When it comes to losing weight, forgoing a meal or two feels like the fastest way to get started. And yet, we’ve been told time and again that this is a bad idea. A study conducted by Ohio State University last year concluded that skipping meals to cut down on calories could induce insulin and glucose fluctuations in the body that have the opposite of the desired effect.
Breakfast, for a long time, has been called the most important meal of the day. There is evidence that people who skip breakfast are more likely to feast on high-calorie food later because the missed meal triggers the brain’s “reward centre” and creates craving.
We could quote a hundred studies here. But to put it simply, when you start starving your body, it goes into survival mode. It slows down your metabolism to conserve energy and tells your brain to go food hunting. When you find food, you gobble. But now your body, still in a state of emergency, decides it will stash away most of that meal for the bleak future filled with more starvation. So it finds a safe place – say, your belly – to squirrel it away. If you think about it, it’s almost impressive.
Loss of Nutrition
Another big problem with skipping meals is the nutritional imbalance you’re likely to create. Your body needs macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) everyday. Macronutrients form the bulk of that food. When you cut down on the calories, unless you’re snacking healthy, you’re also depriving your body of essential micronutrients, without which you’re putting yourself in harm’s way.
Dieting could, however, be a great way to lose weight if you put some thought into it. Firstly, eat. Second, eat healthy.
Adults who ate eggs for breakfast were found to be healthier than those who ate a bagel. A no-brainer. Now one could argue that Mark, who ate a doughnut, was somehow chirpier than his twin, Marko, who ate porridge. Let’s not go there.
To lose weight, understand that you need to reduce (not stop) the intake of macronutrients such as fat and carbohydrate. But you still need protein and you definitely need all the micronutrients. Everyday. Eat healthy proteins such as soy, fish and seafood, yogurt, milk, nuts, chicken and turkey, quinoa, beans and chickpeas. Snack on fresh fruits and salads that ensure you get your daily dose of micronutrients along with fibre.
Lastly, remember that dieting should be about managing your calories. By focusing on a diet routine that doesn’t shock your body into losing weight, but coaxes it to shed the unwanted kilos, you’re more likely to sustain the results of your weight-loss goals. It will also ensure that you’re not just slimmer, but healthier too.