When it comes to weight loss, your daily food and exercise choices matter, but there are certain morning habits that can give you an edge. The saying “the early bird gets the worm” holds true, backed by research that suggests morning people may be happier, live longer, and even be thinner.
By waking up early, you can plan your day more effectively and identify potential challenges that could disrupt your diet and exercise goals. This proactive approach can help you achieve more success in your weight loss journey.
To help you make the most of your mornings, we’ve compiled a list of nutritionist-approved weight loss rituals that you can easily adopt.
1. Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast
If you already know the importance of a hearty breakfast, you’re on the right track. But you should also make sure your breakfast is filled with an optimal amount of protein.
Your body takes longer to digest this macronutrient than carbohydrates or fat, so high-protein meals keep you satisfied for several hours. Protein helps with appetite control as well as blood sugar balance.
For optimal fullness and muscle-building benefits, strive to get 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast from eggs, plain Greek yogurt, nut butters and lean chicken or turkey sausage.
2. Enjoy That Cup of Coffee
Caffeine may actually give your morning routine a fat-burning boost.
One study, published June 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports, found that drinking one cup of coffee was enough to stimulate “brown fat,” also known as brown adipose tissue or BAT, which plays a role in helping the body burn calories more quickly.
What’s more: Having a boost of caffeine in the morning also comes with the added bonus of giving you better focus for your morning workout.
3. Get Your Workout On
Though hitting the snooze button is probably more tempting than a workout first thing in the morning, research shows that a.m. exercise might help you lose weight.
When researchers from Tehran University examined the effects of morning or evening aerobic exercise, they found that getting moving early led to lower caloric intake later in the day, as well as a more significant change in body weight, BMI, abdominal skin fold thickness and abdominal circumference. They published their findings in the June 2017 issue of Clinical Obesity.
In short, exercising in the morning appears to have a more substantial effect on appetite control, caloric intake and weight loss.
4. Walk as Much of Your Commute as Possible
Sneaking in some outdoor movement — even just a few minutes of walking — early in the morning can be beneficial for another reason.
Morning light wavelengths have been shown to alter the levels of the satiety hormones leptin and ghrelin and to modulate body fat.
In fact, the April 2014 study in PLoS One found that changes in the timing of light exposure may increase metabolism and enhance weight regulation.
Bonus: Spending time outdoors in the morning will also increase your exposure to vitamin D, a nutrient most Americans are lacking.
5. Set Your Intentions for the Day
There are a number of ways you can benefit from practicing mindfulness, or regularly checking in with your emotions, thoughts, feelings and sensations in an attempt to reach a state of awareness.
According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness can relieve stress, boost memory, enhance focus and lead to relationship satisfaction. Another benefit? You guessed it — it may help you lose weight.
One study, published April 2014 in Eating Behaviors, found that mindfulness training was able to decrease both emotional eating and binge eating.
Mindfulness doesn’t need to take a long time or require the perfect setting. If you have five minutes and a quiet spot, you can use that time to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings.
6. Sleep In if You Need More Zzzs
Most of us know that a good night’s sleep is important for overall wellness, but a whopping one-third of American adults aren’t snoozing long enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to boosting your health, getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night may also help you lose weight, according to a study published February 2019 in Current Biology, which linked sleep deprivation to an increase in snacking after dinner and weight gain.
Waking up too early to get a jumpstart on the day may cut into precious sleep hours. So if you’re planning to get up at the crack of dawn, make sure to adjust your bedtime accordingly.
7. Do a Weigh-In
Dieters who weight themselves daily lose about three times more weight and body fat compared with people who weight themselves less frequently, noted a study published April 2016 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The best time of day to step on the scale is immediately after getting up and going to the bathroom — either in the buff or in the same amount of clothing each morning, to get the most accurate results.