If your groggy mornings are turning into unproductive days, experts say it could come down to your a.m. routine.
On Tuesday, U.S. watchdog group The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report on fast-food chains that were responsible for the “worst ways to start your day.”
Topping that list this year was The Cheesecake Factory’s breakfast burrito — a scrambled egg, bacon and potato-stuffed meal that had a whopping 2,730 calories and two days worth of salt servings.
And while nutrition plays an important role in how our bodies and mind function during the day, fitness and mental health are just as important. Below, dietitian and blogger Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen, personal trainer Amanda Thebe and mental health practitioner Lauren Millman outline the other unhealthy ways people start their mornings.
Loading up on sugar before 9 a.m.
“You don’t need to be drinking a Frappuccino drowning in sugar before 9 a.m,” Sharp said. “You might be surprised to know that your typical flavoured latte has bout 35 grams of sugar.” Instead, skip the flavour and enjoy your coffee with or without unsweetened milk.
Glued to your phone
Most of us check our phones before we go to bed, but we also check them as soon as we get up, Millman said. “Even reading messages or emails at this point in time is a time-waster because your retention will be weak. It’s always best to approach things efficiently the first time, instead of having to come back to it and do things twice.”
While Thebe said there’s nothing wrong with lifting weights or working out before you start the day, you should listen to how your body is feeling. “If you are still in a morning fog and your body isn’t completely awake, I would advise against lifting heavy weights,” she continued.
“Metabolic resistance training could be useful here, so lifting moderate weights at a faster pace in a circuit based protocol. Alternatively starting with a lighter round of weights and then slowly building up to heavier weights towards the end of your workout as your body adapts.”
You might think you’re cutting calories, but this is probably one of the unhealthiest ways to start your day. “Breakfast skippers usually arrive at mid-morning so ravenous they go straight for the staff room muffins and doughnuts,” Sharp said. Plan a healthy breakfast ahead of time like overnight oats or a protein-packed smoothie.
Not having a routine
The best way to stick to a healthy routine? Create a healthy routine. “Sometimes we need to run our lives like a business, knowing what to do when, and making a schedule,” Millman explained. “It’s also important to know what type of person you are, and when your most productive hours for tackling and completing tasks are.”
Choosing juice instead of fruit
“I know a lot of us think that juice is a great healthy way to get in your five to 10 servings of fruits and veggies each day, but it’s just not comparable to whole fruit,” Sharp adds. Juice lacks fibre which keeps us feeling fuller during the day. “For the same amount of calories and carbs, you can enjoy the physical act of eating and reap those satiating fibre benefits.”
Did you stretch?
“When you wake up you after a full night’s sleep you will have a lower body temperature and general lack of blood flow… so you want to get that blood flowing with a decent warm-up,” Thebe said. This could mean stretching, doing cardio or even inchworms to get your blood flowing.
Not eating protein or fat
We tend to think of carbs like cereal, toast and fruit as breakfast foods, Sharp said, but having a source of protein and fat will help you stay fuller until lunch. “Pair your fruit with some cottage cheese and a sprinkle of hemp hearts. Put almond butter or avocado on your toast. And use your cereal as a crunchy topper to a bowl of Greek yogurt.”