Does early morning exercise really burn more fat?

This is a long standing statement that has been around the fitness world for a while. Advocated by many, with posts to prove the results they obtain from doing this.

There are many reasons why this statement simply is not true. Not for everyone.


For every study that says burning fat happens more easily when you exercise early in the morning before eating, there is another one that says the complete opposite. If you also were to take into consideration personality types and being consistent enough with the workouts in order to get long term fat and weight loss results (which many women are after), then this is also another aspect to consider when analysing the statement ‘workout in the morning on an empty stomach for better fat loss’.

Confused already?!

Most of us are when it comes to weight loss. Often we aren’t sure we are doing the ‘right thing’ for fat or weight loss and hop, skip and jump from one thing to another.


So let’s have a look on the positive side of working out early on in the morning on an empty stomach. It can…

1. It CAN Help improve your fitness performance.

Exercising when your carbohydrate levels are low, for example on an empty stomach early on in the morning, can actually help improve general workout performance. Basically with this one, when you train hard and your carb levels are low (or otherwise known as a glycogen-low state) it actually helps your body to become more efficient at burning fat. So, when you are carb high, and workout your body is primed and raring to go even more.


2. It CAN Elevate the afterburn for a decent part of our working day.

This comes down to your metabolic rate (or afterburn). When you workout, you elevate your metabolic rate, which is the rate that your body burns calories. If you workout in the morning, if you have done a HIIT training session your metabolic rate will be elevated for a while post workout. Hense – better fat loss over the course of the day. Learn more about this here.


3. It CAN No extra snacking and better fit with your lifestyle.

For many working out early doors can get your calorie burning out the way without distractions that happen later on in the day. If you need to be at work by 9am, it is a great deal easier to get to your workout before eating, as opposed to waking up, eating breakfast, waiting for it to digest and then working out. There are studies that have shown people snack less throughout the day, if they have done their workout in the morning.


But like I said, for every study and reason which shows training on an empty stomach early doors works best, there are other studies and reasons why it won’t.


So, let’s look at the flip-side of the statement. Working out on an empty stomach really early in the morning can do a few things…


4. You may NOT get the best workout.

Issues for many who try to workout very early in the mornings on an empty stomach is that without any fuel, you might not be working out as hard and as effective as you can. Having a pre workout snack that is a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats may just give you the energy needed to push yourself harder in class. In doing so, that little bit of fuel might be the difference in your session that is needed for you to be able to complete those HIIT workouts, which as this blog uncovers will positively affect your afterburn (or the amount of calories you will burn during and after your workout). People who are diabetic or have low blood sugar can also find it difficult to train early doors on an empty stomach.


5. There will be NO fat burning if you don’t even GET to your workout.

You need to take into account the rate of sustainability i.e., the rate at which you will actually attend your early morning workouts. If you cannot stick to them regularly and miss them, then there will be NO fat burning at all.

A really effective way of making sure you get the most out of your workouts is to think about timing your workouts around your tendency. If you are a lark (someone who loves mornings), scheduling your workout later on in the day can lead to a lot of mental energy on your part, almost reminding and motivating yourself to go to the workout, but scheduling your workout in the morning would be spot on. For owls (night lovers), scheduling your workout in the morning will more than likely see you skipping the workout or having to use up a lot of mental energy to keep consistent.

There is absolutely no point in scheduling your workouts in the morning if you are not a morning person. Timing workouts around this ‘fat loss’ statement is not going to help you attend them consistently, you will often miss workouts, and its not going to be fat burning effective if you don’t even get to the workout in the first place.


If you want better fat loss results from your workouts, then there are two things to remember:

  1. Schedule the workout at the time your body is most ready for the workout, and your mind. Use the owl or lark tendency.
  2. Make sure you workout hard in the sessions, and get the most out of the workout. HIIT training or a form of this can also help elevate your metabolic rate for longer post workout. You can read about this here.


Remember, it is better to workout and workout well, at a time that suits you, not merely because of the statement that early morning workouts burn more fat.

Whatever you do with scheduling your workouts you need to have an awareness of your tendency towards the time of day that you are most effective at working out at. Fat burning will only be long standing along with consistency of attending the workouts, and a good base nutritional plan.



Siobhan & the Beattitude Team