Skipping meals, worse than cheating?

Worse than cheating

One of our biggest challenges is getting our clients to stick to the prescribed meal plan. Most assume this means no mars bars and vetkoek-like substances. However, we know it’s inevitable that people will have birthdays, weddings and holidays. We may even encourage a small token of celebration as a “treat” at such events. So if we allow controlled “treating” what do we really consider cheating?

If you cheat, you must still eat

We know you will cheat. It’s human nature. But there is a practise we consider worse than cheating: skipping meals. Protein-based meals, to be precise.

When you succumb to fatty, starchy or sugary indulgences you are loading the body with either empty calories (devoid of nutrients) or a surplus of energy that the body needs to store. Then the guilt kicks in. And you take matters into our own hands by skipping a meal: the protein meal (it’s always the protein meal).

When the body receives little or no protein (see “you don’t know protein” blog) it is a signal that activates starvation mode: the conservation of energy and the catabolism of body tissue for survival.

Where then will the necessary protein now come from that was absent in the food? From the body itself. Your hard earned, toned, muscle groups (predominantly). Reason being that muscle mass is nutritionally dense and easily utilised to supply important organs, like the brain, with nutrients that might be lacking in the diet.

Bricks and cement

Consider the body (more specifically, the muscle groups) like a brick wall. The bricks are the protein and the fats and carbohydrates are the cement. When we build and repair muscle (a daily occurrence) a steady supply of bricks and cement is needed to maintain the solid wall structure. When you cheat- by skipping a protein meal- there is an influx of “cement” while the “bricks” get broken down to repair other tissues. This means more cement between the bricks and a smaller, less solid wall. Put bluntly, you become fat.

It is also key to remember that the more lean muscle mass you have, the quicker you can burn excess energy. i.e. the more solid the wall the quicker the cement gets utilised. In layman’s terms, we say “muscle burns fat”.

It’s important to note that a once off skipping of a protein meal won’t break the proverbial “fat bank”. It’s the bad habits that form over long periods, which predispose the mind and body to long-term consequences. Our advice, don’t even start a bad habit- don’t skip protein meals! If you cheat, you must still eat- protein.