Can bright light make you lighter?

If you’ve struggled for years to shed extra pounds, then you’ll be happy to hear that there is a new way to jump start your metabolism — and it’s not some fad diet or strict exercise regimen.

It’s a simple weight loss trick that harnesses the power of your body’s natural cycles to banish body fat, balance blood sugar, increase insulin resistance and reduce your risk of diabetes.

And all you have to do to experience these metabolic benefits is turn to the light…

Because right now, researchers are shining a new light on metabolism issues, both figuratively and literally.

Researchers from Northwestern University recently found that exposure to bright light in the morning improves your body’s ability to expel glucose from your bloodstream.

And in the evening, bright light has the opposite effect — it causes your blood sugar to spike.

Now, I’m sure you know that metabolic processes like blood sugar and insulin resistance have a direct impact on your health. But they also impact your weight…

An earlier study conducted by Northwestern University showed that people who were exposed to bright light in the morning also weighed less than people who were exposed to bright light after 12 p.m.

If you’re wondering how something as simple as a little morning light can help you balance your blood sugar and lose weight, the answer all comes back to the health of your body clock.

Our bodies are designed for light during the day and dark at night. But in this day and age, it’s easy to miss out on the natural cycles of the day…

For example, if your full-time job involves spending all day in a cubicle without windows, or if you spend all night watching TV or surfing the web on a brightly lit screen, you’re throwing a wrench in the health of your finely tuned body clock

“Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said senior author of Northwestern’s earlier study, Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain.”

Since it appears that your most chronic and troublesome metabolic issues are just your body’s way of begging you to restore some natural light patterns to your life, it’s time to let the sun shine in…

Researchers say that getting 20 to 30 minutes of light between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon is enough to reduce your body weight over the long term.

There are a few simple ways you can do this. If you work inside all day, take breaks where you actually leave your desk to see the light of day. And if you really can’t break away from the indoors during the morning hours, try getting bright light the artificial way — buy a light therapy bulb or lamp that mimics natural light and soak in some rays at your desk.

  1. N. Cheung, P.C. Zee, D. Shalman, R.G. Malkani, J.Kang, K.J. Reid. “Morning and Evening Blue-Enriched Light Exposure Alters Metabolic Function in Normal Weight Adults.” PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (5).
  2. J. Reid, G. Santostasi, K.G. Baron, J. Wilson, J. Kang, P.C. Zee. “Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults.” PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4).
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and