Belly fat caused by meal skipping
A new animal study suggests that missing meals can set off metabolic changes that cause us to accumulate more fat around our midriff.
Researchers observed that mice who ate all of their daily calories in one meal develop signs suggestive of pre-diabetic state and accumulate excess fat around their middles (equivalent to human belly fat) which has a strong association with coronary heart disease and diabetes. Although this study is on animals, it does support the notion that smaller meals throughout the day is more beneficial to our health than skipping meals and eating our calories in fewer meals.
This cycle of gorging and then fasting affects the way we produce insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to initiate the movement of glucose into cells. Too much insulin and then a sharp decline can cause inflammation in the body and an elevated activation of genes that signal our bodies to store more fat, particularly in the abdominal area.
There are plenty of studies that show that starting the day with a good breakfast and then eating a lighter lunch and evening meal can help us keep our weight maintained within the healthy range. Eating throughout the day rather than in one or two meals only also helps keep our blood sugars nicely balanced, and sticking to foods that are low in the glycaemic index and high in fibre also help us from snacking too much.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.