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TheDispatchDuke 08-12-2010 04:42 PM

Cardio in The Morning Before Breakfast or At Night After Dinner?
I have heard conflicting views on this subject and I have done it both ways.

The rundown is this: Doing cardiovascular activity before eating burns what the body has stored. Doing the activity after the day's food and after dinner burns calories put on during the day eating the food. So it sounds like there's no particular benefit to either one. To me, it seems like they cancel each other out. But i'm no fitness expert.

Another thing that I have contemplated that doing exercises on an empty stomach might force your body to use up muscle mass. Which isn't good for anybody who's trying to gain lean muscle.

But, I may be wrong. If anyone here knows anything about this topic, please let me know. There might not be a definitive answer but any information would be greatly appreciated.

simonladen 08-12-2010 05:08 PM

I think as long as you are working out sometime during the day, thats the biggest thing. In all honesty, I bet there is probably <%5 difference youd see in 1 year either way you try it. As far as trying to figure it all out, I have heard a couple things.

First, burning fat takes oxygen. For me I workout in the evening and burn my dinner as you say. I sleep at night and hopefully burn some fat that I have stored up since I am doing little else and my body is getting plenty of oxygen.
Second, I have heard that if you are looking to build muscle, you should work out at night instead of in the morning. I think a California school did a study where it showed a 10% ish increase in muscle weight from those who worked out in the evening vs the morning. Im not sure how you could get all of the baselines to match up since every person is different but there it is.

Either way, Im sure people have heard different things to back up there views since there really is no consensus.

smooshmcsmeesh 08-12-2010 05:18 PM

I am not, nor have I ever been, a 'morning person'. So I have been getting my exercise in mostly in the afternoon/evenings... sometimes as late as 8pm or 9pm. I'm just happy to be moving again, and I know the effects will be positive for me regardless of the time of day I work out. The main thing is to do it -- and make it convenient & fun for yourself so that it becomes a sustainable habit.

Move it AND lose it! :D

almeeker 08-12-2010 06:23 PM

I am a morning person, and given the average day in my life, that workout has to be finished by 7:30am if it's going to happen at all. It still kills me to get it started, but most days I'm in my workout clothes and starting to sweat by 6:00am, 6:30 at the very latest. I have a banana or an orange and maybe a cup of coffee before I get started, so I'm not starving through it and then I eat a high protein breakfast once I'm done. Afterward I have that workout high almost all day long and frequently skip that second cup of coffee my brain is just sure it needs, and I sleep great at night too. The biggest problem I have with that workout schedule is when I skip it, it's like I never get fully awake and spend the entire day dragging my sorry sleepy dopey fanny around wishing I could jump on a stationary bike and wake myself up.

CoeyCoey 08-12-2010 06:35 PM

Hi Duke,

I also agree that I don't think it will make much of a difference and it all evens out over the course of the day. However, when you work out in the morning, you are likely to have more energy and workout harder, thus burning more calories. Also, it might give your more energy throughout the day to burn more calories as well.

Some people find they don't sleep as well if they work out in the evening. Others find they sleep better.

But like Simon said, it is probably less than 5%.

rpmcduff 08-12-2010 06:39 PM

Originally Posted by smooshmcsmeesh (Post 18442)
The main thing is to do it -- and make it convenient & fun for yourself so that it becomes a sustainable habit.
Move it AND lose it! :D

I agree with smoosh; It is more important to just do it rather than when you do it.

The reasoning behind doing cardio in the morning is that your glycogen (used by your muscles for energy) supply is lowest first thing in the morning. When you do cardio you use up any remaining supply and your body must convert fat stores into glycogen. I have read a study that found that participants doing cardio in the morning lost more weight than participants who performed cardio later in the day, but it was not a huge difference.

In bodybuilding circles performing cardio is always recommended after weight training. This allows maximum effort to be expended during weight training and thus maximizes strength and mass gains. To avoid catabolism, (muscle loss) many bodybuilders will have a protein shake and some simple carbs shortly after their workout.

I have tried morning cardio and disliked it for several reasons. If you so cardio outside then in the winter it is still dark out. I enjoy being out in the sun and fresh air, not so much the cold and dark. I usually do my cardio in the evening before supper as this is what works for me and my schedule.

midwestj 08-12-2010 07:15 PM

I don't think there is any magic formula on when to exercise. Its a simple equation calories in < calories burned = weight loss. Most nutrition experts and personal trainers will echo this.

To me working out in the morning on an empty stomach would not be ideal, I would have no energy to do the workout with any kind of intensity.

Especially if you are going to lift weights or body build like rpmcduff noted, you will need fuel before and after. I eat 1 hour before weight training, and immediately after when I get home.

I'm also not 100% sure on this but I think your body more readily feeds on your fat stores during a resting period rather than during exercise.

sw07 08-12-2010 08:51 PM

I prefer AM cardio, usually before work I'll try to run 1.5-3 miles every other day.
This seems to get my metabolism going because once I get to work, i'm sitting for 7-8 hrs.
I'll also walk my dogs after work and that's usually good for another mile or so.

CoeyCoey 08-12-2010 09:48 PM

Originally Posted by midwestj (Post 18461)
Its a simple equation calories in < calories burned = weight loss. Most nutrition experts and personal trainers will echo this.

I know this is the common myth but it has been debunked for many many years.

Protein requires more energy to metabolize than carbohydrates which require more energy to metabolize than fat.

Calorie restriction slows metabolism, so you burn less the less you consume.

60%-100% of the fiber calories we ingest are not absorbed. This figure is thought to be dependent on the flora in the gut of people.

Calories in foods with more micronutrients provide the body with the nutrients it needs to regulate bodily functions, including metabolism. People who eat foods with few micronutrients will crave more macronutrients because they are essentially starving themselves of the micronutrients. The Standard American Diet is very low in micronutrients.

So, one calorie may not be the same as another calorie.

missfitt42 08-12-2010 09:49 PM

I think it's splitting hairs as to which one is better. But truthfully, in my life and I'm sure many others, we gotta workout when the hour (or two) presents itself. During the summer when I am with kids 24/7, I grab it when I can. In the winter I can schedule it better and I prefer working out between 9-11am. I prefer working out after eating because I noticed that my muscles ache when I workout on an empty stomach. The body + weight loss connection is so individual I don't think there can be a one answer is best for everyone.

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