Burn 20% More Fat by Exercising in the Morning?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

running in the morningWeight loss patients ask me all the time, “does it matter what time of day that I exercise?

I’m sure you have wondered if you will burn more body fat in the morning, or be able to boost the metabolism by exercising in the evening.

The short answer is no, I don’t believe it matters very much when you exercise.

However, there is an interesting new study featured below that perhaps suggests morning exercise before breakfast is best.

Less Calorie Burn in the Evening

morning-exerciseThere is some research out there that states you don’t burn as much fat if you exercise later in the day. New research from the British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants burned 20% more fat if they exercised in the morning before eating breakfast. The research even said that participants did not feel as hungry later in the day and did not consume excess calories.

This is just one research study, and there is conflicting evidence out there. Some research says that you will not perform as well in the morning on an empty stomach.

At Diet-Blog, we know that it is easy to feel the effects of hunger after a big morning workout!

Hungry After Exercise

OATMEALSTRAWBERRIESMany worry that if they exercise in the morning, they will feel hungrier during the day and end up overeating their calories. This happens quite often, but the key is to focus on eating balanced throughout the day.

If you have exercised in the morning, make sure to eat a balanced breakfast that includes a protein, carbohydrate, and small amount of healthy fat. A good example of this is oatmeal, fruit, and a boiled egg or some nuts.

Remember the Big Picture

This is just one study, and the more important thing to remember is the big picture. Exercise is key for weight loss. Burn more calories than you take in, be truthful about it, and the result is weight loss.

Listen to your body– Some people naturally are more motivated to exercise in the morning, mid-day, or evening. Exercising when you feel most motivated to do so, will help you push yourself farther.

But, when is the best time to exercise? Whenever it fits into your schedule. Just make sure to get in that exercise most days of the week! If you are more likely to stay consistent, you will see your results. So, get moving!

What time of day do you workout?

16 Comments

  1. David Bloom

    Waking up early for exercising is too difficult for me. I usually get very tired by the end of the day and I am not able to get up early even if I want to. I try to compensate by walking and taking stairs instead of lift. Please suggest some options to fix my schedule..

    Reply
  2. Pater Rolf Hermann Lingen

    I stand up at 6.15am and start the workout about 15min later. The workout takes quite exactly half an hour (six days a week).
    The workout consists of six exercises which alltogether take five minutes. This 5-min-set is repeated six times.

    Reply
  3. O.

    I’m actually trying this. Or at least trying to exercise within a few hours of waking. I am a night owl ( like I suddenly get a burst of energy at midnight) and I also wouldn’t find excuses not to exercise if it was the last thing to do that day. But I decided to make an effort to exercise earlier.

    Reply
  4. Pater Rolf Hermann Lingen

    I stand up at 6.15am and start the workout about 15min later. The workout takes quite exactly half an hour (six days a week).
    The workout consists of six exercises which alltogether take five minutes. This 5-min-set is repeated six times.

    Reply
  5. archael2

    I need to diet but I have IBS, I am usually way too tired in the morning coz of undernutrition, etc. Any advice?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Just listen to your body and exercise when you feel able. It’s more important that you are moving than exactly what time of day you do move. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Dan

    I always ride my bike to work at 5 in the morning, unless it is raining. I will ride it even if it is cold and not raining. I then ride home after work about 2:30, but go a much longer distance than I did going to work. If it does rain, I ride a another bike on the trainer. Sometimes this can be boring, however. I do listen to the radio while I ride on the bicycle trainer. I would rather ride my bike to work, than ride the trainer. Perhaps it isn’t the time I ride, but it might be helpful to exercise twice a day. It is important to find something one enjoys and it can help if the exercise serves an additional function, such as exercise.

    Reply
    • Dan

      I made a mistake, the additional function I meant to mention was “transportation” as the last word in my posting.

      Reply
  7. Bethany Sanders

    Exercising after dinner keeps me awake at night, but I am not an early bird. I try for mid-afternoon (4-5 p.m.) I’d have to get up at 5:30 to exercise in the morning, and I just don’t think I could maintain that.

    Reply
  8. Ted

    I like to workout mid-day. I’ve also tried morning workouts and just don’t like them, I usually end up nauseous. So, I always believe people should listen to their bodies and do what works for them.

    Reply
  9. John B.

    The biggest problem is that in the morning, it is much harder to go out (especially in cold weather) and do something. On the other hand, it is better for blood circulation and as you say for the burning of fats too. I do some basic exercises sometimes, but the laziness is just too strong to overcome.
    What I really try to do is hiking weekends.

    Reply
  10. Amy

    I work out first thing in the morning every day – I’m not sure about burning more fat but my hunger for the rest of the day is always pretty much directly proportional to how hard I worked! If I skip a day I eat much less overall.

    The main benefits for me are not having all day to make excuses not to exercise, and feeling more energised for the day – on days I don’t have my morning gym session I feel sluggish and tired.

    Reply
    • Jim F

      I must admit, you do usually feel a lot better at work AFTER you’ve had some exercise.

      Reply
  11. Spectra

    I generally exercise as soon as I get up so that I get it done with and out of the way. Sometimes, I don’t get up early enough to do that and I end up working out later on in the day…it just depends on when it fits into my schedule. I don’t really know whether or not working out in the morning most of the time helps more, but it does seem to keep me on track and sets me up for making good decisions the rest of the day.

    However, I know lots of night owls who can’t work out in the morning for the life of them and they have to work out at night or they just won’t do it. In that case, I think it’s probably best to just do it when you can–exercise at night has to be better than none at all.

    Reply
    • Jim F

      Working out at night without failure gives me sleep problems. Any exercise after about 8pm means I cannot get to sleep until really late, and I end up feeling more tired in the mornings. Shows how we have individual tolerances.

      Reply
  12. Jim

    I tried this some years ago. It was hard to determine if it was more effective. For me, I found that I hated morning exercise like nothing else, and for that reason, I stopped after about 3 weeks.

    As stated, the popular belief, is that morning workouts set you up for an increased metabolic burn all day. I think the jury is still out.

    Reply