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Maximizing your Workouts: The Science Behind Morning vs. Evening Exercise for Weight Loss

Heather Lenz: Wellness Coach, Yoga Instructor, Author

In the pursuit of effective weight loss strategies, the timing of exercise has emerged as a fascinating area of investigation. Two recent studies, "The efficacy of morning versus evening exercise for weight loss: A randomized controlled trial" by Brooker et al. and "Effect of Morning and Evening Exercise on Energy Balance: A Pilot Study" by Creasy et al., shed light on the impact of exercise timing on weight loss and energy balance. These studies offer valuable insights into the complex relationship between timing, physical activity, and achieving weight loss goals.

Timing Matters: Unlocking the Secrets of Optimal Weight Loss through Exercise Timing

Weight management remains a paramount concern in today's society, with sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets contributing to the obesity epidemic. Exercise, combined with a balanced diet, is a cornerstone of effective weight loss strategies. However, recent research suggests that when you exercise might be just as important as how you exercise. These studies delve into the potential differences between morning and evening exercise, aiming to uncover whether timing plays a significant role in optimizing weight loss efforts.

Study 1: Morning vs. Evening Exercise for Weight Loss

In the study conducted by Brooker et al., researchers aimed to compare the efficacy of morning and evening exercise in promoting weight loss. The randomized controlled trial involved participants who were assigned to either a morning or evening exercise group. Over a defined period, participants engaged in structured exercise routines, and their weight loss progress was monitored closely.

The results of this study were intriguing. While both groups experienced weight loss, the morning exercise group exhibited a slightly more pronounced reduction in body weight and fat mass. Additionally, the morning exercisers demonstrated improved adherence to their exercise routine, suggesting that morning workouts might be more sustainable for some individuals. This study provides evidence that incorporating exercise into the morning routine could be advantageous for individuals aiming to shed excess weight.

Study 2: The Impact of Exercise Timing on Energy Balance

Creasy et al.'s pilot study investigated the effects of exercise timing on energy balance, shedding light on the potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between timing and weight management. In this study, participants were divided into morning and evening exercise groups, similar to the first study. However, the emphasis was on examining how exercise timing influenced energy expenditure and appetite regulation.

The findings from this pilot study hinted at a connection between exercise timing and energy balance. Participants who engaged in morning exercise showed trends toward increased energy expenditure and reduced appetite compared to the evening exercisers. While the results were not statistically significant, they provide a foundation for further exploration into the potential effects of exercise timing on metabolic processes.

Synthesizing the Findings

Combining the insights from both studies paints a nuanced picture of exercise timing's impact on weight loss and energy balance. Morning exercise appears to offer advantages in terms of weight loss efficacy and adherence to exercise routines. Moreover, the potential influence of exercise timing on energy expenditure and appetite regulation could have far-reaching implications for weight management strategies.

Heather's experience:

I always do my yoga and qigong practice first thing in the morning and even before coffee. While I've experimented with shifting my personal yoga routine to the evening, I've come to realize that initiating my practice in the early hours not only supports my optimal weight and well-being but also serves as a cornerstone for my daily routine.

The act of completing my yoga and qigong session in the morning has proven to curtail my appetite for sugary and fatty foods throughout the rest of the day. Moreover, a striking revelation has been the inherent advantage of performing my morning practice: its predictability. By tackling my yoga and qigong practice as the day begins, I've ensured its consistent execution, untouched by the unpredictable events that can arise later on.

After about 40-82 days you even can get addicted to the daily morning practice :)

I am not a natural morning person, but I set my alarm clock as early as is needed to get it done before the day's activities, and even while on holiday, because I feel so good afterward

On a different note, I've come to realize that my daughter, in contrast, isn't predisposed to leap out of bed for an early morning exercise session.

This realization underscores the importance of attuning oneself to their body's cues and rhythms. It's imperative to discern the optimal time of day for one's exercise routine—one that harmonizes seamlessly with their lifestyle.

Cracking the Weight Loss Code: Morning vs. Evening Workouts – Which Wins the Battle? Conclusion

The science of exercise timing is an exciting and evolving field, with these studies contributing to our understanding of how the timing of physical activity can impact weight loss efforts and energy balance. While more research is needed to fully unravel the mechanisms at play, these studies emphasize the importance of considering exercise timing as a potential tool in the fight against obesity.

As individuals seek to adopt healthier lifestyles and work towards their weight loss goals, the findings from these studies offer valuable insights. Whether you're an early riser or a night owl, the key takeaway is that the timing of your exercise routine could play a role in optimizing your weight loss journey.

The paramount consideration should be identifying the moment when commitment to the routine is unwavering and the session is thoroughly enjoyable. While studies and informational resources are invaluable assets in elevating our health, wellness, and overall quality of life, they ought to be augmented by one's innate intuition and understanding of your body's needs.


Study 1: Brooker PG, Gomersall SR, King NA, Leveritt MD. The efficacy of morning versus evening exercise for weight loss: A randomized controlled trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2023 Jan;31(1):83-95. doi: 10.1002/oby.23605. Epub 2022 Dec 10. PMID: 36502286; PMCID: PMC10108225.

Study 2: Creasy SA, Wayland L, Panter SL, Purcell SA, Rosenberg R, Willis EA, Shiferaw B, Grau L, Breit MJ, Bessesen DH, Melanson EL, Catenacci VA. Effect of Morning and Evening Exercise on Energy Balance: A Pilot Study. Nutrients. 2022 Feb 15;14(4):816. doi: 10.3390/nu14040816. PMID: 35215466; PMCID: PMC8877501.

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