Exercise: Morning vs. Evening

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Hiking in the mountains of Scotland

Last week, I got up at 5:30am every morning and hit the gym for some fasted HIIT and cardio before heading to the office. By Thursday, it got a little tougher to wake up but that may have been the glass of wine I had on Wednesday night… The strange thing is, my cravings for sugar and carbohydrates were not nearly as intense as normal. My energy levels were up. I needed less caffeine to get through the day and I didn’t experience the mid-afternoon slump or crash. In the evening, I did feel the need to go to bed quite early and was typically asleep by 10:00 or 10:30pm. Ideally, I would like to get eight hours of sleep every night but I’ll settle for seven! This new routine got me thinking; why does this work so much better for me?

On Wednesday, I had a conversation with an entrepreneur who recommended a book to me called, “The Power of When: Discover your Chronotype.” This book is apparently a guide to discover; “the best time to eat lunch, ask for a raise, have sex, write a novel, take your meds and more.” Every person is genetically and biologically different. We are all “wired” differently meaning that our brains and internal anatomy are completely unique. Some people live for early mornings and some people come to life in the evenings. There are optimal times throughout the day for each of us to complete activities in order to maximize their value and maximize our own potential.

I spoke to my mother my new routine and she exclaimed, “Oh, it’s serotonin! Your body is releasing the feel-good hormone at the beginning of the day so it’s coursing through your body for the duration of your day and making you feel good.” But this sounds so simple and if this were the case, wouldn’t everybody be having the same experience as me? Are people who exercise in the morning generally happier and more successful? If so, why aren’t we all doing it?

There are benefits to exercising in the afternoon when you have fed your body throughout the day and have the energy and calories to burn. But there are benefits to working out in the morning when your body is fasting, but still has glycogen to burn from dinner the night before. Statistics show that you burn 20% more fat if you exercise in the morning. Studies also show that morning workouts kickstart your metabolism and you end up burning more calories throughout the day. Sounds great, right?

Getting up at 5:30am isn’t easy and going to bed early requires self-discipline. Avoiding the temptation to go for socials after work, turning off Netflix when the temptation to binge-watch American Horror Story is all too great and saying goodnight as your housemates are only just starting their evening. Getting 7+ hours of sleep is extremely important for recovery. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. It’s not a nice-to-have when you train hard, it’s a must-have. You don’t know if you’re a morning workout person until you try it, so set your alarm and give it a go. They don’t call 5:00am ‘Winners O’Clock‘ for nothing!

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