We've all heard it when dieting ... don't skip meals. Different reasons have been offered including, you'll overeat later, you'll lose only muscle, your metabolism will slow down, and a long list of other reasons. But is missing a few meals really that bad for for our weight loss goals or our overall health? New research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
has offered clear evidence of the negative consequences of skipping meals and uncovered another serious cost ... abdominal weight gain.
For the research, scientists at of Ohio State University studied a group of mice whose food intake was restricted to a single sitting and did not eat for the rest of the day. In addition, their amount allowed in the single daily feeding was designed to result in weight loss for the first three weeks of the study. In addition to this study group, a control group of mice was given unrestricted access to food throughout the study. After three weeks intake restrictions on the study group were slowly relaxed until all mice received the same amount of food. Not surprisingly, the group with restricted access to food during the first three weeks lost weight which was regained after restrictions were loosened.
Additionally, the study group that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers -- a pre- diabetes marker. When insulin resistance is present, the liver doesn't respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose. The additional glucose is then stored as fat in the body. The type of fat created this way is associated with insulin resistance, heightened risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The study also found that the cycle of overeating and fasting may disrupt metabolic measures through insulin spikes followed by drops in insulin production resulting in inflammation, activation of genes that help storage of fatty molecules and larger fat cells -- particularly in the abdominal area -- compared to the control group that with unrestricted access to food.
Simply put, researchers found that the mice on a restricted diet with extensive periods of fasting during the day had more belly fat than the group that had unrestricted access to food throughout the study. They also developed insulin resistance in their livers, leading to the development of several potentially serious health issues.
We all get busy and the temptation to skip a meal -- especially when you're trying to lose weight or are on a tight deadline -- is ever present. Be sure to keep healthy snacks close at hand. Keep some walnuts or pecans, black bean or veggie chips in your desk drawer or cabinet. Fresh celery is refreshing, a real calorie bargain and is packed with fiber. Looking for a quick cool snack for hot summer days? Keep baggies of frozen blueberries in the freezer for those tough afternoon sweet cravings!
Eat a healthy -- and timely -- diet. It's about more than weight!