Is it better to do cardio in the morning or at night?
First off, let me begin that there’s no “best” time to do cardio. Yes, physiologically, there are a few factors that impact the results that it will have on your body such as time of day, food intake, time done before/after your workout and personal capabilities, but in the end the most important thing is for you to just get it done.
Lets go over some of the more frequently asked questions.
Should I do cardio in the morning?
In the morning, your glycogen levels (your body’s source of energy) are at their lowest. This means your body will use its fat stores as energy, hence burning fat. Does this mean that everyone should do cardio in the morning? NO!
For starters, energy levels are low in the morning, so attempting to get on the treadmill as soon as you wake up may not be a good idea if you aren’t a morning person. If you are however, working out at 65-70% of your max heart rate can be very beneficial. Another reason why morning cardio can be favorable is because your body’s metabolism is higher in the day as oppose to the evening so your “net” caloric expenditure will be higher. Many experts also believe that if you are to do cardio in the morning, to not do it completely fasted. A good idea would be to have a protein shake consisting of 20-30 grams of whey isolate protein 20 minutes before you begin. After a cardio session, protein breakdown in your body rises. Ensuring you have protein before will help spare muscle tissue that may otherwise be lost.
Having a protein shake is even more important for those that perform HIIT (High intensity interval training) in the morning. Since HIIT is much more intense and forces your body to use its glycogen stores, making sure you have a protein shake and small fruit about 30 minutes before your cardio session will protect your body from turning to its muscle stores for energy.
Should Cardio be done before or after your workouts?
- Cardio before your workouts makes no sense at all. I’m all for a 5-10 minute warm up, but if you decide to perform cardio for 30 minutes and then hit the weights expecting to get a good workout, you got something else coming. Depleting glycogen stores before your workout will only leave you drained and not being able to lift much. This also applies to women. Many women are scared to “bulk” up so they don’t necessarily mind not lifting as heavy. Remember this – the more muscle your body has, the more calories it burns throughout the day. If you want to lose weight, don’t skimp out on the weights.
- Cardio after your workouts isn’t the greatest idea ever, but isn’t the worst either. If you are to do cardio at the end of your workouts, make sure you keep the intensity to about 65-75% of your max heart rate. At this point, there’s a good chance that your glycogen stores are depleted, so you want to make sure your body is tapping into its fat stores for fuel.
Ideally, try to get your cardio sessions done on separate days altogether. This way you don’t have to worry about nutrition manipulation and/ or energy levels. If you’re a morning person, a good idea would be to get it over with in the morning. This way you can be sure that your metabolism will be elevated significantly throughout the day. If not, then an evening session will suffice. Like I said earlier, any cardio is better than none. Just listen to your body to make sure you aren’t hindering your results.