9 Simple Morning Habits for Ultimate Weight-Loss Success

 by Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.

Did you know you can shed pounds simply by changing your morning routine? Read on for 9 habits that will lead to ultimate weight-loss success.


Can you really shed pounds simply by changing up your morning routine? Yes! According to mounting research, your morning routine can make or break your diet and weight-loss efforts. No matter what may have derailed your diet yesterday, each morning provides you with a fresh start to meet your diet and exercise goals. What's more, research shows that "morning people" are more likely than night owls to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off. These nine fat-blasting morning habits require little effort relative to the potential payoff.

1. Bask in Sunlight

Morning sunlight is filled with blue light, which is best for helping to set your body's internal clocks, or circadian rhythms. These internal timing devices need to be in sync because they control hunger-stimulating and satiety hormones as well as metabolism. Out-of-sync body clocks are thought to be why shift workers and night owls are more likely to be overweight or obese. So try spending at least 20 minutes outside first thing in the a.m. The morning sunlight will help shift your hormones to turn up fat burning and turn down the hormones that stimulate your hunger and appetite.

2. Get Active

There are reasons why working out in the morning is often recommended. First, there are fewer distractions to derail you from hitting the gym. What's more, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that among 45 women, a 45-minute brisk walk in the morning was related to an increase in physical activity later in the day and a decreased desire for food. But the biggest plus: Morning workouts are one of the best ways to improve your mood. This can translate into a can-do attitude toward making diet and lifestyle changes that are necessary for weight loss.

Listen now: Why America's Obsession With 'Happiness' Is Totally Stressing Us Out

3. Pack in Protein

A breakfast with an optimal amount of protein can help turn up satiety and tamp down hunger hormones, keeping you satisfied for several hours. In addition, protein helps increase metabolism more than either carbohydrates or fat. For optimal fullness and muscle-building benefits, strive to get 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast. Excellent protein choices for breakfast include eggs, plain Greek yogurt, nut butters and chicken or turkey sausage.

Read more: 14 Protein-Packed Breakfasts to Power You Through the Morning

4. Do a Weigh In

Several studies over the past few years have confirmed that frequent or daily weigh-ins are beneficial for weight loss. One study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that dieters who weighed themselves daily lost about three times as much weight and body fat compared with participants who weighed themselves less frequently. The best way time to weigh yourself is immediately after getting up and going to the bathroom. Either weigh yourself in the buff or in the same amount of clothing each morning to get the most accurate results.

5. Snooze On

This isn't a dream: Sleeping more can help you lose weight. In a study reported in Appetite, researchers increased sleep-deprived participants' sleep time by about 90 minutes per night. With more sleep, participants' appetite declined by 14 percent and cravings for junk food declined by 62 percent. And the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when subjects were made to cut back on sleep from their normal of seven to nine hours a night to four hours, they ate, on average, about 300 more calories the next day. So how much should you sleep? Sleep experts recommend developing a set sleep routine that allows you to get at least seven hours of shut-eye every night.

6. Say "Thanks"

This may sound a bit New Agey, but human clinical trials show that being thankful can improve your health and may help you lose weight. Practicing gratitude helps you feel more optimistic and boosts your confidence. The end result? You'll feel enabled to take control of your eating and exercise behaviors and improve your health. To practice gratitude, remind yourself — while brushing your teeth or showering — of the things that you are grateful for or what you appreciate.

7. Bottoms Up

Before eating breakfast, make a habit of drinking two glasses of water. Not only will the water help rehydrate you after not drinking overnight, but the water may also help you curb calories at your first meal. Several studies indicate that those who drink the most water have lower BMIs and gain less weight over time. A study published in the journal Obesity found that overweight individuals lost 44 percent more weight by simply drinking two glasses of water about 30 minutes before each of their three main meals. Despite being calorie-free, water helps enhance satiety.

8. BYOBB (Bring Your Own Brown Bag)

One of the most waistline- and wallet-friendly ways to eat right is to pack your own lunch. Lunch is the meal most often eaten out, and a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that every meal prepared away from home adds an additional 200 calories to your diet. And while eating out is convenient, packing a lunch doesn't need to be complicated or time-consuming — especially when you're running behind in the mornings. Simple lunch ideas include chili with whole-wheat bread or crackers with fruit; pasta salad with lots of veggies and chicken; a sandwich with fresh fruit; Greek yogurt with fruit and low-fat granola; or hard-boiled eggs with fresh-cut veggies and whole-wheat crackers.

Read more: 12 Easy On-the-Go Lunch Ideas

9. Pack a Snack

Free food is a common perk in many offices these days, but eating on your employer's dime may come at a price: pounds gained. Instead of relying on the unhealthy options commonly available at offices or in vending machines, make time in the mornings to pack your own snacks. Healthy options include anything that's high in fiber or protein: apple slices with nut butter; cottage cheese with fresh fruit; a container of Greek yogurt; fresh-cut veggies with hummus; or a cup of lentil soup.

What Do YOU Think?

Are you a morning person or night owl? Which of these morning habits would you try? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Read more: 17 Ways to Have More Fun in the Morning


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