Is it better for fat loss to train first thing in the morning?
Is it better for fat loss to train in the morning (after fasting overnight) is not only a frequently asked question by clients but is also a hotly contested topic within the fitness industry itself. There are many people that strongly advocate training in a fasted state and others that argue that training in a fasted state hinders performance and therefore, reduces the amount of calories you will burn during this time. When should you train then, if you want to maximise fat loss?
Lets start by taking a brief look at the science behind the process and I will try to keep this as simple as possible. Those that advocate training in a fasted state do so because it has been shown to have a positive impact on our insulin sensitivity, something that is often not working sufficiently if you have been overweight, and this improvement will increase fat loss. It also has a positive impact on human growth hormone (HGH) and growth hormones help with building new muscle tissue, burning fat and improving bone quality and physical functions. However, many people argue that to see these benefits you have to train for over 90 minutes, which is one of the reasons that training in a fasted state is encouraged more amongst endurance athletes. There is also the issue that if you exercise in a fasted state then you are low in food and essentially low in fuel. Being low in fuel will mean that your energy output is decreased and you are unable to maximise any session and, of course, this will reduce fat loss.
To be honest, whilst both sides of this argument make convincing points, most research appears to demonstrate that no matter what side of the fence you sit on the difference it will make to fat loss is pretty minimal and will not be a key contributing factor to most people trying to lose weight. Frequency, intensity and consistency of exercise will still play a far bigger role in fat loss than time of day, as well as of course taking a good look at the food you eat!
I do recommend that my clients try to train in the morning, if possible, not to maximise fat loss but to maximise consistency! Training in the morning, before the day has really begun, means that we will not face as many distractions or barriers to working out. In the afternoon or evening, there are far more reasons why we may end up missing a workout! As well as convenience another key factor in deciding whether to train in a fasted stage (morning) or a fed state (an hour or so post meal) can come down to how each make you feel. On a personal level, I love training in the morning with an empty stomach as I do not feel it hinders my performance and I enjoy refuelling with a well earned breakfast.
This is just my personal preference and it is important that you try to train in both a fasted or fed state to see which you prefer. There are very few absolutes in health and fitness so you need to identify what works for you and stick to that. It is also worth remembering that science evolves all the time and it can be confusing and difficult to keep up with what is recommended, but the key factors of what drives results never really changes and regular exercise is always part of the equation, no matter what time of day it is!
The 4321 Method®