What happens in the body when we only consume two meals a day?


Eating too often is usually associated with the consumption of very large portions. Even three meals a day are currently considered the minimum – the recommended amount of meals in a daily menu is about 4-5 meals. 

However, adjusting your menu to such requirements is somewhat difficult. On the other hand, the health and figure-related consequences that arise as a result of eating only two meals a day are quite serious. 

In the online edition of the Journal of Nutrition, however, the results of a scientific study were published, which unequivocally indicated that eating two meals a day, including breakfast, contributes more to weight reduction than eating 4-5 meals a day with a small volume. The study lasted 7-8 years. The researchers observed that the reduction of body weight was favored by night fasting lasting 18 hours (from lunch to breakfast), not eating breakfast and eating them in a more abundant form. On the other hand, factors such as eating over three meals a day contributed to weight gain. Toby Smithson, a spokeswoman of the American Academy of Nutrition and Nutrition, is of a completely different opinion. 


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Fluctuations in glucose levels 

In her opinion, eating only 2 meals a day leads to a situation in which the body will not be able to maintain the glucose level at a normal, stable level. This is especially important for people who 

– suffer from insulin resistance 

– they are at risk for developing diabetes 

– suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes 

When we eat only two large meals a day, there are two significant jumps in the level of glucose in the body. Between meals and after eating the last meal, the sugar level drops and the person feels a decrease in energy and may have difficulty concentrating. For people who train, eating two meals a day hampers muscle recovery, improving strength and strength, and developing muscle mass. Muscles need solid, small doses of carbohydrates spread throughout the day, not two large portions. 

Load of the digestive system 

The distribution of a portion of food into five smaller portions places less strain on the digestive system than two large meals. Eating irregular meals and long breaks between meals are considered a nutritional error. The following schedule is considered to be the correct distribution of meals consumed during the day 

– And breakfast (about 25-30% of energy value) 

– II breakfast (about 5-10%) 

– lunch (30-35%) 

– afternoon tea (5-10%) 

– dinner (20-25%) 

The body needs a regular supply of nutrients that are necessary to produce energy for life and during the day. Consuming dinner means that the digestive system is overloaded – the digestion of meat can last up to 8 hours, and the high calorie content of a large meal is not indifferent to body fat. The body will use excess calories to supply body fat, below. 

After eating two large meals, the symptoms of overeating often occur. The body overloaded with digestion causes abdominal pain, nausea, unpleasant heartburn and bloating. Sometimes the digestive system unprepared to digest a large portion of the meal reacts to it with diarrhea or vomiting. 

The effects of hunger hormone on the body 

A long break between dinner and breakfast is the period when an empty stomach signals the hormonal system that it should secrete ghrelin – the hunger hormone. Although ghrelin is beneficial to the body, its long-term secretion may lead to disorders of menstruation, fertility problems, inflammatory diseases (eg pancreatitis), appearance of antisocial behavior and anxiety. In addition, the persistent high level of ghrelin leads to the appearance of an appetite for high-fat meals and the accumulation of adipose tissue in the abdomen – very dangerous to health. In the last case, cortisol (so-called stress hormone) helps ghrelin. 

Attacks of wolf hunger 

Eating two meals a day causes breaks between meals to promote hunger, which in turn may lead to eating habits. Increased appetite favors the uncontrolled absorption of random products that are rich in empty calories. In this way the brain works – the appetite for unhealthy food often accompanies long breaks and irregular meals, because the so-called junk food – highly processed food is associated with an increased calorific value (a lot of fat, sugar), and the starved organism sends strong signals that it needs it. Eating two meals a day makes it impossible to control your appetite and favors the attacks of wolf hunger. These are a simple way to overweight and obesity. 

Negative effect on the pancreas 

Consumption of only two, but large by volume and caloric meals, very adversely affect the work of the pancreas. After eating a large breakfast or lunch, insulin is released to regulate the glucose concentration. The pancreas is forced to work intensely twice a day, while for its proper functioning it is necessary to provide smaller portions, which do not burden the gland, adequate to its capabilities. 

Growth of body fat 

Consuming meals only twice a day causes the body to start the energy saving mode. Persistent energy deficit, which is additionally connected with long breaks between meals, causes the body to slow down the metabolic rate and store sugar in the form of fat. 

The risk of hypercholesterolemia and insulin resistance 

Irregular meal intake is one of the reasons for the lowering of insulin sensitivity. The development of insulin resistance is the first step to the development of type 2 diabetes. The phenomenon of insulin resistance causes that the hormone produced by the pancreas does not work as it should – cells are resistant to it. Although there is a lot of glucose in the blood, insulin can not transfer its molecules to the cells where it would be converted into energy. In addition, the irregular consumption of meals also leads to an increase in the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, or hypercholesterolemia. Elevated cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Eating only two meals a day increases the risk of deficiency of vitamins and minerals, which is associated with the monotony of the diet. 

Depression of the stomach as an effect of two meals a day 

The stomach is a muscular bag that has the ability to shrink and stretch under the influence of nutrition. When the meals are small, after some time the stomach volume gradually decreases. Eating a hearty breakfast and an equally large dinner leads to an increase in the digestive volume of the body. This does not affect the work of the whole organism. The natural size of the stomach of an adult man is more or less two joined fists – and that’s what you should eat in a maximum of one meal. If two meals a day is a volume of four fists, the calorific value of the daily menu will be too low to cover the basic metabolism. A dislocated stomach needs more food to send a satiety signal to the brain. Many people experience the phenomenon of so-called vicious circle – the stomach enlarges its volume, because it receives more and more food – it’s a straight way to obesity, not to lower body weight. 

Does the method two meals a day work? 

There is absolutely no guarantee that a person with average or slowed metabolism eating two meals a day will bring good results in the form of weight loss. It is more likely to maintain weight while at the same time risking the yo-yo effect. The condition for unconsciousness is strict adherence to the rule of two meals and controlling their calorie content. An additional difficulty is maintaining a calorific deficit, a varied diet and providing the body with the right dose of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Eating two meals a day is a constant battle with your body. The above described effects of too long breaks between meals and irregular energy supply clearly indicate that the method of two meals a day is not worth using, because it creates the risk of unwanted conditions and diseases. 

Feeling hungry, low blood sugar and stomach rumbling are not conducive to concentration – they can cause work to be done less efficiently. The diet then becomes a tussle, a source of irritability and unpleasant symptoms – not only gastric (due to digestive system load), but also related to fluctuations in blood glucose (eg headaches, drowsiness). For these reasons, eating two meals a day, despite the promising results of the research of the Prague scientists – is not a healthy and effective way of slimming for the average consumer, and certainly not for a diabetic. This form of nutrition is rather experimental in nature and has nothing to do with a balanced diet that ensures well-being and form. 


You can read also: Tricking the brain – or how to satisfy your hunger by eating less

Posted on: May 17, 2019

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