Do You Skip Meals? Here Are 3 Major Downsides of Not Eating!

  • 2 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Intermittent Fasting or Alternate Day Fasting Plans have become popular out there and the scientific support for effects on overall health is mixed. Could the mixed results mean that what works for one person may or may not work for another? Read on for three potential drawbacks of skipping meals and two tips to avoid unintentional meal skipping.

Do You Skip Meals? Here Are 3 Major Downsides of Not Eating!

Some people believe that skipping meals helps them lose weight. As one my corporate clients said recently, "If calories were money, I would prefer to save the 600 calories by not eating the 600 calories at lunch." Yes, this may make financial sense, but may not make sense for many, especially if you have metabolic issues, such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Yes, when your metabolism is working smoothly, your body works efficiently to have a set blood sugar level. The metabolic checks and balances are in place. Every time you skip a meal, your body works to maintain your blood sugar and energy level. However, when you have metabolic issues such as seen with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, these "checks and balances" may not be up to par. This could result in many real-life scenarios such as extreme hunger, fatigue, and low blood sugar.

Read on for three potential drawbacks of skipping meals when trying to lose weight.

3 Potential Pitfalls of Skipping Meals

1. You may be more likely to grab for junk food.

You probably have heard the recommendation, "Don't grocery shop when you are hungry" because you are vulnerable to making bad food choices. Now you know why marketing experts place candy bars and not apples and oranges at the checkout stand. The same thing happens when you skip meals, your body craves foods high in fat and sugar because they provide the greatest amount of calories per volume. If you skip breakfast, which foods in the office break room look most appealing? Probably the donuts someone brought in to share, not the bowl of mandarin oranges.

2. You might skip your exercise or lose energy halfway through your workout due to low blood sugar.

Exercise is essential for weight loss and keeping the weight off. Thus, if you are too hungry to exercise after work because you skipped lunch or you can only complete half of your Zumba class because you are too hungry and wiped out, you are jeopardizing your weight loss efforts.

I participate in a one-hour total body fitness class twice a week, which involves 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 20 minutes of strength training and 10 minutes of stretching. Not only do I burn more calories because my heart rate increases during the aerobic section, but because I am building muscle during weight training I will then burn significantly more calories later when sitting at the computer. Muscle tissue burns calories, fat tissue does not. Thus, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, even at rest.

3. It may have a negative effect on your energy metabolism.

There are definitely concerns that skipping meals may negatively impact your calorie-burning rate and there are mixed results in the nutrition and health science world about whether or not planned meal skipping works for calorie-burning. Bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all for weight loss. Pay attention to your weight changes when skipping meals. This can indicate whether it helps your metabolism or not for immediate weight loss. And yes, you may want to consider the long-term implications of skipping meals on your body's metabolism, overall health and quality of life.

Two Tips to Avoid Skipping Meals

One of the biggest reasons people report for skipping meals is lack of time and quick easy-to- grab foods at home. Tip: For many people, it is better to eat something rather than nothing.

1. Stock up on healthy portable foods

In your refrigerator, freezer and pantry, have foods that are quick to grab.

2. Eat Mini-Meals

If you want to cut calories, try decreasing the calories in one daily meal plus aim to eat at least 3 out of the 5 food groups: veggies, fruit, whole grains, proteins, and dairy. Example: popcorn, apple and a cheese stick.

Bottom line:

Now that you know the three potential drawbacks of skipping meals, ask yourself what works best for you with your unique metabolism. Consider my tips to avoid skipping meals!

Originally Published October 11, 2016
Updated August 16, 2019

Weight Loss->Behavior Weight Loss->Weight Loss Tips & Quips
Aug 16, 2019

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