I am a very frequent eater, always have been, and I’m pretty sure I always will be. Especially while I was breast feeding, holy moses! I’d eat a full 3 course meal and 45 minutes later I’d need another one! Pregnant friends: stock your kitchens now!!
The other day a friend mention he had done some research about how skipping meals does NOT cause weight gain, much to the contrary of popular belief.
I have personally experienced the complete opposite, if I skipped a snack or a meal I would get irritable, veeerryyy irritable, unable to concentrate, unable to breath, I couldn’t tell you left from right. I was hungry. So hungry I could eat the whole kitchen, and the problem was I usually would. Once I was done devouring said kitchen, it would sit in my stomach all day. like a brick. I would feel sick, bloated, dizzy, get mad sugar cravings, and it was just plain uncomfortable. The effects would lost long into the next day for me so I have, for a long time, touted the benefits of small frequent meals.
I was intrigued by this, so I started to do a little research of my own.
(No matter what you’re looking for, there’s going to be a plethora of information, as well as opinions and personal experiences, to support it, and the exact opposite. Keep that in mind)
I came accross quite a few seemingly reliable resources that supported the concept of eating less frequently. Not just in the course of a day, but with different forms of intermittant fasting, and the research is there to back it up. Some even say this style of eating can have some serious health benefits other than weight loss. According to this study, Some of these benefits are: living longer, having a higher resistance to disease, improved insulin sensitivity.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
According to Wikipedia:
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water and sometimes low-calorie drinks such as black coffee) and non fasting.
It can be done in a variety of different ways, example: skipping breakfast, eating a big lunch and a big supper, or eating normal meals for a full day, and eating nothing the next day. Any kind of on again off agin cycle would be considered intermittent fasting.
This study used participants that were already overweight and had symptoms of mild asthma. They ate normal meals one day and then had a sever calorie deficit the next by eating 20% of their normal caloric needs, the equivalent to approximately 1 meal. After 2 months they had lost 8% of their body weight, with improved asthma related symptoms. They had lower cholesterol and triglycerides and markers of inflammation were significantly lower.
Sounds pretty good right?
It’s not always such a good outcome though, another study on normal weight middle aged males and females that reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction suggests that eating a full day’s worth of calories at one meal at the end of the day (between 4 and 8pm) could lead to potentially risky metabolic changes, causing elevated fasting glucose levels and a delayed insulin response throughout the day. Not good things.
And here’s a great post from Fitnessista with 2 totally different perspectives on IF. First (supportive) perspective by Maria at Lift, Love, Life, and second (unsupportive) by Catherine, a nutritional therapy practitioner from Seattle. Very interesting.
When I started my google search for benefits of skipping meals, it took a bit of digging to get to some of this information, however my screen was flooded with articles, studies, and reports on the 6 meal a day eating style. This could simply be because intermittent fasting is somewhat “new” to the general public (though really not new at all, I found one study that began in 1976!) and not as much research has been done on it yet. But in no way does that dis-credit the information I did find, however the multitude of sources that support the exact opposite say that over time, skipping meals, or eating far too little calories will slow your metabolism, and eventually cause weight gain.
So, in my humble opinion (very humble, I’m not a professional in the medical field of any sort, read full disclaimer at the bottom of this post**) maybe consistency is the key? If you choose the intermittent fasting route, pick your schedule and stick to it. Weather it’s the 2 meal a day schedule, or the 48 hour cycle. If you choose to eat 3 square meals a day, do it every day. So on and so forth.
I have had great success with the 6 small meals a day, and I will continue to eat this way for the foreseeable future. But I still love learning about other eating styles that other people have had success with, and occasionally I like to test them out and see how they work for me, who knows, maybe there’s something out there that works BETTER then what I’m currently doing. Only experimentation would be able to tell; If one day my body decides it wouldn’t hate the entire world if I had to go 16 hours between one meal and the next, I might give it a try ;) and if I do I’ll tell you all about it.
But for now, I’ll stick with what I know works for me.
Call me a wuss. It’s okay, I don’t mind :)
Hugs Kisses and Cookies
** I am not a doctor, or dietician, I have no formal education on nutrition or medical sciences so please do not take my words as sound nutrition advice. This is just a compilation of research I did, and my own opinions. As always, if your starting a new eating/exercise plan, please check with your doctor :)