. That belief is correct based on the fact on empty stomach, that body use more fat for fuel to save much on the stored carbs. However, unless this activity can be done regularly, the additional fat burned is not a significant amount.

The other school of thought claimed that cardio in a fasted state in the morning causes the body to go into survival mode and save the fat – which means we may be using muscle protein for fuel. If that is the case, doing cardio in the morning will be counterproductive. Because once you lose your muscle, your metabolism rate will go lower.

So, which one is correct?

But, why people sit around a table and argue about it? Why not tackle the issue head on?

Remember that we will use both carbs and fat as fuel. Muscle loss could happen depending on the intensity and duration of the morning cardio session as well as nutritional status.


Instead of arguing, measure the body fat and calculate the lean mass, then we will know if we are losing muscle or not. The bottom line when evaluating any training or nutritional practice is to look at the result. If you are getting results from your training or eating in a certain manner, keep doing it.

While doing cardio in the morning may be effective, doing later in the day will give you similar results too. In fact, even if you cannot work out in the morning, exercising later on in the day can be just as productive and beneficial.

As long as you are exercising, you are doing a great service for your health, regardless of the time of day. Whether or not you want to work out first thing in the morning or later in the day is usually determined by what fits best into your daily schedule and how you feel at that time.


So, while looking at the small little thing, don’t forget the big picture.



Category: Health

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7 responses so far ↓
  • Tom Parker // Nov 30, 2008 at 1:32 AM

    This is a topic I am wanting to cover at some point in the future Mun. From what I have read morning workouts are the most effective for burning fat because at this point you have usually not eaten for 8 hours or more. Therefore, there is less glycogen in the liver and less glucose in the blood so your body will have to use fat for energy. If you workout later in the day when you have eaten your liver will have more glycogen in its stores and there will be more glucose in the blood. Your body will therefore use this for energy instead of burning fat.

    I don’t know how significant the fat burning effects are as I need to do more research into the topic but these are my initial thoughts.

  • Jonz // Dec 1, 2008 at 5:32 PM

    Tom : Theoretically that is correct. But like what Mun has said, the other school of thought and which is also theoretically true is that our body will enter a survival mode and therefore retains fat while allowing muscle protein as a source of energy.

    My thoughts are that we should eat somethin light that could fuel as up and then proceeding to the workout in the morning.

  • JD // Dec 1, 2008 at 10:33 PM

    Great article! I have been doing my workouts in the afternoon to great results. But I have been thinking of doing a light cardio workout in the morning to help get off these last 10 pounds, and to add a little something extra to my routine. I hear all the time that cardio in the morning on an empty stomach will burn fat, but as the article says there are two schools of thought. What has stopped me from working out in the morning is that I feel weak and don’t think I can give it my all like I can in the afternoon.

  • surfnux // Dec 2, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    This has been one of my biggest problem eversince I left Singapore and the wonderful gym.

    I had stopped doing body combat, no more weight training and nothing. Back to this small town where the gyms are stuffy and not well maintained. I have been trying to work out in the evening, by doing cycling or body combat at home, but sometimes work is just too much as I am opening shop till late 8pm at night.

    And I try to motivate to work out in the morning, but woke up, found myself sitting down enjoying the air instead and do nothing. Biggest problem.

    I looses more than 10 Kgs in my 2 years period in Singapore, and now I think I gained it back. All the efforts went zero again. I really need to work hard.

  • Ivan // May 1, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    I think that morning cardio is good, it makes you feel better the rest of the day and I also think that your nutrition is a big part of your workout because even if you workout in the afternoon with a full stomach and don’t have a good nutrition you loose muscle

    This is what I do right after morning cardio I take a protein shake with a banana a strawberries and egg omelet that’s my brekfast and then as everybody knows try to eat every 3 hours

    when I do cardio in the evening I get so hungry that I will eat anything

    I think that it really does not matter when you do cardio the main thing is doing it

  • Josh // Jun 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    Hi. I trade Forex and sometimes I have time to exercise and sometimes I don’t. But my theory is that exercising both in the morning or afternoon can burn the same amount of fat. It’s the intensity and duration of exercise that will affect the amount of fat burnt. So, when people exercise in the morning on an empty stomach, the body may lower metabolism because of food inadequacy and they will also be able to do less exercise on an empty stomach, thus burning less fat. But if they exercise in the afternoon, that is after breakfast, brunch, lunch and midday snack, they will have plenty of energy to do more exercise more intensely, thus increasing more metabolism and burn more fat and increse body strength level.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Lee // Jun 21, 2009 at 1:10 AM

    I run for about 60-90 minutes a day, five days a week. I do this in the morning, starting at 7 AM and going until 8 or 8:30. I don’t eat anything before I run because I will usually end up vomiting if I do. I drink a small glass of Ora ge juice just to get me going, but that’s it until after my workout. I don’t feel hungry while I’m running, so I don’t think I’m starving myself. After running, I drink a 35-gram protein shake and a gatorade, then I finish off the water I didn’t drink when I was running. Then I continue to eat throughout the day, but I make sure it’s all healthy stuff. I would like to lose about 10-20 pounds and maybe 10 inches off my waist. I’m no proffessional, but I think I’m on the right track – do you? Also, based on my exercise plan, how long do you think it will take to reach my goal? Thanks!

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