People who want to lose weight like to skip a meal to save calories. But a study from Japan shows that this can be counterproductive, especially when it comes to dinner.
How good does the short-term pride of having given up a meal to see results on the scale as quickly as possible feel?
Simply skipping a meal seems to be the supposedly easiest trick in the world to lose weight quickly. The principle is also known under the terms Breakfast or Dinner Cancelling.
The conclusion to eat fewer calories and thus lose weight is not wrong.
But skipping an entire meal can actually lead to weight gain, according to a study by Japan’s Osaka University.
This is how to meal skipping influences weight gain
The scientific team studied 17,573 male and 8860 female students between 2007 and 2015, averaging between two and four years of their undergraduate years.
The researchers also recorded environmental factors such as sleep habits, smoking, meals, and alcohol consumption.
They concluded that students who avoided certain meals were more likely to gain weight – even at greater risk for obesity.
Is it possible to skip breakfast?
This correlation was clearest among students who ‘always’ or ‘occasionally’ skipped dinner: 10.7 and 14.7 percent of students gained weight, respectively, compared to 16.9 and just under 23 percent of female students.
However, it was also noticeable that this group tended to be older and generally had more weight.
This correlation was not found among students who skipped breakfast or lunch at one point.
Healthy dinner: A must for the majority
The researchers saw two main reasons for this.
Firstly, the omitted dinner could cause an increased feeling of hunger the next day, which is why the participants overcompensated for the calories at other meals. Similar results were also obtained in a study from Brazil.
Secondly, the omitted dinner meant that many of the participants lost important nutrients due to the lack of vegetables, which in other studies also led to weight gain in the long term.
Calorie turnover is more important than meals
Basically, if you consume more calories than you eat, you will lose weight.
In the long term, the quality of the meals and the total calorie requirement is more important than skipping one meal.
The results of the study should also be viewed with caution because overall only a few test subjects skipped meals, which is why the results are only representative to a limited extent.
Which meal can you skip with a clear conscience?
Which method is better – breakfast or dinner canceling? Nutritionist Andra Schmidt classifies the study situation:
“Very clearly and concisely: none and yet both methods equally. The answer may sober you. But it really does vary from individual to individual. Depending on how your metabolism works, your daily routine is structured, your eating behavior is, or what your social activities look like.
In general, though, either way, a longer fasting period of twelve to 16 hours already has a positive effect on fat metabolism, cell regeneration (also called autophagy), or gut health.
Researchers from Harvard, for example, found in 2013 in a 20-week weight loss study with overweight participants that “late eaters” lost less weight than “early eaters”. As you note: the opposite result, as the study presented earlier.
The team recognized that an early start to the fasting phase was more beneficial to metabolism. Evening abstinence has a positive influence on hormone production, overnight somatropin and melatonin are increasingly released, which are responsible for optimal regeneration.
But if the last meal should be taken already around 16 o’clock, it is clear of course that especially night owls creep around the refrigerator at the latest 21 or 22 o’clock. Especially if you have not eaten a balanced and nutritious diet during the day. Because a nutrient deficiency in combination with stress favors hot hunger attacks – hello, chocolate, chips, and pizza.
Even with interval fasting, it is important to keep an eye on your daily basal metabolic rate and total metabolic rate.
My personal advice: If you want to do interval fasting, you should listen to yourself and take a close look at your daily routine. What makes you feel good, what triggers internal stress?
Whether twelve or 16 hours, breakfast or dinner canceling – the magic word is “Intuitive Intermittent Fasting”.