Adopting a healthy and balanced diet and engaging in physical activities can help you lose weight but if you want to maximize your ability to lose those extra flabs and pounds, consider basking in the early morning sunlight.

In a new study, researchers from the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago asked 26 males and 28 females who were 30 years-old on average to wear wrist monitors that would track their light exposure and their sleep patterns for one week. The researchers also asked the participants to record what they eat daily so they would know about their caloric intake.

The researchers observed that the participants who were more exposed to light in the morning had lower body mass index (BMI) than the participants whose light exposure happens mostly later in the day.

"The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals' body mass index," said study author Kathryn Reid, from the Department of Neurology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person's BMI."

The researchers noted that the participants who were exposed to over 500 lux of light tend to have lower BMI. A lux is a unit of illuminance. Indoor lighting often has 150-500 lux while outdoor lighting typically starts from 1,000 lux and up. The researchers also observed that exposure to morning light had an impact on the subjects' BMI regardless of the amount of calories that they take and the amount of exercise that they get.

Study author Phyllis Zee, director of the Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Research Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine, explained that light helps synchronize the body's internal clock. She said that lack of light exposure at the right time of the day disrupts the body's circadian rhythm which can result in weight gain and affect metabolism.

Zee recommended basking in bright light preferably from eight in the morning to noon. She also said that 20 to 30 minutes of exposure to the morning sun is already enough to make an impact on a person's BMI.

The study was published in the journal PLoS One April 2.

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