Why Do Morning Workouts Help You Lose Weight?
A couple of small but crucial differences in the morning and late exercisers could explain the results. After completing their workouts, the morning exercisers were more active throughout the rest of the day than the later group, and they ate slightly fewer calories as well. Neither of those differences were huge. But as anyone who has set a fitness goal knows, small changes can make a big difference over time.
What else could be going on? Larry Weilland, MS, an exercise physiologist at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Health & Fitness Center told POPSUGAR that hormones may potentially play a role. According to research, an intense workout generally lowers your appetite for at least a while afterwards, thanks to two factors: a decrease in the hunger hormone ghrelin, and an increase in peptides that make you feel full.
"That decrease in appetite may set a pattern for the rest of the day," Larry explained, hence the slight difference in calories consumed between early and late exercisers, though he added, "this is not by any means settled science." But in the grand scheme of things, "if weight loss is paramount for you and you're comfortable and able to exercise in the morning, exercising early would likely give you an edge," Larry said.
In the study, everyone in the exercise group was working out for the same amount of time and intensity. But outside of that context, morning workouts might still be the way to go, said Shayna Schmidt, NASM-certified personal trainer and cofounder of Livekick. That's for a pretty simple reason: "If you get your exercise done in the morning, you can simply roll with whatever comes up later in the day," Shayna explained. "You're far more likely to be consistent with your training if you get it done early in the day rather than delaying."
Still, it's important to remember that this study wasn't designed to test for weight loss in terms of workout timing; the different results could have been caused by individual schedules and routines, not necessarily because of the morning vs. afternoon factor. Plus, both the morning and late groups lost weight compared to the control group. "Ultimately, movement is movement," Shayna said. "If someone is just getting started making fitness a part of his or her life, fitting in any kind of movement at any time of day is certainly a win."