A Reader writes:
What a great website, I’m 33 y/o and in the process of transforming my body through weight loss and weight-training. I usually work out late at night (approx. 10 PM), are there any problems/issues that could affect/impair my progress by working out so late? FYI, after the workout, I consume a whey protein shake and then go to bed. This is all new to me, and I just want to make sure that I’m not doing anything that will limit results. I started at 260 in June 2004, and I currently weight 210. I’m 6’4, but I’m having a hard time getting rid of my belly. When I started last year, I only did cardio and no weight-training (I know now that that was the wrong approach and I lost a lot of muscle mass, but I’m on a program very similar to yours now. Thanks for the time, and again, thanks for the website.
First off, congrats on your accomplishments thus far. Keep up the good work. Secondly, stick to eating right and working out. You’ll lose the belly.
As for your questions, these are two very common myths.
You have to realize that our bodies do not stop working, even though we are asleep! You body is still burning energy to do normal life functions such as breathing circulating blood, etc. Even our brain is working quietly producing dreams. All-in-all, you are still burning calories.
With that said, it doesn’t man that you can be lazy on the couch your entire life and lose weight. It all goes back to burning more calories daily and consuming less.
Also, the body will store fat whenever it wants, not just when you sleep. Regardless if you eat at 7pm or 10pm, it isn’t going to make a difference if your body stores excess calories as fat (or not). What really matters is the caloric intake that you have over a course of a week, month or longer versus the amount of energy you burn over the same amount time. Take a step back and look at your goals in a longer period. As you already know, there are no short-cuts or quick fix weight-loss that lasts. Therefore, don’t be overly concerned about your eating during a specific time of day as a concern.
Granted, you do want to plan out daily what you’re going to eat and how often, I just wouldn’t be too worried what time you start or stop. in general, you should be eating every 2.5 to 3 hours that you’re awake to sustain a good steady metabolic burn. If that happens to fall late at night, so be it. Many of my evening snacks (sometimes a protein shake) may not happen until 9 or 10pm (depending on the day).
The place I see people going wrong with eating late has nothing to do with the time, but rather the quantity or quality of what they eat. On one hand, I have seen folks who eat a late meal when they haven’t eaten in a long while. In this scenario, since the person is very hungry, they usually overeat by not keeping portion sizes within reasonable amounts. On the other hand, when folks are grabbing late night meals, it may be because they have had a long busy day. In this scenario, they grab whatever they can, which usually means fast food. This means they are making unhealthy choices and are eating things like burgers and pizza instead of something healthy.
Another problem I was discussing yesterday with a co-worker was the "zoning out" while in front of the TV. This type of snacking is especially dangerous but may happen on a regular basis for most folks. This was my problem prior to getting in shape. My wife and I would sit down and consume numerous calories that add up quickly from chips, cookies, ice cream, and on and on. In this scenario, don’t snack or eat in front of the TV, because you’ll quickly lose track. Next thing you know, you’ve scarfed down an entire bag of Doritos. If you can’t resist the boob tube and food combo, eat healthy food, and always exercise portion control. Place your portions on a plate (or in a bowl) and let that be the only thing you consume.
As for the workouts, your metabolism will increase during the workout and following the workout. There’s no proof to the claim that working out early in the morning is better than late at night (or vice versa). The key thing is…. you’re working out. I perfer mornings, but that’s just a personal preference.
The only complaints I have heard from folks working out in the morning is they usually don’t have as much energy in the mornings to produce an intense workout. This is usually duie to the fact that they haven’t consumed anything prior to the workout. Since they have been "fasting" all night (hence the name Break-Fast), they tend to have lower energy.
As for late-night workout gymrats, the complaint is usually that they have a problem falling asleep (since their metabolism is in high gear). All-in-all, figure out which time of the day works for you and stick to it. Key thing is… stick to it.
As always, I’m no fitness expert. I can only tell you what I have learned and what worked for me.