Meal-skipping has happened to all of us at some point.
Sometimes it happens when you leave the house before eating breakfast because you’re running late for work or class. Or maybe you take one glance at that decadent cheeseburger sitting on the plate of someone next to you and you decide that you can wait until dinner to indulge.
You would certainly think that skipping all those meals would help you achieve your weight-loss goals, but the results can have more consequences than just constant hunger.
It’s important to note that food is for more than just satisfying our taste buds. When you start skipping meals, one of the first changes you will notice is that you’re more lethargic.
There are times I have been so drained from work, I wasn’t sure if my body was craving food or sleep more.
I was living off of energy bars and coffee for a while before I realized all I needed, and all my body wanted, was a proper meal.
It’s easy to confuse hunger and exhaustion because your body relies on the carbohydrates in food to turn into a type of sugar known as glucose during digestion. Without glucose, your body no longer has any substance to transform into energy.
According to a study in the medical journal Metabolism, this leads to lower blood-sugar levels which can ultimately contribute to a higher risk for diabetes.
It also contributes to a certain moodiness I associate with as being hangry. The more you keep skipping meals, the more you will start to notice how easily irritable and cranky you become. Personally, I tend to get headaches when I haven’t eaten for a while. The brain alone consumes 20 percent of our daily energy intake and accounts for only 2 percent of our body’s total weight.
I usually study late into the night, which requires me to refuel with some snack just to stay awake. Even if you haven’t exercised that day, thinking is enough to burn a majority of the energy your body has consumed.
So the reason why you can’t think of anything besides your next meal? You don’t have enough glucose for your brain to focus on anything else.
Giving up on food gives up more than just energy.
You’re also giving up the essential nutrients your body needs to keep your hair looking shiny and your skin from looking dull. I used to notice how easily my nails broke when I wasn’t getting enough calcium in my diet.
Vitamins are useful as supplements, but they can’t be a replacement for what makes you the beautiful person that you are.
Plus, you might start to feel a little bloated since there isn’t enough food entering your body for anything to exit (if you know what I mean).
Bathroom breaks are a little less satisfying as a result.
Finally, the true fact about skipping meals is that you are more likely to gain weight than lose it.
That’s because every time you decide to eat, your body is more likely to reach for carbs and sweets that will raise your blood sugar. With all that sugar in your system, you’re more likely to crash before the day has even peaked. And to compensate for your calorie deficit, it’s either all in or all out with that pint of ice cream or family sized chip bag.
Skipping meals on a regular basis can actually do some long-term damage if it becomes a habit.
All my girlfriends enviously recount how we don’t have the same metabolism as we used to when we downed donuts by the dozen as little kids. Well, skipping meals will end your metabolism faster than age. Your body goes into ‘starvation mode’ because it doesn’t know when its next meal will be. And without enough protein, it will be difficult to build or retain muscle mass.
Any food your body does obtain, it will store as fat to conserve for later.
The amount of food intake is different depending on the individual, but that doesn’t mean you should skip a meal entirely. In fact, experts say that you should try to eat every three to four hours to keep you alert and focused.
Skipping meals to an excessive amount could potentially lead to serious diseases, such as anorexia, so be careful with your eating habits and don’t play with your food.
If you, or anyone you know, could be suffering from a food disorder, contact the National Eating Disorder Association’s Live Helpline at 800-931-2237 (Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST; Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST) or via their site’s live chat.