Food and Exercise Timing

Here is the fitness question of the month for June.  If you have a question about fitness, please contact me and I may answer your question in my blog.

“A lot of fitness magazines recommend that you eat six meals a day and exercise in the morning.  What if you have a 9 to 5 job that doesn’t permit snack breaks through the day and you usually exercise at night?  Of course there is an optimal plan but what are some basic tips for modifying it for a typical work schedule?”

I first want to address the importance of timing with eating.  To encourage an increased metabolism you have to eat frequently.  If you go with large windows of time without food, your body will intentionally slow its metabolic rate and store more of your calories as fat to get you through those long time periods without food.  Eating five times per day shouldn’t be difficult with a 9 to 5 job.  You can eat first thing when you get up, bring something small you can eat at your desk mid morning for a snack (such as a granola bar), bring a healthy brown bag lunch that you can eat on your lunch break, then follow it up with a mid-afternoon snack of something that you can eat at your desk again (such as nuts or a yogurt).  Follow that up with a healthy home cooked meal for dinner and you had an ideal day of eating.  The key to healthy eating habits is a little planning and preparing.  I buy all my groceries for the week on the weekend so that I have everything I need to follow healthy eating patterns.  If you put yourself in a pinch by not having what you need, you’ll be more likely to grab the first thing in front of you, such as fast food or eating out when you are in a ravenous state because you haven’t eaten in hours.

As for working out, timing does not matter much.  You can work out in the evenings if that works best with your schedule.  I do recommend that individuals work out in the morning to get it done because excuses to cancel an evening workout can more easily happen… The longer you postpone a workout, the more likely it will get cancelled all together.  You may want to try working out in the morning before work if possible.  It’s important that exercise is a 5-6 day per week habit, especially when you have a desk job.  It’s equally important that you sustain that habit.  Maintaining the results of any exercise program comes from maintaining that habit of exercise.  If you stop, your body will adapt to lack  of exercise and you will lose any results that you have obtained.  Making your exercise program convenient and doable for you  is most important so that you can sustain your exercise program through your lifetime.  So, schedule your workouts when they work best for you but make sure they get done.

If your eating habits consist of healthy choices and follow the schedule I set out and you are working out almost every day, you are on the path to great health and physique.  The key is just that; embracing healthy habits and making them a part of your daily routine.