If you haven’t already established a healthy exercise routine – then start one! When you begin an exercise routine; it’s most important to set a routine in the beginning and stick to it, regardless of the time of day.
But, for those of us who already make fitness an important part of our lives when we train can be an important consideration: When is the best time of day to exercise to get the results we want, perform best or maximize our weight loss efforts?
Let’s take a look at the advantages, benefits, drawbacks, and science of physical activity earlier or later in the day for health, peak performance, weight loss or building muscle.
The Best Time to Exercise for Weight Loss
It goes without saying that the best way to maintain a healthy weight, besides counting calories, to engage in regular physical activity. But, does exercising at a particular time of day help maximize the effects of exercise on burning excess body fat?
If you want the most effect from your weight loss efforts, a groundbreaking research study indicates that you might do best by setting your alarm earlier and doing your exercising before eating breakfast.
Running on Empty
There is substantial evidence that exercising on a completely empty stomach (a fasted state) — prompts your body to burn more fat and even prevent weight gain when compared to exercising at other times of the day.
Researchers in Belgium recruited young, healthy men to subsist for one and a half months on a diet that consisted of thirty-percent more calories and fifty-percent more fat than they had previously been eating.
One group of volunteers remained sedentary while another group started a strenuous, mid-morning training routine after they had eaten breakfast. A third group followed the same workout routine, but before eating.
At the end of the study, the sedentary group gained roughly six pounds each. This group also developed increased insulin resistance and had a higher body mass index (BMI) than before. Meanwhile, the men who trained after breakfast had also gained weight (three pounds each) and developed greater insulin resistance. But, incredibly, the men who had exercised before eating anything in the morning gained almost no weight and maintained healthy insulin levels. Significantly; they were burning more fat throughout the day than were the other men in the study.
Fasting is the Key
The most convenient way to train in a fasted state is after a good night’s sleep, but the results of this study clearly show that the benefits came from training on an empty stomach, not from the exact time that the test subjects exercised.
If you work nights, or on a rotating shift – you can easily get the benefits of training in a fasted state by exercising upon awakening (but before eating), regardless of the hour you get up.
Morning Exercise for Restful Sleep
It turns out that increased weight loss isn’t the only benefit from starting your day with a good sweat – morning exercise has been shown to also improve the quality of your sleep. A better night’s rest will ensure that you’re more likely to start your morning exercise sessions – which will help you burn more body fat!
Mornings Beat Insomnia
Insomnia is also a risk factor for obesity; consistently restful sleep is an enjoyable and easy way to keep a healthy weight- morning exercise will help you get the rest you need when you need it.
How About Building Muscle?
Of particular interest to men – what’s the best time of day to train for increased muscle size?
Testosterone Peaks Early in the Day
Unsurprisingly, you need to concern yourself with the time of day when your testosterone (male hormone) levels are at their highest – in the middle of the morning; this is when your blood testosterone levels are at their best.
What if you can’t consistently weight train that early? There’s nothing to worry about. Even though your male hormone levels peak earlier, your muscular strength hits a peak in the early evening hours. Since lifting more weight stimulates greater strength and mass gains; hitting the gym right after work can be an effective alternate option.
Good Company Makes it Easier
Another benefit of exercising later in the day is – company. A workout partner can motivate you when you’re feeling lazy and make training a fun time to trade jokes and have discussions (in between sets of course).
You’ll have a better chance of finding a workout partner for late in the day training. Friends, coworkers, roommates; they’ll all be more willing to join you after school or work than they would be before breakfast!
Best Time to Exercise for Long-Term Success
What’s the best time of day to exercise if you want to stick with it long-term? Anytime that’s right for you!
You’re far more likely to establish a consistent routine if you choose the most convenient time of day for you. Of course, there are ideal times when you can do weight training, or cardio, or exercise to lose weight – but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t consistent.
Set aside a block of time in your day and stick to it! Lifelong fitness is a lifelong commitment, and you need to find the schedule that fits your lifestyle, location, and unique body clock. Morning, noon or night; when will working out be most enjoyable and easy to do? Whatever the answer is, it’ll be the right one if you’re consistent.