Should I Do Cardio in the Morning on an Empty Stomach?


Effective cardiovascular activity for weight loss is controversial. Some people claim fat loss comes from long, slow and steady sessions while others will say that short, fast intervals will do the trick.

Another big issue trainers and fitness enthusiasts seem divided on, is whether or not you should do your cardio on an empty stomach, in the morning.

Why you should perform cardio on an empty stomach

When you burn calories by cardio exercise, you have to burn through your glycogen storage, before your body turns to fat for fuel. This takes about 20 minutes. The theory goes, that if you eat before you exercise, you will burn what you just ate and then start to burn the stored fat. So if you don’t eat before cardio exercise while your body is still fasting in the morning, you will be more likely to burn fat sooner.

Why you should not perform cardio on an empty stomach

Food gives your body the energy to perform the most purposeful exercise possible. If you can only run 10 minutes on an empty stomach but 20 with a bit of breakfast, you may want to consider eating something small before exercise. Food also helps to clear your head, wake you up and provide you with the balance and co-ordination necessary to perform a safe workout. If you find you are seeing spots, getting dizzy or exercise outdoors where you need to be aware, then you should eat before working out.

Bottom Line

As usual I see the pros and cons to all of the exercise theories. Personally, I don’t eat before I perform my cardio in the morning. This isn’t so much because I want maximum fat loss but because if I don’t do my cardio workout first thing in the morning, then it will be neglected. I’m also prone to cramping after eating or drinking and need to wait for the food to start digesting, Let’s face it, myself and many others don’t have all day to work out.

I usually work out inside and I feel energetic in the morning. I don’t get dizzy or feel groggy, so it’s never been a problem for me. I lost a lot of weight this way. So I feel the claims must have some truth to them.

On the other hand I have performed cardio in the evening and usually find I can run harder. Not so much longer, but faster. This is because I actually have glucose stores for the high intensity demands. So I have experienced the advantages to eating before cardio as well.

It all comes down to doing what’s right an what works for you. Everybody has different bodies and exercise preferences. Unlike eating before weight lifting, which is an absolute must for so many reasons, this is an issue that is flexible. Do what’s best for yourself and keep seeing those results!

Kaleena Lawless

Personal Training Specialist


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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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