Bodybuilders have seen morning cardio burn as a true fat loss technique, but there was never a unanimous agreement about its effectiveness, especially in the scientific community.
The time of your cardio is not important to fat loss. There is a strong case that says fasted morning cardio has a possible advantage in the quest to get lean. The main arguments for the morning fast is that when you wake up from an 8-12 hour fast, your body’s supply of glycogen is low, so doing cardio will cause your body to use more fat because there is less glycogen in your body. They also say that eating causes a release of insulin that interferes with the movement of body fat, therefore in the morning there is less insulin so more body fat will be burned during cardio. It was also said that when doing cardio in the morning your metabolism stays elevated after the workout is over which is called the after burn.
There has been research done at Kansas State University that proves that fat is burned sooner when exercise is done when you are in a fasted state in the morning. Despite the facts that were just laid down, there are still doctors out there that can discredit this research saying that there is always studies that support every theory. There are some doctors that say it doesn’t matter if you workout on an empty stomach or not because your body stores fat in different places.
In terms of real world fat loss, Chris Aceto is a successful bodybuilder and nutritionist to some of the top pro body builders in the world and he believes that morning cardio is the best way to go. Even though this topic raises a lot of controversy here are some more benefits that can be gained is that you feel great all day by releasing endorphins and from this it energizes you. It also may help regulate your appetite for the rest of the day and also that it increases your metabolic rate for hours after your workout session is over. The most praised benefit from morning cardio is the rise in your metabolism because it effects the “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC as some doctors call it.
After a low intensity workout the amount of EPOC is so small that the impact on fat loss doesn’t matter. The point of this is that a slow walk on the treadmill will do nothing to increase your metabolism.
The best way to increase your EPOC is to increase the intensity of your workout. There has been a study that shown that the effects of a high intensity workout will add a lot to your day’s calorie usage. Of course weight training has a much higher magnitude of EPOC then aerobic training. The common concern about doing cardio in the fasted state is that if it is done at a high intensity there is the possibility of losing muscle. But don’t worry, there are ways to avoid losing muscle and the best way to do that is to not over do your aerobics.
Another way is to avoid doing cardio on an empty stomach for more than 30 minutes. Next you need to give your body the right nutritional support. The loss of muscle probably has more to do with a bad diet than excessive cardio. Just make sure you get the nutrients to sustain yourself for the rest of the day.
Thirdly, you should keep on training with heavy weights even if you’re in a fat loss phase. The notion that if you do high reps and low weights will help you get more cut is a mistake. One strategy that is used my body builders is to drink a protein shake or eat a protein only meal 30-60 minutes before working out in the morning. The reason for this is that protein without the carbohydrates will minimize the insulin response and allow your body to use fat while providing amino acids to prevent muscle breakdown.
In conclusion it looks like that morning cardio has enough benefits to motivate people to set their alarms early.