Early morning is the only time some of us are able to squeeze a workout into a very busy day of work, child care, or both!
And if you’ve ever thought of exercising in the early morning hours, you likely have a few questions like these:
Should I eat breakfast before working out?
How long after waking do I have to wait before beginning my morning workout?
Will I burn more fat I exercise in the morning?
Does working out in the morning help keep my metabolism running higher during the day?
Why I Try to Work Out in the Morning
I will be 100% honest here. I did not begin my fitness journey working out in the morning. In fact, I used to loathe morning workouts, and instead opt for working out whenever I found the time. Mornings were not when I felt at my peak.
Here is what my typical morning used to look like:
7 a.m. – Alarm went off and I would reset the alarm for 7:30am – not that I would always sleep within that time frame, but I just really liked to snuggle in the comfy sheets:) Then I would dress, start the coffee, brush my teeth, pour the coffee into a travel mug and be out the door by 8am.
I would then return home in the afternoon, have a snack, and begin my workout an hour later. This schedule did work for a while, but was far from optimal.
I noticed more and more that I was missing my afternoon workouts just because something came up – grocery shopping, telephone calls, car trouble, staying late at work, or I would just be too darn worn out from the long day to work out.
Now my mornings look like this:
6:15 a.m. – Alarm goes off, and I begin my morning routine. At 6:45am, I work out, then shower, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day.
Why did I decide to work out in the morning? There are no excuses… Seriously, there are no distractions when I work out in the morning, and more importantly, there are no excuses not to. I can’t be already running behind schedule, no one is calling, and everything is relatively serene (including the animals!) After that, I do not have to worry about when I will be able to do my workout, because I’ve already finished it, and I can just focus on reaching the rest of my day’s goals.
Why Exercising in the Morning so Difficult
It is not difficult to work out in the morning, you just have to get used to it. Yes, it can be extremely difficult when you first start out, but only after about one week of doing it, your body will begin to adapt – you just need to stick with it! It took me about two weeks to get used to exercise in the morning ,and it was really tough for me since I was not a morning person at all (still not really)! But that’s it – two weeks and now it’s a habit.
Should You Eat Breakfast Before You Work Out
There are two schools of thought when it comes to working out in the morning:
1.) Exercising during a fasted state will cause you to burn more calories (particularly your fat reserves since there is no recent carbs to digest) and will keep your body burning more calories throughout the day.
2.) You should have a small meal 30-60 minutes before working out to give your body energy enough to work out harder, hence burning more calories.
I’ve tried working out on an empty stomach and then tried eating a small snack, waiting an hour, and working out. For me, I found eating something before working out helped me put my best effort into my workouts or else I just did not have the energy to push my hardest and felt like my workouts were suffering.
If you do eat something before your morning workout, be careful not to eat too much or your body will put its energy into digesting the food you ate instead of allowing you to workout at peak performance. This can lead to major stomach upset and weight loss stagnation.
How Long Do You Need to Wait After Waking Before Exercising
If you eat before your morning workout, you are going to want to wait at least a half hour, preferably an hour, before beginning your workout after you eat. This will give your body enough time to digest, so all the blood isn’t going to your stomach during your workout to cause stomach upset, and you are not wasting all your energy only to digest the food you just ate.
If you intend on exercising in a fasted state, then you can begin your morning workout whenever you are ready to go. I find that I need about thirty minutes to feel awake enough to work out, but this time gets less and less as time goes by.
Does Exercising in the Morning Help the Body Burn More Fat
To answer the question “does the body burn more fat in the morning when working out on empty stomach?” is difficult. It’s hard to answer because this question has been debated by thousands of fitness professionals, and clinical studies have even been done on the subject, yet we still do not have a conclusive answer to this question. The common belief is that you burn more of your fat reserves when you’re not burning off the food you’ve just eaten, and then there’s the idea of revving up your metabolism first thing in the morning, making your body more of a fat-burning machine the rest of the day.
Morning Pre-Workout Meals
When eating prior to your morning workout, you do not want to have a big breakfast unless you are able to wait 90 minutes before starting your workout. A small snack is a much better idea, and what you decide to eat will greatly depend on your goals.
If your main goal is weight loss, you will want a fuel source to help keep your lean muscle while burning body fat. A serving of whey protein will help reduce muscle breakdown that can occur during your workout.
If you are closer to your goal weight and want to get the best performance from your workout, then I recommend adding about twenty grams of simple carbs to your pre-workout snack. A small banana, Gatorade or coconut water will do the trick. The extra carbs will elevate your blood sugar levels, helping you exercise at your max ability.
My Morning Pre-Workout Snack
1 small banana
I have the above first thing after getting out of bed, then I workout about 30 to 45 minutes later. I suggest you experiment with what is most convenient and works best for you.
What Studies Have Shown About Working Out in the Morning
The biggest benefit I have come across when doing research about the best time to workout is – people who workout in the morning are MUCH MORE LIKELY to still be following an exercise program a year later than people who work out later in the day! If that’s not enough to get you up an hour earlier every morning to help you reach your health and fitness goals, then I don’t know what will be?!