The Best Times to Workout + your Pre-Workout Needs

by Stephanie Margolis, R.D.

What is the best time of day to workout?  When do you burn the most calories?

Your body and your metabolism do not care!  Your body will burn the same amount of calories whether you kick start your day with a workout or snooze better because you worked out at night.

The best time of the day to workout is when you WILL workout.  For me that means making a calendar every Sunday.  2 days of the week tend to be 5am workouts and 2 days a week tend to be 9pm workouts.

So how do you properly prepare your body for working out at 5am or 9pm?

First thing in the Morning: Prepare your body for your workout by drinking water.  You can go on an empty stomach, half an apple or banana.  Your body's glycogen stores are full, so if you feel okay, go without prior to your workout.  Research shows early morning exercise creates the best habits.  There are little to no interruptions.

What to do when you’re a breakfast person
It’s a myth that you need breakfast immediately when you wake up, or that it helps with weight loss. In fact, extending your fast a couple hours (breakfast = break your body's fasting state) into your day can help your body dig into your fat stores and boost weight loss. My advice? Drink a cup of water immediately upon waking up. This should curb cravings and give your body the hydration and energy you need to start your day. And simply eat breakfast within a few hours of waking.

What to do when you exercise in the morning
Unless you’re planning on a high-intensity workout at least 50 minutes in length, you should have enough glycogen stored in your body to fuel your workout. If you work out for more than 50 minutes, I recommend eating half an apple to help you get through the workout. Then, if you use intermittent fasting you can have your first full meal during your 8-hour window.

Late Morning: After the kids are off to school and you have had breakfast, this is probably one of the best times for your body to workout.  Between breakfast and lunch your body has plenty of energy to complete that workout!
Late Afternoon: For all moms that fall off the bandwagon about this time of day (I used to do it!), this could be the best time for you.  Just like late morning, it is one of the best times for your body to work out.  Your lunch is settled and glycogen stores are full of energy.  It also helps get rid of that afternoon slump.

Evening: This is different for all moms, and is dependent on your sleep schedule (or lack thereof:)  And the research is mixed.  Overall exercise will help you sleep better.  But for some, revving that heart rate right before bed, keeps the eyes open for too long.  For me, I work out after the kids go to bed…it keeps me on good behavior at dinner and post-dinner!

*Pregnant or Breastfeeding:  Make sure you eat a snack of protein and carbohydrates within the hour + stay well hydrated.  i.e. apple with peanut butter, milk and a slice of bread, yogurt and a few almonds.

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