When dieting, one of the most critical mistakes you should avoid is skipping meals. While it may seem like you’ll speed up the weight loss process by cutting out the calories from an entire meal, you’re actually doing yourself more harm than good. Skipping meals can actually have the reverse effect on your diet. Here are some of the weight risks associated with skipping meals.
Risk 1: Your Metabolism Slows Down
To understand how this is a weight risk, you first need to understand how metabolism works. Your metabolism is the process in charge of turning the food you put in your body into fuel to keep you functioning all day. When you eat, your body typically converts the food to fuel quickly. This is why you often hear the advice to eat five or six small meals each day. Eating every couple of hours allows your body to become a calorie-burning power house. When you skip a meal, your metabolism slows down, resulting in fewer calories burned. Even more, your body clings to fat for survival purposes when it has no new fuel to metabolize. You’re better off consuming more calories via several healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day than trying to cut calories by skipping a meal.
Risk 2: You’re More Likely to Gorge
Skipping meals is not a sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off. The famished feeling you experience an hour or so after skipping a meal is dangerous. You’re much more likely to cave in and eat everything in sight if you skip a meal. Our bodies need calories to survive, so it’s a natural biological response to go after everything edible around you if you’ve deprived yourself. Instead of skipping a meal entirely, you should make the meal smaller. You’ll take in less calories without experiencing the famished side effects soon after.
Risk 3: You’re Improperly Prepared to Exercise
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the key components to any weight loss plan. While you can certainly lose weight doing one or the other, a combination of diet and exercise is the most sustainable because you don’t have to go to extremes with either. As counterintuitive as it seems, you need to consume more calories when you exercise regularly to properly fuel your body. Think about the last time you went to the gym without eating an hour beforehand or on a day you skipped a meal. Not only were you not energized, you probably felt fatigued. This is risky not only in your weight loss efforts, but also to your overall well-being. You’re more likely to become light headed and hurt yourself when you continue to exercise and skip meals. Your best bet is to eat a nutritious snack or small meal before going to the gym (think a couple of egg whites or an apple with peanut butter). Protein filled meals will help you build muscle, which will in turn make your body more efficient in metabolizing food.
In summary, the best food strategy is to modify your meals so that they’re balanced and nutritious rather than skipping meals completely.