Best Pre-Workout Fat Burning
By Alan E. Shugarman, M.S., R.D.
Burn more fat with morning exercise
I get asked all the time whether it is better to do cardio exercise in the morning or at night. My answer is that you burn the same amount of calories in the morning as the evening for the same amount of work. However, research indicates that the percentage of fat calories burned during morning exercise, on an empty stomach, is greater.
A study at Kansas State University looked at the kind of calories you burn while exercising in a fasted state as well as in a fed state. Eight physically fit individuals (aged 21-27 years) participated in the study. The results showed that you burn the same amount of calories in a fasted state as in a fed state. But those fasting prior to exercising burned a greater amount of fat than those who ate their last meal up to an hour and a half before exercising.
Other benefits to morning cardio include increased energy throughout the day and increased metabolism (calorie burning) during waking hours. In addition, research shows that people who train earlier in the day tend to stick with their exercise program. Those who work out later in the day can miss workouts due to daily distractions.
Exercise experts agree that getting exercise in general is far more important than the time of day you do it. While getting up early to do your cardio may help you burn more fat calories, evening cardio is also beneficial and should not be discounted. When you exercise in the evening, your metabolism still gets elevated, you burn fat, and your heart benefits too.Time your meals to burn more fat
Meal composition and timing can play a big role in your ability to burn body fat. Getting lean in a hurry is not only based on what you eat, but also depends on when you eat it. If you do your cardio in the morning, do it immediately upon waking, without eating. Take a before your cardio to help mobilize fat for energy. Research shows that caffeine can help you burn more body fat during exercise than without it by mobilizing fat for energy.
To maximize the benefits of cardio later in the day, you should time your meals and minimize simple carbohydrate consumption. Do your cardio 2-3 hours after your pre-workout meal. Make your pre-workout meal low in high glycemic carbs to minimize insulin spikes and to maximize fat burning. After your workout, try sticking to a relatively low glycemic meal. This will help keep the fat-burning hormones, like glucagon, elevated and fat-promoting hormones, like insulin, in check. Eating your last meal at least two hours before your cardio session and making sure that your pre- and post-workout meals are low glycemic will help you burn more calories from fat and keep your energy level from crashing.Minimize cardio to build
Low to moderate intensity cardio is best to build muscle while still promoting a healthy heart. Although cardio exercise is definitely beneficial for overall health, doing high intensity cardio 4-6 times per week is counter-productive to increasing muscle mass. If you do cardio while trying to build muscle, it should be done at a low intensity. Low intensity means walking, not running, keeping your heart rate around 60% of maximum range not 70 or 80%. Cardio burns excess calories, and if you're not careful, you will burn some muscle too.