Some thoughts and discussions from me.

When is the best time of day to work out?

This is a question I get quite often from clients, readers, and boot camp clients.

Ask this question, and you’ll likely get the answer: “the time of day you’ll actually do the workout!”

And while it’s true – a actually do at any time of the day is better than an ideally timed workout that you won’t
– most of our bodies prefer a training time that works best with our circadian rhythm and hormones.

Spoiler alert: it’s NOT first thing in the morning.

Ideally, afternoon or early evening is a great time to train. 

You see, when we wake up in the morning, cortisol is (should be) at its peak. It’s intended to be, as it’s what wakes us up in the morning. This is a good thing.

We’re also in a fat-burning mode in the morning. Insulin levels are (should be) low. This is also a good thing. We want to continue burning fat through the morning and early afternoon.

We continue this fat burning mode by eating meals moderate in protein and fat, and very low in carbohydrate. Eating a breakfast like this also provides higher satiety levels throughout the entire day.

This can be disrupted by a couple things: introducing insulinogenic foods into our meals too early, or doing an intense workout.

Once we introduce carbs into our meals, we stop burning fat for fuel, and start burning carbs for fuel. Carbs increase insulin, and decrease temporarily decrease cortisol as well.

This is all fine and well, but really only works in our favor at two times: post-lifting workout and in the evening.

Most of my clients (most – not all, but most) practice carbohydrate backloading. The only caveat is those who lift early in the morning.

Typically, my clients enjoy a post-workout meal with carbs + protein. In this case, the need to get in some carbohydrate post-intense lifting session outweighs the benefits of staying low carb throughout the morning and afternoon.

However, the trade in is they start burning carbs for fuel at a very early point in the day.

Not to mention, it’s pretty rough on the body to go from a state of deep slumber to a state of intense work within a couple hours. 

Of course, everyone is different. Many of my clients train first thing in the morning for a number of reasons: they love the tone it sets for the day, they have a family and it’s the only time that’s available to them, or just personal preference. All of these are fine – and morning workouts will not ruin your progress.

(Personally, I prefer to work out between the hours of 10a-2p. While I own my own business, I pride myself on being extremely driven, invested, and always trying to better myself for the good of my clients and to grow my business. However, that means very mentally fatiguing days 6 out of 7 days of the week. Mental fatigue can have an effect on training, and if you’re mentally wiped by the end of the day, that might mean it’s not the best time to train (or perhaps your training energizes you ((unless that’s your pre-workout talking…))

Ideally, we’d all (or, well, most of us) have an hour or so between the hours of 3-6 free to get in a good training session.

Ideally, we’d have the most energy around this time of day.

Ideally…well, we don’t live in an ideal world.

If early morning is the only time you can get in a workout, then by all means, train early in the morning (and morning workouts can be beneficial when it comes to cardio, depending on how you handle your post-cardio supplementation and food, but that’s another topic for another email.)
But — if you’re trying to decide whether you want to work out in the morning or evening–

–Or, if you have the luxury to work out any time during the day — you might want to give afternoon or early evening training sessions a go, and see how your body responds.

Bottom line: if you’ve trained at a certain time for a number of years, give another time a shot, and see how you do!


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