Do you sometimes become so busy that you forget to eat? Do you cancel lunch because you’re trying to cut down on calories? A recent study adds to the evidence that skipping meals could be risky.
Researchers from Ohio State University compared two groups of mice. One group ate throughout the day, while the other had to eat their food in a single serving. The mice who skipped meals showed an increase in abdominal fat and prediabetes.
The reason seems to be related to fluctuations in insulin and glucose. When your metabolism is disrupted, you’re more likely to gain fat.
There can be several other disadvantages too. Going for hours on an empty stomach can make you overindulge later and trigger cravings for sweet and salty junk foods. You’re likely to feel more tired and irritable as well.
Stay well-nourished around the clock. Try these smarter alternatives to skipping meals.
- Plan menus. You’re more likely to make sound decisions if you decide what to eat in advance. Figure out a balanced list of snacks and meals for the upcoming week or the next few days.
- Bring snacks. Keep nutrient-dense food and drinks handy. Store packages of nuts and seeds in a desk drawer at the office. Pack a cooler with yogurt and protein shakes for your car.
- Stay social. When time is limited, you may struggle to maintain healthy habits and hang out with family and friends instead. Accomplish both at the same time by enjoying shared meals.
- Master quick recipes. Make meal preparation quicker. Develop a library of recipes you can throw together in 20 minutes or less, like salads and stir fries. Use shortcuts like frozen vegetables and store-bought sauces.
- Fill your freezer. Cook in large batches, so you can eat one meal right away, and store the rest for later. Label and freeze individual portions of bean chili and spinach lasagna.
- Organize your kitchen. Rearranging your cabinets and counters could help you put dinner on the table faster. Clear away spices and appliances you rarely use. Create functional areas for chopping vegetables and maximizing storage space.
- Set realistic goals. If you rarely sit down to eat, you may be trying to do too much. Identify your top priorities and cut down on the rest of your to do list.
- Fast carefully. You may be wondering about the distinction between skipping meals and intermittent fasting, which can be safe and beneficial for many adults. You may be able to fast if you avoid nutritional deficiencies and adjust your activity level. Talk with your doctor about your individual needs.
- Consume more fiber. When you do eat, focus on whole foods that satisfy your hunger with relatively few calories. That includes most vegetables, fruits, beans, and brown rice.
- Increase your protein. Foods rich in protein are another natural appetite suppressant. Compared to carbohydrates and fats, your body also uses up more calories digesting them. Include some protein in each meal and snack.
- Rely on substitutes. What can you do when you start craving your favorite junk foods? Try inventing more wholesome ways to satisfy your taste buds. Replace chips with popcorn or roasted chickpeas. Snack on frozen fruit popsicles instead of candy or cake.
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Drink water before, after, and during each meal.
- Work out. While your diet plays the biggest role in weight loss, exercise counts too. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
Make regular mealtimes a priority even when you’re rushing around or slimming down. You’ll feel more energetic, and you’ll help your body to burn calories more efficiently.