Sometimes even a healthy exercising and eating regime could use some fine-tuning. 

If you have the basics right but are looking to make the most of your workouts and eating plan, timing could make a significant difference.

When is the best time to exercise?

The human body functions on a circadian rhythm or internal clock, and this cycle depends on your personal schedule.

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If you struggle to fall asleep, the morning is your best time to train as the additional energy production of evening training can keep you awake. 

Early morning workout

Morning exercisers are typically thought to be more diligent about their training, and the early start is an ideal way to start the day feeling energised. 

Early morning workouts raise your resting metabolic rate, meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day. 

Late afternoon/early evening exercise 

Those who train in the late afternoon and early evening have the advantage of training when the body reaches its maximum temperature â?? roughly between 3pm and 6pm. 

During this time, your lungs will process oxygen more efficiently to improve your stamina, your muscles will become more fluid and you will have increased agility. 

Regardless of what time you train, honouring a regular routine will bring you the best results long term.

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What is an ideal pre-workout meal?

Training on an empty stomach in this state means your workouts are fuelled by the glycogen stored in your muscles as well as your bodyâ??s own lean muscle mass. The purpose of training should be to increase lean muscle mass to improve your metabolism, so morning training on an empty stomach would be counteracting this process.

When you wake up in the morning you start the day off hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) as you havenâ??t eaten for up to 10 hours. The best time to work out is two to four hours after eating, depending on how large a meal youâ??ve eaten.

Although you shouldnâ??t be running on empty, you donâ??t necessarily want a lot of food in your stomach either.  If you work out first thing in the morning, a piece of fruit or a vegetable juice is an ideal pre-workout snack.

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What is an ideal post-workout meal?

To allow your body optimum recovery, you need a snack or meal containing carbohydrates and protein within two hours of exercising. 

Supplying immediate sources of protein and carbohydrates to the body begins the repairing, rebuilding and refuelling phases your body needs to avoid the breaking down of precious muscle mass.  

Good carbohydrates – Contrary to normal dietary recommendations, higher GI foods are recommended directly after exercise. This allows for the quick digestion your body needs to refuel muscle glycogen. 

Dates, brown pasta, bananas and potatoes are all good choices. 

Steer clear of fibre directly after your workout, as this will slow down digestion rather than help refuel the body.

Good protein – Lean white meat, eggs, low-fat dairy sources, beans and soy are all high in protein.

Whey protein power is a particularly good choice as it is one of the few proteins that have a 100% absorption rate.

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Should your post-workout meal differ according to your type of training?

After all moderate to hard workouts, the intake of carbohydrates and proteins is always necessary.  

If your workout is cardio-based or moderate resistance training like running or cycling, you will need to take in more carbohydrates. 

If your workout is mainly strength training, you are working your muscles and will therefore require more protein. 

How should your post-workout meal vary to accommodate certain health conditions?

Combining carbohydrates with protein is an ideal way for diabetics to manage their sugar levels. 

They do, however, need to steer clear of higher GI foods, as these could cause dangerous spikes in oneâ??s sugar levels.  Stick to lower GI options like sweet potatoes, rice, barley and oats. 

Also remember that, while eggs are an excellent source of protein, they are high in cholesterol, and those who suffer from cholesterol problems should consult with their doctor for daily allocation.

Read more articles by Lisa Raleigh by clicking here. 

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.