Doing This One Thing Every Morning Could Help You Lose Weight Faster, According to Weight Loss Experts

And it has nothing to do with depriving yourself.

It’s human nature to look for shortcuts—especially when it comes to losing weight. But scientific research has made it abundantly clear that the key to long-lasting weight loss isn’t committing to an overly restrictive diet or vowing to go hard at the gym every single day. What’s more effective is making small, incremental healthy changes that are easier to stick with.

If you’re used to eating a lot of ultra-processed foods and live a primarily sedentary lifestyle, making changes to the way you eat and live can feel overwhelming. Where should you even start? It’s something that Gabbi Berkow, MA, RD, CND, CPT, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, hears a lot from clients. Instead of changing everything all at once, try starting with integrating one or two healthy habits into your daily routine. There are two habits in particular that Berkow says can be beneficial for weight loss: moving for at least 10 minutes each morning and eating breakfast or a snack with fiber, protein and healthy fats.

Related: Looking to Lose Weight? Get Started With These 40 Expert and Science-Backed Foods and Drinks

How 10 Minutes of Movement in the Morning Can Support a Weight Loss Goal

Registered dietitian Danielle Broder, MS, RDN and Berkow both say that it’s a misconception that people have to work out super intensely every day if they want to lose weight. “This couldn’t be further from the truth,” Broder says. “Weight loss comes primarily from your diet and exercise is an addition that can enhance your results and improve your health both physically and mentally.”

It’s not unusual to wake up in the morning with the best intention of getting a workout in at some point during the day, only to find that you don’t actually have time to change into workout clothes, go to the gym and shower. It’s time-consuming, right? Berkow says that starting each day with just 10 minutes of movement is a more realistic habit for many. “Starting your day with movement—any type of movement that gets your blood flowing, muscles warm, and that you enjoy—ensures you get physical activity in,” she says. It could be as simple as going for a walk or doing cardio-based movements (like jumping jacks and mountain climbers) to three of your favorite songs.

“Exercise improves your mood, reduces anxiety, increases your energy, enhances focus and helps regulate your appetite so you’re more motivated to make healthy choices,” Berkow says.

She adds that exercise also improves brain function by increasing blood flow to the areas of your brain that help you make good decisions and concentrate. “This sets [you] up to make healthy choices throughout the day,” she says. “Plus, starting your day with movement that feels good will motivate you to move more throughout the day—you’ll know how good it feels and will want to move instead of viewing working out as a chore!”

It’s true that going for a run, to the gym, to a workout class, or doing an at-home workout all contribute to weight loss. But don’t underestimate the power of 10 minutes of movement a day—it counts!

Related: 12 Trainers Share Their Favorite Workouts for Weight Loss—and Yes, Walking Counts! 

How Eating a Breakfast or Snack With Protein, Fiber, and Healthy Fats Supports a Weight Loss Goal

The second morning habit that Berkow says can help support a weight loss goal is eating a breakfast or snack that contains protein (ideally she says 20 grams), fiber and healthy fats. “Packing protein- and fiber-rich snacks is key for helping you stay full and make healthy choices throughout the day,” she says. “Protein is king for weight loss: it’s the macronutrient that keeps you the fullest, helps stabilize your blood sugar, preserves your muscle (so weight loss is fat and not muscle), burns the most calories in digestion, and revs your metabolism.” She adds that between 20 and 30 grams of protein is needed at every meal and snack to prevent muscle breakdown.

Broder also says that protein, fiber and healthy fats are key nutrients when it comes to weight loss. She explains that fiber helps with immediate satiety and protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. “Protein has a higher ‘thermic effect’ compared to other macronutrients, meaning that you’re burning more calories to process protein compared to carbs and fat. If you’re someone who is ‘always hungry,’ pair protein and fiber at every meal, and watch the magic happen!” she says.

Related: Looking to Add More Protein to Your Diet? Skip the Burger and Consider These High-Protein Foods Instead

What does this look like, exactly? Berkow says that some examples of foods that provide adequate protein include a cup of plain Greek yogurt, three to four eggs, one cup of low-fat cottage cheese, or a protein shake made with protein powder and one cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy). She says to combine any of these foods with a fruit, vegetable or whole grain for fiber. As for healthy fats, many of the same foods that contain protein also have this nutrient (such as eggs, nuts, and nut butter). Avocados are another good source of healthy fats and also have fiber.

Making small, incremental healthy changes can lead to achieving weight loss goals that last long-term. Start with these two simple habits. Once they become part of your routine, then you can incorporate a couple more healthy changes into your life. With time, you’ll see that these small changes add up to a big impact.

Next up, see this dietitian-approved grocery list, which will ensure you're stocked with healthy, delicious, and versatile foods.