THE BEST TIME TO WORK OUT
What the best time to work out is really depends on your goal. If you want to lose weight faster, the best time to exercise is in the morning. This is because low blood sugar levels at that time force the body to look for other energy sources so it starts to convert fat from reserves to fuel. Levels of some hormones that accelerate fat burning (such as cortisol) are also high in the morning.
Apart from fat burning, there are further advantages to morning exercise. One study showed that people were more likely to stick to a workout and build a routine when exercising early in the day. Many people actually prefer to exercise first thing, since they get tired in the afternoon and lose the will to work out.
Of course, there are disadvantages too. Depending on hormone levels, some people find it stressful to exercise in the morning. If you do an intensive morning workout – especially on an empty stomach – it could lead to muscle loss over fat loss as your body uses muscle mass for energy. One way of avoiding this is to have a good protein breakfast.
If you do exercise before breakfast though, you may struggle to keep the intensity high as your energy levels are low.
The afternoon is the best time to work out for performance, one study which compared a group of people exercising in the morning and afternoon showed that afternoon exercise produced better results in terms of performance, strength and power (high level of intensity training).
Participants reported that their bodies’ responses were better and that they were able to push more and achieve more repetitions than in the morning.
It’s down to you to decide what time of day fits you and your daily schedule. If your goal is to lose weight though, there are a few things that could help.
A quick 10-minute cardio session in the morning, plus a 20-minute intense session in the afternoon will have a positive effect on EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) helping you burn more calories after your exercise.
Intense exercise in the morning without having eaten also isn’t recommended as it can lead to muscle loss, as well as you feeling tired or weak.
On the flip side, exercising too intensely late in the afternoon can affect your sleep – so it’s best to exercise at least four hours before bed.
Time though, is just one of the factors that affect your workout performance. Intensity and duration also counts. Think about your goals and try to find a routine that works best for you. And, above all, enjoy your workout!