The Mayo Clinic website has advice on avoiding weight gain while taking Insulin. Their second point is “Don’t Skip Meals”. They give three reasons to not skip meals.
Don’t try to cut calories by skipping meals. When you skip a meal, your body is less efficient at using energy, and you’re more likely to make poor diet choices at the next mealtime because you’re too hungry. Skipping meals can also cause low blood sugar levels if you don’t adjust your insulin dose.
Let’s think about each of these reasons.
- Skipping meals makes your body less efficient at using energy. I guess that’s another way of saying that it lowers your metabolism. Why is a 7 PM to 7 AM fast OK, but a longer fast, say skipping breakfast not OK?
- You’re more likely to make poor diet choices at the next mealtime because you’re too hungry. Could be true in some cases but they really don’t explain what a bad diet choice would be.
- Skipping meals can also cause low blood sugar levels if you don’t adjust your insulin dose. I suppose they legally have to do that warning for the chronically stupid people out there.
Some of this advice is based on the notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This notion has been recently put to the test as noted in WebMD (Is Breakfast Really Your Most Important Meal?). The data just doesn’t support the necessity to eat breakfast. There may be some benefits to eating breakfast but the clam that you will eat too much at the next meal has now been shown to be false.
It is ironic that they are concerned about the effect of skipping a particular meal on a person’s metabolism but recommend counting (and limiting) calories over a long span of time. It seems inconceivable that missing one meal will mess up someone’s metabolism but living on 1500 calories a day is somehow OK.
The last point about lowering blood sugar and needing to adjust Insulin levels is a double edged sword. The goal of all of this should be to lower blood sugar and reduce Insulin needs. Yes, we need to carefully monitor our blood sugar during fasting periods but we need to do that when we are stuffing ourselves, too. And even more during fasting.
As to the feeling hungry question. I was eating McDonald’s breakfast of 2 breaakfast burritos every day (and even most weekends). When I stopped eating that breakfast (and started skipping breakfast) I was hungry. For a few days. Then I wasn’t hungry any longer. Now I am skipping lunch too and I do get hungry – around 3 PM. That’s about the right time to get hungry since dinner is in a couple of hours.
For me hunger relates to blood sugar levels. I get hungry when my blood sugar is low. That makes perfect sense. Right now I have cut my basal (background) insulin level from 56 units a day down to 26 units a day. That’s at about 10 days into the Intermittent Fasting.
Basically I am taking their warning and following the opposite advice. I am skipping breakfast and lunch but eating a big dinner. I don’t count calories and I eat as much as I want for dinner. I’ve been doing somewhat lower carbs at somewhere around 100 g of carbs a day. I’m still drinking craft beer (several in the evening).
Most of us T2Ds have been on more diets than we can count. I did PhenFen in 1997 and lost 70 lbs in 3 months. Had all the energy in the world. Rollerbladed around my block several times one night. Now I can’t imagine strapping on the blades.
My first diet was at age 16 when I went from the horrible (I thought at the time) weight of 160 lbs to 128 lbs. Everyone told me I look great. Started a viscous cycle of loss then gain exceeding the loss.
I have tried vegan – did that for most of a year. Already mentioned low carb for 18 months (probably the best choice in diets).
This does lead to some good questions. Can a crashed metabolism be started up again? Does our metabolism slow down as we get older?
Right now I weigh the same as I did in 2003 – right before I was diagnosed as T2D. How have I avoided gaining even more weight? I stopped dieting. Other then being generally low carb I just don’t diet any more.