Expert Q&A: How can skipping meals cause weight gain?

When it comes to skipping meals, many people thing that taking in fewer calories will help with weight loss. From a mathematical perspective it makes sense, but unfortunately your body doesn’t quite work that way!

Q: Why does skipping meals cause you to put on weight?

A: When you skip meals or eat an extremely low amount of calories during your day, your body can go into what’s widely called starvation mode. This can be linked back to our natural responses if we were ‘out in the wild’.

Our bodies are smart and designed to go by survival instinct – if your body detects you’re not getting enough food, it recognises this and holds onto the whatever existing fat stores you have so you can survive for longer in case it takes you a while to find food again.

Your body normally burns calories throughout the day just to move around and perform your daily tasks (yes, even when you’re not actively exercising!), but skipping meals causes your metabolism to slow down meaning you won’t burn calories as quickly as you usually would. Plus, when you do start eating again, your body will hold onto those calories tighter just in case it won’t get them again for a while.

To get your metabolism going, breakfast is uber important as it kickstarts your day, although ironically it’s the meal most frequently skipped. Make sure you eat something with plenty of grains to give you longer lasting energy – cereal, wholegrain toast or porridge are great options.

You should feed your body around every 2.5 hours (i.e five times a day as an example 7am breakfast, 9.30am morning snack, 12.00pm lunch, 2.30pm afternoon snack, 5.00pm dinner. Times are open to change, but you get the idea). Snacks don’t need to be as large as meals; a piece of fruit, a small pottle of yoghurt, or carrot sticks with some hummus etc. Just something to keep your body fuelled and let it know it’s not going to starve!

Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – maya picture

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