Skipping meals upsets your body’s balance

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

skipping meals
Skipping meals may increase our cravings for unhealthy food.

Have you ever been so busy throughout the day, that you forget to eat? Well, skipping meals is a very bad habit, because it throws off our blood sugar levels. What’s the big deal? Well, according to a study from the University of Washington, blood sugar levels directly control our appetites! When it comes to actually feeling full, however, it’s largely about genes – the tiny cellular blueprints that tell our bodies how to grow.

You see, right after a large meal, our bodies break down the food into small molecules and extract any energy they contain. This energy – usually in the form of glucose (sugar) – is dumped into the bloodstream, where it becomes readily available for the rest of the body to burn for fuel. If our blood sugar levels dip down too low, we risk falling into a coma, or a prolonged state of unconsciousness. If the brain detects that our blood sugar is beginning to fall, it will do anything and everything to make us eat. According to the new study, this means an increased appetite.

For the experiment, researchers studied the appetite of 21 pairs of identical twins. The scientists fed the participants breakfast, and then showed them pictures of high – and low – calorie foods while monitoring the part of the brain responsible for appetite. It turns out that the individuals with lower blood sugar levels were more likely to have increased brain activity in the appetite center, especially when looking at pictures of high calorie food. When it came to actual feelings of fullness, however, it seems that our genes play a major role.

Shortly after taking the brain scans, the participants were taken to a buffet. The researchers secretly monitored what the participants consumed, while taking the volunteers to report their feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Apparently, the identical twins unknowingly consumed the same amount of food and reported similar levels of satisfaction.

The researchers claim their study supports the idea that skipping meals is a bad practice, since it lowers blood sugar and increases cravings for unhealthy foods.

Featured image courtesy of Waleed Alzuhair on Flickr. Image of banana meal courtesy of Rachel Zack on Flickr.