Q: Hi Steve! – I want to start by saying that I read your blog regularly! I love it! Glad to see you’re doing well. I have a question that I wanted to throw your way.
Lately because of my extremely busy schedule, I’ve been working out pretty late at night. Actually,I’m about to go for a run and do some core after I post this message at like 9:45 pm. In the summer I prefer running at night because it’s so damn hot during the day… Any thoughts on late night workouts? They haven’t been effecting my sleep at all, but I was wondering if they were considered worse in terms of weight-loss and fitness goals. Thanks for your feedback!
A: First off, thanks for the kind words and exclamation points, it is always humbling to hear from my readers. Especially when you come to me for advice (). Things are rockin’ and rollin’ and I’m still livin’ the dream one day at a time. That’s easy though when you love your career and the people you work with.
Anyways, to answer your question I am going to break it down a bit and do what I do best: answer a question with some more specific questions. I think it is the philosopher in me.
First, lets talk about your goals. You mentioned weightloss and fitness goals which are vague to the tenth power. One of the first things that I deter people from focusing on is “weight”loss and instead focus on “fat”loss (if that is their goal). The fact is that in most cases losing total body weight is utterly useless, much like a screen door on a submarine. P.S. overused analogies are my specialty.
Fitness goals doesn’t tell me much either. I would need to know whether you are running to compete, focused on getting stronger, gaining endurance, or training to be the Pink Power Ranger. In any case, with regards to training at night, results may vary.
If you are just going out on a run at night, it shouldn’t affect your fitness gains in any significant way as long as you are still getting enough sleep. I do recommend making sure you have at least an hour between exercise and the time you go to bed to unwind. It may also be a
good great idea to use this time to get in some relaxing soft tissue and mobility work instead of watching flopping down in front of the T.V.
With regards to training (you know, getting stronger and stuff), you just have to be a little more diligent about your dietary needs. I’ve worked with clients who prefer to train at night and are still under the assumption that getting in calories and especially *gulp* carbs at night is worse than breaking one of the Ten Commandments. This is far from the truth.
This may be a strong paradigm shift for some people but no matter what time of day you work out, you still need to focus on pre and post workout nutrition. Meaning you need to get those calories in post workout in the form of meaty animal flesh and yes, carbohydrates.
The whole “eating carbs at night will make you fat” thing is complete bullshit. This belief mostly stems from the fact that:
- People eat too much during the day so eating more at night will cause overconsumption.
- People don’t eat enough during the day (no breakfast and a salad for lunch = not enough calories) which will cause them to gorge themselves at night with pizza and Ho Ho’s. You got something on your chin there…
The fact is that there is no “magical hour” where if you eat something you will turn into a pumpkin. Just make sure that you are feeding your body when it needs to be fed meaning throughout the day. If you must train at night for whatever reason, you have to feed yourself at night.
A good approach is to get in several small meals throughout the day and make your post workout meal somewhat heartier. This means that if you are working out after dinnertime you should be eating a small dinner or even having a “snack” at that time. If you are training within an hour or so of that time, make this meal a high protein shake or meal with some quality carbs to fuel you.
Here is a nutritional sample if you are training at 8:00 P.M.:
- 5:00a.m. – wake up
- 5:30-6:00 – 2-6 eggs (whole or whites depending on goals and size) with veggies and a piece of fruit
- 9:00 – handful almonds and apple
- 12:00 – a healthy sandwich or some other light healthy cultural lunchtime item
- 3:00 – yogurt (I hear Chobani is all the rage) and some carrots
- 6:00 – granola and fruit and glass of milk
- 7:00 – protein shake
- 8:00 – Train your ass off
- 9:00 – eat a T-Rex steak, sweet potato, alligator eggs, ratatouille, and a glass of tiger’s blood
- 10-10:30 – head to the land of Zzzzz’s
Your dietary preferences may vary but I made these suggestions pretty standard and geared towards strength building and maintaining a sexy body composition (burning fat). I eat a little less clean somedays and a little more clean on others depending on what point in my training I am and whether or not I trained that day. This is actually exactly what Jamie Eason would eat if she trained at night. I’d love to get a discussion going on what you eat post workout at night and what your thoughts are on T-rex steak. Make sure to comment below.