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The Metabolic Effects of Skipping Meals: Why You Shouldn't Do It

Jan 16, 2024
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Skipping meals may seem like an easy way to lose weight or save time, but the metabolic effects are significant. Your body and brain need the energy and nutrients from meals to function properly throughout the day.

M. Zafar, MD, SC serves Illinois statewide by Telehealth offering medical weight loss treatments, including Semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic™ and Wegovy™) and Tirzepatide (the active ingredient in Mounjaro™ and Zepbound™).

In this blog, we review why skipping meals can hinder your weight loss goals:

Skipping Meals Can Slow Your Metabolism

When you skip meals, your body perceives it as starvation and slows your metabolism to conserve energy. This makes it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it back.

  • Your body depends on a steady supply of nutrients to function properly. Missing meals deprives your body of the energy it needs and causes it to go into “survival mode.” In this state, your metabolism slows down to prevent using up too much stored energy.

  • With a slower metabolism, the body burns fewer calories. This makes weight loss more difficult and weight gain more likely. Studies show that people who skip meals tend to weigh more than those who eat regularly.

  • Irregular eating also leads to increased hunger and cravings. When you finally do eat, you may end up consuming more calories than if you had stuck to a normal meal schedule. This can sabotage weight loss efforts and promote fat storage in the body.

  • Missing meals stresses your body and may elevate cortisol levels. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that in excess amounts can stimulate fat storage in the abdomen. Eating at regular times helps keep cortisol in check and minimizes fat accumulation.

In summary, skipping meals has significant negative metabolic consequences and health effects. For effective weight management and overall well-being, aim for 3 balanced meals a day plus 1-2 small snacks. Consistency and moderation are key. Your body and your waistline will thank you.

Skipping Meals Leads to Overeating Later

When you skip meals, especially breakfast, your body thinks it's starving and lowers your metabolism to conserve energy.

When you do finally eat, your body may store more of those calories as fat because it's not sure when the next meal will be. You are also more likely to overeat at your next meal because you feel excessively hungry. Eating too many calories at once further slows your metabolism since your body cannot burn that fuel efficiently.

To avoid this unhealthy cycle, aim for 3 balanced meals a day with healthy snacks in between. Spreading your calories and nutrients evenly throughout the day keeps your metabolism active and prevents the urge to overeat. Make sure each meal has lean protein, high-fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.

Regular Meals Help Stabilize Blood Sugar

When you skip meals or eat at irregular times, your blood sugar and insulin spike and crash, which can lead to energy crashes, cravings, and weight gain. Eating meals at the same time every day helps create a regular pattern of insulin release that keeps your blood sugar stable. This makes it easier for your body to burn fat and may help with weight maintenance.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing calories you consume, either as fat or for energy use. After you eat, your blood sugar rises and insulin is released to transport the glucose into your cells. If you go too long between meals, your blood sugar drops and insulin is not properly stimulated. This can slow your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.


In conclusion, skipping meals may seem like an easy way to lose weight or save time, but the metabolic effects are significant and damaging. Your body and brain need the energy and nutrients from meals to function properly throughout the day. Don't sabotage your health and productivity by skipping out on the most important meal of the day or going too long between meals. Eating regularly timed and balanced meals is one of the best things you can do for yourself and those around you. Make the time for healthy, delicious meals and your body will repay you in kind with a happy, high-functioning metabolism to power you through each day. Skipping meals is not worth the costs to your health, mood, and mental sharpness. Eat well and often.

If diet and exercise alone haven’t been enough for you to meet your weight loss goals, schedule an appointment with us today to see if you’re a candidate for medical weight loss with Semaglutide and Tirzepatide. You can do this by using our online booking tool today.