One of the most prominent questions floating around about cardio is, “When is the best time to do cardio”. As a trainer, I try not to make too many rules for my clients BUT if they want to know my real advice and the BEST way to loose, doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is my preference. If they can’t work out on an empty stomach then I recommend they have a low carb protein shake to take the edge off, then consume their carbs when they get home (within 45 minutes).
We were trained through various certifications that calorie burning isn’t different depending upon if you’ve eat or not. So for many years I went off that principle. However, when I moved to the LA area, I would ask my fellow trainers what their take was on this common question. 3 out of 4 would always reply in favor of doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (if possible). This is also known as “Fasted Cardio.” These weren’t any trainers, these were trainers known for their amazing abs, low body fat, and occasionally their appearances on TV. I knew they had educated backgrounds and the results to back up the advice.
Now, Science is proving that this theory is actually true! The New York Times reported that doing exercise in a “Fasting state,” helps the body to burn off more fat and keep weight gain at bay, in comparison to other times during the day.
A study done in 2010, in Belgium, they used 3 groups to test this theory.
They convinced young healthy men to overeat for 6 weeks. They ate 30 percent more calories and 50 percent more fat then their usual intake. Group one didn’t exercise at all. Group two worked out mid morning after eating breakfast. Group three did the exact same routine as group two but they did it before eating anything.
When the study ended, group one (the sedentary group) gained an average of 6 pounds, developed insulin resistance and increased body fat. Group two, the group that exercised after eating breakfast had also packed on pounds. They gained an average of 3 pounds each and developed insulin problems. The final group, group 3 that had exercised before eating anything remained the same, with almost no weight gain. They also had no fluctuation in their insulin levels and were. Scientists said they also burned more fat through out the day then the other control groups, even with the increased fat intake and increased calories.
While this study isn’t exactly pointing towards weight loss. It demonstrates that even if you aren’t eating a healthy diet and you’re going over your calories and fat intake. You can still keep the weight off and keep insulin levels in check. Now look at the reverse, what if you DID follow a healthy eating plan (that wasn’t 30 percent high in calories and 50 percent higher in fat), think of how much you would lose!
The main thing to take away from this study is the INSULIN levels. Sure we all want to burn fat and calories, but insulin is one of the main things that make people gain weight. It’s also a key factor in belly fat.
If you have time, or you can make time, test this out. I know that since I started doing my cardio in the morning, before breakfast, it has decreased my body fat and weight dramatically. I have definition in places that I never had it before and my belly fat has decreased by over an inch.