There is a persistent myth that doing cardio early in the morning, especially on an empty stomach, will help you lose weight faster. This technique is sometimes referred to as “fasted cardio”. It’s true that cardio is an important part of any exercise regime, and it certainly will help you lose weight. But there is no reliable evidence to suggest that doing cardio on an empty stomach is going to help you lose weight faster, or that it’s good for your body.
When you work out on an empty stomach, your energy level will be low and you will not be able to train with much intensity. As a result, you will not derive as much benefit from your cardio routine as you would if you had something to eat first. At the other end of the scale, so to speak, most people do not enjoy working out on a full stomach. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid eating a big meal before your morning cardio session. You might want to consider having part of your breakfast beforehand, and the rest afterward. For example, you could have a low-calorie protein shake and a banan before your workout and an egg and some fresh fruit after it’s over.
A related question I am often asked is “What is the best time to work out?” The answer is that it depends on you and your schedule. Are you a morning person? Do you like to get up and get going? Then morning is a great time for you to work out. Do you struggle to get out of bed? Are you habitually tired and sleepy? Then you might get more out of your workout later in the day. The most important thing is to establish a time when you can be committed to your workouts. Having a personal trainer will help motivate you to be consistent.
Some people have complicated schedules and need to be at work early on certain days, but not others. In this situation, you might have to be flexible and adjust your workouts to mesh with your other responsibilities. For example, you could do your morning cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and train on other days. Again, a personal trainer will help design your workout schedule so it fits in with the rest of your life in such a way that you can obtain the best results.
Some people enjoy working out twice a day, during the morning and evening hours. You could do cardio in the morning and lift weights or do circuit training later in the day. However, even if your main cardio workout is in the morning you will probably want to warm up with a short cardio workout before you train during your afternoon or evening session.
If you are interested in a reading a more technical explanation of why fasted cardio may not be the most effective way to lose weight, see this article by Dr. Layne Norton.