Will skipping meals help you lose weight? | Human Nutrition
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Human nutrition is the process of how necessary fluids in food are transformed into body tissues and how they provide energy for the body. Human nutrition is not just about the body though; it also includes psychology, economic, and political science. But the overall goal of nutritional science is to promote health and to reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as cancer and other cardiovascular diseases. In this article, you'll be reading about the different nutrients and I will also be debunking popular myths.
Nutrients provide nourishment for the body, and if you don't have enough of them, your change of developing certain medical conditions increases. Some examples of nutrients include proteins, vitamins, minerals, fat, fiber, and even water.
Nutrients are usually divided into two groups; macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in relatively large quantities. These are broadly categorized into carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water.
Sugar, starch, and fiber are types of carbs. Sugars are simple carbs, which the body can easily break down and it can also easily provide the body with a source of energy. However, sugar rarely fills your stomach, and you will end up eating a lot of it, which will spike your blood sugar levels. Frequent sugar spikes increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Fiber is another type of carbohydrate, and it provides energy for the body. Unprocessed starch and fiber are complex carbs, which take more time to break down. However, complex carbs reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.
Proteins consist of amino acids which the body needs to function properly. There are 20 amino acids. Some of them are essential, which means that people get them from the food they eat; but the other amino acids can be made from the body. Most plant based foods don't contain very much protein, so those who follow a vegan diet needs to eat a variety of foods that provides all the essential amino acids.
Fats are yet another type of macronutrient. They are important because they help organs, enable the body to absorb vitamins, reduce inflammation, and improve brain health. But too much fat does have a negative effect on the body. It can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, liver disease, and other health problems.
Micronutrients are nutrients that are need in small amounts. These include vitamins and minerals. Manufacturers add these in foods such as fortified rice and cereal.
The body needs dietary minerals such as iron, sodium, potassium, so on. A well balanced and varied diet usually provides you with what you need, but in some cases, the doctor can give you supplements. Here are some of the minerals the body needs to survive and what they are for:
Potassium - is an electrolyte. It enables the kidney, heart, brain, and nerves to function properly. Food sources include avocados, coconut water, bananas, dried fruit, squash, beans, and lentils.
Sodium - is also an electrolyte. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle function as well as regulating fluid levels in the body. Sodium occurs naturally in all foods, so its best to skip the table salt.
Calcium - is an important mineral that the body needs to strengthen bones and teeth. Good sources include dairy products, tofu, and green vegetables.
Iron - is crucial for the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the whole body. Good sources include fortified cereals/rice, beef liver, lentils, spinach, and tofu.
Another type of micronutrients are vitamins. Some of these, such as Vitamin C, are also antioxidants, which means they protect cells from toxic molecules. Multivitamins are available in stores, but people should talk to their doctors before consuming any of them.
Here are some of the most popular vitamins and where you can get them:
Vitamin A - Sweet potato, beef liver, spinach and other dark leafy greens, carrots, winter squash
Vitamin C - Citrus fruits, berries, red and green peppers, kiwi fruit, broccoli, baked potatoes, fortified juices
Vitamin D - Sunlight exposure plus dietary sources: cod liver oil, oily fish, dairy products, fortified juices
Vitamin E - Nuts, seeds, sunflower and safflower oil, spinach
Vitamin K - Leafy, green vegetables, soybeans okra
People today have different conceptions of "healthy eating" and misinformation is often spread through social media, different websites, and people in past generations. New information has come out, and we need to stay up to date! Here are some of the most popular myths busted:
1. "Low calorie dieting?" Low calorie foods may help you lose weight for the moment, but in the long run, you'll be missing out on nutrients that are vital to your health. In other words, your body is not going to be getting what it needs (energy) to function properly.
2. "High fat foods are unhealthy." This is kind of true, but it's really vague. Foods that are high in saturated fat (so with added sugars, or processed foods) are unhealthy, so if you eat too much of those you will not be getting nutrients, just extra fat. But unsaturated fat is actually good for you because it gives you the energy you need. One way to educate yourself about this is to read the labels when you buy food. It clearly says how much of each type of fat there is.
3. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Scientists, and many other people, believed that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, until NOW! We need to understand that each person is different and has different needs. Eating, or not eating, breakfast doesn't really matter. If you're hungry, eat, but if you're not hungry, then you don't have to eat.
4. "Small frequent meals?" Many people try eating small frequent meals for weight loss, but if you are healthy, this shouldn't be a problem as long as you meet your energy needs. In fact, research shows that a regular meal pattern is better for your health. That said, people with certain medical conditions have different needs, so its best to consult with your doctor before taking on any type of diet.
5. "Being healthy does not mean being skinny." Obesity is correlated with many health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and even early death. But reducing your disease risk does not mean you have to be skinny. In fact, it's better to eat a variety of foods and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as these factors are what contribute to body weight and fat percentages.
6. "Will skipping meals help you lose weight?" Skipping meals might help you lose weight, but it will affect your body in the near future. When you skip a meal, your digestion slows down, and the food you eventually eat won't be burned as efficiently. Your best bet at staying healthy is to eat consistent, healthy meals when you are hungry.
7. "You shouldn't eat anything after 7 PM." While late night snacking can lead to weight gain, it's not usually about the time on the clock. Rather, it's about how much, and what, you're eating. Choosing high fat, high calorie foods is common and this leads to mindless eating and excess calories. Choose your foods carefully if you're planning to eat late at night.
8. "8 cups of water a day?" This is a very controversial topic and scientists have been discussing this for years. The amount of fluids per day depends on the person, and drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated as fruits and vegetables also have plenty of water in them.
The nutrition world is filled with misinformation, leading to public confusion and poor food choices. Doctors and scientists are also always discovering new things about our bodies, which only adds to the confusion. The best way to avoid misconceptions is to education ourselves, by reading articles such as these!