Exercising at various times of the day can have differing effects on the body. The truth is there is no reliable evidence for judging when you can best burn those pesky calories, but picking your time can have a big influence on how you feel during your exercises.
It’s all about finding the point where it’s easier for your training to become a habit, and your body’s unalterable circadian rhythm will determine whether you are a fan of the 6am jog or the evening workout.
Research has shown that working out in the morning is more likely to become a habit since your diary is less likely to interfere – other duties will push out the window for exercise. Your body temperature will be lower in the early hours so make sure you warm up for longer.
Also, if you wind down before going to sleep and regulate your heart rate and body temperature by not eating or exercising too late at night, you will stave off insomnia – and the snooze button won’t seem so tempting. Eating leads to a higher HR and body temperature and kills sleep.
Better late than never
While some say that you do actually burn more fat in the morning, others pick a later time of day to exercise because your body is awake and at its strongest. It depends on the individual really. Most studies do demonstrate that your strength is at a low in the wee small hours and rises to its peak in the early evenings.
So, if morning may be the best time to exercise to burn fat because you’re in a fasted state with lower levels of blood sugar and insulin, it’s likelier that evening is a better time to exercise for strength. However, there’s no right time of day for low-intensity workouts in a constant state, such as walking or cycling on the flat.
Strengthening your aims
The lower levels of blood sugar and insulin in the morning will affect your rugby workout regime. However, scientists have also proven that testosterone levels taper off during the day as your body uses up the hormone.
Even a protein shake or a caffeine fix isn’t going to compete with the output of testosterone you produce during your eight hours of sleep – so make sure you hit the ZZZs as much as possible. But if you hit the gym and work through your weights in the morning, you can boost your hormone levels.
Activities such as sprinting also work, but not to the same extent as strength training in the early hours.
Testosterone is a very anabolic hormone, so it is vital for building muscle mass through increased protein synthesis and speeding up recovery between your training sessions.
When to refuel
Again, there are a great many variables that will have an effect on when you should eat– body type, age, and so on – but there are also quite a few general rules of thumb. Never eat hard-to-digest food within an hour of starting your rugby training, so avoid anything that is high in fat or fibre – aim for a carb-protein-fat nutrition breakdown of around 40-40-20.
If you grab a light meal some 90-120 minutes beforehand, you should not have to focus on keeping your food down. Consuming 200 to 250 easily digested calories in the last hour will help you to satisfy your cravings and stave off hunger .
Working out on an empty stomach is foolish – you need some carbs as your muscles need to be already in a state of refueling when you hit the gym.
Likewise, the benefit of overloading on protein straight after a workout is a myth – your body needs to wind down after exercising – and a fast carb is a better option to kick-start the recovery process as you’ll need to replenish your low glycogen levels, especially after a long session. Then look to proteins.