by Stephanie Margolis, RD
updated March 2, 2023
The best time to work out? 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 work out is when you WILL work out.
So how do you properly prepare your body for working out at 5 a.m. or 9 p.m.?
Research shows early morning exercise creates the best habits. There are little to no interruptions.
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 then you will need additional fuel. The best choices will be those that are digested quickly like banana, apple, orange juice, or health bar. These give your body a readily available supply of carbohydrates which are your body’s first source of energy. Aim to eat 20-30 minutes prior to your workout to allow the food to be digested so you can reap the benefits of the nutrients.
Another reason you may want to add a pre-workout food is if you feel exceptionally hungry or low energy prior to your workout. This could mean you didn’t have enough food the previous day and need the extra calories to help you get the most out of your workout.
If you use intermittent fasting you can have your first full meal during your 8-hour window. Extending your fast a couple hours into your day can be beneficial. Drinking a cup of water immediately upon waking up can also help curb cravings and give your body the hydration you need to start your day.
After the kids are off to school and you have had breakfast is probably one of the best times for your body to work out. Between breakfast and lunch your body has plenty of energy to complete that workout!
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.
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 their 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 and stay well hydrated (apple with peanut butter, milk and a slice of bread, or yogurt and a few almonds). Check out pregnancy nutrition and breastfeeding nutrition.
No matter what time of day, if you carve out a just 15 minutes for yourself, you’ll gain energy and endorphins. Try our 15 Minute Endorphin Workouts! Choose one every day or pick a few for the week.