A new study in animals suggests that skipping meals sets off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain.
In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers, which scientists consider a telltale sign of prediabetes. When the liver doesn’t respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.
“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 OARDC scientist Martha Belury of the College of Education and Human Ecology.
“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.”
“You definitely don’t want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose.”—Martha Belury
‘Makes for a happy fat cell’ ... and that’s bad
- “Even though the gorging and fasting mice had about the same body weights as control mice, their adipose [a type of fat tissue] deposits were heavier,” Belury said. “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.”
- The study was supported in part by OARDC. It was published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
- To contact the scientist: Martha Belury at email@example.com.