Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life. An individual’s metabolism varies in speed and allows his body to grow, reproduce and respond to the external environment. The speed of metabolism influences how much food he may require. For instance, if your metabolism is fast, you may require more food. If your metabolism is slow, you may require less food. But before you decide whether you need more or less food, it is recommended you discuss your health and diet with your medical adviser.
Without proper nourishment, the body must find alternative sources of energy in order to function. In some cases, fat is used as an energy source if there is an absence of glucose. In other cases, muscle is used as an energy source. This process of utilizing muscle tissue for energy is known as catabolism. According to nutritionist Martin Berkhan, a fasting period of up to 24 hours must occur for the body to enter into a catabolic state. So while skipping a meal will likely have no long-term affect on the health of your body, prolonged fasting may cause damage the body.
It is a widely held belief that food should be consumed every few hours to maintain your metabolism. However, Lyle McDonald of Body Recomposition suggests that this misconception was born from the thermal effect of food theory. This theory claims that by consuming food, your body must burn x-amount of calories to account for digestive activities. However, Lyle McDonald argues that it doesn’t matter how many hours exist between meals, so long as your caloric count remains the same day in and day out. For instance, if you eat one large meal one day and smaller meals of the same caloric value another day, you will burn the same amount of calories.
While busy lifestyles may make it difficult to eat every few hours, two meals that should not be missed are pre-workout meals and breakfast. Nutritionist Alan Aragon believes that training on an empty stomach will not only slow the growth of protein fibers, but also put your body at risk for muscle damage. Engaging in strenuous physical activity without a proper pre-workout meal may also lead to decreased energy levels as well as the inability to focus. According to Megan Porter, R.D., breakfast not only prevents over eating, it also breaks the fast the body experiences during its sleep mode.
Although it is not necessary to eat every few hours, as it will have no lasting impact on your metabolism, benefits are associated with eating small meals spaced evenly throughout the day. Providing your body with nutritious mini-meals throughout the day helps to maintain a healthy blood-sugar level. This, in turn, serves to minimize cravings, boost mood and promote mental concentration. In addition, according to a study published in the “British Medical Journal,” eating small meals throughout the day has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels, infamous for clogging arteries.