The best time to workout for weight loss?
If you want to lose weight, your workout timing can play a huge role when it comes to helping you achieve your goals faster.
In this video, we’re gonna focus on exactly that and I’m gonna show you the best time to workout for weight loss.
The Best Time To Workout For Weight Loss
If the benefits of exercise can be manufactured as a pill, it would be the greatest blockbuster medication of all time. And you can get it, for free.
I also believe that having a gym membership is just icing on the cake when it comes to achieving your health and wellness goals.
It’s entirely possible to get extremely fit without having a gym membership. So do not ever let that deter you from achieving your goals.
Exercise can be used as a tool for many reasons. For example, I used it to become a national level weightlifter for a few years. Nowadays, I just use it to move my body and stay fit.
Some people use it for endurance training. Other people use it for rehabbing an injury. But this post is specifically geared if you want to use it to help with your weight loss goals.
The Key To Long Term Success: Balancing Hormones
Your main goal with weight loss is to help your body optimize fat burning without tapping into your muscle mass through hormone optimization. Which means we want to focus on a muscle sparring fat loss strategy.
I’ve literally never met a person who didn’t want that.
With that goal in mind, one of the best time to workout for weight loss, and this works for building muscle as well, is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach aka in a fasted state.
Meaning, you haven’t had breakfast yet. Fun fact, breakfast literally means ‘break fast’. It’s the meal that breaks your fast (your overnight fast which is while you’re sleeping).
Why is this beneficial? It really comes down to your hormones. Because the human body functions through the secretion of certain hormones.
This is why I always say that calories in vs calories out only works if you optimize hormones.
The first important hormone is cortisol, which is a counter regulatory hormone. It’s naturally high first thing in the morning.
One of its main jobs is to give your body energy when you wake up. It does that by sending a signal to the liver to break down stored glycogen and turn it into glucose so the body can use it for energy.
This is why the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, is one of the biggest lies in the nutrition industry because you actually don’t need to eat first thing in the morning.
There is zero science behind it. Only breakfast food companies want you to believe that myth. Because your body is really smart. It gives you energy.
We developed this awesome system of tapping into our stored energy through evolution. If we didn’t have this capability, we would’ve gone extinct as a species.
Back in the Paleolithic times, food was scarce. Our ancestors didn’t wake up and just say, “Geez! I better eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”
No. They would get up, they would already have energy through the uptick in cortisol, and they would go about their day hunting for food. This is why i always say that meal times are completely made up.
Cool? I just want to clear that up just in case working out on an empty stomach, or the the concept of skipping breakfast is completely foreign to you.
If you’re not used to skipping breakfast, there’s definitely gonna be an adaptation period of around two weeks.
Remember, if you’ve been eating breakfast all your life then all of a sudden you workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, your body is gonna freak out a little bit.
You might even feel weak at first. That’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. Your body will eventually adjust to this fat adaptation process. Remember, you are going against a lifetime of eating habits here.
In terms of balancing your hormones, which again should be your main goal if you want to be a healthy human being, you want to make sure you’re not getting multiple spikes of cortisol throughout the day.
Bear in mind that exercise is also a type of stress. If you already have naturally high cortisol levels and increased blood glucose that you can use for energy first thing in the morning, it only makes sense to just piggy back off of that so you don’t have an unnecessary cortisol spike especially later in the day.
This becomes even more paramount if you are under a lot of stress from life. Because chronically high cortisol levels leads to chronic inflammation which is extremely bad for your health.
It also leads to that all too familiar weight gain around your belly. This is why I don’t recommend working out really close to bed time because that’s the time when you want to have lower cortisol levels so your body gets primed to get the best sleep quality possible.
Optimize Growth Hormone
The next thing to consider why you should workout first thing in the morning is you get to take advantage of growth hormones.
You want to workout first thing in the morning, aka in a fasted state, because you also have naturally higher levels of growth hormones.
Side note: Do you know what supress growth hormone? Eating breakfast. Just saying. We’ll talk about why that’s also important in a second.
Growth hormone helps you repair and protect your muscles, among other things, which is that muscle sparring factor that we’re after.
Other awesome benefits of growth hormones include:
- Increased muscle strength
- Better fracture healing
- Enhanced weight loss
- Stronger bones
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improvement in erectile dysfunction
- Decreased obesity
- Better mood and cognitive function
- Better sleep
Growth hormone also often considered the real fountain of youth because of its anti aging effects. Pretty awesome, right?
The highest amount of growth hormone actually gets released while you’re sleeping. Another reason why you should prioritize sleep above all else.
This makes sense because when you’re sleeping is when your body gets a chance to rest and repair your muscles. As well as other important restoration processes to keep your body functioning properly.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should get up in the middle of the night to get your pump on.
The moment you interrupt that deep sleep, that rest and restoration process gets disturbed. Your body has to work up again to get into that deep sleep state. So, don’t even think about it.
In fact, lack of high quality sleep can negatively impact growth hormone response.
It also messes up other important hormones like ghrelin which is your hunger hormone. As well as leptin which is the hormone that signals your body that you’re full.
It also affects the amygdala which is the reward centre of your brain. This is why you have cravings for the worst food when you are sleep deprived.
That’s why I mention the importance of getting adequate and quality sleep in every single one of my YouTube videos.
None of this is going to work if you don’t get good sleep. It’s so detrimental that some scientists have classified shift work as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Again, assuming that you do get good sleep, you get that slight bump in growth hormone first thing in the morning.
You can actually further boost your growth hormone and get access to the muscle sparring, fat burning, and anti aging benefits by doing intermittent fasting.
