When you are trying to lose weight you will often hear about skipping meals, meal replacement shakes, intermittent fasting and many other different types of fad diets that have ‘worked’ for some people. However, is skipping a meal OK and will it really speed up your weight loss journey?
To put it simply, skipping a meal will probably mean you consume less calories in a day. This then means you will hopefully be in a calorie deficit and will therefore lose weight quicker. However, this is not a maintainable way to lose weight and keep it off. Intermittent fasting, juice cleanses, meal replacement shakes, keto, paleo, famous diet companies that I won’t name for legal reasons, are all just different ways to get you into a calorie deficit; The only way to lose weight.
Our bodies are incredibly clever machines, using food as fuel to power us through our day. If we don’t fuel our body it will find the energy from other places. This is when cravings start. Chances are if you skip a meal you will be craving sugary, fatty food. This is because our body has had to dig into its glycogen stores and use what it has saved for an emergency, which in turn means your blood sugar levels will drop. At this stage your body is trying to find the quickest way to get those blood sugar levels back to normal. This is when our brain naturally reaches for the biscuits or the bar of chocolate. It knows those types of food are a sure-fire way to get those blood sugar levels back up to where they should be.
When our body is fuelled properly (a healthy, nutritious meal) it can take those carbs, proteins and fats and break them down into glucose that is readily available for our body to use. This means it doesn’t have to dig into its stores.
There is an argument to be made for skipping meals to aid with weight loss, but here is my personal recommendation:
If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat.
When you feel hungry, that is your body telling you to fuel up. It’s like the petrol light coming on in your car. You wouldn’t try and do a long journey with the petrol light on would you? If you are hungry, fuel your body with the proper foods that will give it a good energy balance. Carbs are great for slow releasing energy; protein rich foods will help you feel fuller for longer and fats can help us store energy to be used when the readily available energy wears off. This is why education on different types of food and what to eat is crucial when it comes to weight loss.
Now if you don’t feel hungry at breakfast, but know that you have a big day ahead of you, this is when you should look at having something slightly smaller. A quick omelette, a bowl of berries or even a protein shake could be all that is needed to get your body up to a full tank ready for the day ahead.
In conclusion, skipping meals is not good; but skipping meals is also not bad. We should listen to our bodies as they know best. The most important (and only) way to lose weight is to make sure we stay in a calorie deficit and fuel our body with the best nutrition we can.