If weight loss is all about “calories in” versus “calories out,” then cutting calories by eating one less meal during the day would seem to make a certain amount of sense. But skipping meals won’t actually help you lose weight.
More often than not, people who skip a meal end up consuming those lost calories (and then some) later in their day. Going hungry rather than filling up on satisfying foods that are rich in nutrients may cause you to crave foods that are higher in fat and sugar. If your body believes it’s starving, it will crave those high-calorie foods that contain the energy it needs to continue functioning.
In fact, skipping meals can contribute to your being overweight. Skipping even just one meal can cause your blood sugar to drop. This affects every organ in your body. When your caloric intake isn’t sufficient for your body’s needs, your system shifts into starvation mode, your metabolism slows, and your body begins conserving energy — otherwise known as fat.
Worse, some research shows that any weight you lose from skipping meals may actually come from muscle, not fat. If you want to take more calories out of your system than you put into it, increase your level of physical activity. You’ll likely burn more calories and fat working out than you will by skipping a meal. Just be aware that, while a morning workout before breakfast can be the key to your burning more calories and losing weight, not everyone can exercise on an empty stomach. If you feel fatigued already, hitting the gym may not be the right decision.
What about intermittent fasting? This popular new trend involves short periods of fasting or skipping meals. Nevertheless, intermittent fasting takes careful planning to ensure that your body still gets the essential nutrients it needs. Depriving your body of those nutrients could leave you feeling fatigued, in a state of mental fog, or lead to other health concerns. Consult with your physician and a registered dietitian to ensure you’re getting enough protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients before incorporating regular fasting into your fitness regimen.
If you want to lose weight the healthy way, start by eating smaller, healthier portions and focus on eating whole foods, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean sources of protein. To understand exactly how many calories your body needs to function and still lose weight, consult with your Nobilis Health physician.