Being your healthiest self starts the moment you wake up. Registered Holistic Nutritionist Yuri Elkaim shared these science-backed tips with YourTango on how to have the best morning ever.
The way you start your morning can affect your health. After all, it's the morning that sets you up for the rest of the day and starting off on the wrong foot may cause you to make poor health choices later on. So . . . what does a successful morning look like? There seems to be a common thread among healthy people as to how they start their day. Let's look at the five things healthy people do every morning — and how to incorporate them into your morning routine:
1. Expose yourself to bright light. Wake up and get outside. Research shows that people who are exposed to bright light early in the morning had lower BMIs regardless of diet or exercise. Another great benefit to bright morning light exposure is it encourages earlier nocturnal melatonin release, so you'll be able to go to bed more easily at night. How much light do you need?
"Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, senior study author and director of the Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Research Program at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine says many people work in poorly lit settings that have about 200 to 300 lux (a measure of luminosity), but they need about 500 lux to lower their BMI. Cloudy skies are just as good for getting sun exposure — they can offer more than 1,000 lux of brightness. Outdoor light is best; it's tough to replicate the same results with indoor lighting." (via Northwestern.edu)
2. Drink 16 ounces of cold water, right after you wake up. It sounds pretty simple, but a glass of water in the morning has myriad incredible health benefits:
It boosts metabolism. One study by German researchers showed drinking cold water right after you wake up increased metabolic activity by 24 percent for a full 90 minutes. That's an effortless way to lose more weight.
It kickstarts your brain. Your brain is 75 percent water. When it's hydrated, it can work right. Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain function, including thought and memory process.
It flushes toxins. Imagine not drinking anything for a full 8 hours. That's essentially what your body has been doing as it sleeps. Drinking water in the morning helps flush your body of toxins that build up at night. It can also energize your muscles.
3. Express gratitude aloud. Gratitude has specific health benefits worth enjoying every morning. Gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. has scientifically proven the link between gratitude and happiness: "In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events."
4. Meditate for at least 5 minutes. Meditation experts have long recommended that you begin your day with meditation. It's referred to as the time when you're closest to your "source." I like to think it's the only time of the day that you'll have a clean slate. Though 30 minutes of meditation is ideal, just 5-10 minutes can help lower stress and anxiety. Starting your day in a stress-free state allows for more focused concentration, clearer decision making, and productivity.
5. Move your body. Ever start the day feeling sluggish? The fastest way to boost your a.m. energy is to start moving. You'll rev your metabolism and release serotonin, the "feel good" hormone into your body. This will also help relieve stress and increase your overall emotional state.
One study from Kansas State University and published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found big benefits for people who workout just after fasting (aka: a whole night without food). They found no difference in caloric output between workouts following a fasted or fed state. But individuals who fasted prior to exercising burned a greater amount of fat than those who ate their last meal up to an hour and a half before exercising.
Yuri Elkaim is a registered holistic nutritionist and author of the NYTimes bestselling book The All-Day Energy Diet. In his upcoming book, The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet (Rodale, 2015) he walks readers through a five-day food cycling program guaranteed to double your weight loss. Look for it in bookstores December 2015.
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