Morning or evening, what is the best time to work out? Find out with this guide

Published on:29 November 2019, 17:19pm IST
Is working out in the morning best or are evening workouts just as effective? We answer this age-old question in this science-backed guide.
Sonakshi Kohli
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best time to workout
Does the time at which you workout really matter? GIF courtesy: Giphy

There is no denying the fact that exercising can help you lose weight and maintain good health overall. But the debate on what’s the best time to work out is endless. Don’t worry though: we’re here to help you solve the mystery.

Here are the pros and cons of working out at different times of the day:

The good, bad & ugly of morning workouts:

A morning workout can keep you active and help you lose weight

best time to work out to lose weight
GIF courtesy: Giphy

Many studies including the one published in the Journal of Obesity, have shown that a morning workout—especially on an empty stomach—is the best when it comes to achieving weight-loss goals. The logic here is simply that with no food in your belly to derive energy from, your body simply uses the stored fat to get energy.

In fact, another study conducted in 2012 showed that a morning workout can help you make healthy eating choices throughout the day and prevent you from giving in to food cravings. Additionally, countless researches have proven that exercising in the morning can help you stay active as well.

Moreover, when you’re done with your workout early in the day, the chances of “something coming up” and making you miss your workout are way lesser.

But you could also end up losing muscle!
A research conducted at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä showed that a morning workout after a light or no breakfast can make you lose healthy muscle from your body. You see, sometimes the body breaks down muscle instead of fat when there’s no or inadequate food to derive energy from. Muscle breakdown can slow down your metabolism and interfere with your weight loss.

Not to mention, you could feel lethargic throughout the day after spending all of your energy right at the beginning of the day.

The lowdown on afternoon and evening workouts

It can help you energize and beat stress

GIF courtesy: Giphy 

With enough food in your belly by mid-day or the end of the day, you’re less likely to face a muscle breakdown while exercising. Plus, there’s enough research to back the fact that an afternoon workout can give you a much-needed energy boost during the day. This, in turn, can help you concentrate better on your work. On the other hand, an evening gym session or run in the park can help you fight off the stress of the entire day.

Another point to be noted here is that your muscles tend to reach their peak strength early evening as per a 2009 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. This phenomenon is called temporal specificity and it must be taken advantage of by working out during this time to strengthen the muscles further and to avoid a muscle breakdown.

You could be too tired to work out by the end of day
After having a tiring day, it could be difficult to give your best to your workouts in the evening.

Plus, the fact that exercise can make you active can actually backfire in case of an evening workout and you might find it difficult to sleep at night.

Also, because your muscle-breakdown probability is lesser, you might not see a change on the weighing scale and can get slightly demotivated.

So then, how can you finally make a decision?

Understand your body clock: Yes, knowing the pros and cons of different time frames can help you figure out which one works for you. But so does understanding your circadian rhythm, i.e., your body’s natural clock.

Know that exercise is more important than the timing: You could have a jam-packed schedule, and your weight-loss goals and circadian rhythm may prompt you to work out at a time that might just be the busiest time of the day for you.

This, though, is not an acceptable excuse to skip exercise. Just like different studies tout different workout timings as the most beneficial–several studies also go on to say that exercising is important, regardless of the time you work out. Your common sense will back this up to. After all, blood circulation and burning calories will benefit your overall health any time, right?

Sonakshi Kohli Sonakshi Kohli

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then.