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In my last article, I talked about what intermittent fasting is and how recent research has shown that it may be very beneficial for weight loss, reduction of blood cholesterol and improved sugar metabolism.


However there is a very similar entity called habitual meal skipping which some might mistake for intermittent fasting. Now, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating periods of fasting and eating. For example, using the 16/8 method which is the commonest method, the day is split into two, an eight-hour period where you eat and a 16 hour period where you fast. For example you can decide to eat twice between 8 and 4pm while fasting the rest of the time. A key component of intermittent fasting however is that you don’t compensate by eating much more during the periods you eat.


Habitual meal skipping on the other hand can be defined as frequently skipping meals. This can be due to poor appetite, inability to get food, a busy lifestyle, and mood disturbances and in some cases it is intentional as a weight loss strategy. However, because habitual meal skipping is not typically planned there are some possible side effects.


The major effect is a paradoxical weight gain, most people that skip meals unintentionally unknowingly compensate by over eating when they finally get to eat because of the hunger and craving that typically follows meal skipping. The chances of snacking on high-fat or high-calorie snacks are increased. This can lead to an overall increase in calorie intake and cause weight gain. Furthermore, there is a slight slowing of metabolism when meals are skipped such that when a meal is finally consumed the body fails to burn sufficient calories, storing the excess as fat.


What does this mean for those people who want to practice intermittent fasting?

  1. Don’t compensate by overeating
  2. Monitor your calorie intake
  3. Monitor your weight
  4. Don’t snack on high calorie food
  5. It is advisable to reduce your food portion when you do eat in addition to the intermittent fasting.


IMAGE CREDIT: Asia netnews