When trying to lose weight your primary goal should be to eat less than your body burns to keep you running for your day-to-day activities. Skipping meals might sound like an effective way to do this on the surface, but it isn’t. When you look beneath the surface, you see that skipping meals can actually set you up to fail in the long run. Today, we’ll be looking beneath the surface.
A little hunger never hurt anyone, but making the habit of not eating even when your body is screaming for food can set you up for failure. In the short term, cutting calories by skipping meals can give you a quick boost in weight loss, but over time your body gets used to this lower level of calorie intake and adjusts your metabolism for that. This is only one reason why skipping meals can set you up for short-term success but long-term frustration.
Here reasons why skipping meals can hurt your chances of long-term weight loss:
You’re More Likely to Give In to Weight Loss’s Worst Enemy
Weight loss’s worst enemy is hunger. When you wait till you’re absolutely hungry to make food decisions, you’re less likely to make the healthy choices that will lead to successful long-term weight loss.
Another reason why skipping meals can lead you into a trap is that you can start mentally compensating for the meals you didn’t have.
Here’s what I mean:
You skip breakfast and it’s time to go to lunch. You get invited to go to a restaurant and as you scan the menu, you decide that you could “afford” to eat that extra side dish since you’re so hungry and you didn’t eat breakfast.
Doing this every once in a while won’t hurt you, but doing it enough times can add up, especially since your body will adjust your metabolism over time to account for the fact that you’re not getting enough food. Plus your compensating will add more calories to your diet than you think you’re eating and lead you to wonder why you’re not losing the weight as fast as you expect.
You Don’t Learn How to Eat to Maintain Your Successful Weight Loss
There’s a reason why you’re at the weight you are now. While it might have to do with how much you’re eating, it can also have something to do with the types of food you’re eating. Skipping meals only addresses only one of these problems and doesn’t require that you take the time to learn how to eat healthy to support weight loss and to help you keep the weight off in the long-term.
If you just want to lose weight for an event and don’t mind it all coming back later, then go for the meal skipping strategy. But if you’d rather lose it now and forever, then you’re better off learning how to eat healthy in a way that you can do consistently over time.
You Don’t Have the Energy to Go Through Your Day
Your body is an organic machine that needs fuel to run. If you think about it this way, it’s easy to understand that you can’t expect optimum performance out of your body if you don’t give it the right types and the right amount of fuel.
Skipping meals, will eventually catch up to you because your body will make adjustments first by slowing down i.e. you don’t feel strong enough to do the things you normally did, then by getting more efficient i.e. by burning fewer calories and dropping your metabolism.
It takes a while for the second effect to take place and this varies from one person to the next. But skip meals long enough and it will eventually catch up to you in lost productivity and a slower metabolism. Again if you’re just trying to lose weight for an event, then this doesn’t matter; but if you want to lose weight and get healthy for the long-term, then you want to do things a bit differently.
You Don’t Have the Energy to Exercise
While you can lose weight by dieting alone, the best weight loss strategy uses a combination of diet and exercise. When you skip meals, you are not giving your body enough energy to keep you running and you’re also not giving yourself enough energy to fuel an exercise habit.
The food you eat doesn’t just fuel your body, it also fuels your brain and when your brain isn’t getting the fuel it needs, convincing yourself to spend the little you have pushing it at the gym is going to be a tough sell. Willpower is a limited resource, and you deplete it even more when you don’t feed your body and your brain in a way that makes exercising the easy choice.
Take some time over the next week to identify where you can make healthy changes that support weight loss instead of trying skipping meals as a quick fix strategy.
If you’re interested, feel free to share your insights below.