Skip to content

Things You Should Never Do Before Breakfast, Say Experts

Want to start your day right? Avoid these AM no-nos for the sake of your happiness and productivity.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said that he was reborn each and every morning upon waking. Now, Mr. Gandhi may have slightly exaggerated to prove a point—but it's a valid point nonetheless.

After all, there's no time of the day filled with more promise than the early morning, and there's no better time to instill some great habits into your routine that will echo throughout the whole of your day. (For the record, we recommend both meditating and taking a morning walk before breakfast—for more on the latter, see the Secret Side Effects of Walking Before Breakfast, Says Science.)

That being said, it's equally as important to avoid a few specific activities or habits that may prove detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing if you do them in the morning hours before fueling up. Curious to know what they are? Read on, and for more amazing life hacks that will improve your days, make sure you learn why It's a Bad Idea to Listen to Taylor Swift Before Going to Bed, According to a New Study.

Making Your To-Do List

Woman writing a 'to do list' at her desk with a cup of fresh coffee

In theory, it seems like a good idea to wake up each morning and jot down a quick list of chores or things to do that day. But productivity experts will tell you that waiting until the morning-of can actually backfire and lead to some serious morning anxiety. You'd be much better off writing out your to-do list on the night before.

As Jeff Haden of Inc. explains, David Allen, the world-famous productivity guru and author of Getting Things Done, had this to say about your brain and your workload: "Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it's certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head."

In short: By getting that stuff out of your head the night before—and jotting out your to-do list the night before—you'll be taking a big step to more stress-free life. Not only will you find it easier to relax in the evening knowing tomorrow is already mapped out, but you'll also wake up with a firmer plan in mind and an idea of how your day will go. All in all, this can go a long way toward reducing stress, uncertainty, and that nagging feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day. And for more ways to increase your productivity, don't miss The Secret Reason Why You Never Get Anything Done, Say Psychologists.

Doing Heavy Weightlifting or Hardcore HIIT Training

Fit people doing deadlift exercise in gym. Horizontal indoors shot

There are certainly benefits to performing some cardio exercise on an empty stomach in the morning. (For more on that, see here to read about "fasted cardio.") But if your fitness goals are more oriented toward building muscle and improving overall athleticism, it's a mistake to start pumping iron first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

If you're doing really, really vigorous forms of exercise, such as long bouts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or powerlifting, you may find that your performance begins to flag. "It is not possible to mobilize fat stores and burn enough fat during higher-intensity exercise to provide a steady state of fuel, so once the body runs out of carbohydrates, it will no longer be able to continue working at that intensity," as Katie Kissane, R.D., C.S.S.D., a sports nutritionist and the owner of My Nutrition Coach in Fort Collins, CO, explained to Men's Journal.

In fact, research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast helped a group of athletes improve both the duration and intensity of their workouts.

So if you're serious about your fitness—and you're doing something more vigorous than a daily walk or jog—it's best to fit in some breakfast. According to the Mayo Clinic, finding some time to chow down just one hour before your workout will suffice. And for some great exercise advice, see here to learn The Bare Minimum Amount of Exercise You Need to Be Fit, Says New Study.

Making Big Decisions

woman on computer

Thinking of quitting your job? While may be tempting to hop out of bed first thing in the morning and tackle the biggest stressors on your mind, you'd be wise to avoid doing on an empty stomach.

A study published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found that hunger significantly changes decision-making outcomes, with most people becoming much more impulsive, impatient, and more likely to choose a small immediate reward over a larger one that will take more time to materialize.

"Say you were going to speak with a pensions or mortgage advisor—doing so while hungry might make you care a bit more about immediate gratification at the expense of a potentially more rosy future," comments study leader Dr. Benjamin Vincent from the University of Dundee's Psychology department. "We hear of children going to school without having had breakfast, many people are on calorie restriction diets, and lots of people fast for religious reasons. Hunger is so common that it is important to understand the non-obvious ways in which our preferences and decisions may be affected by it."

Scrolling Social Media

social media

It's hardly breaking news that spending too much time scrolling on social media can be dangerous for one's mental health. This research published in BMC Public Health a full decade ago found that frequent mobile phone use among young adults was linked to higher rates of sleep problems, stress, and depression. Much more recently, this study published in Computers in Human Behavior concludes browsing social media during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially detrimental to mental wellbeing.

So while it's probably a good idea to cut down on social media in general, it's hugely important to cut it out in the morning. "Instead of giving power to yourself on how you want to start your day, you are giving that control over to your phone," explains Adeola Adelayo, MD, a practicing psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health Hospital. "You start your day checking to see how many likes you've gotten on a photo or responding to a text from the night before from an irritated friend. This is bound to cause unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life."

As evidenced by this study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, social media platforms are designed to keep users scrolling and engaged for as long as possible. If you've been finding it hard to ditch your AM social media habit, try putting your phone in airplane mode before going to bed each night. Or, if you always keep your phone right beside your bed, consider keeping it in another room overnight and replace it with a book on your nightstand. Oh, and speaking of sleep: Make sure you know why It's Worse to Sleep With These Clothes on Your Body, Say Experts.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John
Filed Under