What's the Best Time of Day to Exercise? #531 07/25/2013
Tell a friend

Ask the Expert: What's the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

By Steve Edwards

The time of day you work out gets a lot of attention, but is it really that important? Let's dig deeper and take a look at the reality of how much the time of day you work out can affect your results. I'll also share with you the five best times of the day that you should work out.

People Exercising

1. When you WILL work out.

While this may seem obvious, you should not lose sight of the fact that exercise is almost always preferable to no exercise. While technical "nit-picking" can help make your fitness journey easier, it can also work against you if you get too wrapped up in it. Exercise and healthy eating will always trump all other advice. I've seen every excuse in the book, including "I missed my optimal window for training so I skipped today's workout." Don't let this happen. Unless you're injured, sick, or overtrained, exercising is better than not exercising. Schedule your workout when you have the best chance of getting it done.

2. When you FEEL the best.

There are times during the day when you will have a slight physiological advantage if you work out during them, but none of those trump the psychological edge you have if you feel like exercising. As simple as this sounds, effort equals results more than any other one factor. This means that if you're a night owl, work out at night. Morning person? Work out first thing in the morning . . . you get my drift. Any time you're in the mood to really Bring It will work because, by far, the biggest physiological changes happen to your body when you push yourself further than you've pushed yourself before. There's a reason the P90X® mantra is "Bring It." The closer you get to putting in 100% effort, the more you force your body into an adaptive state, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to change.

Woman Eating a Strawberry 3. When your glycogen stores are full.

Now, let's get technical. Your body can push itself anaerobically longer and harder if you begin your workout with a full tank of muscle glycogen. This will let you lift more weight, jump higher, move faster—pretty much improve every important aspect of every workout that's not tied to recovery or aerobic efficiency.

Glycogen is mainly recharged by carbohydrates, and is extinguished very quickly with exercise, brain activity, and most other tasks. This means it fluctuates throughout the day and is always highest immediately after you digest a meal containing carbohydrates. This means—depending on your eating schedule—your body is probably primed for peak exercise in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening.

At night, your body can store glycogen, meaning that it's possible to wake up and train in the morning before you've eaten and still have enough energy to get through a workout, but this is a theoretical scenario. Most of us, especially when we're training hard and not eating a ton, will burn through glycogen recovering from the prior day's activities. The result is that those early morning workouts can lead to something called "the bonk," which is what happens when your body runs out of glycogen. Essentially you lose the ability to push your anaerobic realm, and you feel like you've hit a wall.

Bonking is not one of those "good pain" times. When your body is out of glycogen, it starts to break down muscle tissue and you quickly begin to offset the fitness gains you've made. It's inevitable that it will happen to you at some point. When it does, don't try and push though. Instead cut your losses and get on the recovery program by eating, resting, and then reevaluating your eating schedule and/or choice of workout times.

If exercising when your glycogen stores are low is the only time of day available, you can fix the situation nutritionally. If it's first thing in the morning, eat a half or a whole banana or drink a half or a full serving of Results and Recovery Formula® (depending on how long you're training) before you start your workout. If that helps, try adding another serving of complex carbohydrates to your evening meal and then skip the banana. If that doesn't work (you'll know if it doesn't—bonking isn't subtle) it means you're on a nutritional edge and aren't eating enough calories to recover from your workout program. It's time to reevaluate your daily caloric intake.

4. In the morning on an empty stomach.

In the morning, before you've eaten, your body is forced to utilize its fat stores for energy, and you can train your body to be efficient at doing so, which is cool. You're also "burning fat," which sounds even cooler (although it's not nearly as effective as "burning glycogen" when it comes to losing body fat). While fantastic, in theory, it's not if you force your body into a situation where you bonk.

You won't bonk, however, unless you're training anaerobically (in other words, hard—as in your heart rate is pegged during parts of the workout). This means easy workouts can have added benefits if done in the morning on an empty stomach. This is why during programs like P90X Doubles, the easier workout of the day is scheduled in the morning.

