Whether you need to lose weight, want to fight depression, or simply want to stay in shape, we already know that everyone should exercise on a regular basis. You don’t really need a reason other than a desire to stay healthy! Exercise keeps your heart in good condition, your mind alert, and your muscles strong. We should all exercise whenever we can find the time.

But if your primary goal is weight loss, some evidence suggests that there is indeed a more beneficial time of day to schedule your workout.

In a 2010 study, Belgian researchers found that exercising in a “fasting state” helped participants burn more calories and maintain healthy insulin levels throughout the day. This means every morning, one group of study participants exercised before eating breakfast. Despite eating a high-calorie, fatty diet, this group of people did not gain any extra weight! Meanwhile, those who exercised at their normal times, or did not exercise at all, gained weight on the fattening diet.

The researchers concluded that exercising when the body is already in a fasting state induces it to burn more of its fat stores. It is possible that this calorie burn also extends throughout the rest of the day, boosting the body’s base metabolism. In other words, you could theoretically consume more calories, while maintaining the same weight, by exercising first thing in the morning.

If you’re hoping to lose weight, set your clock a bit earlier in the mornings. Lay out your workout clothes and running shoes at night, and charge your cell phone or MP3 player. At first, it can be difficult to wake up earlier in the morning. But keep in mind that after about two weeks, your new routine will become habit. Once you see the numbers on your scale begin to dwindle, you will be happy you switched up your exercise routine.