What Happens to the Body When You Skip Meals

Written by Bill Parisi and posted on Parisi Speed School Website

Skipping meals is one of the main reasons why some people struggle with losing weight and keeping it off.  Eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day has many advantages to help overcome this challenge.

There are no gimmicks or quick fixes to weight loss. It is all about calories in versus calories burned. This is the pure factual science and simply the truth. The problem is some of us do not want to “hear” the truth. Well, I would like to explain to you how to take this truth and make it easier to cope with.

I realize eating is a very pleasurable activity for most.  Socializing in business, with family or friends typically involves food.  The key is knowing how to control the amount of food you eat. My experience as fitness professional, and having directly worked with hundreds of people who have lost weight and kept it off for many years, has showed me that people either eat too much food at one or two sittings, or not enough all together.  You might be asking yourself, what does he mean, “not eating enough food.”

Our body has built in protective mechanisms, which control our metabolism. When our subconscious brain senses starvation, which is characteristic when we go without food for more than 3-4 hours, it triggers mechanisms to slow down your metabolism.  The body begins this hibernation-like process and actually works to “conserve fat tissue”, not burn it.

Imagine you were stranded on a dessert island and in the beginning the food supply was plentiful, but eventually dwindled down to very little.  Your body would adjust to keep you alive on very little food. You could actually survive a very long time with as little as 500 calories per day.  Your metabolism would slow down tremendously and adjust to this low level of food intake. The body would actually burn off most of its muscle tissue first, as opposed to fat tissue, for energy.

The primary reason why the body will burn off muscle tissue first is because 1 pound of muscle needs about 50 calories per day to stay alive compared to 1 pound of fat, which only needs about 7 calories per day. This process takes place even when we skip meals throughout the day in a normal life experience, never mind being stranded on a dessert island. The body wants to get rid of that highly expensive calorie burning muscle to conserve calories for survival.

One pound of fat tissue stores over 3,500 calories of energy.  The body conserves this very dense fuel source and burns muscle tissue first because of its high caloric needs to stay alive.  The body is going to burn off its resources of tissue that cost the most to keep it alive rather than burn the more abundant resources, which is a less costly resource to keep in storage.

Remember, the ability to digest food and maintain normal brain function uses calories and the body puts those functions at the highest priority.  Our subconscious brain sees keeping muscle as a low priority because we can survive with very little muscle tissue. We cannot survive without the ability to digest food and or maintain normal brain function.

So if you think starving yourself is the way to lose weight, think again.  You are only setting yourself up for eventual failure due to the fact that you slow down your metabolism so much that when you eat a normal amount of food, which you will at some time, you gain weight very rapidly.  The key is to build up a lot of muscle so your metabolism increases. The only way to do this is through weight training and eating regularly throughout the day.

The other challenge people have is that they skip meals then gorge themselves at one or two meals throughout the day.  This is almost as bad as starving yourself with too few calories. The disadvantage of eating 1 or 2 large meals throughout the day as opposed to smaller more frequent meals is twofold.

First, by never letting yourself become starved you will have much more control when making a food choice and the amount of food you eat at one setting.  When you let yourself become starved all self-discipline goes right out the window. When you feel starved your natural instincts take over and you go for anything and everything to eat.   It has happened to the best of us, and yes sometimes it could be fun to rip into some good food when starved but not the best way to lose weight.

Second, by eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day you keep your metabolism and energy levels high.  This is greatly beneficial because you are more likely to exercise and with activity and frequent meals you will burn off fat faster then ever before.  This is the only real way to succeed with weight loss, so don’t let anybody tell or sell you different. It is simply the truth.

– Bill Parisi

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