Couple Sleeping 5. At night before bed.

This time of day is last for a reason. Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it.

Working out directly before bed can affect your sleep. Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This isn't ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It's when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. Anything that hurts your ability to sleep should be eliminated if possible.

Exercise also utilizes a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you're on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you're on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with, at least, a nutritional recovery strategy (Results and Recovery Formula or equivalent), if not a small meal before going to sleep.

I'm not the norm, so I'll play the counterpoint to my point as I can fall asleep (and often sleep much better) immediately after a very hard workout. If you're like me, there's nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don't leave you depleted and starving when you wake up. I've done this and it can be so severe that you wake up in the middle of the night, a common issue with bodybuilders and fitness trainers getting ready for competition. This is not ideal as it means your body is essentially bonking during sleep. And while that's okay if your goal is to pose in front of a crowd with absurdly low body fat, like a bodybuilder, it's also a sign of starvation and, if done too long, will cause your body to begin to shut down its metabolic processes.

The bottom line is that everyone's body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It's really that simple.

Related Articles
"Ask the Expert: Is Cardio or Weight Lifting Better For Losing Weight?"
"Ask the Expert: How Much Protein Do You Need?"
"Ask the Expert: How Can I Maintain My Results?"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

Submit a CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

Back to top.


Vanilla Shakeology® has finally arrived!
Treat your taste buds to a creamy, delicious, and versatile new flavor.
TRY IT TODAY!
NEW FOCUS T25™—HAS ARRIVED! Want an hour's results in just 25 minutes a day?
Shaun T's revolutionary FOCUS T25™
workouts give you everything you need,
nothing you don't.
25 minutes. 5 days a week. 100% results.
YES! I WANT AN HOUR'S RESULTS IN 25 MINUTES A DAY
Want to shed even MORE fat?
Beachbody® test groups have shown that those who enhanced their workouts with Slimming Formula lost more fat than those who didn't, thanks to the proven combination of pyruvate and green tea extract.*
Slimming Formula—FREE UPGRADE to Express Shipping
I WANT TO GET LEAN!—FREE UPGRADE to Express Shipping
Consult your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning any exercise program or using any supplement or meal replacement product.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
SHOP ALL BEST SELLERS

Back to top.


15 Great Road Trip Foods Under 200 Calories

By Rebecca Swanner

The car is packed, the kids are happily occupied in the backseat, and you're ready to hit the road. But, when stomachs start rumbling, what's the plan? To stop you from making a pit stop at a greasy spoon or swinging through a drive-thru, we've pulled together a list of 15 road trip foods that will keep those hunger pangs at bay—and your car not full of detritus. And, most of them can be taken on a plane as well!

Smiling Women in a Car

1. Fruit

Fruit's fiber and high water content will help keep you full and hydrated as you travel. But, unless you want a messy car, it's best that you either choose fruit that doesn't have a stem, a pit, or an outside covering—namely, blueberries, figs, and grapes—or prepare fruit ahead of time and place it into Tupperware® containers. Strawberries, banana slices, peaches, and nectarines are great for this.
Calories per serving: 85–105

Kale Krunch2. Kale Krunch™

I discovered this when I was doing P90X earlier this year. They're low in calories, high in vitamin A, and totally addictive. Plus, they're flavored with ingredients like organic olive oil and organic chia seeds. They are a little on the expensive side though, so if you want to make your own, make these Kale Chips, chop them into bite-sized morsels, and pop them in a Tupperware or Ziploc® bag.
Calories per serving: 110

Nut Butter and Jelly3. A Better Nut Butter and Jelly

The trouble with most sandwiches is that they require a cooler . . . unless you like eating warm chicken salad. Peanut (or any nut, frankly) butter and jelly is one that doesn't. Make it with whole-grain bread (my personal favorite is Ezekiel 4:9®), an all-natural nut butter, and all-natural fruit spread like St. Dalfour® to up the health factor.
Calories per 1/2 sandwich: 150 (varies depending on ingredients)

