Your levels of muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrate) are low early in the morning before you eat. 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?
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 ride your bike 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 ride, you can burn a greater proportion of fat relative to carbohydrate. You can find out more information about how to become “bonk-proof” and burn more fat while out on rides in this article.
Early morning riding creates an “afterburn” effect. When you ride your bicycle in the morning, you not only burn fat during the session, but you also continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate after the ride. This is because your morning cycling ride can keep your metabolism elevated for hours after the session is over. If you do your riding cardio at night, you will still burn fat during the session, so you definitely benefit from it.
However, night-time riding fails to take advantage of the “afterburn” effect because your metabolism drops as soon as you go to sleep. Note: This is a really good reason not to eat a carbohydrate meal in the evening. While you sleep, your metabolic rate is slower than at any other time of the day.
Burning fat isn’t the only reason you should ride your bicycle in the morning. So, you say you’re not a morning person? Remember, the effort is worth the results. Make a commitment to yourself to do it for just 21 days. Once those 21 days have gone by, you’ll already be leaner and you’ll be on your way to making morning workouts a habit that’s as natural as brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
Once you start getting used to feeling that buzz, you’ll become “positively addicted” to it. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. Before you know it, that early morning ride will have you leaned-up in no time and you’ll feel fantastic all day long!
We have put together the Leaner Cyclist program that helps you to improve your cycling performance, and lift your FTP and your metabolic efficiency. We offer simple and healthy eating plans and recipes, combined with time efficient structured training programs that work together, so you get the results faster.
One of the great benefits of the Leaner Cyclists program is that it also helps you quickly get to your ideal and your absolute minimum cycling body weight. Being a metabolically efficient cyclist helps you burn more fat while out riding.
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