“No Pain No Gain” , an infamous dialogue that a majority of us would’ve heard at some point in our lives. Although this dialogue holds meaning in a variety of contexts, its most popular usage has undoubtedly been within the context of fitness. At its very core, fitness is very simple. Run, lift, and expend energy and you will see results. But this of course gives rise to a multitude of questions like What do we eat? or How heavy do we lift? And one other popular question that has always had a lot of mixed opinions: When do we work out? Is the time at which you work out really that important? We will try to answer this infamous fitness doubt in this article.
The first thing we must try to understand is that there are several hormones working within our body that respond differently to different types of stimuli. The food we consume, the type of exercises we do and the timing at which we choose to perform our workouts are all relevant factors. But how are these hormones important to our fitness goals? Well, to put in simple terms, very important!
A hormone called insulin is the single most important factor that is responsible for several bodily functions that is responsible for the absorption of nutrients and mobilizing fat. Insulin is basically the key that unlocks the cell doors thus enabling it to perform its necessary functions. Moreover, insulin is also responsible for delivering glucose to the muscles which is its primary source of energy.
But when our insulin hormone is not functioning properly i.e.. When our body is insulin resistant, a lot of things can go wrong. Undelivered glucose can get stored as fats, and nutrient absorption slows down as well. For this reason, the insulin switch in our body must be primed to turn on at the right times. Our body doesn’t need insulin to be functioning all the time, if it is doing its job when the body requires it, such as during food intake, the body will function optimally.
This is why for a normal individual who is free of diseases that affect insulin such as diabetes, the body adjusts itself to activate its insulin when necessary. This is the fact that we must take advantage of. Consuming food creates insulin spikes depending on the food item’s glycemic index, this prompts the body to use its resources to process the consumed food. But this process would be a lot more efficient if our body is insulin sensitive at the time.
Our body becomes insulin sensitive when it is in starvation mode i.e.. When it is in need of nutrients. The time right after a workout, or right after a fast are peak times wherein our body is in dire need of nutrients. This is why trainers in general suggest that eating good quality food right after a workout is absolutely essential for progress. This is also why people assume that early morning workouts are better than evening workouts. Although factors such as our circadian rhythms differ depending on the time of day, an early morning workout before breakfast is considered to be highly beneficial mainly because of the fact that our body is in a fasted at the point of time.
So, in sum, working out early in the morning is probably the best time to see maximum benefits. But that is only if we choose to workout before we eat, in order to take advantage of the insulin sensitive nature of our body as we would be in a fasted state. We could even reschedule our fasting windows to better suit our daily routine, because at the end of the day, the hormonal balances within our body is what matters the most.