4. Shakeology® Packets

Want to take your Shakeology on the road? Just mix a single-serving Shakeology packet (available in Chocolate, Vanilla, Greenberry, Chocolate Vegan, and Tropical Strawberry) with water and shake!
Calories per serving: 160–170

5. Eggs

You might find the idea of taking eggs with you on the road a little odd, but hard-boiled eggs are great for a quick power-up. Plus, they're loaded with B vitamins, which may help keep tempers cool on long trips.
Calories per serving: 78

Homemade Energy Bars6. Homemade Energy Bars

The bulk of prepackaged bars sold at gas stations or convenience stores are loaded with sugar, preservatives, and empty calories. These homemade bars can be made in minutes and contain only good-for-you ingredients like fruit and nuts.
Calories per serving: 124

7. Nuts

Nuts are highly caloric, but they're also high in healthy omega-3 fats and travel well. Choose raw, unsalted nuts like almonds or walnuts that don't require you to dispose of a shell.
Calories per serving: 130–180

8. Spiced Nuts

Deepen the flavor of nuts by roasting them with spices. This recipe that combines cinnamon, cayenne, and cumin with a touch of honey will keep you away from the store-bought trail mix.
Calories per serving: 120

9. Baby Carrots

Maybe we're weird, but we think baby carrots are fun to eat, and they don't make a mess! They're sweet on their own, or you can combine them with hummus for a yummy, crunchy treat.
Calories per serving: 30

10. Split Pea Crisps

Peas are really good for you thanks to their fiber and vitamins A and C. But, good luck getting your kids to eat them on a road trip. Unless . . . you disguise them as a crunchy snack. These split pea crisps from Whole Living® combine peas with just a touch of olive oil and salt.
Calories per serving: 55

11. Other Vegetables

It's a classic for a reason. Slice up your favorite veggies—snap peas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and celery all travel well—and pop them into a sealable container. Persian cucumbers are also a yummy single-serving snack.
Calories per serving: Less than 20

Dried Fruit12. Dried Fruit

On day 2 of the road trip, when you've run out of regular fruit, try dried fruit. It's higher in calories by volume than fresh fruit, so just be mindful of how much you eat and look for options without sulfites, but it's better for you than a candy bar. Or a Fruit Roll-Up®.
Calories per serving: About 150

13. PopChips®

This is probably the least healthy option on this list since they're made with potato flour and not whole potatoes, but you could do a lot worse. Plus, they're a Tony Horton–approved road trip snack. Original PopChips contain just potatoes, salt, a touch of rice flour, and oil, so you can feel like you're snacking on chips without loading your body up with who knows what.
Calories per serving: 120

14. Spicy Baked Chickpeas

Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, little weird things that come in a can . . . whatever you call them, these little nuggets of goodness are high in fiber and will help keep you full. Try this road-friendly recipe for them.
Calories per 1/4 cup: About 200

15. Seeds

Though high in calories, seeds are high in heart-healthy magnesium and protein. Plus, cracking pumpkin or sunflower seeds open will keep your hands (if you're not driving!) and your mind busy while you're on the road. They can be high in sodium, so just take a look at the sodium levels or consider roasting your own.
Calories per 1/4 cup: About 160

Related Articles
"8 Superfoods for Summer"
"9 "Healthy" Foods That Can Fool You "
"8 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

Submit a CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

Back to top.


Three Powerful Tools for Losing Weight

By Rebecca Swanner

Losing weight—and keeping it off—isn't always easy. Just ask Jessica W. and Andy A., the two Grand Prize Winners of the 2012–2013 Beachbody Challenge™ Contest.

Though their journeys—and the workout programs they followed (Andy worked out regularly with INSANITY®, while Jessica became a LES MILLS PUMP devotee) were different, they each lost nearly half of their body weight and won $100,000 for their efforts.


