No matter what your weight loss goals are, losing weight can feel impossible at times.
However, shedding a few pounds doesn’t have to involve a complete overhaul of your current diet and lifestyle.
In fact, making a few small changes to your morning routine can help you lose weight and keep it off.
This article lists 10 simple morning habits to incorporate into your regimen to aid your weight loss efforts.
1. Eat a High-Protein Breakfast
There’s a good reason breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day.
What you eat for breakfast can set the course for your entire day. It determines if you’ll feel full and satisfied until lunch, or if you’ll be heading to the vending machine before your mid-morning snack.
Eating a high-protein breakfast may help cut cravings and aid in weight loss.
In one study in 20 adolescent girls, eating a high-protein breakfast reduced post-meal cravings more effectively than a normal-protein breakfast.
Another small study showed that eating a high-protein breakfast was associated with less fat gain and reduced daily intake and hunger, compared to a normal-protein breakfast.
Protein may also aid weight loss by decreasing levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone” that is responsible for increasing appetite.
In fact, one study in 15 men found that a high-protein breakfast suppressed ghrelin secretion more effectively than a high-carb breakfast.
To help get your day off to a good start, consider protein sources like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and chia seeds.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
Starting your morning with a glass or two of water is an easy way to enhance weight loss.
Starting your morning with a glass or two of water is an easy way to enhance weight loss.
Water can help increase your energy expenditure, or the number of calories your body burns, for at least 60 minutes.
In one small study, drinking 16.9 fluid ounces (500 ml) of water led to a 30% increase in metabolic rate, on average.
Another study found that overweight women who increased their water intake to over 34 ounces (one liter) per day lost an extra 4.4 pounds (2 kg) over one year, without making any other changes in their diet or exercise routine.
What’s more, drinking water may reduce appetite and food intake in some individuals.
One study in 24 older adults showed that drinking 16.9 fluid ounces (500 ml) of water reduced the number of calories consumed at breakfast by 13%.
In fact, most studies on the topic have shown that drinking 34–68 ounces (1–2 liters) of water per day can aid in weight loss.
Starting your morning with water and staying well hydrated throughout the day is a great way to boost weight loss with minimal effort.
3. Weight Yourself
Stepping on the scale and weighing yourself each morning can be an effective method to increase motivation and improve self-control.
Several studies have associated weighing yourself daily with greater weight loss.
For instance, a study in 47 people found that those who weighed themselves daily lost about 13 pounds (6 kg) more over six months than those who weighed themselves less often.
Another study reported that adults who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 9.7 pounds (4.4 kg) over a two-year period, while those who weighed themselves once a month gained 4.6 pounds (2.1 kg).
Weighing yourself every morning can also help foster healthy habits and behaviors that may promote weight loss.
In one large study, frequent self-weighing was associated with improved restraint. Furthermore, those who stopped weighing themselves frequently were more likely to report increased calorie intake and decreased self-discipline.
For best results, weigh yourself right when you wake up. Do so after using the bathroom and before you eat or drink anything.
Additionally, remember that your weight may fluctuate daily and can be influenced by a variety of factors. Focus on the big picture and look for overall weight loss trends, rather than getting fixated on small day-to-day changes.
4. Get Some Sun
Opening the curtains to let in some sunlight or spending a few extra minutes outside each morning can help kickstart your weight loss.
One small study found that exposure to even moderate levels of light at certain times of the day can have an influence on weight.
Moreover, an animal study found that exposure to ultraviolet radiation helped suppress weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet.
Exposure to sunlight is also the best way to meet your vitamin D needs. Some studies have found that meeting your vitamin D requirements can aid in weight loss and even prevent weight gain.
In one study, 218 overweight and obese women took either vitamin D supplements or a placebo for one year. At the end of the study, those who met their vitamin D requirement lost an average of 7 pounds (3.2 kg) more than those with inadequate vitamin D blood levels.
Another study followed 4,659 older women for four years and found that higher levels of vitamin D were linked to less weight gain.
