Why skipping breakfast or lunch makes you fat.

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In an effort to lose weight, many fall into the trap of skipping meals. This cannot work.

The body itself does not know of the existance of 24hour Tescos.  It does not know that the chances of a famine in the Western world are remote.  So when a meal is skipped, the body assumes food is scarce and takes self-preservation measures. The most energy demanding part of the body is actually the brain and after that the muscles. In order to preserve precious levels of fat, the body will use the muscles for energy with the net result that your metabolic rate drops.  When you rest, your body is still burning calories to keep itself functioning – thinking, breathing, repairing itself etc etc. All this happens at cellular level and this is called your resting metabolic rate. The cells are burning up energy in order for you to function.  So when a famine is perceived, the cells reduce their energy output.

What does this mean in real terms?  Well if you are exercising away on your elliptical trainer and you trundle away until you have apparently burned 400 calories (according to the machine anyway), because your metabolic rate has dropped, you will actually be burning less calories for the same effort and length of time – maybe only 300 calories.

I do a sophisticated way of measuring body fat using callipers -Charles Poliquin’s Biosignature.  And I did have a client who came in terribly pleased because her weight had gone down due to erratic eating.  But when I took her body fat, she had actually gained body fat and lost muscle mass.  She had got more blobby, not less. Time to get real – who knows what your scale weight is?  It is not printed out across your forehead.

If you skip meals you end up very hungry when the next meal comes along and this leads to uncontrolled eating.  If you are trying to lose weight, essentially any diet works provided you stick to it.  And by the same token, no weight loss diet can work if you find yourself battling with the munchies and losing.

So don’t skip meals and get off the scales.  Either measure your waist or notice how your clothes are fitting you.  If they are getting looser, you are on the right track.  If they are getting tighter then something is going wrong.

All this said, if you are slim you may be quite happy only eating 2 meals a day and this is fine provided your energy levels, concentration and temper are good and you are not subject to uncontrolled noshing.

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