Eat 5 meals a day and lose weight – they can be ‘simple but effective’

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If a person wants to lose weight, they generally have to eat less in order to do so. Skipping meals might seem like an effective way to shed some pounds but an expert has warned that this isn’t the case.

In fact, doing so regularly could have the opposite effect on weight loss and could cause other health issues.

Lujain Alhassan, an expert nutritionist for Exante, revealed not eating enough meals a day can slow the body’s metabolism down and cause it to retain fat.

This can put people at risk of nutrient deficiencies and long-term health problems while increasing cravings and affecting their mental health.

Lujain referenced a survey carried out by Exante, where 32 percent of British adults admitted to regularly skipping one or more of their three main meals a day.

But she explained that skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner regularly can actually cause people to overeat when they do eventually have a meal.

She said: “Going hungry causes our blood sugar levels to dip – one of the brain’s main sources of fuel.

“It affects our energy too and both can leave us feeling irritable, dizzy and tired. These feelings are often linked with emotional eating, which can cause us to overeat when we do eat, and potentially gain more weight.

“Skipping meals can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down because it doesn’t have an adequate energy supply to use as fuel.”

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She added: “While you might be consuming fewer calories, you’re actually being counterproductive towards your weight loss goals.”

Lujain went on to warn that if people decide to skip meals and eat an unbalanced diet, there’s a risk of developing nutrient deficiencies.

“It’s really important for people to try and hit the recommended daily intake of minerals and vitamins,” she said, using iron deficiency as an example; a common one that can cause fatigue, headaches, chest pain and pale skin.

“Recent research has shown skipping meals can have a big impact on our mental health because it increases the production of cortisol, our stress hormone.

“And because we’re producing more hunger hormones we’re left feeling more ‘hangry’ (anger caused by hunger),” she added.

“Sadly, it can also increase the risk of developing disordered eating, because people may become prone to binge eating or other unhealthy food habits.”

So if a person is desperate to shed the pounds, what can they do instead?

Lujain suggested people should try eating “little and often” in order to control their portion sizes.

She said: “I still advise people to have three meals a day as a standard but sometimes this isn’t practical or the right choice for everyone.

“You can have five lighter meals throughout the day, you’ll eat less food because you’ll be eating more often so you won’t be as hungry, but they should still be balanced and have a variety of macronutrients.

“If you’re not keen on doing this but get hungry in between breakfast, lunch and dinner, instead of overeating during those meals, have healthy but filling snacks to manage your hunger. Low-calorie snacks that are high in protein will work well because they’ll keep you fuller for longer.

“You can also try simple but effective, low-calorie meal replacement shakes which contain all of the nutrients and vitamins you need, instead of skipping a meal altogether.”

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