The best part of mornings is that they’re so full of potential! No matter whether you laced up your sneaks yesterday or overindulged on a co-worker’s birthday cake, it’s a fresh chance to get closer to your health goals. To keep that get-fit momentum going all day long, start your day off right with these morning habits that will motivate you even more.
. Get Some Sun
Basking in the sun’s rays can help you drop pounds, according to research published in the journal PLOS ONE. Study authors had 54 participants wear wrist monitors that recorded their exposure to morning light for seven days.
During that period, participants kept food diaries to track their calorie intake. The people who spent more time in morning light had lower BMIs than those who were in the dark, no matter their age, activity level, or what they ate. Why? Morning light helps regulate your internal clock, which aids your sleep schedule (crucial for weight loss). Morning sunshine also contains higher levels of blue light, which has the strongest effect on your circadian rhythm. You only need 20-30 minutes of morning sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon to get in on these benefits!
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Spending more time on those precious Zzzs can help you eat less and have fewer cravings than people who skimp on sleep. Researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin tracked the sleep of 10 overweight young adults who were at risk for obesity and who self-reported fewer than six and a half hours of shut-eye each night.
For the first week of the study, they stuck with their regular sleep schedules. For the second and third, the study authors had them bump it up to eight and a half hours. On average, they slept around an additional 1.6 hours and experienced a 14% decrease in appetite and a 62% drop in cravings for sweet and salty junk. If you’re groaning each time your alarm goes off, try to rearrange your schedule so you can spend a little more a.m. time in bed.
Get In A Mindful Mood
Mindfulness is a key strategy when it comes to weight loss. It’s all about taking a focused, intentional approach to your life by really tuning in to your body and mind. Even better, it can stabilize your emotions, potentially making you less likely to give into stress-based eating.
Researchers at the University of Utah had 38 people between ages 20 to 45 fill out a survey that measured how mindful they were naturally. For two days, participants rated their emotions throughout the day in addition to tracking their physical and cognitive arousal before sleep to measure anxiety. Those who were naturally mindful had experienced less irregular mood swings. Rather than trying to kick-start this habit when faced with your first meal, begin your morning with mindfulness instead: Take a few minutes at the start of each day to sit quietly and focus on the rhythm of your breath.
Change Up Your Commute
Driving to work is easy, but it may not be best for your waistline. A study published in the journal BMJ shows that people who walk, bike, and take public transportation have lower BMIs and body-fat percentages than those who depended on their cars to get to work.
The University College London team of researchers collected the BMIs and body-fat percentages of more than 7,000 people. Participants then completed a survey about how they usually got themselves to the office. The women who used a method other than a car had a BMI that was around 0.7 less than the others, which is about a 5.5-pound difference on the scale. Note that this doesn’t exclude public transportation! Even walking to the closest bus stop or train station can be beneficial.
While the jury’s still out on whether breakfast is essential for weight loss, a healthy dose of protein in the morning looks like it can help you drop pounds. Scientists at Biofortis Clinical Research and the University of Missouri department of exercise physiology and nutrition gave 35 women from the ages of 18 to 55 three different breakfasts.
One was just a glass of water, while the others clocked in at around 300 calories each (and had equal fat and fiber counts). One of those had three grams of protein, while the other had 30 to 39 grams, which is more than two-thirds of the RDA. Those who had high-protein breakfasts felt less hungry and ate 175 fewer calories at lunch. Protein takes a long time to digest and pushes your body to secrete the gut hormone Peptide YY, which helps increase feelings of fullness.
Work Up A Sweat
Obviously, working out at any point is going to be a good thing! But beside giving your metabolism a boost that lasts well into the day, a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that women who exercised in the morning were less distracted by pictures of delicious food.
They had 17 participants with healthy weights and BMIs and 18 obese participants walk briskly for 45 minutes in the morning. Apart from not being as interested in pictures of unhealthy food, study subjects were more active throughout the day, no matter their weight.
Pack The Day’s Snacks
Avoid the afternoon dash to the office vending machine with this one: Take just a few minutes each morning to make sure you’ve got enough snacks to take you through the day, suggests Keri Glassman, MS, RD, a Women’s Health contributor. When you’ve just woken up,
it’s easy to underestimate how much fuel you’ll need throughout the day and just throw an apple in your bag. Instead, budget extra time to whip up some quick, healthy snacks that will keep you on the road to weight-loss success. Even better, just throw them in your bag after prepping them the previous weekend.