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The Truth about Skipping Meals

Mar 19, 2012

It is important to provide our bodies with proper nutrients. People who skip meals for dieting reasons or lack of time is not a wise or healthy decision. This can have negative health consequences and may not result in weight loss.

The Body’s Reaction to Skipping Meals

When you skip a meal, your body goes through a “fasting mode”. During this process, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are all used for energy. Carbohydrates are the number one source of fuel in your body, followed by protein and then fat. As the fasting continues:

  • As glucose levels drop, the body looks for other sources of fuel. Since the body prefers energy from glucose, protein tissues such as, the muscle and liver, are broken down
  • The glycogen storage deposits found in the liver and muscle become depleted.
  • To preserve the remaining protein, the body starts to metabolize fat for energy in the form of ketone bodies.

Using ketone bodies as fuel is called ketosis. Ketosis can cause:

• Nausea
• Fatigue
• Constipation
• Lowered blood pressure
• Elevated uric acid (kidney disease)
• Fetal harm/stillbirth in pregnant women

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. Lean tissues begin to shrink and become weakened and perform less metabolic work, reducing energy expenditure even more. Hormones also slow down the metabolism to conserve lean body tissue.

Starvation mode

This process may have evolved as a defense against starvation. The body uses its calories efficiently in order to protect its fat stores, using lean tissue and muscle instead, which is undesirable for healthy fat loss. A lowered metabolic rate is a direct result of muscle loss. Fewer calories are needed and weight loss slows down.

Effects of Skipping Meals

• Decreased energy expenditure
• Decreased metabolic rate
• Weight gain
• Increased preference of fat in the diet
• Decrease strength
• Increased injury rates
• Decreased bone density
• Decreased body temperature
• Decreased performance
• Decreased resistance to disease
• Renal regulation and Electrolyte imbalance
• Impaired Thermal regulation
• Decreased Testosterone level
• Mood swings
• Menstrual dysfunction

Undesirable Health Issues

Skipping meals will 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. The depleted glycogen causes low energy levels because blood sugar is not replaced. The weight loss that occurs is mostly water, which glycogen is mostly made up of, and muscle.

With a slowed metabolism you will also have a tough time digesting food. This is especially true if you try to ingest all your meals at one time. This is common practice when people skip meals. When you get so hungry you tend to eat more than one meals worth of food at one time. With a slowed metabolism it takes a lot longer for the large meal to digest. Ultimately this results in weight gain.

There is an extremely low success rate with weight loss when skipping meals is common practice. Their may be some weight loss at first, but this is mostly due to the loss of water and muscle weight. But this also has greater chances of gaining the weight back and more.

Dietary restriction by skipping meals should not be one’s idea of healthy dieting. This creates insufficient energy imbalance and its undesirable effects, such as increased fat storage and lower energy output, out weigh the desired goal of weight loss. The weakened metabolism will try and conserve its energy, which makes dieting less effective and greatly more difficult. This flawed practice used for weight loss methods will eventually become frustrating and result in even more unhealthy ways of dieting.

Consuming a sufficient amount of calories, which is about 1200, is better than not getting enough. Try to get them all at one time is also undesired. The goal should be to prevent an energy deficit during the day. This is much better than getting calories in too late.

Combining exercise and healthier eating habits like; reducing fat in diet, not over eating, ingesting too many processed carbohydrates, is greatly recommended. Be sure to eat all meals throughout the day. They do not have to be large meals, but enough to get your metabolism going and enough to keep your energy levels up. It is far better for you and your diet to eat three to four, even five small meals a day than one or two large meals, because the smaller meals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar on an even keel. If your blood sugar remains constant, you are less likely to overeat and gain weight.


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