I'm sure we have all been there before, you have an event on Saturday night and as a last minute attempt to ditch a kilo or two, you skip a meal here and there. Or you woke up waaay too late and really don't have time for breakfast, you think it will be fine — right? On top of the hunger pains, being hangry and feeling really low on energy, there are other more worrying things going on in your body.
1. Blood Sugar Levels Plummet & Hormones Become Affected
If you skip just one meal it can cause your blood sugar levels to fall, and if you are skipping breakfast they will struggle to rise at all. Glucose is the fuel your body runs on, and if it isn't topped up properly throughout the day, every organ is your body can be affected. Skipping a meal can also cause your cortisol levels to rise due to the stress of your body thinking it is starving. High cortisol levels can contribute to weight gain and can impact your immune function. Therefore, it is important for blood sugar levels to remain within the normal range at all times to avoid the risk of binging or feeling really off.
2. Metabolism Slows
Your body is used to working 24 hours a day. When you skip a meal your digestive system isn't able to do its job, which can cause your body to enter starvation mode in an effort to conserve energy. When this happens your metabolism can slow down and the food you do eventually eat isn't metabolised very efficiently. So if you think you are doing yourself a favour by skipping a meal in order to eat something naughty later, you could actually be making it worse! If you are going to have a "cheat" meal, try to eat wholesome foods throughout the rest of the day at regular intervals to keep your metabolism going.
3. Your Brain Doesn't Function Properly
Without a proper supply of nutrients, your brain can become clouded and your emotional and intellectual functions may be affected. You can start to become moody and irritable, and it will be harder to concentrate as you go about your daily tasks. This can be a nightmare if you have a report due or are sitting an exam. When you do eat again, the relief may only be temporary, as your metabolism doesn't know when it will be receiving nutrients again. It stays low in order to conserve energy. What does this mean for you? Your mood might not improve — say hello to a bad day and further blood sugar drops! If you continually choose to skip meals your body may eventually turn to your muscles as a source of fuel, further draining energy. Sorry girls, but a cup of coffee isn't considered a meal, it may only make you feel more groggy and irritable as the day goes on!
4. Overeating and Binge Eating
If you have skipped most of your meals during the day and finally sit down to have dinner, you are at serious risk of overeating! Your body might be so starved for calories and nutrients, you usually don't know when to stop because your hunger kicks in all of a sudden. In the long run, this could cause digestive problems and weight gain. Another thing you have to be wary of when you skip a meal is the dreaded binge. You have been absolutely flat out at work all day and haven't had a moment to stop, you start making your way home and suddenly you could eat everything in sight. You open the pantry and proceed to eat three packets of chips, a chocolate bar, wash it down with a soda and then continue snacking on some biscuits. This is all before dinner. Nobody likes to binge, we all know it leaves us feeling guilty and sick. In order to give yourself the best chance to prevent binging, you should eat regularly throughout the day to keep your metabolism running and your body feeling satisfied.
Remember girls, meal prep is everything! The old saying "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" is SO true! If you don't want to meal prep days in advance, spend a few minutes at night getting your meals ready for the next day so you have the best chance of having a great day — with a full tummy!