Benefits Of Cardio On An Empty Stomach

Doing cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach helps burn more fat. So skip breakfast and watch the fat melt off.

Many athletes and trainers have long debated the question of whether doing cardio on an empty stomach is beneficial to fat loss. The answer is yes. A study published in Muscle & Fitness Hers compared the effects of meal timing on the amount of fat and carbohydrates burned and have found that athletes who perform cardio on an empty stomach do get a fat-burning boost.

Research on Morning Cardio

The study compared two groups of people. One group did not eat before performing cardiovascular exercise. The other group ate a pre-workout meal. Researchers found that the former group burned more fat during their workout than the group who did eat before exercising. This proves that doing cardio on an empty stomach in the morning gives athletes and those trying to lose weight a significant advantage when it comes to burning off fat.

Why Cardio on an Empty Stomach Works

In the early morning, levels of muscle and liver glycogen are lower because of overnight fasting. This depleted amount of glycogen and lowered blood sugar levels are the ideal factors for burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Glycogen is reserved carbohydrates and the body’s primary source of energy. So when these levels are low, the body moves on to the secondary source of energy, which is fat.

Morning cardio on an empty stomach is also beneficial because of the afterburn effect. After a cardio session, exercisers will continue to burn fat because of an elevated metabolism that continues throughout the day. Doing cardio at night will only cause an elevated metabolism until the time an athlete goes to sleep, when the metabolism rate drops significantly.

Not to be diminished is the mental benefit morning cardio provides. Starting the day by tackling a difficult task, like vigorous activity, provides a feeling of accomplishment that can help exercisers stay positive and motivated to continue their healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of the day.

Eating Before Training

There are some people, who, despite the proven benefits, just cannot stomach a training session without having some fuel in them. Don’t despair. The study showed that the group that had the pre-workout meal did continue to burn more fat than the fasting group two hours after the end of their exercise session. So upfront fat burn isn’t as great, but long-term fat burn is better for those that do eat before training.

Another option for those who can’t do cardio on an empty stomach is to do cardio after weight training. Lifting weights burns carbs so the body will then have low stores of glycogen at the end of a weight training session. Doing cardio at this point mimics morning cardio on an empty stomach because the body will eat through the depleted glycogen as energy and then move on to fat as the reserve energy source.