What Happens When You Skip Meals And What to Do Instead
Skipping meals is a common tactic many people use for weight loss. Many (wrongly) believe that doing so and cutting as many calories as possible is the best way to shed pounds quickly. However, doing so will actually cause you to maintain your weight (if not gain more).
What Happens When You Skip Meals
Recent research from Ohio State University suggests skipping meals can cause short-term weight loss. However, this weight loss comes from muscle, not fat, and can cause you to gain weight in the form of belly fat as well.
Moreover, you’ll develop nutritional deficiencies, causing your body to crave sweets and other unhealthy options. Not to mention improper nutrition also causes fatigue, poor mental functioning, and other common health concerns. Worse yet, this fatigue and poor mental functioning can also cause you to overeat during your next meal or make poor decisions that compromise your diet and health-related goals.
For this reason, skipping meals isn’t the best idea for long-term healthy weight loss. And when you choose to skip a meal, it’s probably breakfast. Below we discuss why you should never skip breakfast, what fasting does to the body, and how to remain in a safe zone.
Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day (That You Should Never Skip)
Skipping breakfast makes weight control particularly challenging. In fact, when you skip breakfast you tend to eat more food than usual at your next meal or consuming high-calorie or unhealthy snacks in an attempt to diminish your hunger.
A healthy breakfast is associated with several health benefits, including:
- A more nutritionally complete diet complete with higher nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
- Improved concentration and performance throughout the day, whether at work or school.
- Increased strength and endurance for exercise or other physical activity.
- Lower cholesterol levels.
Beyond these benefits, breakfast is particularly important for weight control. There are several competing theories for why this is the case, many of which will be true depending on your lifestyle and habits:
- Reduce hunger throughout the day – Eating a healthy breakfast keeps you fuller throughout the day, meaning you will make better choices at your later meals. Those who skip breakfast are hungrier than others at lunchtime and dinnertime, causing them to eat more (often-unhealthy foods).
- Healthy lifestyle patterns – Other studies suggest that eating breakfast is part of a healthy lifestyle and those who regularly consume breakfast are those committed to long-term, healthy weight loss. As such, those who eat breakfast tend to be healthier and make better choices than those who are skipping it in the hopes of short-term weight loss.
As you can imagine, there are also physical-related reasons to eat breakfast. After going all night without calorie consumption, your body requires energy in the morning to get going. Without any breakfast, your body will enter starvation mode.
The human body wasn’t designed to fast for long periods of time. This is why many who are successful at sustained, long-term weight loss are those who eat every 3 to 4 hours rather than every 5 to 6 hours.
When the body enters starvation mode, the metabolism will slow down and you will stop losing weight. In fact, you will gain weight because your body is adjusting to your eating habits and now requires less calories every day to sustain itself. Your body assumes it doesn’t have enough calories or there isn’t food available, meaning it adjusts to be able to function for an extended period of time.
Beyond starvation mode, skipping breakfast also causes your blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels. This causes you to crave sweet treats, making it almost impossible to remain committed to your healthy lifestyle.
For these reasons (and many others), it’s important that you consume a protein-rich breakfast to prevent hunger and regulate your diet every day.
What Happens to the Body When You Skip a Meal
Of course, not everyone skips breakfast when they choose to skip a meal. You might be tempted to skip lunch or dinner as well, thinking that doing so is essential for weight loss. However, the opposite is true.
According to Maggie Moon, R.D., “Sugar is the fuel your body runs on, and if it’s not circulating in the right amounts, every organ in your body is affected.” Skipping any meal triggers a series of physiological responses in the body:
- Blood sugar levels take a dive – When you don’t consume enough calories, your blood sugar levels drop. This causes your body to enter starvation mode to conserve energy, meaning the food you will eventually consume won’t be processed and digested properly.
- Blood sugar levels fall again – Because your metabolism continues to function at a lower level, your blood sugar levels will continue to fall. This can cause low energy, mood swings, and a lack of mental clarity that makes it difficult for you to function.
- Brain takes a hit – Your intellectual and emotional functioning changes when you don’t have sufficient calories, and you may become moody and irritable. While eating again will provide short-term relief, your metabolism will continue to function at a lowered state to protect your body should it go a long time without food once again.
As you can see, skipping even just one meal can throw your body functions off and compromise your efforts to lose weight. As such, you should focus on consuming smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to ensure you have everything necessary to function properly.
The Safe Zone: How to Achieve Optimal Weight Loss
When you want to lose weight, eating three meals per day with two or three small snacks in-between is the best schedule to follow. Rather than focusing on decreasing the quantity of your food, it’s more important to focus on the quality of the foods you’re consuming.
Eating healthy foods allows your body to naturally transition to its healthiest weight. By providing your body with regular fuel, you will keep your metabolism high, your energy levels up, and your fat cells burning. This allows you to burn more calories every day because you will have the energy for physical activity and because your body understands you will consume an expected number of calories daily, allowing it to enter a safe zone that maximises calorie and fat burning.
Beyond regular meals, you may want to take a comprehensive supplement to support your fat burning efforts. For example, PhenQ stops fat growth, burns fat, boosts your mood, and suppresses your appetite. By taking this supplement along with your regular meals, you can do even more to support your weight loss efforts.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to listen to your head and stomach together. You should eat when you are hungry but understand your limits and when you should and should not say “no” to your stomach. In contrast, it’s important to only eat when you are hungry rather than eat at set times because you haven’t eaten for a period of time. You should never force yourself to eat.
If You Want to Lose Weight (and Keep it Off), Never Skip a Meal
Skipping meals does more harm than good to your body. If you’re interested in losing weight and keeping it off, you should eat regularly and choose healthy foods to increase your metabolism and maximise fat loss.
Follow the tips above to ensure you’re doing everything possible to support fat loss and provide your body with the nutrients and energy necessary to lose weight. By doing so, you can meet your goals and sustain your results for years to come!