With all the conflicting diet and exercise advice available these days, it can be confusing to figure out the best way to lose weight.
Have you heard the one that claims skipping meals is the way to speed up weight loss? We’re here to tell you why this is NOT the case – and what you CAN do to shift those extra few pounds!
4 reasons NOT to skip meals
1. Weight gain
You can lose weight with regular, punctuated meals – we promise! Eating one meal a day (also known as the OMAD diet) may overload your system. Your body is cleverly designed to use only what it needs and stores the excess as fat or flushes it out (e.g. via the kidneys in your urine).1https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/food-and-nutrition/eating-well/vitamins-and-minerals
When you skip meals your body burns energy slower to preserve what energy you have left in the tank. Regular meals involve a regular turnover of energy/fuel.2https://louisville.edu/medicine/departments/familymedicine/files/L081611.pdf
Take carbohydrates as an example; your digestive system breaks them down into glucose (fuel for your body). Excess glucose is stored as glycogen in your muscles and as fat!3https://www.royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/our-expert-advice/all-expert-advice-papers/sugar-and-health/sugar-metabolism/ If you don’t eat for a prolonged period of time your fat cells will release this stored energy. However, for this to happen your non-eating period needs to be long enough for your insulin levels to drop, which can feel like an unpleasant dip in energy.
2. Fluctuations in energy
A larger influx in energy (glucose) comes with a larger subsequent drop in energy – more pronounced energy fluctuations. This can make you feel tired, heavy, and sluggish, triggering headaches, nausea, and cravings.4https://louisville.edu/medicine/departments/familymedicine/files/L081611.pdf
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t benefits to intermittent fasting, more specifically, time-restricted eating (TRE) – this area of research is expanding and TRE can be beneficial for certain gut bacteria, like Akkermansia, the ‘leanness bug’ that can help regulate your weight (read more on this here!).
3. Skipping meals is unsustainable
4-6 hours after eating, your blood sugar levels drop and your body signals that you’re hungry. Then you eat. Following longer periods of starvation, you may find yourself more inclined to reach for unhealthy ‘comfort’ foods. Studies show that skipping meals/the OMAD diet is unsustainable and no more effective than calorie/energy reduction or time-restricted eating.
4. You may miss out on essential nutrients5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32398192/
Remember, food is fuel first and foremost. Treat each meal as an opportunity to fuel your body with the variety of nutrients it needs to thrive. Trying to cram all the nutrients into one meal is hard.
So, what is the solution?
Regular, punctuated meals combined with time-restricted eating that fits your daily routine is a healthy, sustainable way to regulate your weight. Here are 10 health benefits –6https://www.livewelldorset.co.uk/articles/eat-regular-meals-lose-weight/7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33002219/
- Weight loss
- Healthy metabolism
- Stable energy levels
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Improved gut bacteria diversity
- Regular bowel movements
- More opportunities for nutrient intake
- Improved self-control (less likely to reach for unhealthy foods!)
- It’s sustainable!
For further information on how to make your weight-loss journey more straightforward, check out Simple tips to help you get fit!
Speak with one of our nutritional therapists about how to improve your gut health on live chat, 8 am to 8 pm weekdays. You can book a personal consultation with us or learn more about your own gut microbiome by taking a microbiome test. Find out more here.