Seven reasons for exercise before breakfast

Seven reasons for exercise before breakfast

With the days starting to get longer (in the southern hemisphere anyway), I thought it would be a good time to revisit the issue of the best time of the day to exercise. I also get questions about whether you should eat breakfast before exercising so I’ll give some information on that as well.

The best time of the day to exercise is the time that is most convenient for you and you are most likely to do. There is no point trying to exercise at a time that just doesn’t suit your routine.

When I was competing in triathlons I used to exercise after work, however once my second son arrived getting out in the afternoon became too hard. (With just one I could take him with me in a running stroller but two didn’t fit.)

I tend to exercise mostly in the morning and I often recommend people give early morning exercise a try.

Here are some reasons morning is the best time to exercise.

1. Many people believe that early morning exercise before breakfast burns more body fat than after eating later in the day.  Although there is still some debate, the evidence is growing that doing aerobic or cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is good for fat loss. The argument is that after an overnight 8-12 hour fast, your body’s stores of glycogen are reduced and you burn more fat when glycogen levels are low.
Eating breakfast causes a release of insulin which interferes with the mobilization of body fat. Less insulin is present in the morning; so more body fat is burned when exercise is done in the morning.
There is less carbohydrate (glucose) in the bloodstream when you wake up after an overnight fast. With less glucose available, you are likely to burn more fat.

2. If you eat breakfast immediately before exercising, you have to burn off what you have just eaten first before tapping into stored body fat (and insulin is elevated after a meal.)

3. When you exercise in the morning, it raises your metabolism from it’s lowest and it stays elevated for a period of time after the workout is over. If you exercise in the evening, you burn calories during the session, but you don’t get the same advantage of the “afterburn” effect because your metabolic rate drops dramatically as soon as you go to sleep.

4. Morning exercise gives you a feeling of accomplishment and makes you more productive the rest of the day.
Morning exercise “energizes” you and “wakes you up” by turning off melatonin (the sleep hormone) and turning on serotonin (the feel good hormone).

5. There is some evidence that morning exercise may help regulate your appetite for the rest of the day. You’re also more likely to make better eating choices if you have already done your exercise for the day.

6. Your body’s circadian rhythm adjusts to morning routine, making it easier to wake up at the same time every day.
You’re less likely to skip your workout when it’s out of the way early. After work there are more demands likely to get in the way, like working back late or you just feel too tired or someone invites you for a drink!

7. You can always “make time” for exercise by setting your alarm a bit earlier in the morning.

Getting into the habit of morning exercise takes a while, and even then some mornings can be a bit of a struggle to get out of bed (especially when it is cold).  For all the reasons above, however, I recommend you give it a try.

For fat loss, fitness, lifestyle and mental health, early morning exercise is a good habit to develop.

Avatar for David Beard
David Beard
  • Avatar for James
    Posted at 13:09h, 20 July

    I much prefer exercising before work rather than after work. Sometimes it can be difficult to make myself get up early, but I find that placing my alarm over the other side of my bedroom (so I have to get out of bed to turn it off) works well.

    I typically feel more energetic during the day if I’ve exercised that morning, and it frees up my time during the evenings so I can catch up with friends.

    Thanks David!

  • Avatar for Adam
    Posted at 08:46h, 03 January

    Tried a 45 minute run on an empty stomach and loved the way I felt the rest of the day. I’m going to try a much earlier session tomorrow before work around 6AM. Hope I can get up not much of an early person. Thank you for the wonderful article I am convinced.