Morning Workouts - Do they Burn Calories from the Day Before?

It's funny how people think that the human body is restricted to the "calories per day" model that we have created. We know that the average human body burns between 1800 and 2200 calories per day, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it only burns the calories that you consume that day.

Let's take a look at your body when you wake up in the morning:

First things first, you've rested and you're nicely refreshed. After a hearty meal last night, your body had all the nutrients it needed to repair your muscles and organs. You feel great, and it's time to hit the gym for a good workout.

If you haven't eaten anything in the morning before you work out, your body has only two sources of energy. First, there's the roughly 400 to 500 calories of sugar running through your blood and stored in your liver. That's available for immediate use, plus there's all the fat that you have stored around your body.

When you work out first thing in the morning before eating anything, your body can only tap into those two energy source. Technically, you would be "burning calories from the day before", simply because all of that energy came from food you ate the previous day.

However, when you eat breakfast after working out, you replenish those calories and restore the energy that your body has used. You go about your day with the energy from your breakfast, and you eat a hearty lunch and a nice dinner to finish off the day. When you go to sleep, you have burned the same amount of calories that day as you would have had you done exercise later in the day.

Now, let's see what happens when you exercise later in the day:

You wake up in the morning, and you go have a hearty breakfast. You fill your body with the energy it needs to get through the morning, and you're off to work.

Come lunch time, you hit the gym, and you still only have those same 500 calories of energy in your liver and bloodstream, plus the fat in your system. You burn those calories, and you finish off your workout with a lunch to replenish the energy you've burned off.

Dinner time rolls around, and you give yourself the nutrients your body needs to make repairs during the night.

You've burned the same amount of calories that day as you would have had you done your exercise first thing in the morning.

What does this mean?

Basically, it doesn't matter what time you do exercise, as you will still only burn the same amount of calories in a day. Your body can only use the energy it has available from its previous meal, so working out in the morning technically means you are burning calories from the day before. However, you will be replenishing calories and energy by eating, so unless you do a second workout that day, you won't be burning any extra calories.

Your body has to have energy available in order to exercise, but where that energy comes from doesn't make a difference. If you ate your last meal the day before, it will still only count for today because that's when you're working out. You can't burn off the extra calories the day before just by working out harder, but you'll also need to reduce the number of calories you eat today. Your body only responds to what you do today, so that's when you need to eat the right number of calories and do a good workout!

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