Rise and Shine! Reasons to Exercise Before Breakfast
Last updated: April 2022
For as long as I can remember my alarm clock has gone off long before sunrise.
You might be wondering: Why would I choose do to something so crazy?
My answer: I wake up in the wee hours of the morning to exercise. In my experience, I have come to learn that when I exercise before the start of my workday I often have a better day overall.
It turns out that fitting in an early morning workout (especially if it is done before breakfast) has several health benefits in comparison to working out later in the day.
Stick to the habit
There’s a good chance that if you exercise in the morning, you will be more likely to stick with the habit. Once your day begins a variety of distractions and/or obligations (work meetings, caring for a child or elderly relative, social events, etc.) can pull you in various directions making it more challenging to get to the gym for an evening exercise session.
Be better prepared to learn and focus
Exercise creates “an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn.”1
Morning exercise, in addition to priming the brain to learn, also helps improve focus for the entirety of the day.2 This can be especially helpful for surviving long work meetings and meeting pressing deadlines.
Improve your blood glucose control
For those of you with prediabetes or diabetes working out in the morning may help you to lower your blood sugar throughout the day. In a recent article written by Yardly and Coldberg, it was reported that, “performing exercise in the fasting state resulted in better postprandial glycemic profiles over the following 24 hours than exercise performed post breakfast.”3
Reduce risk of hypoglycemia
If your diabetes has progressed to the point of insulin dependence, you may be concerned about having a low blood glucose. As both exercise and insulin injections can result in hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). This may be of particular concern if you exercise in the late afternoon or early evening hours or if you exercise soon after taking an injection of rapid-acting insulin. By exercising in the morning, before breakfast, there may be a reduced risk for hypoglycemia (especially overnight) in comparison to afternoon/evening exercise.3
Lose more fat and reduce insulin resistance
Exercising before breakfast, in the fasted state, allows for greater fat breakdown. Breaking down more fat (losing fat) helps to improve insulin sensitivity.4
The increase in energy gained from early morning workout results in, “a natural decrease in energy throughout the day.”5 So when it’s time to go to bed, you are more likely to get to sleep faster and have a better night of rest.
Tips to get out of bed in the morning to exercise
If you are not accustomed to working out in the morning, I promise you it gets easier! Here are some of my tips for getting out of bed before the sun comes up:
- Set out your workout clothes for the night before
- Prep your coffee (if you can set a timer for your coffee to be ready when you wake up that’s even better)
- Recruit some friends to meet up with you for an early morning walk. This will help keep you (and your friends) accountable.
- Take a group fitness class. This will help eliminate the question: “What should I do at the gym today?”
- Set an alarm clock that requires you to get out of bed to turn it off. Getting out of bed is half the battle!
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?