Maximum fat loss - the Best time for Cardio?

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Many people don't realize just how important a well timed cardiovascular program is when it comes to eliminating body fat. Whether it's early morning, late evening, the most important thing is that you just do it. Continuous cardiovascular exercise, such as running, walking, jogging, stair-climbing, or cycling, sustained for at least 30 minutes, will burn body fat no matter when you do it. However for the maximum benefits of fat loss you MUST ensure that you are performing your cardiovascular training first thing in the morning. You should consider getting up early and doing cardio before you eat your first meal - even if you're not a "morning person." Early morning aerobic exercise on an empty stomach has three major advantages over exercising later in the day.

 

Early in the morning before you eat, your levels of muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) are low. If you eat dinner at 7 p.m. and you eat breakfast at 7 a.m., that's 12 hours without food. During this 12-hour overnight fast, your levels of glycogen slowly decline to provide glucose for various bodily functions that go on even while you sleep. As a result, you wake up in the morning with depleted glycogen and lower blood sugar - the optimum environment for burning fat instead of carbohydrate. How much more fat you'll burn is uncertain, but some studies have suggested that up to 300% more fat is burned when cardio is done in a fasted, glycogen-depleted state. 

So how exactly does this work? It's quite simple, really. Carbohydrate (glycogen) is your body's primary and preferred energy source. When your primary fuel source is in short supply, this forces your body to tap into its secondary or reserve energy source; body fat. If you do cardio immediately after eating a meal, you'll still burn fat, but you'll burn less of it because you'll be burning off the carbohydrates you ate first. You always burn a combination of fat and carbohydrate for fuel, but depending on when you exercise, you can burn a greater proportion of fat relative to carbohydrate. If doing cardio first thing in the morning is not an option for you, then the second best time to do it would be immediately after weight training. Lifting weights is anaerobic (carbohydrate-burning) by nature, and therefore depletes muscle glycogen. That's why a post lifting cardio session has a similar effect as morning cardio on an empty stomach. The second benefit you'll get from early morning cardio sessions is what I call the "after burn" effect. When you do a cardio session in the morning, you not only burn fat during the session, but you also continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate after the workout. Why? Because an intense session of cardiovascular exercise can keep your metabolism elevated for hours after the session is over. If you do cardio at night, you will still burn fat during the session, so you definitely benefit from it. However, night time cardio fails to take advantage of the "after burn" effect because your metabolism drops like a ton of bricks as soon as you go to sleep. While you sleep, your metabolic rate is slower than any other time of the day.  

You might find it hard to wake up early in the morning and get motivated to workout. But think back for a moment to a time in your life when you tackled a difficult task and you finished it. Didn't you feel great afterwards? Completing any task, especially a physically challenging one, gives you a "buzz." When the task is exercise, the buzz is physiological and psychological. Physiologically, exercise releases endorphins in your body. Endorphins are opiate-like hormones hundreds of times more powerful than the strongest morphine. Endorphins create a natural "high" that makes you feel positively euphoric! Endorphins reduce stress, improve your mood, increase circulation and relieve pain. The "high" is partly psychological too.

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