Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Skipping Meals Lecture

Before I get to my little lecture about skipping meals, I've got an awesome workout for you. You can do it at home, and it really works the hamstrings. I always find the hamstrings tough to target, but these exercises got 'em going! (NOTE: Especially during the hamstring curls, keep your foot flexed to prevent any knee injury.)

I also needed to complete three miles for our half marathon training plan, but I wasn't even remotely excited about it. Luckily, as I browsed some of my favorite blogs this afternoon, I found a good suggestion on Courtney's Sweet Tooth Sweet Life that got me motivated: a HIIT workout! HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and claims to be the fastest way to burn fat and gain muscle. I'm not sure I buy into that yet, but I was excited to add some variety to the treadmill today. I sprinted (8.5-9.0) for 20 seconds and then jogged (6.0-6.5) for 40 seconds. I completed 3 miles in 25 mins and 40 secs., which is easily my fastest time for three miles! The best part was that it felt fast, so I wasn't bored or waiting for it to be over.

Okay, on to the good stuff, which I shall call "Why You Should Never, Ever, Ever Skip a Meal."

First of all, why would you? Who doesn't like to eat? But, okay, some people might think that skipping a meal will make up for eating a lot the night before or later in the day. Or some people might just get too busy. I'm going to use my husband as an example. He's guilty of getting busy or simply forgetting to eat. (Again, I can't totally relate, because I get hungry every few hours, and a hungry Julie is NOT a happy Julie.)  But there are times when Terry gets engrossed in work or doesn't plan ahead and ends up not eating. And I get upset with him every single time.

So what's the big deal? I'll outline my understanding of this issue, but I'll also provide some links that you should certainly research for yourself!

  • Skipping a meal will make you gain weight. You read that right. Skipping a meal (especially breakfast!) puts your body into starvation mode and slows your metabolism to a crawl. So the next time you do eat, your body will cling to the food because it doesn't know when you'll feed it again. 
  • Skipping meals causes your body to use protein as a source of energy - so you lose muscle! 
  • Even those with the best self-control eventually give in to cravings and tend to overeat. Again, since your body is in starvation mode, all those calories get stored up and cause you to gain weight.
  • Exercising has less of an effect when you significantly limit your calories, because metabolism is so slow that your body holds on to those precious few calories.
If that isn't enough to convince you, here are some of my personal thoughts on the topic.
  • In high school I tried desperately to lose weight (I was thin, but I was a dancer, so I thought thin wasn't good enough) by skipping meals. By the end of the day and after long hours of dance rehearsals, I was so hungry that I would scarf down several bowls of cereal or huge pieces of toast with peanut butter. And cookies! And guess what? I didn't lose a pound.
  • I am currently in the best shape of my life. I feel I have never felt or looked better. And yet I eat significantly more than I ever did in high school or college. I eat at least 5 times per day, and I feel completely satisfied after every meal.
  • In general, my observations in high school and still today prove time and time again that the healthiest people are those who eat regular meals without skipping and without overindulging. Have you noticed the same?
And some articles for your consideration (these explain the metabolism and starvation mode stuff better than I do!):
  • Eat snacks, and think of them as meals. I can't recommend snacks enough! If you consider them meals, you'll be less likely to grab a bag of candy and more likely to throw in a few vegetables. Small meals throughout the day make for a much more satisfied tummy. Plus, you can squeeze in a lot more nutrients this way; how on earth would we eat all the foods we need every day in only three meals?!
  • Plan ahead. Write out what you plan to eat for meals and snacks each week, and then make sure you shop for everything. If you're going to be traveling or working, pack snacks to get you through the day.
  • Make smart decisions. I get it: Sometimes there are situations where you don't have access to healthy foods, but you're starving. In that case, I would argue that eating something is better than eating nothing, but do the best you can. This post in no way advocates eating a burger and fries every time you're hungry (the excuse, "Well, BLWB said I should eat, right?" doesn't fly here, folks). 
So I challenge you: Increase the number of times you eat every day for one week. See if you notice a difference in your energy, your hunger, or even how your pants fit! 

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and/or questions on this topic. Do you think it's okay to skip meals? Any personal stories or advice? Share below or e-mail me!

1 comment:

  1. I want to share an article posted by one of my husband's friends that discusses starvation mode in more detail and considers whether it might be a myth. Enjoy!