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When Should I Work Out?

What is the best time of day to exercise?

I am frequently asked this question.

Until recently, there has been no definitive answer. My usual response is “any time you can commit to working out is the best time.”

For example, I find that getting into a regimen of early morning workouts is best for me. I feel great for the rest of the day and I am happy with myself for completing the workout (which I frequently combine with meditation and relaxation techniques). I also find that it avoids the conversation I would otherwise have with myself in the evening– “I am too tired… Do I have to?... Can I skip today?"

I decided to explore exercise physiology, and fitness studies that may answer the question more scientifically.

In the May issue of Frontiers in Physiology and reported in the Washington Post, I found interesting information. A study was reported that split men and women into morning, and evening workouts for 12 weeks, and then assessed the outcome.

The first observation: everyone who participated and completed the 12 weeks benefitted, by becoming leaner, more fit, faster, stronger, and more flexible.

  • The next observation: women working out in the mornings lost more fat, (especially belly fat), than those working out in the evenings.

  • Women working out in the evenings gained more strength.

  • Men working out in the morning lost very little fat, gained strength, and raised their cholesterol.

  • Men working out in the evening had lowered their cholesterol, reduced more fat, and gained much more strength.

  • All participants had better sleep with morning workouts

The takeaway: timing may affect various gains and can be used to “fine tune” the benefits.

More importantly, however, is that exercise benefits you- no matter what time!

When is the best time to eat? Before, or after a workout?

I am also frequently asked about the timing of eating, and this at present is not as clear.

Working out in the morning, before eating, was thought to stimulate metabolism, aiding the body in burning fat. But, too strenuous of a workout without properly “fueling” your muscles may lead to a less effective workout, soreness, and require prolonged recovery.

If you are exercising moderately in the morning, I usually recommend eating after a workout, as soon as you start to feel hungry. This is the body’s signal to you that it is looking for nutrition.

What about protein supplements?

My answer depends upon individual goals. I always stress the importance of clean eating, and good quality protein sources.

Two of the most common protein shakes are whey, and casein. Whey shakes are faster absorbed and can fuel the muscles if taken before a workout. Casein is slowly absorbed, and is better at night, after exercise.

The goal, whether supplements, or food derived protein, is one gram of protein for every pound of body weight you are trying to build muscle mass.

At Elite, we teach our clients how to achieve optimal nutrition, and devise a workout plan around each client’s individual needs, and goals.

You can find more information about our health and wellness programs at, or follow us on Facebook

Make a change to your health and vitality today. Schedule a free 15- minute telephone consultation with Dr. Plumser, our Discovery Call by following the link below:

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