I have recently been trying to begin my day with 30-45 minutes of cardio prior to eating a meal in an effort to shed some body fat quickly. Once I commit to a new exercise routine and modify my eating habits, I usually see rapid results, with the first few pounds just melting away. Then like most, I seem to plateau with my results so I decided to figure out the science behind my efforts.
Losing weight is a simple concept: "burn more than you take in." Follow this and you will inevitably lose weight but to maximize those results you want to be sure that what you're doing and how your doing it always has a clear purpose. My goal is to lose some body fat, so I needed to be sure that my exercises were geared towards that. Enter: exercising in the morning.
When we sleep, our body uses carbohydrates (energy) we've stored all day for performing various functions that happen while we sleep. Exercising in the morning prior to eating forces our body to burn body fat for energy rather than stored carbohydrates because our bodies already used our carb supply overnight. So as far as fat burning is concerned, my pre-workout meal that was full of carbohydrates was sabotaging my efforts. Essentially I was working out only to burn what I had just put in. This was sort of another "A-ha" moment for me because it is such a simple concept yet I had never thought about it before. Brilliant!
More benefits of working out in the morning include:
- Increasing your metabolism for the rest of the day, giving you a great shot of capturing some effects of "afterburn".
- Studies have shown that people who exercise in the a.m. are more likely to stick with their fitness goals.
- An added commitment to healthy eating habits. Trust me, you are less likely to grab that muffin at work if you just paid your dues to your treadmill.
- Increased energy!!!!! The #1 benefit for me :)
- A positive mood. Exercise makes you feel good mentally and physically which will carry throughout your day.
- The option to take advantage of your already increased metabolism by adding another workout during the day or evening.
You can apply this same concept while working out during the day. I have now switched the order of my strength training and cardio sessions in an effort to capture results. I used to run for about 20-30 mins and then hit the machines/free weights for a 25-30 min session. Using the same principals as mentioned before means that my body was using the carbs it had stored from my meals for my cardio session, rather than burning stored body fat as a fuel. Lifting weights is anaerobic (carbohydrate burning) activity by nature, so why was I weight lifting after I had just burned all the carbohydrates my body was storing during my cardio session?!?!?! Now I strength train first so my body uses its stored carbohydrates as energy and then I do my cardio, which will then target my body fat as fuel since the stored carbs have all been used. Again, brilliant!
My current (fat burning) exercise regime is as follows:
On days that I'm only doing cardio, usually 2 times per week, I take advantage of this optimal fat burning time and hit the treadmill for 45 minutes to 1 hour first thing when I wake up and prior to eating a meal. On days that I'm incorporating weight and resistance training, usually 2 times times per week, I workout after work, beginning with my strength training and ending with a cardio session. I tend to skip the morning cardio session on these days. I also workout with a trainer 2 days a week and on these days I run in the morning for about 30 minutes (prior to eating) and then attend his class in the evening.
I know that mornings are busy and sleep is precious, but the benefits are addicting! I can tell you that I throughly enjoy my "me time" prior to getting my ladies up and ready for school and I have come to look forward to every minute of my morning ritual. I know that motivation is lacking during these dark cold mornings, but creating the habit now will ensure you get to enjoy the beautiful spring/summer morning workouts that will follow.
I challenge you to give it a try for one week and report back to me on the results!
My next post will include a perfect post-workout meal. Stay tuned!!
Thanks for stopping by,
Peace and Love,
*Please consult with your doctor before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking supplements of any kind. Any information obtained should not be used as a substitute for your doctors advice or treatment.