How to Run Before Breakfast to Burn Fat

Skipping breakfast and hitting the road or treadmill instead could be one of the best things you do for your fat-loss progress. According to research from Northumbria University, UK, people who ran on a treadmill before eating anything in the morning burned on average 20 percent more fat than those who exercised after eating. Just make sure you run at the right intensity and fuel up properly the night before.

A woman jogs in the park in the morning. (Image: fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Keep the intensity high. Unfortunately, the idea that low-intensity cardio is best for fat loss still exists. Exercising at a lower percentage of your maximum heart rate does burn a higher proportion of calories from fat versus calories from carbs, but you burn far fewer calories overall, notes exercise physiologist and distance runner Travis Saunders. You're far better off pushing yourself on a shorter run of, say, 20 minutes, than a long, slow, steady hour-long plod.

Step 2

Ease yourself into pre-breakfast running. If you're used to running later in the day, or even just after breakfast, training fasted can be a shock to the system. Your blood sugar will be lower before breakfast, so you could feel dizzy, warns New York-based sports medicine expert Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin.

Step 3

Take a partner with you the first few times you go out. Not only does this provide motivation to push yourself a little harder, but should you feel unwell having not eaten, you're not out there on your own.

Step 4

Incorporate intervals into your run. As you acclimatize to fasted running, you can increase the intensity to boost fat burn even more. Do this by adding intervals into every run. Running coach Melanie Schorr of Runners Connect in Boston recommends Fartlek training. This is a randomized form of intervals where you mix up your speeds between walking, slow jogging, moderate-paced running and all-out sprints.

Step 5

Have a solid meal two to three hours before bed the night before you run. A mixed meal containing protein, carbs and fat is best. Things like a lean steak with yams and broccoli, or bolognese whole-grain spaghetti are good choices. This will provide you with some energy for your morning run.

Step 6

Have a 5- to 10-gram serving of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and 1 to 2 grams of carnitine half an hour before you run, advise Joe Wuebben and Jim Stoppani, PhD of Muscle and Fitness. Carnitine can help maximize fat burn, while BCAAs help to preserve muscle mass. Muscle is important when losing fat, as the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism has to work and the higher your daily calorie burn.

Step 7

Eat a breakfast composed of protein and carbohydrates when you've finished your run. This will help refuel your glycogen levels and give you energy for the day ahead. Try eggs on whole-grain toast, a smoothie made with protein powder and mixed fruit, low-fat natural yogurt with nuts and berries, or even a chicken salad. Just make sure whatever you have fits into your calorie allowance for the rest of the day.


Incorporate strength training and other forms of cardio into your weekly routine for maximum health and fat-loss benefits.


Check with your health care provider before starting a running program, and take things slow to begin with. Make sure you get clearance on introducing BCAAs and carnitine -- along with any other supplements you plan on taking -- into your daily diet.

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