Morning exercise seems to produce more weight loss than workouts later in the day, a new study indicates. The study is another in a series that indicate timing can influence the way activities make an impact on us. Meal timing has become a hot topic in weight loss circles. Research shows bigger breakfast eaters lose more than twice the amount of weight compared to bigger dinner eaters. Some researchers have been examining whether working out before or after breakfast makes a difference in weight control.
Now comes a study published in The International Journal of Obesity in July that finds participants who typically worked out before noon lost more weight, on average, than the men and women who usually exercised after 3 p.m. The findings were based on a study of about 100 overweight young men and women who exercised five times a week at a physiology lab doing the same, supervised workouts.
Small differences add up
The morning group members were slightly more active throughout the day and they also ate a little less, although researchers said the differences were minimal. Early exercisers walked a bit more than later exercisers and they ate almost 100 calories less each day. While those amounts were very small, they may have added up in striking differences of how many pounds were lost.
The scientists used activity trackers and liquid energy tracers to record everyone’s calorie intakes and daily movement habits during the 10-month study. They also tracked changes in people’s weight. After 10 months of burning 600 calories per session, almost all the previously inactive participants had dropped weight, although the amount of those losses varied widely.
Working out before noon helps
Researchers were able to keep precise track of workout schedules since participants signed in each time they went to the gym. People who usually exercised before noon lost more weight, on average, than the men and women who worked out after 3 p.m. Our theory is – if you get your heart rate up in the morning, your body will be burning all day!
“Based on this data, I would say that the timing of exercise might — just might — play a role” in weight loss, says Dr. Erik Willis. Willis is a data analyst with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is one of the researchers who has been examining how exercise makes an impact on body weight.
Any exercise at any time counts
Dr. Willis notes that while those who worked out later in the day did not lose as much weight at early-day exercise, they did drop pounds and they almost certainly became healthier. “I would not want anyone to think that it’s not worth exercising if you can’t do it first thing in the morning,” he says. “Any exercise, at any time of day, is going to be better than none.”
The scientists had found few differences to explain why the biggest losers dropped more pounds when they looked at the research data for a 2015 study. Dr. Willis and Seth Creasy, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz campus, decided to re-examine the data by focusing on activity timing. Their efforts led to the findings published in July.