More Work, Less Sleep… More Energy?

My morning workouts are back in full force. And, as much as I initially dreaded the idea of my alarm going off at 5:30am, I’m completely shocked at how quickly my body adapted to the change. The first day was rough, not gonna lie. But seriously, by the second day it was easier and by day three I was good to go!

I run/walk through downtown Pittsburgh to get to the gym each morning, so I try to keep things incognito ;)

I run/walk through downtown Pittsburgh to get to the gym each morning, so I try to keep things incognito ;)

And that’s not the craziest part: It seems like the earlier I get up and the more work I do, the more energy I have throughout the rest of the day!

I’ve gone through early-morning workout kicks before but – just like how I randomly gave up flaxseed oil (what was I thinking?!) – I inevitably fell out of them, even though I noticed the same energy boosting effect each time. (I think the idea of voluntarily getting up at 5:30am is a lot scarier than actually doing it. Thinking about it too much always throws me off!)

So, since getting started seems to be the hardest part, I thought I’d provide you guys with a lil extra motivation – in the form of a few quality research studies, of course ;)

Benefits of morning workouts

A 2011 study found that participants who exercised at 7am (versus 1 or 7pm) experienced a 10% reduction in blood pressure that carried through the remainder of the day. Morning participants also had about a 25% dip in blood pressure at night, slept longer and had more beneficial sleep cycles than when they exercised at other times of the day.

Lead researcher Dr. Scott Collier explains,

“We don’t yet know the physiological mechanisms that result in these changes, but we do know enough to say if you need to decrease your blood pressure and if you need to increase your quality of sleep, 7 a.m. is probably the best time to exercise.”

And Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise, points out another added bonus:

“We know that if you have poor quality sleep, it influences certain hormones that control appetite. It is possible that by exercising in the morning — instead of evening – the exercise affects the body’s circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) so you get better-quality sleep. Good sleep helps control the hormonal balance that helps control appetite.”

But lower blood pressure, a controlled appetite and better sleep aren’t the only benefits of sunrise sit-ups. According to a 2010 study led by Karen Van Proeyen, training in a fasted state (say, after you haven’t eaten for eight hours because you were sleeping…) improves glucose tolerance which – after you connect a couple more dots – means that training in a fasted state may help you decrease body fat.

(Fit & Me has also published a pretty comprehensive round-up morning workout benefits!)

Return of the Insulin Mafia

Before we go any further, does anyone remember the Insulin Mafia (aka: the post were I discovered all the photo editing apps on my iPhone and randomly made a slideshow about glucose)? Hehe :)

insulin mafia

Basically, the post explains that when you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose. Every time you eat, your body produces a hormone called insulin, which travels around telling glucose where to go and making sure it gets to the right places. However, if you eat too much (and your body produces too much insulin) or if you have a health condition like type II diabetes (which causes – or is caused by – insulin resistance), your body becomes less sensitive to insulin.

And you know how it is when someone’s constantly telling you what to do. Eventually, you just stop listening. And that’s exactly what happens with insulin. Over time, if too much insulin is being produced, glucose stops listening. Suddenly, glucose that’s supposed to be sent to muscle and liver cells is getting stored as fat. So your body keeps producing more and more insulin – which triggers this whole snowball effect. Because then you have glucose building up in your blood (leading to type II diabetes) and all this extra insulin, which starts blocking hormones called catecholamines which are supposed to break down fat, which makes you start storing even more extra fat…

And basically, it’s just like this whole big scene.

Weren’t we talking about working out in the morning?

So what does insulin have to do with morning workouts and decreasing fat?

According to Van Proeyen’s study, training in a fasted state (i.e., in the morning after a full night’s sleep) improves insulin sensitivity. Which means no snowball effect, no drama – your body listens when insulin tells glucose what to do and everything goes as planned!

In other words… Working out in the morning helps your body work the way it’s supposed to work 

 In other, non-workout-related news…

I got my hair done! (I know, stop the presses, right? lol) For a while I was experimenting with curls and highlights (bottom right corner), but I missed my Whinney Cooper hair There’s still a few tiny highlights (top right) but for the most part I’m just back to normal :)

Walters haircut

And shout out to my amazing hair stylist, Cassidy  If you could hear us talking non-stop about vegetarian Netflix documentaries, boot camp workouts and school lunch regulations… well, you’d probably fall asleep haha :) But we think it’s interesting!! :)

Hope everyone has a great day!

(And good luck getting up bright and early tomorrow!)

 

Resources

Appalachian State University. (2011). Early morning exercise is best for reducing blood pressure and improving sleep. University News.

Davis, J.L. (n.d.) Lose Weight with Morning Exercise. WebMD. Retrieved June 24, 2014.

English, N. (21 March 2014). Exercising On an Empty Stomach: The Surprising Benefits. Greatist.com.

Intermountain Medical Center. (3 April 2011). Study finds routine periodic fasting is good for your health, and your heart. Retrieved June 24, 2014.

Van Proeyen, K., Szlufcik, K., Nielens, H., Pelgrim, K., Deldicque, L., Hesselink, M., Van Veldhoven, P.P. & Hespel, P. (1 November 2010). Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet. Journal of Physiology, 588 (Pt. 21), 4289-302. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.196493

*Featured sunrise image via FlorentCourty

Comments

  1. says

    Well, it’s been way too long since I’ve been by here. How are you, friend? I’m an early riser but not for working out. lol. That’s my reading time. I’m thankful for the fitness center in my office building that allows me to work out every day for lunch.
    I hope all is well with you. You look beautiful!
    Blessings.
    xoxo

    • says

      Beth! It’s so great to hear from you! :) I haven’t been able to keep up with all my blog reading either – work’s been so busy.. But I look fwd to visiting soon, your posts are always so uplifting :) Sending hugs your way! :) xo

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