The amount of sun exposure you need can vary based on your skin type, the season and your location. However, letting in some sunlight or sitting outside for 10–15 minutes each morning may have a beneficial effect on weight loss.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice that involves fully focusing on the present moment and bringing awareness to your thoughts and feelings.
The practice has been shown to enhance weight loss and promote healthy eating habits.
For example, an analysis of 19 studies found that mindfulness-based interventions increased weight loss and reduced obesity-related eating behaviors.
Another review had similar findings, noting that mindfulness training resulted in significant weight loss in 68% of the studies reviewed.
Practicing mindfulness is simple. To get started, try spending five minutes each morning sitting comfortably in a calm space and connecting with your senses.
6. Squeeze in Some Exercise
Getting in some physical activity first thing in the morning can help boost weight loss.
One study in 50 overweight women measured the effects of aerobic exercise at different times of the day.
While there was not much difference noted in specific food cravings between those who exercised in the morning versus the afternoon, working out in the morning was associated with a higher level of satiety.
Exercising in the morning may also help keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. Low blood sugar can result in many negative symptoms, including excessive hunger.
One study in 35 people with type 1 diabetes showed that working out in the morning was associated with improved blood sugar control.
However, these studies focused on very specific populations and show an association, rather than causation. More research on the effects of morning exercise in the general population is needed.
7. Pack Your Lunch
Making the effort to plan and pack your lunch ahead of time can be a simple way to make better food choices and increase weight loss.
A large study including 40,554 people found that meal planning was associated with better diet quality, more diet variety and a lower risk of obesity.
Another study found that eating home-cooked meals more frequently was associated with improved diet quality and a decreased risk of excess body fat.
In fact, those who ate home-cooked meals at least five times per week were 28% less likely to be overweight than those who only ate home-cooked meals three times or less per week.
Try setting aside a few hours one night a week to plan and prepare your meals so that in the morning you can just grab your lunch and go.
8. Sleep Longer
Going to bed a bit earlier or setting your alarm clock later to squeeze in some extra sleep may help increase weight loss.
Several studies have found that sleep deprivation may be associated with an increased appetite.
One small study found that sleep restriction increased hunger and cravings, especially for high-carb, high-calorie foods.
Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increase in calorie intake.
In one study, 12 participants consumed an average of 559 more calories after getting just four hours of sleep, compared to when they got a full eight hours.
Establishing a healthy sleep schedule is a critical component of weight loss, along with eating well and exercising. To maximize your results, aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night.
9. Switch up Your Commute
While driving may be one of the most convenient ways to get to work, it may not be so great for your waistline.
Research shows that walking, biking or using public transportation may be tied to a lower body weight and reduced risk of weight gain.
One study followed 822 people over four years and found that those who commuted by car tended to gain more weight than non-car commuters.
Similarly, a study including 15,777 people showed that using public transportation or active methods of transport, such as walking or biking, was associated with a significantly lower body mass index and body fat percentage, compared to using private transportation.
Changing up your commute even a few times per week may be a simple way to ramp up weight loss.
10. Start Tracking Your Intake
Keeping a food diary to track what you eat can be an effective way to help boost weight loss and keep yourself accountable.
One study tracked weight loss in 123 people for one year and found that completing a food journal was associated with a greater amount of weight loss.
Another study showed that participants who regularly used a tracking system to self-monitor their diet and exercise lost more weight than those who did not regularly use the tracking system.
Similarly, a study of 220 obese women found that the frequent and consistent use of a self-monitoring tool helped improve long-term weight management.
Try using an app or even just a pen and paper to record what you eat and drink, starting with your first meal of the day.
The Bottom Line
Making a few small changes to your morning habits can be an easy and effective way to increase weight loss.
Practicing healthy behaviors in the morning can also get your day started on the right foot and set you up for success.
For best results, make sure you combine these morning habits with a well-rounded diet and healthy lifestyle.