When Is the Best Time to Exercise?

If you’re following the South Beach Diet lifestyle, you know that regular exercise (and interval exercise in particular) will help rev up your metabolism so you lose weight faster and avoid weight-loss plateaus. But does the time of day you choose to exercise make a difference in how much fat you burn?

The answer is not as black-and-white as you might think. Current research suggests that slightly more fat is burned when you exercise right after waking up in the morning. However, most people can work out at a higher intensity later in the afternoon when their body temperature and hormone levels peak and their muscles are more flexible.

The kind of exercise you do and how consistent you are in doing it may actually be more important factors to consider. In his latest book, The South Beach Diet Wake-Up Call, Dr. Agatston suggests alternating days of cardio and core exercises, since if you try to do both on the same day, your muscles may get fatigued.

Although Dr. Agatston prefers to work out first thing in the morning, he recognizes that not everyone is a morning person. Some people find it easier to work out in the afternoon or early evening. His recommendation: Exercise when — and where — you will most enjoy it, because that’s what will help you stick with your regimen.

What if you miss a workout? Don’t sweat it. Just as you shouldn’t feel that you’ve blown it if you have a bad day on the eating plan, you shouldn’t feel as if all is lost when you must skip a day or even a few days of exercise. In the same way that you are learning how to make better food choices most of the time, you should also make an effort to exercise, or at least move more, most days of the week.

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