Do you roll out of bed 15 minutes before you need to be out the door in the morning? Do you routinely hit the snooze button three times before you finally get up? Do you plow through the morning on an empty stomach or grab whatever sugary snack is handy in the break room? Is exercise something you save for weekends or plan to do after work but have a tendency to let slide because life gets in the way?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you need a new morning routine.
Rise and Shine: Why Hitting Snooze Is a Bad Idea
When you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock to get an extra seven minutes of sleep, you accomplish two things:
- You cause your morning to be more rushed and stressful. Certain things have to happen in the morning before you can be on your way. You can't skimp on those things (combing your hair, brushing your teeth, getting dressed), so when you hit snooze, you have to skimp on other things like breakfast, meditation, and exercise. That translates to a less healthy you.
- You become more sluggish instead of less. Going back to sleep for seven minutes, or 14, or even 21, does not make you better rested because you can't achieve great quality sleep in those short intervals of time. If you consistently feel like you need an extra 21 minutes of sleep in the morning, you would find yourself far further ahead by retiring 21 minutes earlier in the evening.
Why Breakfast Really Is the Most Important Meal of the Day
Some things our parents tell us are old wives tales, and they don't hold up to scrutiny. For example, your face isn't going to freeze that way. However, our elders aren't wrong when they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here's why:
- Studies show that people who eat breakfast are less prone to obesity.
- Those who don't eat breakfast are less likely to get all their daily requirements for vitamins and minerals in for the day.
- Concentration and focus are better in those who eat a morning meal.
- Your metabolism will slow down if your body thinks there isn't any food available, and you will hold on to fat rather than shed it. When you skip breakfast, you're tricking your body into believing that food is scarce, and it should conserve calories.
- People who don't eat breakfast have a tendency to ingest foods that are high in sugar and fat as snacks before lunch, but those who eat a healthy breakfast don't fall into that trap as often.
Exercising in the Morning: Yay or Nay?
So you've gotten out of bed without hitting the snooze button, and you know it's important to eat breakfast. What about exercise? Is it good for you in the morning, or should you save it for after work? If it is good to exercise as part of your morning routine, what should you eat first? What type of exercise should it be? Consider the following information when deciding on exercise as part of your morning routine:
- Exercising in the morning boosts your metabolism, keeping your body in calorie-burning mode all day.
- Exercise releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, into your system. Exercising in the morning can set you up for a better day because it elevates your mood.
- Making sure that you do some exercise in the morning ensures that you won't miss doing it later in the day because of schedule changes or fatigue.
- It's good to let your joints warm up a bit before exercising. Getting up, moving around a bit, then performing some stretches, warmup exercises, or yoga before your workout can decrease your chances of joint injuries.
- Who doesn't love having bragging rights? When you get up and get your workout in before everyone else, you get to have that feeling of accomplishment that everyone loves.
Should You Eat First or Exercise First?
Whether it's better to exercise on an empty stomach or have a light meal first is the topic of much debate. If you are interested in losing weight, the question is whether your body will burn more fat if you exercise before or after eating. There are some research studies that may shed some light on this question.
- A study done on men indicated that working out before eating anything in the morning allowed them to burn fat more efficiently without developing insulin resistance. This occurred in spite of the fact that the men were eating a poor diet that is usually known to contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain (Karen Van Proeyen, 2010).
- In another study, some people ate a light meal before doing some moderate cardio exercise while others did the workout without eating first. The results of that study showed that those who ate before exercising burned more fat for the next 24 hours, especially the women (Stephen R. Stannard, 2009).
So should you eat before working out or not? The answer is that it's up to you, but keep in mind that many people are sensitive to low blood sugar levels, becoming dizzy and clumsy when they haven't eaten in a while, such as overnight. For those people, it is advisable to eat a light meal before exercising. The suggested morning routine in the next section provides for this.
Sample Morning Routine
Now that we've discussed why it's important to get up in the morning without hitting snooze, have breakfast, exercise, and generally establish a good top-of-the-day routine, you may be at a loss as to how to make all of these morning requirements fit into your allotted time period. Not to worry, we've taken the work out of establishing a morning routine. You can use this one as-is or modify it to fit your needs.
- This step happens the night before: set your alarm for 1 hour and 45 minutes before you need to be out the door in the morning. This allows for 30 minutes each to perform your morning ablutions, prepare and eat breakfast, and exercise. You may need to adjust this timing if you take longer to get ready or if you have children or others in the home who need your time in the morning as well.
- Place your alarm across the room from where you sleep so you'll have to get out of bed to turn it off. Then go directly to the bathroom and wash your face with cool water.
- Perform 15 minutes of yoga, stretching, or do a gentle warmup routine.
- Prepare and eat a light breakfast that includes protein and some fat. This recipe: Turmeric Fried Egg with Roasted Farro is a great one, and it includes turmeric, a spice with many potential health benefits. With your doctor's approval, you may also consider taking a garcinia cambogia supplement with your breakfast. Garcinia cambogia may help you burn even more fat throughout the day.
- Do a 30-minute workout video or do 30 minutes of cardio exercise such as brisk walking or bicycling.
- Take your shower, get dressed, and get ready for the day.
It can be daunting to think about following a morning routine that includes breakfast and exercise every day. Being equipped with the knowledge of how good it is for your health and having a plan for how to get it done, you'll be getting your days off to the right start, beginning tomorrow.
- Karen Van Proeyen, K. S. (2010, Oct. 29). onlinelibrary.wiley.com. Retrieved from The Journal of Physiology: Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet: DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.196493
- Stephen R. Stannard, A. J. (2009, Feb. 11). Adaptations to skeletal muscle with endurance exercise training in the acutely fed versus overnight-fasted state. Retrieved from jsams.org: DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2010.03.002
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