When Is the Best Time to Workout for Weight Loss?
In order to lose weight we need to pay attention to our diet and exercise habits. These two factors will highly influence our health and body weight. When it comes to diet, you'll want to eat a balanced and complete healthy diet filled with high quality protein, healthy fats and lots of fruits and vegetables.
On the other hand we will also need to exercise regularly. But, what is the best time to exercise for weight loss? In this oneHOWTO article we're going to see what science has to say about the best time to exercise for weight loss and to increase muscle mass.
When is the best time to workout?
The best time to workout will depend on each person's schedule and routines. Some people feel very energised in the morning while others are more awake at night. This will influence your health journey as you will probably have a more effective and enjoyable workout if you exercise when you're feeling awake and warmed up.
Nevertheless, let's have a look at what different studies have to say:
Working out in the morning
Some studies suggest working out in the morning before eating. The theory behind “fasted cardio” is that your body will feed off of your stored fat. It's important that once you're back home you have a healthy breakfast to regain energy and strength. Don't skip breakfast, especially if you've worked out!
Another benefit is that by doing it first thing in the morning, you won't put it off to another day and it'll be easier to fit into your routine. This way, you don't question whether to exercise or not, you simply wake up, get changed and do it.
The disadvantage is that you will need to do a longer warm up as your body will be cold in the morning and that may lead to injury.
Working out at night
The advantages of working out in the afternoon or at night is the fact that your body will be at its highest body temperature (usually around 2-6pm). This will lower the risk of injury. You will also, most likely, perform better than if you workout in the morning. This is due to the fact that you've already had one or two meals and therefore, your body will feel more energised.
With that being said, exercising at night may come with some disadvantages too. One of them being that it's easier to put off when you leave it for the end of the day, as you might be tired after work or school. Another disadvantage is that exercising before going to bed can keep you up at night. A workout will usually make you hungry and give you a burst of energy that may make it difficult to go to bed at a certain time.
Best time to workout for weight loss
If your goal is to lose weight by training, surely you will want to know what is the best time to exercise and burn fat. A study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity  has determined that exercising in the morning, before 3 pm, helps you lose weight more than in the afternoon. In addition, it contributes to increasing activity during the day and eating fewer calories.
Fasting before training can also promote weight loss, but the premise that you should always keep in mind is the importance of caloric deficit. If the calculation of calories consumed throughout the day is less than the number of calories expended, you will lose weight. Otherwise, you will not achieve it regardless of the amount of hours you train.
Should I workout before or after eating?
If you are in doubt as to when it is better to exercise, before or after eating, it's best to try both and see what makes you feel best. This is because there are several conflicting studies:
- The JCEM  (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism) states that it is better to exercise before eating. In other words, on an empty stomach, due to one's metabolism.
- The University of Bath  considers the opposite. They believe it's best for one's metabolism if you train after eating.
Therefore, it's best for you to try both options and decide which one makes you feel better and fits well into your lifestyle. For weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, the important thing is to exercise regularly. It's not a big deal when you do it or if on an empty stomach. The idea is that your body is moving, working and you are enjoying yourself.
If you're doing light exercise, fasted cardio may work for you. However, if you're doing intense workouts it's best to do it after you've eaten to avoid low blood pressure or any other health issues. Remember to accompany your exercise routine with a healthy and balanced diet. Do not over restrict your calories. Weight loss is a slow progress but well worth it when trying to reach a healthy weight. Keep motivated, be kind to yourself and enjoy yourself!
Want to learn about nutrition? Read our article about healthy food you should eat everyday.
Best time to workout to increase muscle mass
If your intentions isn't to lose weight but to gain muscle mass, you'll want to be a little more careful. For muscle growth you will need to eat plenty of protein and vegetables. Don't over restrict carbohydrates as they will be beneficial too! It's also important to remember that in order to gain muscles you will need to eat at least enough calories to support your current weight. Usually, when building muscle mass, one will even need to eat more calories. However, this doesn't mean eat junk food. It means that you will need to eat more of the right food to fuel your body for your workouts and to help build stronger muscles.
When it comes to training, you will probably have intense workouts. This is why if you want to promote muscle growth, it's best to workout after eating (at least breakfast). Preferably between 2-6pm when your body temperature is at its highest. This way you can have enough energy to get through a difficult workout and have the lowest risk of injury.
If you can't make it to the gym but want to start building muscles at home, we recommend reading our article on how to build muscle without weights.
If you need some more fitness inspiration, count on us! You'll find some of our Youtube workout videos below. Visit our oneHOWTO Youtube channel to see more workout videos, including yoga, pilates, calisthenics and more!
If you want to read similar articles to When Is the Best Time to Workout for Weight Loss?, we recommend you visit our Fitness category.
- The JCEM (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism). Lipid Metabolism Links Nutrient-Exercise Timing to Insulin Sensitivity in Men Classified as Overweight or Obese : https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/105/3/660/5599745
- University of Bath. Eating breakfast burns more carbs during exercise and accelerates metabolism for next meal : https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180815085742.htm
- International Journal of Obesity. The effects of exercise session timing on weight loss and components of energy balance: midwest exercise trial 2 : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-019-0409-x