Photos and Words by Samantha Wood
When someone wants to lose weight, his or her first inclination is usually to skip a meal during the day. In a way, it makes sense. Cutting down the total amount of calories will reduce the amount of calories taken in compared to the amount burned, which is when weight loss happens. However, people don’t often consider the negative consequences of skipping meals during the day, which can actually add more weight than it takes away. When meals are skipped, it results in hunger later in the day, causing one to snack instead of stick to one meal. Because of this, we tend to overeat while snacking. Think of the last time you went a long time without eating. Does the feeling of incessant hunger conjure up any memories? That time when you ate anything and everything you could reach in the cupboard? This happens because your brain no longer has the energy to say "no" when you want food. When you skip a meal, you are denying your body the glucose it needs to maintain willpower.
Skipping meals can also mess with your natural metabolism. Your metabolism already knows how to regulate itself but when it is left without a meal, it slows down to compensate for the food it is not receiving. Our bodies are still programmed from the days of the caveman, when it was likely that we would not find food for days. Our bodies developed a mechanism for dealing with starvation, but since we do not have a starvation problem nowadays, humans today should not have to rely on it.
The way the mechanism works is the metabolism slows down when it does not have to digest food. Then, the next time a meal is eaten, it does not digest as fast and more of it is stored as fat. For the cavemen, this was a handy mechanism because it helped our ancestors survive, but for humans today, especially for those who want to lose weight, skipping a meal has the opposite effect. Maintaining multiple meals per day therefore keeps the metabolism active for the entire day and results in less stored fat.
Skipping meals also results in missing nutrition. Fruits, vegetables and grains are important parts of the human diet, and skipping out on meals leads to missing parts in a complete nutritional plate. Supplements and vitamins do not have the same effect as raw nutrients from foods, and therefore do not serve as a proper substitute for the real thing. There is no substitution when it comes to fruits and veggies.
If I have not convinced you yet, here is one more important piece of information to consider. When meals are skipped, the body’s blood sugar levels plummet because it is not receiving the sugar that usually enters the bloodstream. Your body ends up feelings sluggish, and if that isn’t bad enough, it plays around with your insulin levels, which when chronically altered, can increase the likelihood of diabetes later in life.
Therefore, the next time you want to drop ten pounds, don’t start with skipping meals. Instead, start replacing that greasy hamburger with a green salad and those pancakes with some oatmeal and fruit. Add a little extra exercise into your routine, and you’re bound to see better results than if you skipped your lunch.
Three Complete Meals for Complete Satisfaction
Breakfast 2 slices of wheat toast with peanut butter and banana slices and a drizzle of honey
Lunch 1 whole wheat wrap spread with hummus and packed with lettuce, cucumber, peppers, tomato with an apple and handful of almonds on the side
Dinner A hearty quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and walnuts and a salad on the side topped with vinegar and oil