You haven’t even made it to work yet, and you might have already set yourself up for a crappy day. How many of these common health mistakes did you make this morning? See where unintentional flubs throw you off, and the simple ways to fix them to get your day going in the right direction.
You Wake Up in a Cave
If you roll out of bed, hit the shower, guzzle your coffee, then bunker down in your office, you’ll barely see the light of day until lunch. Missing out on morning rays might mess with your body mass index, a new study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found. People who get most of their natural light exposure after noon had higher BMIs than people who saw sunshine in the a.m., the study found.
Get Your Rays: Exposure to 20 to 30 minutes of natural light in the morning hours helps set your internal clock and regulate your energy level, appetite, and metabolism, according to researchers. Open the blinds and let the sun shine in while you get ready for work, and if you have time, have your coffee or breakfast outside—or at least by a window.
You Didn’t Down Any Water
If you don’t drink water in the morning, you’ll be playing hydration catch-up for the rest of the day, says Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sports Medicine. And when you’re low on H2O, you’re more likely to be in a bad mood, get confused, or feel tired, reports new research from France.
Drink Up: If you have enough fluids in the morning, not only will you feel happier, sharper, and more energetic, but you’ll also have more strength, speed, and stamina for your workouts later, Bonci says. Aim to start the day with 24 ounces in the first hour of the morning—that’s about 3 cups—to put yourself on the right H20 track.
You Worked Out on an Empty Stomach
Head out for your morning run or lifting session without eating first, and you risk being surly and foggy all day long, according to recent British research. Men were sharper on daily tasks and in better moods overall when they had breakfast before an a.m. sweat session than when they skipped the meal, the study found.
Eat Up: Eating healthy first thing in the morning (see our next tip) gives you the energy your brain needs to function properly for the rest of the day, the researchers say, so make sure you fuel up with a mix of protein and carbs first.
You Skimped on Protein
Oatmeal or a banana might hold you over for a couple hours, but waiting until lunch or dinner to get your protein fix is not the best way to build muscle, according to a new study from the University of Texas. People who ate a full 30-gram serving of protein at all three meals had a 25 percent higher muscle protein synthesis rate than people who ate the same amount of protein, but had the bulk of it at dinner, the researchers found.
Eat Up: Your body can only use so much protein to repair muscle at a time, the researchers say, so if you space your protein out evenly throughout the day by trying to get at least 30 grams with each meal, you’ll maximize your body’s ability to use it. Scramble up 3 whole eggs and 4 egg whites and have that alongside 2/3 cup of oatmeal for a filling breakfast that provides 36 grams of protein, advises Men’s Health nutrition advisor Mike Roussell, Ph.D.
You Got Road Rage
Spending your ride to work seething over traffic won’t just make you miserable that morning—it makes for a miserable life, according to recent Swedish research. How you feel about your commute, for better or worse, influences your overall happiness, or lack thereof, the study found.
Get Happy: The daily trip has an important impact because it preps you for the day to come and is a buffer between home and work life, the researchers say. To enjoy your ride more, entertain yourself with one of these Best Podcasts For Long Drives.