Every living thing on our planet requires nutrients to survive. Bacteria, plants, animals and humans need food to survive. Without food, every living thing would go hungry and eventually die. We don’t want this to happen, right?
Three Meals A Day
Most of us have grown up eating 3 meals a day. But it’s hard to ignore conflicting claims that eating all throughout the day or skipping meals is the best way to reach your goal weight or health level. As we see it, it’s best to stick with tradition.
According to a US survey, an average American eats about 3.12 meals per day, and in most first world, industrialized and developed nations, eating 3-times-a-day is the norm. In 2011 the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that spreading the calorie intake into three meals per day doesn’t appear to change the bodies composition. However, breakfast, lunch and dinner are optimal for controlling appetite and managing food intake.
One of the known advantages of eating 3 times a day is that the calories you ingest are spread across your day so you don’t get hungry in between meals. However, if you tend to graze on different foods at random times throughout the day, you lose track of of your calorie intake. It’s easy to over-eat if you don’t take notice of what you’re eating and when. The foods you eat makes more of a difference than how often you eat in a day. Skipping meals can make it difficult to get the variety of foods and the required nutrients you need for good health.
“Skipping Meals” Disected
Let’s look at the issues of skipping meals. One of the primary consequences related to skipping meals is called primal hunger. This is when your body gets so hungry that anything seems fine to fill you up and your intentions to be healthy fly out the window. The human body is hardwired for survival and if a human goes very long without any food intake, it will go on survival mode by looking for anything with sustenance. So, if you go too long without food, you are likely to binge eat at the next opportunity. Consider these general consequences when you skip a meal:
- Poor performance. People who skip meals don’t perform as well, accomplish less work and have slow decision making.
- Brain drain. Glucose is the brain’s fuel, and its levels go down within 4–6 hours of not having food. Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen, which runs out during the mentioned period. When glucose gets too low, it converts the glycogen into glucose then releases it into the blood. If the glucose has been depleted, the body will turn to less efficient fuel sources. Without enough brain fuel, the brain will not function to its full potential.
- Calorie loading. Calorie loading is when you eat only one big meal every day. Having one large meal everyday will tend to overwhelm the body with calories that it does not need at the moment. It’s just like trying to fill a bucket with too much water when it is not needed or plugging all your appliances in your house to just one socket. Yes, the electrical system can handle the load, but the socket will not bear it. If all appliances are concentrated in just one circuit, surely a fuse will blow. To prevent this, you have to spread the load to different outlets. It’s just like your calorie intake or your meals, you need to spread them out over the course of the day.
The Negative Effects Of Skipping Meals
There are many reasons why people skip meals. Some may want to lose weight fast, some may be too busy at work or tied up in business meetings, not feeling hungry, have nothing to eat or arriving home late. But whatever the reason, skipping meals will have negative effects on your body. Let’s discuss.
1. Obesity and disturbed weight management
People who are weight conscious will surely go on a diet to control their weight gain, but for some who want to lose weight faster, skipping meals is their solution. As mentioned earlier, if the body goes too long without food, it will go on survival mode. The person will go out and eat whatever food they can get. It’s more likely that they will eat more than what they intended and this will eventually result in weight gain. There goes your diet.
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2. Skipping meals is bad for diabetics
A normal body produces insulin and balances the glucose levels in the blood stream. People suffering from diabetes need to balance their insulin and glucose levels by eating 3 times a day at required times. Thus skipping a meal for diabetics is a bad idea. Skipping meals will ruin the body’s rhythm and can affect the glucose and insulin levels. When the glucose or insulin levels go down, a person may suffer from a diabetic stroke.
3. Spike in blood sugar
Anyone who skips a meal, specifically breakfast or lunch, will tend to eat more at the next meal. When you skip a meal, your blood sugars go down because the carbohydrates and calories are quickly burned by the body to convert it to sugar to use as fuel. When you load up on large amounts of food after the skip, there will be a spike in blood sugar levels and the body will have to work very hard to convert the food into sugar. A spike in blood sugar will either make you feel you energized, sleepy, drowsy, or it may contribute to high blood pressure.
4. Low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia
As mentioned above, low glucose and sugar levels are effects of skipping meals. A person will have low energy, headaches, nausea or may experience hypoglycemia, which can lead to dysphoria, seizures, unconsciousness or worse, brain damage or death.
5. High blood pressure
The drop in blood sugar levels will make the body release hormones to compensate for the low glucose levels. This will result in an increase in blood pressure.
6. Headaches, dizziness and nausea
High blood pressure and hypoglycemia can cause severe migraines and headaches. Skipping meals can also result in nausea, sweating and in some cases, fainting.
7. Fatigue, depression and low performance levels
If you’re feeling hungry because you’ve skipped a meal, you may experience temporary depression, fatigue and low energy. Your body needs fuel to function properly. Your body is just like a car that needs gasoline to run, but if you skipped the nearest gas station, your car will surely run out of gas. If your body runs out of fuel, it will not function properly.
8. Bad hunger breath
When a person skips meals a chemical reaction, ketoacidosis, starts to happen. The body begins to break down these chemicals and an unpleasant odor begins to brew. An empty stomach reduces the production of saliva. We know that saliva helps in flushing away mouth bacteria, if there is less saliva production, bacteria will multiply and will cause bad breath.
9. Stomach ulcer, gastritis, acid reflux and stomach pain
The stomach will continue to produce digestive juices even if you skip a meal. Having no food for long periods will result in stomach acid, gastritis and acid reflux. Too much stomach acid will erode the stomach lining which can lead to severe ulcers or worse, cancer.
Binge eating on fatty and greasy foods late at night will trigger a heartburn. If you have skipped breakfast and lunch, this will surely happen to you. Because you are so hungry the whole day, you will eat everything that you think will satisfy your hunger. Stuffing your stomach with large amounts of food in a short time will stretch it. This stretching will put pressure on the stomach’s muscle ring and will make stomach juices go up to your throat and will cause heartburn.
In conclusion, it has been proven that consuming enough calories and spreading them out during the day is better than not eating enough or skipping meals. Plus, getting calories on time will prevent energy loss and low mental state all throughout the day. Be sure to eat all meals throughout the day, even if they aren’t huge meals. You sould eat just enough to make you full, get your metabolism going and keep you energized every day.
Originally published at xenlife.com.au on November 29, 2014.