If you’ve been trying to lose some stubborn pounds and find that diet Y exercise they just aren’t working, a new study in the journal diabetology suggests that there may be a quirky trick that could make a difference: How are you using your inner lighting?
Observing 14 overweight men and women between the ages of 40 and 75, the researchers had the participants stay in a special indoor chamber that measured breathing rates for 40 hours. That measurement allowed them to determine factors such as how quickly and when they were burning caloriesboth awake and asleep.
Time was divided into two separate sessions based on light exposure. One mimicked natural light with a bright day and dim night, while the other reversed that sequence. In both sessions, participants were kept in the dark overnight and had regular meals that kept calorie and macronutrient content constant.
Blood samples were taken before breakfast and dinner, then at 30-minute intervals for four hours after both meals to determine triglyceride, insulin, melatonin, and glucose levels. They all play a role in metabolism, according to lead author Jan Frieder Harmsenin the department of nutrition and movement sciences at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
The study found that spending the day in bright light led to lower blood glucose levels before dinner compared to spending the day in dim light. In contrast, having bright light at night led to a reduction in sleep metabolic rate, meaning the participants ate the same amount but burned fewer calories while sleeping.
As more time passes outdoor always a good idea, says Harmsen Eat this, not that! You don’t necessarily have to rely on outdoor lighting to reap the benefits of the right combination of day and night.
“Redesigning indoor lighting conditions to mimic the natural light-dark cycle holds promise for improving metabolic health,” he says. “At the very least, avoiding bright light at night can affect glucose metabolism in a significant way that reduces the risk of weight gain.”
For more information on light and metabolism, see Avoiding This Thing Before Bed Can Help You Burn More Fat, New Study Says.