At any time of day, I can have the urge to exercise. I’ve exercised at night, mid-day, morning, you name it. No matter when I do it, I still feel great when I’m done. However, when it comes to getting the most out of my workouts, it brings on the question, “When Is The Best Time of Day To Workout?” I have heard many responses from people over the years that nighttime is best, after work is best, or that it simply doesn’t matter. When you read posts they’ll say anytime is a great time, because it’s better to exercise than to not. I find most amusing as it is pretty much the most obvious thing you could say. Of course whatever time you can stick to is going to be the best time for you to workout. What I, and I’m sure you would like to know, is if I want to get the best results in my workout, when do I do it? So I’m here to solve the mystery and answer this query once and for all. Then you can tell your workout buddies at the gym or in your class the true answer. To start this, I think we need to break down how our bodies work during the different times of the day. The answer to this might just surprise you.
In the morning our bodies are stiff and the muscle are coolest and asleep. It is the time of day that injury’s are most likely to occur during exercise. However, our body’s blood sugar levels are at their lowest. This is super important as during this time our bodies are hitting the reserves and starving for energy to start they day. I guess you could say they are having breakfast before you have even cracked an egg on the pan. To add to this, hormones that multiply the fat burning power in the body, like cortisol, are at their highest. Therefore, the body is already in full fat burning mode versus later in the day.
This is why studies show that we burn 20 percent more calories during our morning routines than any other time of day. However, because the blood sugars are low, you are more apt to having lower energy levels as the day goes on. For those with hectic lives, the morning is also an easier time for people to stick to as life does not usually intervene on these hours of the day. You are also more mentally and psychologically geared to stick to your diet and eat a healthier meal for breakfast (and the rest of the day for that matter) when you workout in the morning. Morning workouts will also bring better sleep as studies show that those who exercise during mid-day or nights tend to struggle more with sleep which I will get further down. So if burning fat and losing weight is your goal, you need to suck it up and do that morning routine!
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Afternoon and Evening Workouts
By mid-day or evening our bodies are totally warmed up. Our core temperatures are higher, muscles are awake, and tendons are lose. You have a much less risk of hurting yourself during a later workout than you would in the morning. Because your sugar levels are higher and you have had a meal or two by now, you are less prone to lose muscle tissue from your workout than when you workout in the morning. In fact, you may get better results in the weightlifting arena with a mid-day or evening workout as studies show better performance during these times. This is most likely due to the body being primed and ready for action, but also because your cortisol levels are much lower as the day wears on, and your testosterone levels are higher. Studies reveal that people who workout later in the day have much higher results in power, strength, and overall performance.
Be aware that the later in the day you workout, the more the benefits decline. Late day workouts affect sleep negatively, and studies show that workouts after dinner to bedtime cause the body’s muscles to ache and be stressed throughout the night due to poor sleep. Also energy levels are still high from the workout, so often times even falling asleep is difficult. This is all extremely important, because sleep is the crucial time your body rebuilds muscle and energy for the next day. Poor sleep will bring poorer results for the next day. This can not only affect your body but also your job performance and other activities as well.
The Bottom Line
Depending on the results your are seeking, either morning or later in the day is best. If you are looking to lose weight and burn off fat, then the morning workout is a must for you. Be sure to eat a solid and well balanced diet that will give you energy throughout the day, and warm-up those muscles and get the blood flowing before you go at it. If you are bulking up and building muscle, then you want to be sure to do a mid-day to evening workout. Remember, not to schedule your workouts later than your dinner or you could have adverse affects from your workouts. To learn more about burning fat or gaining muscle, check out my Skinny Nut and Strong Nut Pages.