Is Cardio at Night Before Going To Bed Better for Burning Fat?


question-icon-newWould I achieve the same level of progress in terms of burning body fat if I were to do 1 hour of cardio late in the evening between 9-10 pm before going to bed and have my last meal before 7 PM? Does it matter what time of the day cardio exercise should be done? Also, do you think I can shrink my spare tire around my waist with an aggressive running schedule of 6 days a week for an hour each session?

answer-icon-newWhen is the right time to do cardio? Is it in the morning, afternoon or at night? This is one question that we see asked quite often. Ultimately the answer may be selected more so by your body then by you. This is because everyone’s body reacts differently so some people who try to do cardio late at night experience trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep or even reports of waking up in the middle of the night in a sweat with heart palpitations (others report just the opposite). Some find that doing cardio late at night or in the evenings tired them out and put them in a great state to get a solid night of sleep.

From the perspective of fat burning, most would find that an evening workout can be just as effective as a brisk morning cardio session. But some would say that there are benefits to doing cardio at different times of the day. Some experts say that morning cardio on an empty stomach is the most effective way to burn fat. This is because your body has just fasted for 6 to 8 hours without food so it’s forced to pull from fat reserves to sustain the level of activity needed to put in a 30-60 minute cardio session. So, the argument made here is that thanks to glucose being used up while you sleep, body fat is ready to be utilized much more efficiently in the morning so it becomes the ideal time to burn off those extra fat reserves. If you end up doing cardio later in the day after eating a carbohydrate meal, your body will need to burn up those carbs (glycogen) before tapping into your fat reserves so it might take up to 30 minutes of cardio before you actually burn off all those carbs and start burning fat.

On the other hand, advocates of evening cardio will state that because the body is already “warmed up” thanks to the day’s activities, you will therefore notice a performance advantage versus doing cardio in the morning. It has also been stated that some evening cardio will help clear your mind and release tension from the day’s activities. However, late night exercise can delay sleep or potentially hinder you from getting a good nights sleep if you get too amped up during your workout. The one important key to remember with late night cardio is when you avoid eating any carbs post-workout. If you do 60 minutes of cardio a few hours after your last meal of the day, you might benefit greatly from a late session of cardio since your body will tap into your fat stores as you sleep. Just remember to avoid eating any carbs once you’re finished doing your cardio workout. You can eat some protein (egg whites, chicken breast) but avoid all starches (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes) and fruit once you are all finished in order to prime your body so it can tap directly into your fat stores and start burning up all that ugly adipose tissue!

As a side note, a study released by the Research Institute for Sports and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool indicated that individuals who suffer from high blood pressure are better off to delay strenuous exercise or cardio workouts until mid-to-late afternoon. They claim that working out early in the morning actually serves to increase blood pressure and this also happens to coincide with the time that a vast majority of life-threatening heart related events happen. Their studies also indicated that working out early in the morning does tend to burn more body fat than afternoon workouts but the body may also break down lean muscle tissue in order to provide additional glucose to your brain. If you want to perform cardio in the morning on an empty stomach, it’s always a good idea to drink a BCAA supplement (Branched Chain Amino Acids) which has zero calories and zero carbs so you can provide the key aminos your muscles need to fully recover and repair during your workout.

As to whether or not a one hour cardio routine carried out six times a week will be enough to remove the excess belly fat located around your midsection, we must look at a couple of different factors to determine this. There is no reason to think that a good one hour cardio workout that will burn 500 to 1,000 calories wouldn’t get the job done. However, we also should have an understanding about your caloric intake. A quick and easy way to figure out whether or not this would be affected is to realize that a pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. So as long as you’re burning more calories on a daily basis then you’re taking in, then you will lose weight and once you burn 3,500 calories more than you have taken in, you will have lost a pound of fat!

