It turns out skipping breakfast, or any other meal, could have a big impact on your waist line, according to a new study conducted on animals. Researchers found evidence that skipping meals sets off a series of reactions in your body that can result in abdominal weight gain.
The study found that mice who ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers which is a telltale sign of pre-diabetes.
The meal-a-day mice were put on a restricted diet and subsequently lost weight compared to controls that had unlimited food. The mice regained weight as they ate more caloriess and nearly caught up to the unlimited food mice by the study’s end.
But the belly fat weighed more in the restricted-diet mice than in mice that were free to eat all day long. An excess of belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people,” said Martha Belury, the senior author of the study. “But you definitely don’t want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss.”
“With the mice, this is basically bingeing and then fasting,” Belury said. “People don’t necessarily do that over a 24-hour period, but some people do eat just one large meal a day.”
“Even though the gorging and fasting mice had about the same body weights as control mice, their adipose [belly fat] depots were heavier. If you’re pumping out more sugar into the blood, adipose is happy to pick up glucose and store it. That makes for a happy fat cell – but it’s not the one you want to have. We want to shrink these cells to reduce fat tissue,” Belury said.
The research is published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.