Skipping meals is often seen as a way to lose weight but in reality, the side effects of skipping meals are much more serious than any potential benefits. When you skip a meal the body goes into a “fasting mode”. During this fasting, carbohydrates, protein and fats are all used for energy. Carbohydrates are the number one source of fuel for the body, followed by protein and then fat. As this fasting phase continues, it has several effects on the body. The muscle glycogen storage deposits in muscle and liver become depleted. As the glucose levels drop the body looks for other sources of fuel. Since the brain and nerves prefer energy from glucose, protein tissues (muscle) are broken down. When you eat a meal, your body breaks up the food. Some of this food is stored as fat, while other parts of it enter your bloodstream as sugar, and work to provide you with energy throughout the day. If you skip one meal a day the cortisol in your body increases and can cause anxiety.
As the body switches to the use of ketone bodies, it begins to reduce energy output in an effort to protect both fat and lean tissue it in turn slows the metabolism. In addition, as the lean tissues begin to shrink, they become weaker and perform less metabolic work, reducing energy expenditure even more. Hormones also slow down the metabolism to conserve the lean body tissue. This is known as “starvation mode”, this mechanism is thought to have evolved as a defense mechanism against starvation. The body uses the calories efficiently in order to protect its fat stores using lean tissue and muscle instead. A lowered metabolic rate is a direct result of muscle loss. Accordingly; fewer calories are needed and weight loss slows down. There is also a noticeable decrease in T3 thyroid hormone and the longer the period between meals the greater the reduction in T3.
Skipping meals and restricting calories will also create cravings. Rapid high blood sugar occurs when you give into these cravings. As a result, your body creates a high amount of triglycerides, which convert to fat-storage. In addition, the depleted glycogen causes low energy levels because blood sugar is not being replaced. Unfortunately, the weight that is lost is mostly water (glycogen is made up of mostly water) and muscle. The slowed metabolism will also cause a slowdown digesting your food, if you cram all your food into one meal. This is also commonly seen in people who skip meals. They get so hungry they eat more than one meals worth of calories at one sitting. The already slowed metabolism is going to take a lot longer to digest the oversized meal through your digestive system again resulting in weight gain, not to mention you can stretch your stomach and it will ultimately take you longer to feel “full”. Just think about what procedures like the lap band are designed to do, reduce the stomach size.
Another important reason why skipping meals is unhealthy is due to the fact that you are more than likely not receiving adequate nutrition. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats helps not only to ensure that your body functions properly, but can also help in the treatment and prevention of a number of serious conditions. Some conditions that can be improved with proper nutrition include cardiovascular disease, strokes, and some types of cancer. You may believe that you can skip meals and still achieve optimal nutrition by supplementing your diet with multivitamins. And while multivitamins do have their place, research has shown that these pills aren’t as effective as real food at providing your body with what it needs. For good health, try to eat as naturally as possible.
Research has shown that people who eat five to six meals per day are able to lose more fat and stay leaner than those people who only consume three meals a day. This is because the absence of food causes the stomach to secrete a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is referred to as the “hunger hormone”. It exerts its effects by slowing down fat utilization and increasing appetite. Without consistent food consumption, ghrelin levels remain elevated for extended periods of time, increasing the urge to eat. Frequent meals counteract these negative effects Blood sugar is better regulated and because there is an almost constant flow of food into the stomach the hunger-inducing effect of ghrelin are suppressed, reducing the urge to binge-out. The success rate of losing weight from skipping meals is poor. A significant amount of weight may be lost at first, but once again this is water and muscle weight. And you will in most instances put the weight back on plus more.
To make the task of eating frequently a little less difficult, it is beneficial to prepare several meals in advance, store them in plastic containers and reheat them in a microwave on an as-needed basis, for maybe taking to work, or whilst traveling. By doing this allows you to consolidate preparation, thereby heightening efficiency. Another alternative is to supplement your basic meals with meal replacement powders. They are nutritionally balanced, easily transportable, and can be prepared in a matter of minutes. Over the long-term, these factors make them an excellent aid in the pursuit of lasting weight management. In most cases, you can substitute these meal replacements for either of your daily meal. There are also many nutritional bars on the market at the moment and these bars come in a wide array of different flavors and are often quite tasty, however, you must check the nutritional content of these bars if you are going to use them, as some of them are just glorified, sugar containing snack bars. Look for ones that have adequate amounts of protein and moderate carbs, and low sugars.
Bottom Line Effects of skipping meals:
Decreased energy expenditure
Decreased metabolic rate
Increased preference of fat in the diet (Satiety)
Decrease in strength
Increase in injury rates
Decreased bone density
Decreased body temperature
Decreased resistance to disease
Impaired thermal regulation
Decreased testosterone levels