Skip a Meal, Gorge Later?

Read time: 2 minutes

Many people believe that skipping a meal will cause them to gorge later. Eating, they say, boosts the metabolism and balances blood sugar. It’s what we’ve heard for years from so-called experts.

Let’s look at this.

Boosting Metabolism

It’s claimed that the digestion of food increases metabolism, because the process of digestion costs calories. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). The cost of digestion varies with the type of food eaten, but the average cost is about 10% of the calories for that meal.

So it makes little sense to eat a 400 calorie meal to make your metabolism burn 40 calories. You still have to deal with 360 calories you just threw down the hatch, when the body most likely didn’t need them.

Blood Sugar

In healthy individuals, blood sugar is NOT LIKELY TO FALL. The body has a robust system that stabilizes blood sugar during extended non-feeding periods (like fasting).


Many people are afraid that skipping a meal causes them to overeat at the next meal. Although some people have better control than others, the tendency to overeat after skipping a meal (or several) does exist.

However, because your stomach is elastic, it naturally stretches and rebounds. Although the stomach does not “shrink,” it does rebound back to its empty state. In the time it takes to eat a meal, it may get stretched to the point of discomfort. So if one is most likely to gorge at the next meal, the total amount may be 15% to 30% above a normal meal. Beyond that is rare, and likely indicates a behavioral problem more than a physical need.

So even if you overeat by 30%, you’re still ahead of the game, as you’ve skipped an entire meal earlier.

The Benefit of Skipping a Meal

Skipping a meal, whether inadvertently or by design, is no different from the practice of Intermittent Fasting (IF), and with this comes the benefits similar to those with IF. These benefits include increased insulin sensitivity, decreased insulinemia, increased fat metabolism, increased protein enzymes, enhanced nutrient uptake, etc. A benefit we should add to the list is that skipping meals is an option to reducing overall calorie intake.

But even if overall caloric intake does not decrease, the other benefits seen with skipping meals can enhance health and may stimulate fat loss.

This entry was posted in Dietary Habit, weight Loss and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Skip a Meal, Gorge Later?

  1. SFuller says:

    Another great and helpful post! What I like about this site is that it gives enough information yet still keeps it simple and useful.

    Thanks, Johnny, and please keep it up, I’ll visit often.

  2. torrie C says:

    The last sentence in your post is especially true and has been my experience. I’ve read from Gary Taubes’s GCBC and the NHE Diet that total calories aren’t necessarily the main determinant of weight loss or weight gain, but that balancing the hormonal system and energy regulation is the key. I don’t necessarily eat any less than I used to, but now my body simply uses calories more efficiently… because I’ve adopted paleo nutrition and IF.

    Excellent info!!!

  3. Grok says:

    I always loved the TEF thing. Glad you touched on it.

    I pretty sure it just comes down to “TEF foods” fill you up on a smaller amount of calories, therefor you just eat less overall. It’s not some magic thero effect. LOL

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