Skipping Meals Leads to Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain
It’s no secret that most of us either have given up or we are working to lose weight or keep weight off. Why the struggle? I can assure you that the health benefits of maintaining a normal weight are tremendous. Being overweight or obese carries increased risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and virtually all the chronic diseases including diabetes, the inflammatory conditions, and mood disorders.
I know this struggle myself, ever since the college years when I put on the freshman 20 and have basically carried an extra 30-40 pounds since then. For myself and for most I know who have successfully figured out how to lose weight and keep it off, it seems to center on our diet. What we eat is either helping us or hurting us. When it comes to weight, have you ever noticed how hard it is to stay at the same place?
Insulin resistance is at the center of why most of us struggle. This is where our bodies produce more insulin than they used to produce when exposed to the same amount of sugar or glucose. Remember that carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, so that the soda you drink, fruit juice, or other sweet beverage, or that bread, cracker, or pasta, all end up as glucose stimulating your pancreas to release insulin, and your liver to produce glucose. When we are insulin resistant, our pancreas secretes more insulin than it used to at that same exposure. Insulin moves that glucose into the cells to be stored as fat.
So what about skipping meals?
The study, ” Short-term food restriction followed by controlled re-feeding promotes gorging behavior, enhances fat deposition, and diminishes insulin sensitivity in mice,” in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (you can read it here… ) showed that those initially on a restricted diet, lost weight compared to those with unlimited access to food. Temporary food restriction resulted in gorging behavior that continued once adequate food was available.
Those who had fasted and been on restricted diets developed inflammatory gene expression favoring lipid deposition and increased fat around the middle with measurable differences in sensitivity to insulin (both in the liver and peripheral).
Basically fasting and gorging provoked insulin sensitivity and storage of fat around the middle. Take home message is that you should not skip meals, eat small, frequent, healthy meals that are real food, avoid sugar, sweets, and processed carbohydrates.