Woman Measuring Her Stomach and a Scale Showing almost 140 pounds


Of course, getting great results like this requires more than just buying a workout program. (If that were the case, it wouldn't really be a challenge, would it?) It takes hard work, commitment, a healthy eating plan—and a few secret weapons.

Here are a few of the tricks that helped push our winners across the finish line.

Women working out togetherThey Had a Support System

Whether it's your family, a workout buddy, friends on the Message Boards, or your Team Beachbody® Coach, having someone you can lean on when you're struggling can make all the difference between making it and giving up. Ideally, you can rope in your cousin, sibling, or BFF to take the journey with you. That way, you'll support each other.

You can also log on to the Team Beachbody Message Boards, where you'll find FREE advice and inspiration. In addition to the inspiring board community, our expert Advice Staff is available to answer all of your fitness or nutrition questions.

Finally, there's your Team Beachbody Coach, who will always be there when the going gets tough. Jessica's Coach is also her best friend, so you can imagine how integral she was to her success. And, Andy's Coach, even though he lives over 3,000 miles away, made sure to check in on him regularly and made sure that he was on the right track. "My Coach Hiram S. is an example of willpower," says Andy. "Nothing is impossible, and he has proven that. He pushed me to reach my goal."

They Kept Track of Their Habits

Fruit, Juice, Tablet and a Tape MeasurerHow many calories do you think you ate today? 1,500? 2,000? 3,500? No idea? When you don't follow a meal plan or track the foods you eat, it's hard to pinpoint how many calories you're eating and if you need to adjust those numbers to gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Consistently, studies show that when you log your food, you are up to twice as likely to lose weight.1 Measure your portions and record everything you eat, and you'll see results soon enough.

The same goes for your workouts. This might be as simple as tacking the calendar that comes with most of our programs to your wall and crossing off the days as you go. Or if you want get serious about it, the SuperGym® allows you to track your workouts—whether they're P90X, INSANITY, LES MILLS PUMP, or another workout including running, yoga, tennis, and many others. Why does logging your workout matter? As Jessica explains, "Logging my workouts daily on the website was a great tool. It made me feel so accomplished when I could hit the 'submit' button." The positive feedback and the accountability helped keep her moving toward her goal.

They Added Supplements to Their Diet

SupplementsWhile a solid, nutritious diet including fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and "good" fats goes a long way toward helping anyone reach their fitness goals, sometimes you need to hedge your bets a little. That's where supplementation comes in.

When you're eating at a calorie deficit, you might not be able to get all the vitamins and minerals you need in a day. A good multivitamin such as ActiVit® (as taken by Andy) acts as a nutrient safety net, making sure you get what you need to stay strong.

And then there's Shakeology, which serves triple duty as a safety net, a meal replacement, and a healthy way to teach your sweet tooth who's boss. Andy, who used to "spend long hours eating," found that Shakeology helped him gain control over his overall eating habits. For Jessica, Shakeology came first. In just 11 days, she lost 11 pounds and that gave her the jump start and confidence boost she needed.

Now that you know their secrets and how to make them work for you, it's time to take a look at their incredible "before" and "after" photos!

Want to read more about their personal journeys? Click to read Andy's and Jessica's stories.

