One of the first questions that you need to ask yourself when you’re starting a new fitness routine for most people is whether you should work out in the morning or at night. Both of these options have benefits and drawbacks. For most people there are obligations throughout the day that make a midday workout unfeasible most of the time. Though this is not true for everyone, the majority of fitness enthusiasts get their workouts in either before or after their workdays.
One of the benefits of working out in the morning is that it’s the easiest way to achieve fasted cardio. Fasted cardio is cardio exercise done after a period of not eating food (i.e. overnight). Fasted cardio is extremely popular in the fitness sphere at the moment. The premise makes intuitive sense: when you have no food in your system for fuel your body will be forced to use your body fat as energy, right? Well, like most things in fitness, the answer isn’t that clear.
Studies indicate that this just might not be true. Workouts in the morning can actually result in less fat loss. In the morning we also have higher levels of cortisol which can cause your body to metabolize your own muscle for energy, which is no good.
Why still work out in the morning? There are other benefits to working out in the morning for different people. If you have family obligations it can be easier to find time before everyone else is awake to sneak in a workout. Morning workouts can also set you up for a better day. Morning workouts can also help you fall asleep faster, which is something we all want.
At the end of the day morning workouts are primarily the best option for you if that is the time you can consistently exercise. The best time to exercise is whenever works for you.
Workouts at night have decreased in popularity, and it’s hard to understand why. While evening workouts may be harder to fit into a family schedule, if we’re looking just at the science we have available, evening workouts seem to win.
Because your levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – are lower in the evenings you will be able to see better results over time with evening workouts.
You will be able to work out longer and better in the evenings. Research suggests that if you work out later in the day you will have better performance and be able to work out longer. If you are trying to seriously gain muscle or improve your speed these improvements might be very important to you.
With evening workouts you can avoid bad decisions at dinner. It can be extremely easy to fall into bad habits in the evening after a stressful day at work. A few drinks or a dessert can undo a good day of eating. By working out in the evening you can avoid these temptations and have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet.
Which is Best?
We all want to make the best decisions possible about our health. Why work harder than you need to in order to achieve the same results? Many people get hung up on the idea of the ‘perfect’ workout routine. Unfortunately, perfection really isn’t achievable. We can do things to improve our performance or results, but obsessing over being perfect is not going to help.
What is the best possible workout? The workout that actually happens. Whatever routine makes you feel best is always the best option.