Early birds and night owls know a clear difference between morning and evening workouts. Early risers swear that getting in an early sweat energizes them for the rest of the day. The night owls, on the other hand, say their late-night workouts are more effective in building muscle and burning fat.
So who’s right?
Morning vs. Night
Is there a magical time of the day when your body responds better or worse to your workouts? Well, the answer, of course, is not so black and white. There are pros and cons to both sides of the coin, as with anything in life. Keep reading to see which time of the day might be best for your goals.
In one popular study published by the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked to see if working out before breakfast would make runners hungrier throughout the day, or calorie-burning machines. Half of the study’s participants were asked to run a treadmill before eating breakfast, which we’ve come to know as “fasted cardio.” The rest of the participants were asked to eat breakfast before their run.
After the workout, the participants’ food intake was monitored over the day, and it turned out that the sweat-before-breakfast group did not have larger appetites than their counterparts. In fact, the workout-first group consumed less than the other group before their workout and ate about the same amount as the other group throughout the day. Also, the first group burned 20% more fat than those who exercised after breakfast. So, score one for the early birds.
Conversely, research has also shown benefits for workouts done after the sun goes down. A study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that strength workouts are more effective at night than in the morning for a few reasons.
First, at night, your body is less stiff and the muscles are more active. Therefore, the muscles can respond better to the pressures of an intense strength workout. Next, your anaerobic capacity (capacity to exert short bursts of energy rather than steady aerobic activity) is 7% higher meaning the body can withstand a longer and tougher workout than in the morning hours. That’s a point for the night owls.
Further complicating the debate, researchers have also found that testosterone and growth hormone levels are highest in the morning, which means if you want to put on muscle, A.M. strength workouts could be more beneficial.
When should you workout?
Okay, so when should you hit the gym?
While the science still hasn’t resolved this debate one way or the other, trainers agree that the