  • Before- Andy
    Before starting INSANITY, Andy weighed more than 450 pounds and wore size 62 pants.
  • Before-Andy
    When he was young, he loved sports, but over time, he found he let himself go and ignored the fact that he was gaining weight.
  • Before-Andy
    He used to get tired even just going up the steps.
  • Before-Andy
    He also felt tempted by all of the presents visitors to his office brought him…and most of those "presents" were sweets or fried food.
  • Before-Andy
    His biggest obstacle was it was hard to move due to the bad blood circulation in his legs.
  • Before-Andy
    But then he started drinking Shakeology and doing INSANITY...
  • After-Andy
    …And now, this Grand Prize Winner of the Beachbody Challenge is down to 244 pounds and wears a size 40!
  • After-Andy
    He says that after losing 221 pounds, he's so proud of what he's accomplished and he feels like he has a new vision, a new body, and a new personality!
  • After-Andy
    And, says that every time he sees his before and after, it motivates him to do better!
  • Before of Jessica
    Jessica began her weight loss journey at 208 pounds and was a size 16.
  • Before of Jessica
    She says she didn't work out because she was too tired, but was miserable inside and out.
  • Before of Jessica
    She remembers that she ate out a lot.
  • Before of Jessica
    And any time she tried to make a change, she would do great the first few weeks and then convince herself she would never lose the weight and give up.
  • Before of Jessica
    But, around Christmas, she says she hit bottom. Having two children in two years was no longer an excuse to carry the weight...
  • Before of Jessica
    In fact, it was her reason to lose the weight! She started drinking Shakeology and lost 11 pounds in 11 days. Then she started LES MILLS PUMP, and every day she completed a workout, she'd put a star on her chart. The weight continued to come off, and it wasn't long until…
  • After of Jessica
    …she had lost more than 70 pounds and was now a size 4!
  • After of Jessica
    Now she says, everything in her life has changed. She makes dinner at home, they eat whole foods, and do more physical things together as a family instead of watching television.
  • After of Jessica
    And perhaps the biggest change? In the past, she says that working out always seemed like such a burden. Now it's a positive part of her life.

Source:

1.) Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial

Related Articles
"How to Look Like Your Favorite Action Hero"
"5 Ways to Boost Your Willpower and Beat Temptation"
"The Secret to a Flat Stomach"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

Submit a CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

Back to top.



Recipe: Chocolate and Vanilla Shakeology Parfait

(Makes 1 serving)


Chocolate and Vanilla Shakeology Parfait

Total Time: 15 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: None

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, divided use
  • 4 tsp. Chocolate Shakeology
  • 4 tsp. Vanilla Shakeology
  • 3 medium strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 medium banana, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sliced raw almonds

Preparation:

  1. Combine 1/4 cup yogurt and Chocolate Shakeology in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining 1/4 cup yogurt and Vanilla Shakeology in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.
  3. Layer half chocolate yogurt mixture, vanilla yogurt mixture, strawberries, and banana in a medium dessert cup; repeat. Chill for 10 minutes; top with almonds and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
253 3 g 0 g 10 mg 210 mg 30 g 5 g 18 g 30 g



Body Beast and P90X®/P90X2® Portion Information

P90X/P90X2 Nutritional Information:

Protein Fruit Dairy
1 1 1/2



Body Beast Nutritional Information:

Fruit Protein Liquid Balanced Liquid Protein
1 1 1 1


If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Back to top.

Print this page
Reviews
Be the first to write a review, opinion or comment.
Submit a review  
Previous Next
Click here to compare Beachbody fitness programs
eGift Cards are here!—Beachbody®—Order Now
P90X2™
ChaLEAN Extreme®
Kathy Smith's Project:YOU! Type 2™
Debbie Siebers' Slim in 6®
INSANITY®
Brazil Butt Lift®—AVAILABLE NOW!
Now Available—TurboFire®—Intense Cardio Conditioning—Learn More

Follow Beachbody Online

Connect with Beachbody, fans, coaches, and your favorite trainers!

Social Media
Beachbody
Beachbody
Blogs
Carl Daikeler
Beauty By Beachbody
Steve Edwards
Tony Horton
Chalene Johnson
Message Boards
Beachbody Message Boards
RSS Feeds (What is RSS?)
Beachbody Newsletter
P90X Extreme Newsletter

Share This Page

Bookmark or share this page by emailing it to your friends, or adding it to your favorite networking sites! Simply mouse over the Share icon below for options.

Bookmark and Share