A running schedule of 6 days a week for an hour each session will absolutely provide great results in decreasing your waistline and overall body fat. However, running for 1 hour each session is not exactly easy. If you can handle it, more power to you since it’s probably the best overall cardio exercise for losing weight and burning body fat. Even if you do 30 minutes of jogging 6 times a week, you should see very good results. Just make sure not to go overboard and run too hard or too long and burn out too quick. Mix up your cardio and keep it fun. Maybe try 1-2 days of running, then 1-2 days of jumping rope and a few days of basketball. The key is to keep it interesting so you can do it day in and day out. Stick with your routine and follow the tips above to maximize your fat burning potential to achieve your goals of a lean and ripped stomach!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 175,000 ShapeFit subscribers who are receiving our free weekly fitness newsletter and learn how you can build more muscle, burn off body fat and get into the best shape of your life!
We hate spam! Your email address will never be sold or shared with anyone. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

About Author

ShapeFit is dedicated to providing health and fitness information to people so they can live a healthy lifestyle. ShapeFit has thousands of pages of fitness content with fun and interactive tools to help our visitors lose body fat, build lean muscle and increase their energy levels. We wish you great success in reaching your health and fitness goals!


    • ShapeFit

      Hi Rob – Not when you’re doing cardio since most carbs will spike insulin and when insulin is elevated, fat loss is almost impossible. After doing cardio at night, stick with lean protein foods and veggies (avoid starchy carbs). You can even drink a BCAA drink (branched chain amino acids) which will replenish important nutrients to your muscles.

        • ShapeFit

          Hi Deena – It would be better to have more protein and carbs after a weight lifting workout. Try to drink a whey protein shake (20-30 grams of protein) with 1/2 cup of oatmeal post-workout.

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Alexei – It totally depends on the amount of overall calories and carbs you take in during the day. If you do cardio at night and don’t eat after your workout then you will have a much better chance of tapping into your fat stores if your overall calorie and carbohydrate intake is not too high. If you are eating far too many calories than your body burns each day, then cardio at night is not going to help burn fat. This goes with eating too many carbs also. Remember, cardio is great for burning 200-500 calories per workout (depending on what type you’re doing) but you can’t “out-exercise” a bad diet. If you’re eating way too many unhealthy foods then all the cardio in the world won’t help much. However, if your diet is on-point and you’re eating clean then doing nightly cardio and then going to bed (no food after workout) then it can give you a nice little “kick” to help stimulate the fat burning process.

  1. Avatar

    I started a diet that consists of Quaker Oats, grapes, apples and sometimes eating a cup of rice once a day. Does jogging at night around 11pm help burn fat and lower sugar levels? Or, is jogging in the morning better?

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Ritz – Ideally, jogging in the morning is the best since you don’t have any carbs in your system so you can tap into your fat stores right away. Jogging at night is still good but you will need to burn off the carbs you have eaten before your body starts burning fat. Your overall calories and overall macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) play a major role also. If your overall carbs and calories are too high then you simply won’t burn excess body fat. Make sure to monitor your calorie intake closely and also track your carb content to “dial” in a plan that works best for your body.

  2. Avatar

    I am 20 years old and weigh 63kgs and my height 160cm. I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which is nothing but a hormonal imbalance which results in irregularity of my menstrual cycle. My doctor told me that I should weigh between 55-56kgs in order for my hormones to work properly. I do spot jogging for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. Since I can’t afford a treadmill or join gym, I’m now doing only spot jogging at home for about 30-45 minutes. Will this really help? I avoid eating unhealthy especially anything sweet and fried as my doctor suggested. Also, when would be the best time to exercise and is it okay to workout before I go to sleep?

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Sara – Spot jogging several times per week will work great for burning calories. It’s fine to workout before going to sleep, but the ideal time for burning fat is first thing in the morning. The biggest factor, however, is your overall diet and the foods you’re consuming each day. When in doubt, always look at your diet when your main goal is fat loss and overall weight reduction.

  3. Avatar

    I’m curious, if I do high intensity cardio in the morning would it be best to lift after or wait and lift in the evening? Thanks so much!

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Karly – It’s probably best to wait until later in the evening to do your weight lifting workout. That way you will have maximum energy to get in a great lift without being too tired from the HIIT cardio session.

Leave A Reply