Skipping meals is very common among people. There may be various kinds of reason as to why they do this.
The lifestyle people adopt to survive in this competitive world does not allow them to keep up with the healthy habits. In this fast paced life, it becomes hard to follow a good diet.
People who work for long hours usually tend to skip their meals due to the lack of time. They may skip breakfast because they are late for work, lunch because they are too busy or dinner because they are tired after a long day’s work.
But most of the people skip their meals in the hopes of losing weight at a faster rate. They feel that this is a good way to reduce the large calorie intake. It is a misconception among people that skipping meals is an easy and effective way to cut down on calorie consumption and lose weight.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Another term used for this type of fasting is intermittent fasting. This involves various methods to lose weight. In this type of dieting, there are certain small time intervals in which people skip food.
Thus, the calorie intake only takes place during a particular time interval, and people starve for the rest of the time.
What does research say about skipping meals and weight loss outcomes?
Research disagrees with the idea that skipping meals can lead to quick weight loss.
Why we shouldn’t skip breakfast?
The literal meaning of breakfast is “breaking the fast”. It is named so because people need to eat something after continuously fasting the whole night.
Skipping breakfast has been found to be associated with obesity or weight gain. Not having a proper filling breakfast has the most adverse effects on the body. This is because after starving for almost 6-8 hours at a stretch, the body needs something in order to work.
Also, the stomach releases an acid, the concentrated hydrochloric acid, which is a very strong acid. It is used in the process of digestion. When no food is present in the stomach, this acid starts corroding the stomach lining, leading to ulcers and other health problems in the long run.
In a study conducted to observe the effects of skipping breakfast among old people, it was seen that those who skipped breakfast on a regular basis had a very low BMI (Body Mass Index), which is the measure of body fat.
Along with fat, even the level of proteins in body reached significantly low levels.
This happened because when enough nutrients are not being reached to each cell of the body, the body produced the required energy from the proteins present in the muscle tissue.
This causes the muscles to break down, losing proteins from the body to burn them to release energy. This loss of weight lowers the BMI, which is not beneficial for people belonging to the older age groups.
A study comparing the energy intake at breakfast and dinner showed that people who had a high calorie breakfast lost weight more easily.
Along with better metabolism, the glucose and insulin levels in the blood were also found to be decreased. It was suggested that people should have a heavy breakfast along with a light dinner to reduce weight effectively.
Breakfast rich in proteins helps to manage weight and is better than a normal protein breakfast.
Protein is considered as the most satiating nutrient, even more than fat and carbohydrate. This is the reason why people who consume a high-protein breakfast do not feel hungry for a long time.
Controlled intake of calories due to this leads to a reduction in the body weight. It also enhances the body composition as the level of proteins, fats and other nutrients become balanced.
Several observational in Europe were reviewed and it was concluded that breakfast plays an important role in the prevention of obesity. It protects the body from being overweight.
Not only adults, even children and teenagers tend to skip meals because of their busy lifestyle.
Having a heavy breakfast promotes health as it leads to assimilation of an adequate amount of calcium and fiber in the body. This is because children usually eat cereal with milk for breakfast, which contains a high level of these nutrients.
Having all meals on time in a day reduces the risk of many health related problems, the most important one being cardiovascular disease.
A sufficient level of Calcium is necessary because it helps in building up bones. Loss of bone density occurs if enough calcium is not present. This may lead to a disorder of the bones called Osteoporosis. In this, the bones become weak and fragile and are prone to fractures.
Fiber has a variety of benefits to health. When it is present in the blood, it absorbs the cholesterol or the fat molecules, decreasing the risk of various diseases. This also helps in clearing the digestive system including the intestines.
Can skipping meals affect our metabolism?
Another study reported that the number of meals consumed in a day is not important. What decides the weight gained is the number of calories consumed.
A balanced diet should contain all the necessary nutrients, even fat and carbohydrate, though in a small quantity. One should only eat when hungry, so as to reduce the calorie intake. In order to lose weight, it is essential that the person loses more energy than gained at a faster rate.
The energy expenditure falls down along with the BMR or the Basal Metabolic Rate. The BMR is used to calculate the amount of calories burnt by the body without doing any activity or while it is resting.
When this amount lowers down, it affects the metabolism as lesser calories are now burnt.
Due to this, whenever the person eats something, the calories from that food burn at a very slow rate, causing them to get stored in the body for the meantime. This continuous storage of fat causes weight gain.
Not having proper meals causes people to feel hungry later in the day. This leads to them consuming unhealthy snacks at inappropriate times of the day in order to satisfy the food craving.
These snacks eaten at inappropriate times may contain a high fat and sugarcontent, which may further account for various diseases. The bad cholesterol or the LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels were found to be increased along with obesity.
Cholesterol is the type of a lipid or fat molecule. Even though its presence is very important in the body, high amounts of bad cholesterol can cause various heart related health risks. It may block the arteries or cause weight gain due to storage of fat in the tissues of the body.
Skipping meals has been found to increase the levels of glucose in the blood. This affects the metabolism in a negative way and cause insulin imbalance.
Insulin imbalance involves the body to become resistant to the hormone insulin, which is the principle hormone used for regulating the blood glucose levels.
When the body becomes resistant to this, it no longer reacts to the hormone. The cells may not absorb glucose as a result of this, which may later increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It has been proved by a study that skipping meals leads to a quick weight loss, but after an optimum amount of fat is lost, further loss of weight is due to water loss and muscle protein degradation.
Apart from causing harm to body, this has one more demerit. The weight gained once consumption of proper meals is resumed, it is completely in the form of fat.
Hence, this can be concluded by saying that skipping any meal is not good for health, including weight loss. What we don’t realise is the fact that the body needs a continuous supply of nutrients in order to function properly.
When it does not get the required nutrition, it may have serious repercussions on their physical and mental health.
Rather than skipping any of the important and much needed meals, other ways of weight loss such as maintaining a healthy diet along with a regular and balanced physical activity should be practiced.