What Time of Day Do You Burn the Most Calories?

utYour basal metabolic rate , or BMR, will dictate the amount of calories you use when you’re at rest.  This resting metabolic rate (RMR) is how many calories are burned performing basic functions for your body like breathing, and a functioning heart and nervous system.  Any activity beyond the basic RMR burns calories.

Weight loss involves a careful balance of calories consumed versus calories expended for energy.  You can boost your calorie burn by using dietary thermogenesis ,which means consuming foods that take longer to digest.

The act of digestion has its own calorie burn.  You’ll lose weight by creating a calorie burn throughout the entire day, but what time of day do you actually burn the most calories?

In the Morning

There have been studies including one at the San Raffaele Rome Open University where participants are given the same amount of calories to eat per day.

One group consumes more calories in the morning, while the other group consumes more in the evening. After a 3-month time limit, the participants in the morning group lost more calories.  They didn’t alter their fitness level, but they lowered their calories by 600 per day for the study.

When consuming more calories in the morning, you are starting the motor running on your metabolism.  If you pack protein and complex carbs into your breakfast and morning snack, you’re increasing the thermogenesis in your body as well.

best morning foods

In the Evening

Those who spend their time eating more of their calories at night don’t have the benefit of boosting their metabolism.  In fact, it’s believed that your metabolism actually slows down at night. Loading calories at that time can lead to more snacking, too.  People who are overweight have bad eating habits, and one of those habits is late night eating.

slow metabolism at night

When consuming calories in the morning, it has the benefit of giving a boost to y0ur metabolism, that can be increased with each meal.

As the day progresses into night, the body starts to naturally slow down.

When you’re getting ready for bed, metabolism lowers as the body readies itself for sleep.  All the food you’ve consumed isn’t going to be used properly for metabolism boosting.

What’s The Best Time of Day to Do Your Workouts?

While morning people and night owls will argue that the time of their workouts are more beneficial, there are distinct advantages to both times.

Morning Workouts

morning workoutIn the morning, your workout will boost your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Unfortunately, if you don’t keep your body moving, you’ll lose those benefits.

For example, if you do a half hour of cardio in the morning, but then spend the next 8 hours sitting at your desk, that metabolism boost will peter out during the day.

When working out in the morning, it’s important to keep moving throughout the day to hold onto the benefits of your morning exercise routine.

Evening Workouts

evening workout

You might not have time in the morning to perform the long routine that you need.  If you workout at night, you’re still able to get some benefits like burning away the calories you’ve consumed throughout the day.  You’ll be able to concentrate on working out as long you want without worrying that you’ll be late for work.

Working out later at night will also keep you occupied and stop you from consuming snacks when you shouldn’t.  You’re more flexible at night after you’ve spent the day working and running errands.

Morning versus Nighttime Workouts for Weight Loss

Overall, the bulk of your calories should be consumed in the morning.  This will give you the metabolic boost you need to burn more calories throughout the day.  That’s when you’re burning more calories, as long as you give it that boost with the right foods.

morning workout girl

Consume a breakfast that is rich in protein as well as complex carbs to ensure that you’re taking advantage of your body’s natural thermogenesis.  It’ll help increase your RMR without doing extra exercise.  To really boost your weight loss, exercise is essential.

When it comes to exercise, there are benefits to working out in the morning as well as at night.  It’ll depend on when you can make time for your workouts.  A workout that you complete regularly is more important than when it occurs.

The Answer

So, the answer to the question is the morning, but with a catch.  If you boost your metabolism with diet and exercise, you’ll see increased metabolic rate throughout the day.  More calories are burned in the morning than at night when the body is preparing itself for rest.  You don’t need to eat all your calories in the morning, though.  Always make sure that you’re creating a deficit of calories in your diet to speed weight loss, so even if you consume your calories evenly throughout the day, you’ll see results.

Jeanette Kierstead

About the Author

Jeanette Kierstead