The Best Time to Do Cardio for Fat Loss

When looking to lose weight or body fat, one method is to use cardio. Cardio just refers to any type of cardiovascular training. It can be running, walking, biking, jogging, hiking, you name it. They all tax the cardiovascular system.

This is great for the heart, but how does it help you lose fat?

When we think about calories, we have to think about calories in versus calories out. If you are consuming more than you are burning, then you will gain weight. If you are burning more than you are putting in, then you will lose weight. It all comes down to that calorie balance.

We can use cardio as a way to burn more calories, thus, putting us closer to our desired balance. That’s it, it helps to burn more calories, simple.

Now, does the timing matter?


Some people do cardio in the morning, some do it in the evening. Some do it before workouts and some do it after.

Which one is best?


The Two Best Times

There are two really good times to do your cardio. Those are in the morning or immediately post workout. There’s reason behind this. Yes, doing cardio burns calories and that has a large effect on our total weight or fat lost. However, you might just be burning carbs.

When we consume carbs, it gets turned into glycogen within the body. There are some readily available stores, and a few others tucked away. When we perform physical activity and have tons of glycogen in our system, the body is going to choose that as a form of fuel. Great.

The body can also break down fat as a form of fuel, but it has a hard time getting to it. So, we can help the body access the fat for fuel by removing the glycogen from the equation.

When you perform your cardio first thing in the morning, and yes that means before you eat, there isn’t much in the body. Glycogen is low so the body immediately goes for the body fat as fuel. This allows you to be in more of a body fat burn mode.

Doing your cardio post workout has the same effect. You’ve used up most everything from the workout and now your body can pick from your body fat as fuel.

These are going to be the most optimal times for you to do cardio if you are looking to lose body fat.


The Worst Times to Do Cardio

There are also some not so great times to do cardio. This is going to include right before your workout. You want that glycogen and fuel for the actual workout portion, and if you spend it all on your cardio you won’t have a great workout. This makes this a sub-optimal time to get your cardio done.

I would also avoid doing a ton of cardio right before bed. This is due to the fact that running, or any type of cardio gets your body warmed up and moving. It can take some time for you to calm back down to a place of being able to sleep well. We all know that we need to prioritize your sleep to make sure you are losing fat and gaining muscle.

Will cardio at these times still yield some results? Yes. However, it won’t be the maximum or most optimal amount of fat lost. This can only be achieved if you are properly timing your cardio in the mornings or after your workouts.


In the End

Cardio is a super useful tool when it comes to losing body fat. It can help you to burn some extra calories that will lose to weight lost. Cardio also helps to find that stored fat and begin to burn it. This, however, can only happen when glycogen isn’t in the way.

We need to time our cardio appropriately if we are looking to optimize fat loss. The best times are going to be in the mornings or right after your workouts. The body will be able to access those fat stores as energy. The not-so-optimal times are before a workout or right before bed. These can still provide results, but not in the same amounts as the others.

At the end of the day, if you can’t get it in within those boundaries, you’re better off doing something rather than nothing. So, that may mean that your cardio gets done at a less-optimal time. This is okay! You can still make some great progress.