When the topic of fitness and exercise comes up most people ask the question, “what should I be doing in the gym to help me lose weight or gain muscle?” The fitness program that you choose has a dramatic impact on the results you achieve. One aspect of fitness that most people seem to over look is the time of day they choose to workout. In other words there is a specific time of day when your physiology is at its optimal levels to burn fat and build muscle. You might be wondering how is this so? I thought just getting my but in the gym on a regular basis would be enough to kick my metabolism in high gear? This is partially true, however research has shown that there is a specific time frame during the day where your metabolism and hormones are at the optimal levels to get the best results.
Morning Workouts within a few Hours of Waking
While we sleep human growth hormone (HGH) is at its highest level. HGH is responsible for muscle growth and cellular repair. HGH levels will begin to fall near the end of our sleep cycle. This is where cortisol increases to help us wake up and get going. Cortisol also known as stress hormone is great for us in short bursts, it helps to burn glucose and fat, and raises our breathing rate and blood pressure in anticipation for physical activity. However, on the other hand, chronically high levels of cortisol lead to a number of other health problems. In addition to an increase in cortisol, testosterone levels are elevated which is responsible for increasing muscle and bone density. And yes, women do produce testosterone but in much lower levels than men. Blood sugar levels are low upon waking and with physical activity this will encourage your metabolism to utilize fat burning pathways instead of sugar burning pathways for energy. In addition to the hormonal benefits that morning workouts utilize, there are psychological benefits as well. Exercise encourages the release of serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter, which influences a variety of psychological and bodily functions. One of the primary influences of serotonin is on mood. Research shows that low levels of serotonin lead to depression, where as increased levels of serotonin, which can be influenced by exercise, have an anti-depressive affect on a person’s mood. When beginning the day with your workout session you flood the brain with serotonin, which affects your overall mood for the rest of the day. Its clear to see that there are physiological, psychological and hormonal advantages to morning workouts. If you exercise in the afternoon or evening it might be a good idea to change up the routine and see how it goes.