What Time is Best to Workout When You Want to Lose Weight?


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          I’ve heard many conflicting opinions about which part of the day (morning, afternoon, or night) I should workout to help achieve my fitness goals. I’ve been told that exercising in the morning is the best time because you kick-start your metabolism and burn calories throughout the rest of the day. Conversely, I’ve been told that working out at night helps you fall and stay asleep, because your body is fatigued and more restful after a workout. This clashing of opinions reminds me of a similar debate of whether you should put ice or heat on a sore muscle. Both are beneficial, but is one more beneficial than the other? Is a specific time of day more influential in the process of weight loss?

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An experimental study was conducted on 29 overweight and inactive post-menopausal women that studied if morning or night walks led to the most weight loss. This study was not a blind procedure, as the women are clearly able to tell whether it is daytime or nighttime. The results show that the group of 15 that went for nightly walks lost more weight than the group that exercised in the morning. The scientists found a link between nighttime walks and dietary changes. It seemed that the women exercising at night would consume more at breakfast time than those 14 women that exercised in the morning. This link could help to explain the weight loss seen in the nighttime group. Eating a heavier breakfast could have possibly suppressed their hunger, causing them to not overeat throughout the day. There could also be other confounding variables at play here such as intensity of the walks, metabolic rate of the participant, what specifically the women were eating, etc. Although the study’s results did prove that evening exercises yield the most weight loss, the demographic being studied is not broad enough to apply to most college students, in fact, it eliminates all males because it follows post-menstrual women. It seems that the study was done well but it was a very small sample size (29 women). Because of these factors, I wouldn’t necessarily change my workout time from morning to night.

Another experimental study conducted in 2010 followed men ages 18-25 (all considered to be “healthy”, the qualifications were not specified). The aim of the study was to figure out if eating breakfast or fasting leads to more weight loss. This study occurred over a span of six weeks. The control group did not exercise while the experimental group was taking was in high-endurance workouts. Within the experimental group, several participants ate carbohydrates before working out, while the others did not eat anything (fasted) before their training session. The results found concluded (for the first time) that not eating breakfast and working out led to more weight loss in their test subjects. Although this study does not test for nighttime workout benefits, it does show that there is a strong relationship between morning workouts and weight loss. But the study does say that it is the first time these results have been proven, and the number of subjects is unspecified. So before anyone makes changes to your diet or exercise routines, you should wait to see if there are any other follow up studies that agree or refute the results of this particular experiment.0a322a0af1562104618185f8314f20f1

All in all, it seems that the verdict of this question is inconclusive. The results from these two studies contradict one another, however there seems to be an overlap of some sort. Each study placed their participants on regimented workout routines. Everyone in the experimental groups in the two studies did lose weight. It just so happens that the women working out at night, and the men who fasted before working out, lost more weight than the others in the study. It’s possible that the time of day isn’t as crucial to  losing weight, as is the consistency of diet and regularity of getting to the gym.

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5 thoughts on “What Time is Best to Workout When You Want to Lose Weight?

  1. Benjamin R Tuohey

    This is a very interesting blog post. Being a wrestler and having to lost weight a lot, I know a lot about this. In the morning you are at your lightest weight and then throughout the day you consume food and water and everything, so you get heavier as the day goes on. I feel like it is easiest to lose weight at night, you’re essentially losing all the weight you’ve gained throughout the day and then you can just go to bed after working out instead of working out in the morning. I feel like it is all preference though some people like working out in the morning. I attached an article about working out at night and the benefits. http://greatist.com/move/reasons-working-out-night-best

  2. Olivia Mei Zhang

    Hey Valerie,
    As an avid-fitness lover, I always try to go to the gym at least once or twice a week. However, due to my cramped schedule, I tend to go at night. Reading this article made me realize that it might be in my best interest to work out in the morning, kickstarting your metabolism. An article by “Six Pack Fitness” also supports morning workouts: http://www.sixpackbags.com/blog/work-morning-night/

  3. Mallory Dixon

    I never thought about the fact that working out in the morning or at night could influence how much weight you could potentially lose. If anything I thought working out in the morning would help you lose more weight because it is right when you wake up and it would be a good way to start your day. Some of my friends only go to the gym in the morning because the thought of going at night never even occurred to them. This article talks about some other things that could happen to your body depending on what time you work out. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/lose-weight-with-morning-exercise#1

  4. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    While I’m not necessarily concerned about losing weight right now, I am concerned about staying fit and healthy. Your post caught my attention though because I am currently *still* trying to figure out the best time in a day to work out. I’ve tried going to the gym in the morning but it always leaves me feeling lightheaded. Going to fitness classes in the afternoon can be inconvenient. The other day however, I went to the gym at 9 in the evening and left at about 10. I was floored to see the number of people that were there!! Seeing all of the people at that time got me thinking though. Is there a best time to work out during the day? Are people working out at night because it’s convenient or because there’s actually some proven science behind it? Like you said, I think that the verdict would be inconclusive, because everyone has a different body type, and balance has to be taken into account in this context. Here is an article I found that discusses the benefits of working out in the morning verses the evening: http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-list-jay-cardiello/which-better-am-vs-pm-workouts

  5. Brandon Ross Armitt

    I feel like this blog is something that I can definitely relate to because even while here at Penn State, I have experimented with working out before class in the morning or after class at night. I have been flipping back and forth between the two trying to find my real comfort zone and what makes me feel better about myself. Waking up in the morning before class, I’m losing out on valuable sleep which is important to my bodies health. So when I go to workout after class, I feel more energized because i got that extra hour of sleep. But at the same time when you go to the gym after class, you are going to fall behind on work so ultimately you will have to stay up later. It is interesting that you can link this to another blog because someone else talked about how staying up later can lead to weight gain. If your forced to stay up later because of working out after class, you running the risk of putting on extra pounds . Although this might not be the best connection, my dad saw a significant weight loss when he switched over to night workouts while also feeling better overall. He might not have to deal with the stress of late nights doing homework, but those results can be promising for anyone thinking about switching.

    This link talks about the perks of working out at different times during the day and the overall bottom line that was drawn from it: http://greatist.com/fitness/whats-best-time-work-out

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