Circadian rhythms and exercise — re-setting the clock in metabolic disease

Maybe the title isn’t as clever as “Watch the clock, not the scale” or “Clocking in, working out” but this review was pretty good (Gabriel and Zierath, 2019).

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1- I’m a big fan of activity. Walking, hiking, frequent breaks from sitting, and lifting weights are among the things I do daily (and advocate).

2- The elephant in the room (for me at least): exercise timing and the diurnal variation in human performance.

Remember back when researchers would put people on a ketogenic diet for a few days, take some measurements of physical performance, then conclude keto sucks for athletes? But then we learned about ketoadaptation and now know that 3 weeks is the minimum.

It’s happening again, but this time with exercise timing. Take two random people — athletes, old or young, male or female (it’s been tested in all of these populations) — and take some measurements of physical performance in the morning or afternoon, wait a couple days, then measure in the reverse condition.

Same thing every time: performance is greater in the afternoon.

BUT if you train a group consistently in the morning, performance in the morning improves and there’s no longer a diurnal difference. Interestingly, this doesn’t happen to a group that’s trained in the afternoon; they’ll still perform worse in the morning (eg, Chtourou and Souissi, 2012).

There are many implications, nuances, and caveats to this…

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