In fact, there’s a study that shows that after a 24 hour fast, testosterone can go up by as much as 180% and growth hormone has been found to be as high as 2,000% from the baseline.
Do you still want to eat breakfast cereal or instant oatmeal first thing in the morning?
The third important factor is insulin. In order for this to make sense, we have to circle back to growth hormone. They’re all connected.
When you’re in a fasted state, that’s when your growth hormones are high.
I mentioned this earlier that when you eat breakfast, especially if you’re eating traditional breakfast foods in North America like instant oatmeal, toast, breakfast cereal, waffles, fruit smoothies, granola bars, juice, then that’s gonna cause a huge spike in insulin.
By the way, if that’s your typical breakfast, then breakfast is the most important meal of the day for you to skip.
I talk about the hormone insulin a lot on my YouTube channel and how important it is to keep it moderated if you want any chance of achieving your weight loss goals.
Why? Because insulin is what controls your body weight. It’s your fat storing hormone. When insulin levels are high, it suppresses the release of growth hormone.
All you need to know is that if your insulin levels are high, you cannot access your fat stores and burn it for energy. You just can’t.
It physically locks up your fat cells and insulin is the key. Long story short, high insulin blocks lipolysis aka fat burning.
Once insulin is low, and this happens when you don’t eat aka when you fast, this also happens when you follow a very low carb diet, fat cells become available and that’s what our body uses for energy.
Basically, when your insulin levels are low, that’s when your body switches to fat burning mode. If you’re trying to lose weight, that’s exactly what we want.
The Best Time To Workout For Weight Loss: How To Make It Work
Let’s get into the specifics of how to actually make this work in real life. The most important factor here is when you’re planning your workouts, make sure that it’s actually realistic.
Pick a time that works with your schedule. Preferably some time in the morning. Ideally, you’re working out on an empty stomach because of all the things I just mentioned.
For a lot of people, especially when they’re new, this is their biggest ‘frog’. If you’ve ever read the book ‘Eat That Frog’, working out is right near the top as one of the biggest things they have to do that day. That’s what the frog represents.
I don’t want you to literally start eating frogs unless you’re into it. So if you eat your hypothetical frog first thing in the morning, you are playing with house money for the rest of the day.
But for some people, maybe they can’t workout first thing in the morning. That’s okay. Maybe you can’t go to the gym until 10, or 11 am. That’s totally fine.
The most important thing is you’re still able to get in your workout that day. Again, ideally in a fasted state.
If you do a 16 hour fast for example, you can do your workout in the morning and have your “break fast” meal at noon.
Going back to the one thing that determines your success outside of your diet which is sleep, make sure your sleep quality doesn’t suffer as a result of your morning workouts.
If that means going to bed an hour earlier, then you need to make the necessary adjustments to make that work.
Because any benefit that you get from getting up early to get in your morning workout gets nullified if your sleep is trash.
I give my students this advice all the time. If you haven’t been sleeping well and you’re really tired. And the choice is whether you get an extra hour of sleep or workout first thing in the morning, I will prioritize sleep every single time.
Again, if you can’t workout in the morning, it’s not the end of the world. I personally train at 11am or noon.
If you train in a fasted state, you can still get most of the benefits I mentioned above. Specifically, the uptick in growth hormone and lower insulin levels.
Now, what if you can’t get in a workout first thing in the morning or early afternoon? That’s fine. You can still workout mid afternoon or even after work. It’s not the end of the world. It’s better than not working out at all.
Just make sure you don’t workout right before bed and try not do anything super intense at night. Worst case? Just go for a walk.
But if you do have the opportunity and flexibility and you really want to balance your hormones and tap into your fat burning mechanisms faster, then that’s when sticking to a morning/early afternoon workout, preferably in a fasted state, can really be a great tool for fat loss.
Working out in a fasted state also trains your muscles to burn fat for energy. The human body is an adaptation machine and your muscles adapt to whatever energy source is available.
So if you teach it to prefer fat as fuel, then it’s only gonna get more efficient at doing that moving forward.
Does Training In A Fasted State Affect Performance?
Training fasted in the morning isn’t anything new. A lot of high level athletes like Georges St Pierre, a UFC world champion, he credits fasted training when it comes to his improved performance.
Herschel Walker, often considered the greatest running back in the history of college football and is a multi sport athlete, has been training fasted for over 25 years and just eats one meal away. These are athletes that perform at the highest level of their respective sports.
Even actors like Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews workout on an empty stomach. They all look pretty good to me.
So if you’re worried that you can’t build muscle training fasted, because your bro told you that you’re gonna wither away, that’s wrong.
If you’re still worried about workout performance, put your mind at ease. There was a study done on Muslim athletes during Ramadan and their performance didn’t suffer.
There’s a lot of high level muslim athletes out there like UFC world champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Do you think he’s worried about working out on an empty stomach?
There’s also another study where a 3.5 day fast didn’t affect athletic performance. I did a 7 day water fast last year and my workout performance didn’t suffer even on day 7.
In fact, I’ve been training fasted at noon every day for 8 years now and it’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve able to maintain a lean physique. This stuff works.
The biggest point I’m trying to make is that the human body is an amazing thing.
Once you give it time to adjust and become fat adapted, to get used to burning fat for energy by working out in the morning in a fasted state and taking advantage of the uptick in certain hormones, you can train harder, lose fat, and build muscle at the same time.
Just remember that exercise is just one of the tools in your tool box from your multifaceted approach when it comes to achieving your health and wellness goals. 80% of your body composition is still gonna be determined by your diet.
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!
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