If you’re like a lot of people out there, you probably wonder what the optimal time of day for exercise is. The answer depends on many factors, but if you’re looking to burn fat, new research suggests morning workouts may be your best bet.
Study: Workout Time and Burning Fat
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark sought to determine how working out at different times of day affected post-exercise metabolism and fat-burning (aka the afterburn effect). They did this by examining physical activity in mice at various times of day.
Why mice? Because, as described in an accompanying press release on the study, “mice and humans share many basic physiological functions, and mice are a well-established model for human physiology and metabolism.”
Ultimately, researchers wanted to find out the optimal time of day to exercise in order to amp up fat-burning. They did this by studying the adipose tissue in the mice after two sessions of high-intensity exercise — one performed at an early active phase (equivalent of late morning in humans) and one at early rest phases (equivalent of late evening in humans).
They found that “physical activity at an early active phase increased the expression of genes involved in the breakdown of adipose tissue, thermogenesis (heat production) and mitochondria in the adipose tissue, indicating a higher metabolic rate. These effects were observed only in mice that exercised in the early active phase and were independent of food intake.”
A higher metabolic rate, of course, helps burn fat more than lower a metabolic rate, meaning morning workouts may help amp up your ability to burn fat.
”Our results suggest that late-morning exercise could be more effective than late evening exercise in terms of boosting the metabolism and the burning of fat, and if this is the case, they could prove of value to people who are overweight,” said professor Juleen R. Zierath from the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in the release.
Zierath added: ”The right timing seems to be important to the body’s energy balance and to improving the health benefits of exercise, but more studies are needed to draw any reliable conclusions about the relevance of our findings to humans.”
Other Fat-Burning Tips
While this is promising research and could encourage people to exercise early in the day, the truth is exercise at any time of day is beneficial. In fact, starting a fitness routine that works for you and your schedule is important. If that means working out in the afternoon, evening or night fits into your life better than morning, you should get your workouts in then instead.
If burning fat is your ultimate goal, here are some ways to enhance your ability to lose belly fat and fat in other areas:
- Take advantage of natural metabolism boosters, such as getting plenty of sleep and rest, trying high-intensity interval training (HIIT), lifting weights, and avoiding inflammatory foods.
- Work out on an empty stomach.
- Add natural fat burners to your routine, such as conjugated linoleic acid, green coffee beans, grapefruit essential oil, green tea and other herbal teas, protein supplements and foods, and probiotic foods and supplements.
- Consume more fat-burning foods, such as high-fiber foods, apple cider vinegar, bone broth and many more.
- Incorporate more fat-burning workouts, including Tabata, HIIT, barre, CrossFit, spinning/cycling, cross-country skiing, sprinting, elliptical exercises, burst training, rowing and swimming. Playing sports like football, basketball, soccer and volleyball also is great for burning fat.
- Eat a healthy diet, and avoid unhealthy, processed foods.