It can be so easy to skip meals in this day and age and not properly prepare ourselves to make the healthiest food choices. We are all constantly on-the-go with our busy work and social lives, and our eating habits take a back seat. We don’t make snacking or meals a priority, but we should, because skipping meals can do more harm than good. Intermittent fasting (or time restricted eating) has shown to have health benefits, but this is different than skipping meals all together.
Depriving your body of essential food and nutrients slows down the metabolism. It also makes you feel tired and sluggish, which decreases productivity and lessens the quality of a workout. When you are properly energizes, it makes it a lot more enjoyable to work out and be productive. When you’re skipping meals and underfed, all you want to do is lay around. Skipping meals can cause low blood sugar, which can literally make your head spin. You can feel dizzy and feel like you’re going to pass out. When the brain does not get enough calories, a signal is sent saying that it’s time to shut down. When someone practices intermittent fasting, it is critical that they are consuming enough food in their eating window to meet their caloric needs.
When you deprive yourself or skip a meal, it is likely that you end up overeating at your next meal as compensation. It can become much more enticing to reach for foods that are not as healthy - foods that are more processed and dense in calories. You do not have the same amount of will power to make healthy choices because your brain is desperate for energy. You literally can not think as clear because your brain is not properly nourished. Foods that are more processed and calorie dense are also easier to overeat on because they do not fill up the stomach in the same way unprocessed whole foods do. Skipping meals is a recipe for craving more junk food.
When you split up your meals throughout the day, your body is able to use the nutrients consumed more efficiently and your blood sugar is more stable. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar decreases, and for many people, they cannot think as clearly. The brain uses glucose to function, and not having enough glucose causes the faint, fogged, or “hangry” feeling you get when you don’t get enough calories. The body starts to increase cortisol production when it want more calories, which is why people feel more irritable and stressed when they are hungry.
Skipping meals can make people more prone to not getting enough calories throughout the day, which can lead to hunger in the middle of the night. Have you ever tried to go to sleep on an empty stomach? It is nearly impossible because the body needs enough nutrients to repair itself when it is asleep. When you skip meals, you might find yourself getting hungry in the middle of the night. Once you eat your late midnight snack, it can be difficult to fall asleep because the food you ate is keeping you awake. The food you ate can end up energizing you instead of making you want to go to sleep. It’s critical to have good sleeping schedule for optimal health. Skipping meals can end up negatively shaping your eating schedule, so it’s best to eat during the day so you are consuming high quality calories. You don’t want to create a bad habit of late night eating by skipping meals during the day. In the night when you’re tired and hungry, you are also a lot more likely to eat something unhealthy. The chocolate cake in the fridge is a lot harder to resist because you won’t have the same willpower because you’re both tired and hungry!
Skipping meals for some also induces anxiety or destabilizes your mood because it causes cortisol to raise and low blood sugar. It is advised for people who struggle with anxiety to eat regularly, at least three meals a day. People who have an anxious tendency skip meals because their anxiety makes them feel nauseous, but eating would help calm the nervous system, which ultimately reduces the anxiety.
Skipping meals also causes many to binge out on unhealthy foods later. Yes, you may be eating less calories when you skip a meal, but you end up overeating in the long run because they body goes into “survival mode.” The reptilian brain goes into overdrive and causes us to binge. We need to eat enough calories to survive, and when we don’t, our subconscious brain believes we are in an environment of scarcity. This is why it is so easy to binge when we skip meals. This mentality also leads to yo-yo dieting, and this impacts the metabolism because your body will store the calories consumed because it thinks it might be starved at any moment. Your body could also start producing less leptin, the hunger hormone that decreases appetite. This makes it more difficult for you to know if you’re already full.
If you are worried about eating too many calories, your focus should be on the quality of the food you are consuming versus simply trying to skip meals. Healthy snacks throughout the day provide nutrients, fiber, and satiety, and you are less likely to overeat later in the day. To avoid skipping meals, eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day. Keep lots of healthy snacks on hand. Always bring some sort of snack with you when you’re on the go like a piece of fruit, granola bar, or a TUSOL smoothie so you have something wholesome. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re starving and you reach for the junk food that is available. Make sure your snacks are high in protein and fiber because they will keep you full longer. Plan your meals ahead of time or plan them the night before. Even planning your breakfast the night before makes all of the difference.
You can easily make an overnight oats protein bowl. Check out this recipe below:
- 1 cup rolled oats
- Half TUSOL Smoothie Blend
- 5 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
This recipe is packed with protein, fiber, and complex-carbohydrates to keep you satisfied.
Here’s another quick on the go smoothie recipe:
Blend all ingredients together and serve!