Let’s face it, I have never been a morning person.
Of course, I have to get up to go work, but even that is a struggle every morning.
So when my fitness trainer told me that I needed to add pre-breakfast, fasted cardio to my
fitness plan, I balked.
I am just super-sleepy in the morning and the lethargic feel hangs over me like a weight
for quite a while.
I can barely get washed and dressed for work without a cup of coffee or green tea, so the
thought of having to jump up and down without an energy-boosting meal seemed totally
But I have finally seen the light!
My Ah-Ha Moment!
After weeks of total body resistance training sessions interspersed with cardio exercise on
alternate days, I was not getting the results I had anticipated.
Not only had I not lost weight or body fat, I was not building muscle–in fact, my stats indicated
that I was losing muscle and gaining a couple of pounds.
This news was pretty disappointing but I tried to take it in stride and continue my workouts.
I really thought I was exercising properly and eating a good healthy, whole food, plant-based diet.
But Tre, my trainer, continued to insist that the missing link to faster results was morning cardio–
and I was not doing that.
“Every time I met with my trainer,
he would ask me if I had worked
out before breakfast that day.”
Every time I met with my trainer, he would ask me if I had done my morning cardio exercises
before breakfast that day.
And each time I had to admit that I just couldn’t bring myself to exercise in the morning before
I woke, fueled up and felt energized!
I guess I was just being lazy–and essentially giving in to years of morning sluggishness.
But now I knew it was time to make a major change in my routine.
I realized that I needed to push myself much more if I wanted to shake up my sleepy metabolism,
stimulate weight and fat loss and build more muscle.
No pain, no gain, right?
Like many of us, I guess I just needed expert evidence and sound reasons to support the theory
that morning fasted cardio was an effective fitness strategy.
I needed to know why!
“Morning exercise has more benefits
than simply getting it out of the way–
it actually kick-starts your metabolism.”
First, some compelling points from an article on the benefits of being a morning person peaked
“Morning exercise has more benefits than simply getting it out of the way–it actually kick-starts
When you do a vigorous session in the morning, your metabolism is raised post-exercise for up
to 12 hours, which is going to make you more efficient at utilizing stored fat.
At night your metabolism drops, so you are not going to gain the same benefits you would expect
to achieve exercising at night as you would in the morning.”
Okay, I got that.
It made perfect sense to me.
Knowledge is power, so I did more research on this topic and here’s what else I learned:
Research Findings: Benefits of Fasted Cardio
suggested that exercising in the morning, before eating, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of
excess eating and drinking.
The study results confirmed that “fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate
adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during
hyper-caloric fat-rich diet. It seems that exercising in a fasted state before breakfast coaxes the
body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during vigorous exercise, instead of relying
primarily on carbohydrates. When you burn fat, you obviously don’t store it in your muscles.”
(Wow, I thought, does that mean I can drink wine and eat chips with my girlfriends and just
burn it off in the morning?)
“By raising growth hormone levels during
a mini workout in the morning, and then
following your regular routine later in the
day, you may increase your ability to
shed fat 24-hours per day.”
What’s more, according to Metabolic Mayhem:
“When you exercise on an empty stomach not only do you burn more calories from fat during the
exercise itself, but by raising growth hormone levels during a mini workout in the morning, and
then following your regular routine later in the day, you may increase your ability to shed fat
24-hours per day.”
It is important to note that there is a downside to pre-breakfast cardio.
When you exercise in the morning,
you should target about 60%
of your VO2max.
At that level, the amount of cortisol
in your blood is relatively steady,
with a short bout of moderate exercise.”
It seems that too much exercise can cause a spike in a fat stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol helps maintain blood sugar by breaking down everything, including proteins.
So,as far as intensity is concerned, you should target about 60% of your VO2max.
At 60% VO2max, the amount of cortisol in your blood is relatively steady, especially with
a short bout of exercise.
The sweet spot seems to be 10 to 15 minutes of moderately intense exercise for maximizing
fat loss and minimizing muscle loss on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
The point of this is simple, if you don’t keep your hormones in harmony, you could be defeating the
purpose of the exercise.
“The sweet spot seems to be 10 to 15 minutes
of moderately intense exercise for maximizing
fat loss and minimizing muscle loss on an empty
stomach first thing in the morning.”
Get the Picture?
By now, it’s clear that morning exercise can help shed fat.
We learned that exercise itself appears to raise growth hormone levels, especially in a
Plus, by adding in a short cardio workout in the morning, you may increase your body’s
growth hormone levels throughout the entire 24-hour day.
That means you may even increase your body’s fat burning ability while you sleep!
Fasted training helps to ensure that carbs, protein, and fats go to the right places in the body and are
stored only minimally as body fat .
In short, exercising on an empty stomach has been shown to be especially great for fat loss.
The fitness experts at Livestrong concur that exercising after an overnight fast increases the
rate of fat metabolism compared with exercising after a meal:
“Exercising in the fasted state can increase
the reliance on fat as a fuel source resulting
in greater rates of fat burn during exercise.”
Training repeatedly in the fasted state has also been shown to positively impact body composition.
I’m convinced, are you?
So, let’s get moving….
Check Out These Fasted Cardio Videos
In this video, Rob Riches answers the question what to do for a good morning cardio workout.
He demonstrates how to do early morning fasted cardio workout in the gym.
Rob Riches takes us to the gym to do an early morning fasted cardio routine, giving you some
practical tips to enhance intensity and effectiveness.
This video demonsrates how to do an at-home “Fasted” Cardio workout routine
without any equipment.
You will do 30 second sets of 10 different exercises.
This will take you 5 minutes total.
After a short break of 30 seconds begin again.
Try to repeat the 10 exercise circuit around 6 times.
If you want to do more or less, that’s up to you.
A Fitness Expert on Fasted Cardio
In this helpful video, Dr. Phoenyx clears up some of the confusion and explains the reasons why
fasted cardio is a faster way to burn body fat.
Ready to Rise and Shine?
You can easily improvise your own routine with a few cardio exercises in your living room
such as running in place, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees and burpees.
I finally realized that the most important thing is to “just jump out of bed and do it”!
I’ll keep you posted on my progress in the coming weeks.
Do you exercise on an empty stomach in the morning before breakfast?
What kinds of exercises do you do?
What tips or suggestions would you like to add to this discussion?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.