This may seem like the fastest way to lose weight, but skipping meals actually works against you. Over time, you can even develop chronic diseases.
If you skip a meal, you are depriving your body of its fuel. The result is that your blood sugar levels drop and your body lacks energy. Glucose (sugar) is an element that all our organs need to function normally and it is very important for optimal brain activity.
Within four to six hours of your last food intake, your brain begins to feel the lack of fuel:
- Hypoglycemia leads to a feeling of fatigue, lethargy and lack of energy. When the brain records a lack of energy, it sends a signal to the body to stop certain functions.
- Cortisol production increases, making you stressed and irritable.
- Your cognitive functions are impaired and you may have problems with attention, memory, concentration and mental performance in general.
- When your sugar levels fluctuate a lot, your diet is also compromised. You’ll crave unhealthy snacks to maintain your sugar levels and you may not have enough energy to exercise.
- Insulin – the hormone that regulates glucose levels – is also disrupted. So you may be at greater risk of diabetes at an older age.
- The hunger hormone will also be activated if you skip a meal. Your body may produce less leptin — a hormone that suppresses appetite — which increases the risk of overeating afterwards.
A slowed metabolism
Skipping meals can slow down your basal metabolism. This is how your body burns calories to function properly. Your body saves the nutrients it has, so calories aren’t burned as efficiently.
When your body goes into starvation mode, it looks for new sources of energy. Your metabolism begins to convert fat into energy. This can be accompanied by nausea, constipation, fatigue, kidney stress, and hypotension.
Over time, the body gets used to the lack of food and begins to retain its fat stores, while lean muscle tissue decreases.
Listen to your hunger
For your body to function properly, you need to eat three balanced meals a day and a healthy snack if you are hungry between meals. When your stomach starts gurgling, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to eat. It is important to listen to this signal.
So, if you feel like you can’t concentrate anymore, put something (healthy) in your mouth as soon as possible. In the morning, protein-rich foods are a good choice. You’ll feel full longer and have less desire to eat unhealthy foods.