Ever wonder why you gain weight in winter?
Most of us chalk it up to lack of exercise. When it’s cold, we tend to stay inside and are less active.
And lots of people swear that cold triggers their appetite for richer, heavier foods. During a snowstorm, a salad just doesn’t seem to cut it.
A new study shows there is something else at work that goes beyond diet and exercise.
University of Alberta researchers examined what happens at a cellular level when sunlight hits your skin. They discovered that sunlight penetrates the outside layer of skin and strikes the fat cells below.
When this happens, fat is released into the blood stream. It is then burned as energy or excreted.
The study’s author is Professor Peter Light. (Yes, that’s really his name.) He is director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute.
“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell,” Dr. Light explains. “In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”1
Lack of light, he says, “contributes to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”2
The findings were published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.3
Professor Light said that sunlight’s effect on fat storage may be an evolutionary holdover from earlier times when food was scarce in the winter. It may have been a survival advantage to store fat when the days grew shorter, he said.
Get More Light to Stop Winter Weight Gain
The solution suggested by the research is obvious: Get more sun in the winter. But that can be difficult when it’s cold.
One alternative is to get a light box. They are widely available at drugstores and online. Prices range from $50-$200. Light boxes are often used by people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. But they may also help you avoid winter weight gain. 4
Here’s how to benefit from a light box:5 6
- Make sure your light box is 10,000 lux or more. Use light boxes labeled for “bright light therapy” or “phototherapy.” This means the light box should emit 10,000 lux, which is 20 times the strength of typical indoor lighting.
- Make sure it’s “UV-Free”. This is the part of the spectrum that causes skin damage with prolonged exposure.
- Use it in the morning. If you get light late in the day, it may keep you awake at night. Twenty minutes a day should be sufficient.
Editor’s Note: Getting more light isn’t the only to keep your weight under control Discover the secret “switch” you can flip that tells your body to burn fat instead of store it… Get all the details HERE.
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