In the quest to lose weight quickly, many people turn to fasting or skipping meals to save calories. If you have done this, or have thought about doing this, you should know that it is not a good dieting strategy. In fact, it is probably one of the worst things you can do.
It is true that you can lose some weight if you skip meals occasionally. But it’s not as simple as that. The weight you lose comes at a price, and may not be long-lasting. It’s truly not worth it to try to rush your weight loss this way. Let’s talk about why.
Food is your body’s source of fuel to perform all of the activities it needs to do every day to keep running in the healthiest way possible. When you withhold food, you are taking away your body’s fuel. When a vehicle doesn’t have fuel, it stops running, right? See where this is going?
#1 – Slows Metabolism
Your metabolism will slow way down if you don’t eat. Your body will think it needs to go into starvation mode, preserving every calorie it can until the next supply of food arrives. So instead of burning off calories, it hangs onto them. Not really helpful when you are trying to lose weight. In fact, you could even end up gaining weight if you continue the pattern of skipping meals. Your body will continue to hold onto the calories from the food you do eat, because you are not supplying a regular stream of food.
#2 – Less Energy
When your metabolism slows down, all of your body’s functions slow down with it. That means you will have less energy and feel sluggish and tired. Hmmm…not really a good thing if you planned to exercise. (And if you’re trying to lose weight, hopefully you do have plans to exercise.) You cannot exercise efficiently when you aren’t eating enough. Most likely you will skip your workout, which means even less calories burned. This skipping meals thing should be starting to sound pretty silly right about now.
#3 – Overeating
Another likely outcome of skipping meals is overeating or bingeing. When you don’t eat you get hungry, and when you do finally eat, you will most likely eat too much. Chances are, you will also go for fattening junk food. You can even end up eating more calories than you would have if you had just eaten smaller healthy meals throughout the day. You are better off eating regularly throughout the day to keep your hunger in check.
#4 – Low Blood Sugar
Not eating can lead to severe headaches and lightheadedness due to a decrease in blood sugar. This is definitely not a good thing if you have a busy day ahead of you (and who doesn’t?). Trying to work at the office or take care of your kids with a pounding headache is not a good idea. You will be cranky, less productive, and may snap at other people, including your loved ones. This is unfair to them, and no good for you.
#5 – Missing Nutrients
When you don’t eat enough throughout the day, you will probably end up lacking in key nutrients. Because you are taking in less calories, you may become deficient in calcium, good fats, iron, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. This can lead to many other health problems that you don’t want to deal with.
#6 – Disordered Eating
Skipping meals here and there may not seem like a bad idea to you, but it can lead to disordered eating patterns. You may train your brain and your body to think that it’s okay to do. The thought of eating a meal can become enough to cause you anxiety and serious self-esteem issues. These patterns can come on fast and are very hard to break once you are in the middle of it. Don’t set yourself up for this.
The quick fix always seems like the best option because you will get results fast. However, you need to think about the long-term results too. If you are trying to lose weight, you are better off eating small, regular meals and snacks evenly spaced throughout your day. You will keep that metabolism (fat-burning machine) running smoothly, keep your energy up so you can exercise and get through your day in a good mood, and help protect yourself from nutrient deficiencies. The best thing to do is to come up with a healthy meal plan and stick to it.