Are you skipping meals to lose weight? 3 major downsides of not eating

  • 2 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Intermittent fasting or alternate day fasting plans are pretty popular out there, but you are still skipping meals to lose weight. So are they safe practices? The scientific support for the effects on overall health is mixed. Read on for potential drawbacks of meal- skipping, intentional or unintentional.

Skipping meals to lose weight

Skipping meals to lose weight is popular, but is it safe?

Some people believe that skipping meals helps them lose weight. It may not make sense for you if you have metabolic issues, such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome. When your metabolism works smoothly, your body works efficiently to have a set blood sugar level. The metabolic checks and balances are in place. Every time you skip a meal, your body maintains your blood sugar and energy level. However, when you have such metabolic issues as seen with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, these “checks and balances” may not be up to par. This could result in many real-life scenarios, such as extreme hunger, fatigue, and low blood sugar.

Read on for three potential drawbacks of skipping meals when trying to lose weight.

3 Potential pitfalls of skipping meals to lose weight

1. You may be more likely to grab junk food.

You probably know the recommendation, “Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry,” because you are vulnerable to making bad food choices. Now you know why marketing experts place candy bars at the checkout stand, not apples and oranges. When you skip meals, your body craves foods high in fat and sugar because they provide quick energy. So if you skip breakfast, what snack in the break room looks most appealing, the donuts or the fresh fruit?

2. You might skip or lose energy halfway through your workout due to low blood sugar.

Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight. If you are too hungry to exercise after work because you skipped lunch or can only complete half of your Zumba class because you are wiped out with no energy, you are jeopardizing your weight-loss efforts.

3. It may negatively affect your energy metabolism.

There are definitely concerns that skipping meals may negatively impact your calorie-burning rate. There are mixed results in the nutrition and health science world about whether or not planned meal-skipping works for calorie-burning. The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all for weight loss. Pay attention to your weight changes when skipping meals. This can indicate whether it helps or hinders your metabolism for immediate weight loss. And yes, you may want to consider the long-term implications of skipping meals on your body’s metabolism, overall health, and quality of life.

Two tips to avoid skipping meals

One of the biggest reasons people unintentionally skip meals is lack of time and quick and tempting easy-to-grab foods.

1. Stock up on healthy portable foods

2. Eat mini-meals

If you want to cut calories, try decreasing the calories in one daily meal, plus aim to eat at least 3 out of the 5 food groups at a meal: veggies, fruit, whole grains, proteins, and dairy. For example try popcorn, an apple, and a cheese stick to fuel up and avoid unintentional skipping of meals to lose weight.

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Reviewed and updated by Brenda Braslow on May 16, 2023.

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Weight Loss->Behavior Weight Loss->Weight Loss Tips & Quips
May 19, 2023
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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