Should I Exercise In The Morning?

There’s no doubt that exercise is a crucial part of any fat loss program, but does it matter when you exercise? Is it better to exercise in the morning or or evening, or can you just fit it in whenever it’s convenient?

The research suggests that our body is hormonally better suited to burn energy in the morning as hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline take center stage.

This makes sense because humans are day-roaming creatures and when the sun comes up nature provides the energy that we need to forage food and pursue a mate. At least that was the case when we were cave-people…

Times have changed, however, life is far more complex than our genetics were  designed to handle and so let’s get some perspective on this issue and work through a modern-day answer to this question.

Does Exercise In The Morning Burn More Fat?

The research suggests that exercising first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, does burn more fat than exercising later in the day (Journal of Applied Physiology. (1999) 86:2). This apparent fat loss advantage is probably due to the fact that you haven’t eaten in 8-9 hours resulting in lower insulin and glycogen levels. When insulin and glycogen levels are low, fat burning predominates over sugar burning. That being said, the more important question to ask is, “How much more fat do you lose if you exercise in the morning compared to later in the day?”

Unfortunately, we don’t quite know…the research just isn’t out there. I suspect, as do many fat loss experts, that it’s not very much more.

Advantages to Morning Exercise

In order to see the advantages provided by morning exercise, we have to look beyond the calories burned. Why? Because your life is far more than just waking and sleeping, there’s a lot that happens during the course of the day. Morning exercise appears to impact how the rest of your day goes as far as health is concerned. Morning exercisers report:

  • Improved mood throughout the rest of the day
  • Improved energy levels
  • improved resistance to stress
  • Better sleep
  • Morning Exercise Cuts Food Cravings
  • They are far more likely to stick to the program 1 year after starting

That is quite a list of benefits, all of which will have a far more dramatic impact on fat loss than the few extra fat calories burned by exercising first thing in the morning.

Does this mean everyone should convert to a morning exercise routine?

Not So Fast…What if…

What if you’re not a morning person? What if becoming a morning exerciser means losing an hour and a half of precious sleep? What if you feel drained after exercising in the morning?

All fair questions, wouldn’t you say?

The truth is, there are no absolutes in the science of fat loss. Somethings work great for some and not so great for others. With fat loss, the job of being you is about studying how your body and mind responds to certain tactics…

It makes no difference if you burn 10% more fat by exercising in the morning if you only manage to make it to half of your workouts. Research has shown that some people pop out of bed in the morning with ease while others get a superhuman jolt of energy in the evening. It appears that this energetic preference is hardwired into our genetics. Sometimes it’s a good idea to fight your habits, other times we must accept certain traits about ourselves.

The Ultimate Goal

Your primary objective is to build a lifestyle that works for your life!

Try waking up early to exercise, give it a solid try for a month, see if it works for you. If it doesn’t fit, don’t worry, your afternoon or evening exercise will still make a huge difference in your health and weight loss.

If you pop up in the morning like a turkey timer on Thanksgiving day, then it appears that you get extra credit for exercising in the morning. If you’re an owl like me, choose the most convenient exercise schedule and stick to it! With that said, if you do choose evening exercise, then do your best not to exercise for 3 hours before bed in order to allow the stress hormones an opportunity to normalize before it’s time to count sheep.

In the end, the exercise habit that works best is the one that you perform day in and day out! I wish that I were a morning person, but I’m not, so I will do my best with the genetic cards I’ve been dealt. I will schedule my workouts and stick to them like my life depends on it. How about you?

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