Morning or afternoon: How to get the most out of your workout

Recently, I listened to a group of gym-goers debate about what time of the day is best to workout. I feel better working out in the mornings since I am very energized from my sleep the night before.

However, most of my friends get their sessions in after work. While our schedules differ, they swore even if they had the time in the mornings they would still lift in the afternoons since that was when they felt stronger and more motivated.

But what does the science say? It says when you wake up in the morning, your glycogen stores are slightly depleted because you’re in a fasted state, having not eaten for several hours. This has several implications. Fat oxidation increases, but ability to resistance train decreases because of low glycogen.

The significance of this is that cardio at a lower heart rate (under 60 beats per minute) in the morning will allow you to burn a higher percentage of fat for energy, keep you energetic all day, and raise your metabolism throughout the day.

Fasted cardio has also been shown to be more beneficial in staving off fat gain in a caloric surplus than cardio after a meal, even when calories are held constant. Unfortunately, resistance training ability will suffer and should be best kept for later in the day. Studies have also shown that people are the strongest in the evenings.

The conclusion is that it is better to do cardio early and resistance training late. However, even though the science leans towards working out in the evenings, I prefer starting my day with a workout and I feel much better for it.

Another topic of discussion is weight fluctuations. Sometimes in the morning I weigh in at 172 lbs, but after a meal and a nap, I can tip the scales to as high as 180 lbs. Can you relate?

There’s a very natural explanation to why our bodyweight fluctuates as it does, and it is very simple: water. Our bodies consist of 60 percent water, and our water balance is easily affected by very many things such as our water intake, our salt intake, exercise or lack thereof, carbs, hormones, stress, sleep patterns, age, genes, muscle mass among other things. So if you are frustrated or don’t get why your weight increases and drops from day to day, now you know why, and it is perfectly normal that it happens.

If you want to reduce water retention the most healthy advice I can give you, is to move more and stay hydrated. You need to lower your carb intake and increase your protein intake. You need to balance out the missing carbs, but limit processed foods that are high in salt and increase the fibre and whole foods you eat.