Skipping meals or going on a detox that requires you to stick to just water for a day or two may seem like a good idea. But what happens to your body when you skip a meal? Is it all good? Whether your goal is weight loss or a “cleanse,” here’s how going without any food for long stretches feels on the inside.
Treat Your Asthma
Adults with mild forms of asthma who are also overweight could get some respite from symptoms when they skip a few meals. One study followed a meal skipping plan that required overweight adults who had mild asthma to give up the equivalent of one meal a day or around 400–500 calories on one day, with a regular meal plan the next. Besides improvements in asthma-related symptoms like breathing, the participants also saw reductions in oxidative stress levels and an overall reduction across inflammation markers.
Fast And Exercise: Yes And No!
When it comes to fasting and exercise, things could swing either way. On the one hand, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you may see higher calorie burn. One study noted a 20 percent higher fat burn during a workout done on an empty stomach. This theory, however, may apply well to those who work out in the morning and have had a healthy, balanced dinner the previous night.
The other side to this story is that you may run out of steam by the time it’s workout time! If you tend to work out later in the day and have skipped some meals before that, energy levels may dip. It may even be hard to find the motivation to get moving.
Increase Cortisol Levels
Lose Weight But Gain Belly Fat
If weight loss is your primary goal, meal skipping may not be a long-term solution. While it can help you knock off some pounds in the short run, you are likely to gain them back once you return to your regular diet. Worryingly, according to research, you may even end up with belly fat where there once was none. That’s because your weight loss could be a result of muscle loss. This in turn could hurt your metabolism and cause more fat accumulation. And that’s why, ironically, a weight-loss solution is the one thing that meal skipping is not.
One study on animal test subjects found that when they skipped meals in the early days of the study and were later given all meals, they developed a tendency to binge eat or gorge. They ended up consuming all of their fixed quota of food in 4 hours and, as a result, fasted for the next 20 till their next day’s food supply was restored. It also caused these animals’ body inflammation to increase. Genes that cause fat storage, especially in the abdominal region, were activated more.