The First Thing You Should Do Every Morning for Better Health, According to an RD

The phrase "simple is better" feels especially pertinent when it comes to anything happening in the morning between "opening your eyes" and "breakfast." Thankfully, the first thing registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin, RD,  founder of BZ Nutrition in New York City, thinks you should do right after waking up is incredibly simple: Drink water. "Water is an essential nutrient, which means our bodies require it but cannot make enough of it on its own and so we need to get it from our diet," she says. "Water plays a huge role in our moods, cognition, body weight, skin health, and body temperature," she says.

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Zeitlin recommends having at least eight to 16 ounces of water before breakfast, and consistently drinking water throughout the day. "A good rule of thumb is to aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water during the day," she says. (And have more if you're exercising or if it's super hot outside.) And you can have that H2O almost any way you like. "Plain, cold, hot, lukewarm, lemon, lime… all your call," Zeitlin says, with the caveat that it's probably best to avoid carbonated water first thing. "Carbonated water can lead to bloat from the bubbles since they are tiny bubbles of air," she says. "It can also leave you with a false sense of 'fullness' from the air bubbles so that you may not eat enough breakfast and end up feeling hungrier sooner."

Drinking water at any time of day is generally pretty healthy for you. But why first thing in the morning? Read on to learn more about why Zeitlin encourages her clients to drink one or two glasses of water right after waking up. (She adds that the claim that drinking water first thing in the morning makes you healthier is based on anecdotal evidence and personal preferences, not clinical studies.)

1. It helps boost your brain power

Don't worry, you don't have to outright replace your cup(s) of coffee or matcha with water. But instead of making that the first thing you sip on, drink some water. "One main benefit is the boost in mental cognition that water helps give our brains," Zeitlin says. Conversely, dehydration has been associated with decreased alertness and increased grogginess and confusion... doesn't that sound like you in the morning? "When we are tired and groggy, just waking up, a little extra mental assist goes a long way. So, for that reason alone, you should start your day with a tall glass of water," she says.

2. It may help get you ready for breakfast

"Some people feel as though a glass of water in the morning 'wakes their body up' and gets them ready for breakfast," Zeitlin says. It's true for her and many of her clients, although she admits there isn't any robust clinical research backing up these anecdotal experiences. "If you are someone who never feels hungry for breakfast and you often skip it, then I would suggest a glass of water first thing in the a.m. and seeing if it does in fact get you more in the 'mood' for breakfast, because eating a balanced breakfast has been clinically shown to help improve overall health in many studies."

3. It supports a better mood

TBH who couldn't use a little help being less cranky in the morning? All it may take is a big glass of water. Indeed, a small 2014 study found that people who typically didn't drink much water enjoyed significant improvements in their mood, especially when going to bed and waking up, after increasing their water intake. "We tend to be cranky and more irritable when we are dehydrated, which we can be after going six to eight hours without drinking anything," Zeitlin says. "Starting the day with water can help you kick the day off in a better mood."

4. It'll perk up your skin

If you notice that your skin looks the way reading an Ayn Rand novel feels—AKA hopelessly dull—after a night of drinking alcohol, fill up your cup with some water.  "If you have dry skin, or drank alcohol the night before, water will help bring back a healthier, softer, dewier look and feel to your skin, as alcohol dries out our skin and can cause it to look red and inflamed," Zeitlin says. "Eight to 16 ounces of water can help bounce your skin back to looking brighter."

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