The One Liner

Is It Better to Work Out in the Morning or Evening for Weight Loss?

The quest for weight loss is a common goal for many, and the debate about the best time to exercise—morning or evening—remains a hot topic. Both times of day have their proponents and unique benefits. 

Here, in this article,  we’ll delve into the current evidence to help determine whether working out in the morning or evening is more effective for weight loss.

Morning Workouts: The Early Bird Advantage

1. BoostsMetabolism and Burns Fat

One significant advantage of morning exercise is its impact on metabolism. Morning exercise can elevate your metabolism, leading to more calories burned throughout the day. This phenomenon, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), means your body continues to burn calories even after your workout.

A study published in the Journal of Physiology found that exercising at 7 a.m. helped participants adjust their body clocks and led to better sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for weight loss and overall health. Improved sleep can enhance the body’s ability to regulate hunger hormones, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

2. Enhances Consistency and Routine

Morning workouts help establish a consistent exercise routine. Fewer distractions in the morning mean there’s a lower chance of skipping workouts due to unforeseen circumstances. A study by Brown et al. (2017) suggested that individuals who exercise in the morning are likelier to stick with their fitness regimen than those who work out later in the day.

3. Psychological Benefits

Morning exercise can set a positive tone for the day. The release of endorphins post-workout can enhance mood and reduce stress levels, potentially leading to better food choices throughout the day. Psychological readiness and a sense of accomplishment early in the day can foster better adherence to a healthy lifestyle.

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Evening Workouts: The Night Owl Perks

1. Improved Performance

Research indicates that muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance are at their peak in the late afternoon and early evening. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that athletic performance, including strength and power, is generally better in the evening. This can lead to more effective and intense workouts, potentially burning more calories.

2. Excellent for Hormones

Hormone levels, such as testosterone, which are crucial for muscle growth and fat loss, peak in the evening. Exercising during this time can leverage these hormonal surges to enhance muscle building and fat reduction.

3. Releases Stress

Evening workouts can be an excellent way to unwind after a stressful day. Physical activity can help lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which is beneficial since high cortisol levels are associated with weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

4. Provide Flexibility and Social Opportunities:

Evening exercise might offer more flexibility and options for social workouts. Many group fitness classes and sports activities are scheduled in the evening, providing opportunities for social engagement and accountability, which can be motivational for some people.

Scientific Comparison and Evidence

Several studies have compared morning and evening workouts directly based on these factors:

1. Metabolic Impact

A study by Gillen et al. (2013) published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental examined the metabolic impacts of morning vs. evening exercise. The study concluded that while morning exercise increases fat oxidation and can improve fat metabolism over time, evening workouts can result in a higher overall calorie burn due to increased performance capacity.

2. Consistency And Adherence

Research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) highlighted that individuals who exercise in the morning tend to be more consistent. However, the study also noted that evening exercisers often have more energy and time, which can contribute to more thorough and sustained workout sessions.

3. Sleep Quality

Sleep quality is crucial for weight loss and overall health. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that morning exercise tends to improve sleep patterns more effectively than evening workouts. However, this can be highly individual. Some people may find that evening exercise does not negatively impact their sleep and can actually help them unwind before bed.

Personal Preferences and Practical Considerations

Ultimately, the best time to work out is the time that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle and can be maintained consistently. 

Here are some practical considerations based on these listed factors:

1. Schedule

Choose a time that aligns with your daily schedule and allows for consistency. If mornings are hectic, evening workouts might be more practical and vice versa.

2. Body Rhythm

Listen to your body’s natural rhythm. If you feel more energetic in the morning, capitalise on that. If you’re more alert and active in the evening, plan your workouts accordingly.

3. Goals

Consider your specific goals. If improving sleep and establishing a routine are priorities, morning workouts might be best. If maximising performance and stress relief is the goal, evenings could be more beneficial.

Final Thoughts

The debate between morning and evening workouts for weight loss boils down to individual preferences and lifestyle. Both times offer unique benefits, and current evidence does not overwhelmingly favour one over the other. The key to successful weight loss through exercise is consistency, enjoyment, and alignment with your personal schedule and body rhythms. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, find a time that works for you and stick with it. The best workout is the one you can consistently perform with enthusiasm and commitment.

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