Lisa Cutforth - Monday, February 07, 2011
Reasons not to skip meals, why it can actually slow your metabolism and contribute to your weight problem!
When you skip meals or don't eat your body enters what is referred to as a fasting state and then starvation state. This starts to happen after 4-6 hours without food, and depending on how you have trained your body, the effects can be more or less serious.
Here are some of the physiological effects though that tend to occur in the body, when it goes for a period without food:
- The body when depleted of carbohydrate stores will switch to alternative fuel sources, this process is known as Ketosis. The body will use available blood glucose, and then revert to carbohydrate stores for example glycogen in the liver and muscles. Once those are depleted (usually within 6 hours) the first "alternate" fuel it reaches for is protein, and unfortuately unlike carbohydrate and fat your body doesn't have stores of protein, so your body will break down muscle. This will directly affect your metabolism and your energy levels. Your muscles or lean body mass help to set your metabolism. The lower your metabolism the less energy you burn and have.
- Slowing of metabolism as the body readjusts it’s energy output and input and attempts to become more efficient. Your body slows down its metabolism in a defensive effort to preserve energy and important resources. Your brain, nerves and red blood cells rely on carbohydrate to function, your body makes meeting these needs a priority.
- Malnutrition: Deficiencies start to result as essential nutrients are depleted and are not replenished. If you are not taking nutrients in your supplies are used up and over time you can be malnourished but even in the short term your body processes can be compromised if you are missing important tools to function.
- Wasting occurs as tissues are broken down for fuel, muscle wasting occurs before fat stores are immobilised. Your body starts to break down muscle and eventually fat stores and as a result you start to see and feel changes in your body.
- Survival: the body activates stress and survival strategies. It is stressful for your body the longer it has to go without food particularly if your eating patterns are erattic and it doesn't know when it can expect it's next meal.
- Shutting down of “unnecessary” processes: the body decides which body functions are non- essential, for example long term starvation as in the case of anorexia can result in anorexic dysmenorrhea (loss of periods/menstruation.)
- Organ and System failure, eventually key organs may begin to malfunction or shut down
- Death: finally in severe cases of prolonged starvation (or periods without any nutrition such as excessive ongoing fasting and starvation - beyond a couple of weeks, and depending on the individual).
It is a good idea to eat small regular meals. That is the most effective way to control your blood sugar, your energy, your weight and your mood. The result is health worth celebrating!
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