Sundried ran a poll and found that out of 256 people, 174 of them prefer to train in the morning while 82 prefer to train in the evening. But does it make a difference to performance? Or is it just personal preference? We take a look.
Best time of day to exercise for maximum weight loss
While there is no conclusive proof that training before breakfast aids weight loss, it is true that working out in the morning sets you up for a good day and will leave you burning more calories over the course of the day. However, after firing up your metabolism early in the morning, you will find that you are hungrier than normal throughout the day, so make sure you don't reverse the positive effects by overeating to compensate.
Another benefit to working out in the morning is that you are more likely to have more energy and therefore work harder during your training. As such, you will unconsciously burn more calories than you would doing a half-hearted workout after a tough day at work.
Best time to exercise to gain muscle
Studies have found that the body's strength and flexibility is actually at its peak in the late afternoon and that this is also the time when our perceived exertion rate (how difficult we find the workout) is at its lowest, meaning you are more likely to find the workout easier at this time.
That said, if you have been sat at a desk under artificial lights all day, chances are you will be tired and hungry and going to do a big strength session will be the last thing you want to do.
Research has actually found that the body adapts to regular workout times, so if you always hit the gym after work at 6pm, it will eventually perform better at that time than any other time of day. The best thing you can do, therefore, is go when suits you and make sure you eat plenty throughout the day to fuel you ready for your big session after work.
Is it better to train on an empty stomach?
Research is inconclusive on whether training fasted actually has any benefits when it comes to losing weight. However, if you are a long-distance endurance athlete, such as training for a marathon, doing fasted cardio is good for training your body to undergo exertion with low glycogen stores. What this does is prepare you both physically and mentally for those times in endurance work when you are running low on sugar stores.
However, by training fasted you will compromise on performance and you will most certainly find your workout harder. Therefore, it is good to train on an empty stomach every now and then to prepare for endurance sports, but other than that there is no proof to support training on an empty stomach for any other reason.
Related: Should I Train Fasted?
Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?
So, it seems there are arguments for working out both in the morning and the evening. In the end it will always come down to personal choice.
Benefits of training in the morning
- You will be more fresh and ready to train
- You can train fasted before breakfast
- You will burn more calories throughout the day
- You won't need to worry about fitting in a workout after work
- You are less likely to skip your workout
Benefits of training in the evening
- Research shows we are stronger and more flexible at this time
- You will not be rushed for time
- You are more likely to be able to train with a buddy
- You will benefit from the extra energy of eating throughout the day
- You are more likely to sleep better