Tag Archives: morning exercise

Is AM Fasted Cardio for You?

18 Mar

early-morning-workout-tips-300x200[1]I’m a fan of morning workouts.  I think they’re the best, and there’s a lot of scientific research to support the benefits of morning exercise.  AM training sets the tone for your entire day — physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Exercising in the morning just feels good.

And, for our athletes whose goals include strength, speed, and power development, I recommend never training on an empty stomach (as is supported by the scientific literature).

But what if your exercise goals involve weight/fat loss?

There is a debate among exercise science cognoscenti as to whether or not to consume carbohydrates prior to fat-burning exercise.  In other words, should you do morning training on a fasted (empty) stomach or after breakfast?

During cardiovascular exercise, a significant portion of your energy production comes from burning fat. When your diet is higher in protein and fat, your muscle adapts by more effectively utilizing fat and sparing muscle glycogen (the stored form of glucose). Additionally, cardiovascular exercise improves your muscle’s ability to use fat for energy while sparing breakdown of muscle protein. The percentage of carbs used during cardiovascular exercise increases when your diet is high in carbs.

After a night of sleep, fat is available for energy because liver glycogen stores are somewhat depleted by the overnight fast. This means there is less available glucose to burn as fuel and your muscle goes to other sources of fuel — fat or muscle. During cardiovascular exercise, fat is released from stores, resulting in more fat to be available for working muscles. If a carb-rich meal is consumed prior to the workout, glucose becomes the preferred energy source and fat-moving enzymes are shut down by the rise in the hormone insulin, which facilitates conversion of absorbed glucose into stored fat and glycogen.

It is reasonable to infer that eating glucose (carbohydrates) prior to exercise intended to burn fat (i.e., cardiovascular exercise) is counterproductive. Research supports that fat burning is greater in a fasted state vs. a fed state and that fasted cardio improves the contribution of intramuscular fats used in energy production during cardiovascular training.

In other words, research supports that fat burning is greater in the fasted state than in the fed state.

Fasted training improves the muscle’s ability to burn fat more than similar exercise done with prior carb intake. Perhaps more crucial for the low-carb dieter, fasted-state cardio prevents the drop in blood glucose seen in exercise after a carb meal. This avoids the crash that can occur when training after eating sugars or carbs.

Please keep in mind that fasted cardio is just that: It only applies to cardiovascular exercise and not to high-intensity strength and power training.  Athletes who are training to improve performance should always eat prior to a workout, and never train on an empty stomach.

If you’re an athlete who wants to get stronger, faster, and more powerful, make sure you eat appropriately prior to training.

However, if your goal is to burn fat, give fasted morning cardio a try.


Your thoughts?

Kick-Start Your Day with a Morning Workout

21 Jan

earlymornig-475x320[1]Morning exercise boasts lots of beneficial effects. Starting your day with a workout improves your alertness, cognition, and focus; boosts your metabolism and revs your fat-burning engine; and may help you make smarter food choices for breakfast as well as other meals. Working out in the morning may also improve your quality of sleep. When you wake up earlier to exercise, you expend more energy throughout the day, which may tire you out more quickly and allow you to sleep more deeply at night.

Working out in the morning may mean having to wake up a little earlier to start your day. If you have a hard time getting out of bed for work or school, you may find it challenging to incorporate a workout into your morning routine. Give it a try…  see if morning exercise is right for you. Wake up 10 or 15 minutes earlier than your normal time and do some pushups, body-weight squats, and/or jumping jacks. You don’t need an hour workout to realize the benefits of morning exercise. Be realistic. As you settle into a routine, try to wake up a little earlier and extend your workout time. If you belong to a gym, you might even consider exercising there on your way to work.

Motivate Yourself for Morning Exercise

  • Find a workout partner.  There’s a good chance you’ll keep each other accountable and stick to the plan.
  • Prepare the night before.  Get all your workout gear and water bottle ready for the next morning.
  • Set a goal.  Lose a few pounds, fit into that old pair of jeans, get stronger.
  • Program your cell phone to wake you up with a pre-recorded inspirational message.
  • Go to bed early the night before your morning workout, and get a good night’s sleep so you feel well-rested in the morning.
  • Choose a consequence if you miss a morning workout.  Think of a self-imposed sanction that will help keep you accountable. (no social media for the rest of the day!)

Here’s a quick, challenging, and effective workout I found in Men’s Health magazine.  It’s called the “55” Workout.  Give it a try… here’s how!

  • Perform 10 pushups and 1 body-weight squat.
  • Without rest or pause (or as little as possible), perform 9 pushups and 2 squats.
  • Continue this same pattern (1 less pushup, 1 more squat) until your last set of 1 pushup and 10 squats.


Your thoughts?

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