Skipping meals sets off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain, a new study in animals suggests. 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 Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University and 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.”
The research is published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.