Morning is a time when most of us busily try to get ready for the rest of the day. Imagine if your morning time could be used to also incorporate a few weight loss tricks to help lose those extra pounds—as well as make your day more enjoyable.
1. Get sufficient sleep
If you don’t sleep enough or if your sleep is poor, hormones that control weight can be thrown off, according to a 2004 study in PLoS Medicine. Leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full, goes down, and ghrelin, the hormone that tells you when you are hungry, goes up. Your stress hormones, such as cortisol, can also become altered, all of which changes your body’s metabolism. If we are tired, we are more likely to have cravings for unhealthy food and to give in to those cravings.
It is recommended you sleep at least eight hours each night, but that can vary from person to person. If waking up feels difficult and you are tired throughout the day, you are probably not getting sufficient sleep.
2. Eat a balanced breakfast that includes protein
The message to eat breakfast has been out for a while, and science supports the importance of adding protein to breakfast. Studies, including 2013 research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have shown that people who eat protein in the morning stay full longer and consume fewer calories over lunch than those who eat lower amounts of protein. Getting a nutritious meal in the morning helps stimulate your metabolism, regulate your stress hormones and reduce cravings for sugar.
People often say they don’t eat breakfast in the morning because they aren’t hungry. That doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need food—so even if you aren’t hungry, it is a good idea to eat a small amount of food in the morning. It might not be the perfect meal, but some food, such as a piece of whole-grain toast with nut butter, is better than nothing while you are working up to a more substantial meal.
3. Eat mindfully
When you eat, pay attention to what you eat. If you eat while driving or getting your things together in the morning, you don’t pay attention to your food, which can make you prone to overeating and feeling less full. If you set aside five minutes in the morning to sit down with your breakfast and savor every bite, you will likely eat fewer calories and be more satisfied with your meal.
Exercising can help stimulate your metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories as the day goes on. It can also help suppress food cravings throughout the day, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean hours of sweating and breathing hard at the gym. You can achieve positive effects from simply walking briskly for 30 to 40 minutes. If you can walk to work or around your neighborhood in the morning, you can get the effects you are looking for.
Incorporate movement into your daily routine to increase your exercise. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking instead of driving, are little tweaks you can make to your day that can have big effects down the road.
5. Pack snacks for the rest of the day
Eating small, protein-filled, nutritious snacks between meals helps reduce both cravings and weight. When you get too hungry between meals, you are more likely to make poor food choices and overeat.
Shawnti Rockwell, N.D., is a resident at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health (bastyrcenter.org), and sees patients there. She has particular interests in family medicine, gastrointestinal health, pediatrics, women’s health and diabetes.