Loving this content? Share it on your social channels!

best time to exercise to lose weight

Your workout routine can impact your weight loss progress in many ways. But does the timing of your workouts matter? While a recent study published in the Journal Obesity suggests morning may be the best time to exercise to lose weight, you have to do what works best for you.

Whether you have the most energy in the morning, afternoon, or evening, the most important thing is finding your workout time and sticking to it. Regular exercise at any time of day has countless benefits, and staying consistent will help you meet your weight loss goals.

In this article, we’ll delve into the science of the best time to exercise to lose weight and how to schedule your workouts around when you feel your best.  We’ll also talk about the benefits of exercise at any time of day (as there are many!) and help you decide which time is best for you.

What is the Best Time to Exercise to Lose Weight?

According to research, those who work out in the morning, specifically between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m., have a slight edge against the rest. In particular, new research shows that those who exercise at this time appear to have a lower BMI and waist circumference. But before you start forcing yourself to get up earlier to exercise, it’s essential to understand the limitations of the research.

Most studies on exercise timing and weight loss simply observe an association between those who exercise in the morning and lower weight. However, most of these studies do not re-check participants’ measurements again at the end of the study. This makes it difficult to determine if the morning exercise directly caused a lower body weight. 

There could be other factors at play, such as those who exercise in the morning may have specific genes that predispose them to weigh less. Or, morning exercisers may have other habits that help keep their weight down.

While most of the research conducted points towards morning exercise as superior, there are benefits of working out any time of day.

Benefits of Morning Exercise

You may consume less calories.

Based on past studies, morning exercisers are more likely to have a lower calorie intake and burn more calories when they’re not exercising. This could be because our bodies are primed to burn calories throughout the day when they start the day with physical activity. 

This may be the case even for those who exercise first thing in the morning and then remain sedentary for most of the rest of the day. However, I don’t recommend doing this as staying sedentary all day is not advantageous for overall health, even if you worked out earlier in the day.

It can set the tone for the day.

People who exercise regularly in the morning may also have more predictable, regimented schedules. They could also be more likely to meal plan to support weight loss.

In addition, morning workouts can improve your mood and set the overall tone for the day. They can help you feel more positive, motivated, and confident about taking on your day. I notice a huge difference in myself on the days I work out in the morning when I can handle any challenges that come my way.

The verdict? If you can swing it, the morning is likely the best time to exercise for weight loss for many reasons. But, it’s not the end all be all.

You may be more consistent.

Morning workouts may be easier to stick to because they occur before anything interrupts your day. When you work out before you start your day, you don’t run the risk of any other tasks getting in the way. This typically results in better consistency.

Research has also shown regular morning exercise leads to more frequent exercise, which in turn can accelerate weight loss results.

Benefits of Afternoon or Evening Exercise

May improve workout performance. 

If your goal is to increase your athletic performance in addition to losing weight, working out later in the day may be a good idea. According to research, physical performance can peak later in the day when your muscles become more flexible.

As a result, you may be able to perform better or longer during afternoon or evening workouts. This can support a more significant calorie burn.

May improve muscle strength.

According to a small study involving 30 women, working out in the afternoon may improve muscle performance. This means you may be able to lift heavier or perform more reps, increasing your calorie burn and metabolism-boosting potential.

Other studies also showed that exercising late afternoon led to more significant improvements in muscle strength and power compared to morning exercisers. This could be because your muscles are more flexible later in the day when you have more time to unwind.

Bottom line – if you have more energy in the morning, those a.m. workouts are still likely better overall for weight loss. If not, you may reap some extra performance and muscle-enhancing benefits from waiting until your body has more time to wake up.

The Best Time to Exercise is When is Best for You

As a Registered Dietitian, part of my job is to help my clients become more consistent with their exercise regimen. While the nutrition component is a bigger part of what I do, exercise for weight loss is always a core topic of discussion. This often fuels the motivation for good eating habits. 

Not all my clients are early birds and are not willing to become them. While I recommend giving morning workouts a shot, don’t force it. If you’re not getting used to it after a few weeks, try a different time. What’s most important is working out consistently at a time that works for your schedule and your optimal energy level. 

If you are exhausted trying to get yourself to wake up and workout, your workouts are likely to be less effective. And, you may find yourself starving later on if you didn’t sleep enough.

If you’re new to exercise, start small and pick a time to stick to for a good 2-3 weeks. Then, re-evaluate your progress and see if the time is something you can be consistent with. Then, you can build from there. Remember – each step compounds to huge results over time!