This blog is summing up 4 habits to avoid in the morning which might be setting you back in terms of energy, hunger, fat loss, digestion and general well-being. Sure, I could have listed 5 or 7 but 4 is a good even number and it helps me really think of some of the most crucial things to avoid when starting your day.
Unless you live an inherently stress-free lifestyle (I am thinking teenagers who live at home, have no jobs, get an allowance and barely do homework. Anyone?), how we spend the first hour of our waking day has a significant impact on the rest of our day. If we have to work, go to school, run errands, lift weights, cook and clean and any other odd assortment of activities, maximizing our well-being is huge. That said, some of these suggestions are rooted in personal experience but they apply to most if not all of us because they are rooted in physiology. I'll skip much of the detailed science and just tell you how to feel better. Sound good?
Starting Your Day With Stress
Wow, sounds like a no-brainer, right? This tip is basically ignoring some of the stresses we simply can't avoid like our newborn crying, a snow storm or our car breaking down. What I mean is starting the day with no food cooked, no lunched packed, a messy house or even no clean clothes. Taking the ten to thirty minutes the night before to grill some chicken, or pack a couple of lunches, do the dishes or whatever else it is you will need to do in the morning will leave you much more prepared.
Let's face it: you are going to have to do those things anyways. Why do them when you are less prepared and have less time? Since this is a QUICK tip, I won't go into detail about how to plan your cooking and cleaning. What I will say is make next day's preparation part of your nightly wind-down ritual. Make extra dinner tonight for lunch tomorrow, talk to your spouse about your day while packing your lunches for tomorrow and do dishes while listening to the news. Try to incorporate something you like with something that is a chore. Listening to music makes any activity better, as does spending time with a love one.
It might seems like work tonight, but tomorrow when you wake up, you'll thank yourself. And possibly thank me too.
Starting Your Day Dehydrated
This shouldn't even be a discussion at this point in our educated and progressive society, but if the first thing down your hatch in the morning isn't water, you are setting yourself up for a series of bad habits. You could stumble out of bed, brew coffee, stand in front of the coffee maker until the second it's ready like a tiger waiting for a slow gazelle to separate from the herd, and then pouncing on it. Sure, I know that the caffeine in one cup of coffee doesn't negate the hydrating effects of the water it's made from. I also realize that you could pound the coffee and then the water, but this isn't about logistics. This is about teaching yourself to be so dependent on something that you put off a necessary biological nutrient to satisfy a mental and emotional craving.
If you can turn off your alarm, click on the light and drink down a tall glass of water first thing in the morning before even leaving the bed, it shows you are putting health and hydration first. This is as much physiological as it is symbolic for you. This is the statement that says “I care that my first waking moments are spend correctly”. Who can't respect that?
To really drive things home, a 2% decrease in body-weight from fluid loss results in up to a 22% decrease in aerobic performance and around 10% decrease in anaerobic performance. That's only 2lbs if you weigh 200lbs! Consider that in your next fat loss phase too; we burn fat aerobically, so a 22% decrease in fat oxidation will really hamper your results. In another word: drink the darn water.
Starting Your Day Without Digestive Support
Digestive support has received a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. It is critically imperative to immune function, neurotransmitter production and nutrient absorption. However, I think that the nuances of digestive support are often missed. You may take a probiotic and it could solve all your digestive issues. Someone else might not hit the lottery like that on the first try and may get no improvement. We can easily get digestive support from foods we eat. Any fermented food like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar are great. What we are trying to do here is “prop” up beneficial gut bacteria and in some cases, increase stomach and intestinal acidity. Whole foods helps add to overall gut bacteria, but only short-term, which is why ongoing probiotic support can be so beneficial and crucial for some.
I won't go totally in-depth here as digestion can really be expanded upon in another article, but I would say that improving stomach acidity and adding some foods with naturally occurring bacteria is a good start. For now, eat some full fat Greek Yogurt, make salads with plenty of oil and vinegar, cook with coconut oil, use soy sauce and drink ginger tea. If none of these improve digestion, try taking 200-300mg of HCL per protein containing meal and see if you reduce symptoms of bloating, gas, excess fullness or other digestive discomfort.
Starting Your Day High Carbohydrate
If you have ever heard of Charles Poliquin, this statement probably isn't new to you. For those of us who have heard the constant dogma that oats, cereal or bread are a healthy way to start the day have most likely also felt the blood sugar low that follows. This locks us into snacking all day to prop up blood sugar and steers us away from using body fat as fuel in between meals. Try a breakfast of eggs, whole fat Greek yogurt, chicken over greens, turkey sausage or any other animal protein accompanied by some fat and veggies. Both fat and protein send powerful satiety signals to the brain, provide more prolonged energy, promote muscle growth and most importantly keep blood sugar levels stable. Ditch the high-carb breakfast, trust me that fat is not the enemy, eat some eggs cooked in pastured butter and see how you feel. I bet it's full, satisfied, clear-headed and energized.