Would you recommend an underweight friend skip breakfast to put on weight?
For years we were told to eat three square meals every day to stay healthy, and lose weight. This is no longer relevant to modern lifestyles…
The term “square meal” was first coined because of the Navy regulations in the 18th Century. All seamen were entitles to 3 meals per day, which consisted of gruel, served on square plates.
The Romans didn’t eat breakfast at all. They believed that it was healthier to eat one meal per day, which was their evening meal. The concept of breakfast didn’t really take off until the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Workers started eating food before starting their long gruelling day at work. They needed to do this to sustain their energy levels throughout their hard day.
At the beginning of the 20th century, breakfast was revolutionised by John Harvey Kellogg, who invented the breakfast cereal. By the 1950’s there were toasters, instant coffee and sliced bread widely available. This was when the modern breakfast really began.
In the 20th century
People were encouraged to eat 3 meals per day in order to stay healthy. Work was more physical, and domestic life was too. There were less labour saving devices like washing machines and cars. The majority of people worked long hours labouring, and had more physically difficult lives. They burned far more calories than people generally do today.
There was less money to go round, and food was more expensive than it is today. Many people struggled to afford to eat enough. So people generally needed to be reminded to eat more, or they risked becoming underweight, which can lead to many health problems.
In modern times people don’t generally need to exert themselves as much, so they don’t burn as many calories. Most people in developed countries can afford to eat as much as they want. There is little chance that people are forced to be underweight. In fact the opposite is true. Many people are now overweight by regularly eating more calories than they burn.
The truth is that most people no longer need to be encouraged to eat more. They need to be encouraged to eat less. Most people with sedatory jobs do not need to eat three square meals every day. A normal healthy person would not suffer any health problems eating 2 meals per day, and it would not make them put on weight either.
+Bad for the metabolism?
It is not true that eating fewer meals will make a person put on weight. There has been no scientific research to back this up. Most research shows that there is no relationship between meal frequency and time, and gaining weight.
These are claims from the weight loss industry who don’t want people to lose weight. They like to make weight loss more complicated than it really is in order for people to be confused enough to buy their products.
Put it this way – if you had a loved one who was underweight, would you recommend they skipped breakfast to put weight on?
The only way a person can put on weight is by consuming more calories than they burn. It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat the calories. If you burn 2500 calories over the course of a day, and eat a big 2000 calorie meal in the evening, you will still lose a little bit of weight. This makes total 100% mathematical sense. Research has also shown that meal frequency has no bearing on the metabolism.
Try skipping a meal
So if you want to lose weight, why not try skipping a meal? There is nothing wrong with skipping breakfast, unless you have a really physical job or health problems such as diabetes.
Breakfast is often the best meal to skip. Most people eat things such as toast or cereal, which give you a lot of calories without providing much nutrition. Without breakfast you will feel hungry for the first 2 or 3 days, but quickly you will get used to this and it will become normal.
Making this one change could save you around 500 calories per day, depending on what you used to eat for breakfast. That is around 3500 calories per week. This is around the same amount of calories that it takes to make one pound of body fat.
So if you make this change, you could lose a pound of fat per week – that’s 52 in a year!
All you need to do is live the same as before, but skip one meal a day. This makes it sustainable in the long run. Be careful that you don’t “make up” for missing a meal by eating more throughout the rest of the day. Cut out one meal and live the same, and see what happens after a month. You may be very pleasantly surprised.
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